Christmas holiday gift guide and ideas for 2011

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When it comes to finding the perfect gift for family and friends it’s not easy, especially when these people are gadget lovers and have the latest and greatest technology. We wanted to offer our readers a Christmas holiday gift guide, which will give you some ideas for 2011, although this will only include a small taste of what is available this year.

Our guide is broken down into the most popular topics for gifts; these include gaming, tablets, toys, phones and televisions. We’ll feature a couple of ideas for each section, and offer gift ideas for those on a budget and for those that really want to splash out this Christmas with a premium gift.

All the products we recommend are on the market, and while there are some cool devices on the way like the PS Vita, we will only feature gifts that should be available in most countries, although those of you that get money for Christmas should consider some technology and products releasing early next year.

Phones

Budget: Whenever we think of phones how come we always go straight to the high-end smartphone, because there is a much larger market for those on a smaller budget? These cheaper phones in 2011 are more advanced than they ever used to be, and here are two phones we believe to be the best for those on a smaller budget?

The first handset is the Atrix 2, this is already on the market, and looking at the specs you will be forgiven for thinking that it will come with a high price tag. We have embedded a video for you above, which will talk about the specs and these include a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, Gingerbread 2.3, 4.3-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera. The second handset is the 8GB iPhone 3GS, even though this handset is now over two years old, it can still hold its own against even some of the newer phones coming to market. Okay, the hardware might be getting on a bit now, but iOS 5 certainly helps to make it more relevant. This phone is now available free for the first time on contract, and should bring Apple to the very lucrative budget market. While we know there are a huge amount of budget phones on the market, these are just two of what we believe to be the best.

Premium: The first high-end smartphone that should be on your Christmas gift list is the iPhone 4S. Okay, so we know that this is a bit predictable, but this is now the fastest selling handset ever. Again, Apple has not given us the most advanced hardware, but how they manage to integrate their processor, RAM and other such hardware with iOS 5 is truly amazing. There have been one or two teething issues, but you should not let that put you off. Just remember by the time the holiday season gets here there should be an update to iOS 5.

The second Premium handset that we think is worth a mention is the Samsung Galaxy S II. We know that Sammy would have released their Galaxy Nexus by the time Christmas comes, but the S2 is already a proven handset, and there are not that many spec differences between that and the Nexus. You still have a 1.2 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and that large 4.3-inch screen, but it will not have Ice Cream Sandwich right away – maybe that’s a good thing? There are so many other phones that need a mention, so we hope you like our choice?

Phone Cases
Those of you looking for an iPhone 4S case as a gift this Christmas should check out a few ideas here.
Want to get into that Christmas spirit, here are a few ideas for that perfect iPhone 4S case with a seasonal theme.
If you are a fan of NHL, then you will want to see our choice of the best NHL iPhone 4S cases with your favorite team on them.

Gaming

Gaming hardware on a budget: We got two recommendations for gaming on the go, although there are a lot more products on the market, these options will keep adults and children entertained like no other.

Nintendo 3DS: you’ll either love or hate 3D gaming and movies, and those that love it will want to go 3D on the move with the Nintendo 3DS. This year has been more about 3D than any other, and the 3DS makes a perfect gift for those that want something different when it comes to portable gaming, with incredible 3D graphics, video, and a lot of built in entertainment from the moment you open the box. You can see the official virtual tour in the video above, and buy direct by going to the Nintendo website for your country, which includes USA, Canada, UK and many more found at nintendo.com/countryselector.

Apple iPod touch: while the iPod touch costs a bit more than the 3DS, we had to include this device in our budget range thanks to the amount of money saved in the short and long term. You can easily pay $30 or more for games on the 3DS, while you’ll find thousands for free on the iPod touch and many more for just a few dollars, and the graphics are extremely good for such a small device with developers pushing the bounders further everyday. Add to this the new iOS 5 software, and you got a device that offers gaming on the cheap and a lot more thanks to apps for almost anything, this is innovation hard to find on a normal portable gaming device. Just visit your local Apple Store or the online store for the latest prices.

Premium gaming hardware: The most obvious here will be the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and while the prices are a lot cheaper in 2011, when you buy a few games or go for a bundle, the price will move up fast. The only problem with buying one of these systems for Christmas 2011 is the shelf life, both consoles are getting old now and it has been confirmed that the Xbox 720 (as it’s known) and PS4 are both being worked on, so with a release within 2 years, are you happy replacing one of these games systems within that time?

The best games for Christmas 2011: With a choice more than any year before, and November including some of the biggest game releases than we’ve ever seen before, the games to buy someone will depend on each gamer, although we can point to a few of the most popular new releases for this season.

These include massive FPS games like Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, and the PS3 exclusive Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Another game that has some die-hard fans really excited is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which is sure to consume gamers for months. Other popular titles include Batman: Arkham City, Forza Motorsport 4 and Gears of War 3.

Games by Genre
if you are looking to buy an RPG (Role Playing Game) as a Christmas gift, then check out three popular choices here.

Tablets

Budget: When thinking about a budget tablet we could go stupid and mention those that will cost less than $150, but let’s face it, they’re not going to be that good. So let’s look at a couple that will cost less than $350, as you know they will be able to do more than just browse the Internet. The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 might be a few months old and it might not be perfect, but let’s remember its price shall we? The tablet comes with a 7-inch display – too small for some – 600MHz processor, 512MB and a microSD Card slot. Next up we have the Kindle Fire from Amazon, which will be released on November 15, 2011. This again is a 7-inch tablet, and although it will not have the kind of hardware as the iPad 2 or the Galaxy Tab, it’s worth remembering that the device will cost just $199. Where this tablet will succeed where other budget ones have not is the whole experience that you get with Amazon.

