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TECH: 5 Tech Treats for Christmas
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altChristmas time is right around the corner- which means spending time with friends and family, eating delicious meals, and of course, swapping gifts. Buying the right gifts for our loved ones can often feel overwhelming given preferences, the number of choices, and the limited amount of time we have to go shopping. Don't leave your holiday shopping until the last minute this year, start planning now! Take a look below at our list of 5 technology gift ideas that will surely have your loved ones jumping for joy or kissing you under the mistletoe!
 
1) Tablet
Tablets are slowly but surely taking over the personal computer market. They are just as powerful as a desktop or laptop but more portable, versatile and intuitive to use. This holiday season there are a number of tablets on the market to choose from. Apple, the industry leader, has just released its fourth generation iPad (starting at USD 499) and iPad mini (starting at USD 329). Both models are available with 4G LTE and have access to Apple's industry best Application and Music store. Also available in time for Christmas is Microsoft's Surface Tablet. Starting at USD 499, the MS Surface is a powerful machine that is comparable in power and performance to the iPad. However, for the same price, the Surface comes with twice the storage space (32GB), a memory card slot and USB compatibility. The Microsoft platform is still lacking in terms of applications and games. However, if work productivity is the focus, then the Surface is the best tablet option. Finally, in the budget category of tablet computing, are the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (both starting at USD 199). Both devices are quite powerful and are similar in specifications to the iPad mini, but with a significantly lower price tag.
 
2) E-Reader
If one of your loved ones is a bookworm, why not buy them an E-reader. The price for an E-reader won't break the bank and reading electronic books is extremely convenient, affordable and portable. Imagine being able to carry around your entire book collection under your arm whilst on a tropical beach vacation. When purchasing an E-reader, one major aspect you want to consider is whether you want E-Ink or an LCD screen. E-Ink, or electronic ink, is a black and white screen that makes the experience more like reading an actual book. However, it is usually difficult to read in the dark. An LCD screen is in full colour and can be read in the dark. However, glare can be an issue if you are outside, you may have trouble viewing the screen from an angle and many people complain about reading an LCD for long periods of time. The leader in this industry is Amazon and their assortment of Kindles. Their Kindle Paper white 3G (USD 179) is their top model and hosts a load of impressive features. The 3G technology is FREE and works globally. This means you can have access to the Amazon Store virtually anywhere and anytime- without having to worry about paying access fees or searching for a Wi-Fi connection. This model also features an innovative built-in light that is easy on your eyes and your battery life; the battery can last up to 8 weeks on a single charge! The regular Kindle is also a good deal at USD 69 and has built in Wi-Fi. Also consider Barnes and Noble's Nook Simple Touch (USD 119) which comes with its own patented backlight technology, and the Nook Simple Touch (USD 99). 
 
3) E-Cigarette
Have you been trying to convince one of your friend or family members to quit smoking? Why not try and support them by purchasing them an E-cigarette kit? E-cigarettes deliver the experience of smoking while at the same time greatly reducing the smells and health risks associated with smoking (and at a fraction of the price). However, there is a bit of controversy as to whether or not there are any risks associated with E-cigarettes since there have been no long term studies completed yet. Try Firelight Fusion (starter kit starting at USD 55) or Green Smoke (starter kit beginning at USD 89).  
 
alt4) Health and Fitness Bracelet
The Nike+ Fuel Band (USD 149) is a great gift for anyone you know who is looking to live a healthier lifestyle. It works in combination with an iPhone/iOS device to monitor and track your movement and activity all day; including the number of steps that you have taken and the number of calories that you have burned. The fashionable wristband will sync to your computer via USB or to your iOS device wirelessly through Bluetooth. A similar product is Jawbone's UP (USD 129) which monitors even more information about your daily life, including sleeping data and diet. However, there have been many technical problems with their initial product which led them to do a recall. There is no information when the product will be re-released, we can only hope it comes out before Christmas!
 
5) Portable Gaming Console
It’s hard to mention Christmas technology and not bring up gaming. This year we have two next generation consoles that were released earlier this year. The Nintendo 3DS XL is a fun portable game console with 3D technology, that doesn't require the dorky glasses. The original 3DS was released in the first quarter of this year but the new and bigger 3DS XL will be available in China in December. It should be priced at around USD 200 and ships out with The New Super Mario Brothers 2. The 3DS comes equipped with 3 cameras that can be used together to capture 3D images, an activity log that records your user history and physical activity (it will count the number of steps you take with your 3DS and encourage you to walk/exercise more by giving you coins or other incentives), backwards compatibility with previous Nintendo DS software, internet browser and a list of other impressive features. Sony's Playstation Vita which was released in North America in February of this year is another next generation hand held gaming console. Priced at 299 USD, the PS Vita features a 5 inch OLED touchscreen, quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MP Core processor, two cameras (front and rear), built in GPS receiver, Wi-Fi, 3G connectivity, Bluetooth, cross platform play (Start a game on your PS3 and finish it on the go with your PS Vita) and a slew of other features. The 3DS is a less powerful machine at a cheaper price and is more geared for casual gamers and youngsters. On the other hand, the Playstation Vita, with its better technical specs, is more targeted towards hardcore gamers. However, with the development of powerful smart phones and portable tablets, perhaps a gift card to the Apple App store would be a better option. 
 

By Justin Toy 
 
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