With Christmas 2010 less than 7 weeks away it’s time to order that must-have gift for the man in your life.
Topping the list of top gifts for him this year is the iPad.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 7 months an iPad is a tablet PC from Apple, the tech giants that previously revolutionised the mobile with the iPhone and, prior to that, turned the portable music player market on its head with their iPod range.
The iPad multimedia device has a bright, vivid 9.7-inch multi-touch screen, built-in Wi-Fi, amazing graphics and can support over a thousand dedicated apps including the free iBook app which turns your iPad into ebook reader. Since its release the iPad has proven to be as highly sought after as everything else that Apple has unleashed in the last 10 years.
Prices range from £429 for the basic 16 GB Wi-Fi version to £699 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G version. If that’s a little out of your price range then maybe you should consider an Android tablet PC like the eTouch Portable Media Tablet. The eTouch is smaller in every sense with just 10GB of internal storage and a 7-inch touch screen. It doesn’t pack nearly the same amount of computing power as the iPad but unlike Apple’s offering it can be expanded thanks to the micro SD card slot and its low price tag (around the £100 mark) makes it quite an attractive alternative.
It took a while for e-book readers to catch on but they are now definitely here to stay.
Top of the pile is the Amazon Kindle. It has been Amazon’s number 1 product for the last two years and has been upgraded to store up to an incredible 3,500 books. The whole device has been reduced in size by 21% while the bright, glare-resistant screen remains at 6 inches.
The Kindle is currently available in two models; the basic Kindle Wi-Fi (around £109) and the Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi (around £149) which boasts free 3G wireless Internet access in over 100 countries.
Sony also has a pair of ebook readers out for Christmas 2010. Their flagship model, The PRS650 Reader Touch Edition, retails for around £199 and can store around 1,200 books, although inserting a Memory Stick™ Duo Pro or an SD Card can increase this significantly.
Sony also produces a slightly smaller edition, the PRS-350 Pocket Edition (around £159) which cannot be expanded but is slightly smaller and lighter which makes it that little bit more portable.
As with everything else there are a number of other ebook readers from other manufacturers so if you’re willing to do your homework and shop around you should be able to find yourself a cheaper alternative.
When Nintendo released the Wii in time for Christmas 2006 all of the serious gamers out there considered it little more than a joke. After all it didn’t boast a next generation optical disc and the idea of waving around a magic wand to play seemed childish.
Now four years down the road (and with HD-DVD no more than a bitter memory for Xbox owners) the other big players in the console market are leaping on the motion control bandwagon.
First out of the gate was the PlayStation Move, released in September. This new range of peripherals brings motion control to the PS3 and has been very warmly received by gamers. In addition to a PS3 itself (around £280) you’ll need to invest in one or more PlayStation Move Motion Controllers (around £35 each). These can be augmented with the Move Navigation Controller (around £25 each) for an even better gaming experience. An excellent way to join the PS3 Move revolution is with the PlayStation Move Starter Pack (around £50). This set includes a Move Controller, PlayStation Eye Camera and a starter disc containing demo versions of several current games.
Motion controlled gaming is a slightly more expensive proposition for Xbox owners. Microsoft’s peripheral, the Kinect Sensor, is released on November 10th and will retail around the £130 mark. Unlike the PS3 Move this only requires one single peripheral and, revolutionarily, there is no controller to hold.
The Kinect (previously known as project Natel) is an entirely hands-free device. The sensor bar sits atop your TV in exactly the same way that the Wii’s does. However whereas the Wii tracks the motion of your controller the Kinect tracks the actual motion of dozens of key areas of your body and even responds to voice commands. Early buzz is excellent so expect this to be on more than a few wish lists this Christmas.
Finally, the original (and cheapest!) of the motion control consoles gets a slight reinvention. To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the one and only Super Mario’s first adventure Nintendo has rereleased its fantastic Wii console with a new bright red finish.
Included in the package is a matching controller that is augmented with MotionPlus, the new Super Mario Bros Wii game (which allows up to four people to play together) along with the original 1981 Donkey Kong game preinstalled on the Wii itself. With a much more reasonable price tag of around £180 and with strong appeal for retro gamers and families alike this will no doubt prove to be a big seller for yet another Christmas.
If you’re looking for a true bargain to appeal to the retro-gamer in your life you could do worse than go for something like the Sega Master System LCD Handheld. It’s under £25 and features 30 classic games including four Sonic The Hedgehog titles, Alex Kidd In Miracle World, Golden Axe, and Penguin Land. No, it’s not a patch on the video games of 2010 but for the 30-something man in your life it will evoke many a happy memory of their misspent youth.
Another Christmas brings new additions to Apple’s range of iPod media players. The latest iPod Touch comes in a range of storage options from 8GB (around £189) to 64GB (around £329) and is a serious bit of kit.
Each now incorporates FaceTime, Apple’s video calling service, the improved Retina Display system features a light sensor to automatically adjust the brightness of the screen depending upon the amount of ambient lighting in the vicinity, the video function now promises HD recording with the option to edit your footage on the player itself while the new improved A4 processor promises a better gaming experience than ever before.
The iPod Nano has also been redesigned, upgraded and made even tinier. Now half the size of the original Nano design it is available in 8GB & 16GB versions (around £129 & £159 respectively). If you’re looking for a truly portable music player you can’t go far wrong with the new Nano. At 37.5 x 41 x 8.8 mm it is truly tiny. Of course Apple is not the only media player manufacturer and many people prefer rival models from Archos, iRiver & Samsung that often come in at a much lower price.
Christmas gift lists for 2010 are going to be dominated by gadgets from the top tech names in the world, just like the last few years. Demand is, of course, expected to be incredibly high so make sure you order early for Christmas. All online retailers will clearly display on their sites the last order dates to guarantee delivery for Christmas, but do yourself a favour and get your orders in as early as you can, especially for the highly sought-after iPad and Xbox Kinect.