Premium: Now we get to the high-end tablets, and the first up has to be the Galaxy Tab. Now we know that we could have gone for the Motorola Xoom or even the PlayBook, but Samsung has certainly come up with a very competitive tablet. Okay, we know that there have been a few issues with Apple over this, but it’s still a great device. So what makes the Tab 10.1 tick, well first we have a 1GHz Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, and let’s hope that Ice Cream Sandwich will not be far behind?

The other tablet has to be the iPad 2; again the hardware that Apple has is not the fastest, but that doesn’t stop theses devices selling by the bucket load. We know that you will be paying a premium when compared to some other tablets on the market, but you pay for what you get right? Now you can argue that Android has much more to offer in growth, but for now Apple gives all those with the iPad 2 the best tablet experience overall – unless you want to view Flash that is.

Televisions

When it comes to televisions you can really spend big, and this is a product not many people will get as a gift for Christmas, although that being said, you can get some good deals online and in local superstores, especially considering the speed new models are released and old ones are replaced. We’ve also seen some crazy TV deals during Black Friday.

You’re likely to have a favorite brand of TV, although if Samsung is not that brand we tempt you to at least consider their new range, which includes the extras found in a Samsung Smart TV.

Budget Television: Samsung offer TV’s from as little as $299.99, and while these smaller TV’s do not feature the latest Smart TV technology, you’ll find their specs and features miles better than anything seen a few years ago, or even last year.

The new 22-inch LED 5010 Series TV offers an extremely thin design, ability to connect devices to the USB port, Anytime+, Clear Motion Rate 120, 1920×1080 native resolution, full 1080P, and 2 HDMI inputs all for under $300. You can find this model and bigger screens for good prices on samsung.com.

Premium Television: When you’re treating a partner or you feel like this Christmas is going to be one of the most generous, then a premium high-end TV will make the perfect gift.

One model we love is the Samsung 55-inch LED 8000 Series Smart TV, which lets you watch 2D and 3D television, has an ultra-slim bezel design, and includes new features like “Micro Dimming Plus” and “Clear Motion Rate 960”, 4 HDMI’s for better connectivity and some of the best apps possible on TVs. You can see the full specs of this model on Samsung’s official website, or take a look at the massive range of apps on the Samsung App Store found at samsung.com/apps, which includes applications like Skype, NHL gamecenter, MTV music, and a big range of games played right from your TV.

You can see Samsung’s official app video below, which gives you an overview of Smart TV apps.

Cameras

Budget: Trying to choose the best digital camera on a budget is not as easy as you might think, this is because of the huge choice on offer, and how similar they all are when it comes to their specs. However, where they do differ is their price, you know that you will pay more for a Canon than you would an Olympus. First up we have the Canon PowerShot A1200 IS, and although it is near the high-end bracket of budget cameras, we just had to add it to the list. You will be surprised by how many features this camera comes with considering the price, and the photo and video quality is right up there with more expensive compacts. The only downside is the slow shooting performance. You cannot talk about a budget camera without mentioning the Fujifilm FinePix JZ300. You will not only be impressed with the wide-angle 10x zoom lens but also the huge choice of shooting modes. The only downside is with the overall quality of the images, as well as the case design.

Premium: Now we know that people can spend a huge amount of money on a professional camera, but for the most part they are worth every cent. One such camera is the Pentax Q camera, which uses a mirrorless system like some of Sony’s range. What this camera has going for is its powerful features and a compact body. However, how this differs is that it’s the world’s smallest compact system camera, which you can see for yourself in the video review above.

We cannot talk about the best high-end camera without mentioning the Sony Alpha A77. This camera comes with a large price tag, but you are getting a lot of hardware for your money. You will love the 24.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, interchangeable lenses and the manual control scheme. However, what might put you off is the fact that it’s not a Nikon or Canon – but don’t let that deter you from buying this camera, as it will reward you with beautiful photos.

Computing


Thinking of buying an ultraportable Windows laptop as a gift this Christmas, then here are four choices for you to consider.
Looking to buy a printer for someone this Christmas, then here are some of the best up for offer this holiday season.

Toys

One of the biggest categories for gifts at Christmas is toys, and this is an area that will cover a massive section for all different age groups. What we wanted to do is feature just a few of the hottest toys for Christmas 2011.

While we all worry about the prices of gifts and our budget at Christmas, especially with the economy being the way it is right now, but it seems every year most of us always splash out more than we should, and this is normally to make someone happy and in most cases that will be children.

The adverts on TV do not help matters, with all the hottest toys being pushed to our children before and after their favorite television programs. The video above shows Dream Toys 2011, an event that sees all the toy retailers get together and try and predict what the biggest hits will be this year.

It’s very likely that one of the toys in the above video will be the most popular toy this holiday season, and they include the Doggie Doo game, Lego as always, Elmo from Sesame Street, a Fireman Sam “Pontypandy” rescue set, Fijit Friends, and a lot more. Below is a recent video from the 2011 New York Toy Fair.

Other

Here we have listed four in-ear headphones for all budgets, hope you like them?

We also think that it’s worth pointing out that Black Friday 2011 will be the best time to find a deal, and you’ll be lucky to find prices as low, especially the doorbuster deals that are extremely limited. If you can wait to the end of November for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you could grab a real bargain.

Also See: Best Christmas toys in 2014 for iOS, Android