The holiday shopper's guide to gifts & gadgets

NEED TO KNOW
  • Choosing tech gifts this holiday season
  • Electronics deal aggregator site Tech Bargains has the top tech gift for each member of the family
The holiday shopper's guide to gifts & gadgets

The gift-giving season is once again upon us, and we all know what that means: it's time to spend way too much time agonizing over finding the perfect gift for every member of the family. And when it comes to technology, all the gadget options can make a shopper’s head spin! But think about it, the best gift is the one that'll get used the most. The tricky part is figuring out which gadget fulfills that goal for each member of the family. So that's when we turn to the experts.

Tech aggregator site Tech Bargains is dedicated to helping consumers save money on electronic products. The site searches the Internet as well as brick-and-mortar stores for the best deals on the best products. The Low Price Search Engine then helps you keep up with deals on the latest tech products, as well as any other product you're looking for. Ahead of every holiday season, Tech Bargains releases its annual holiday shopping survey, which is a preview of what types of technology products consumers plan to buy. This year, more than half of the survey's respondents (53%) plan to purchase a tablet, which is a huge jump from last year (40%).

Roundup: Black Friday sales will be bigger & better

So what are the latest and greatest top tech gadgets we should be on the lookout for this year? Here are Tech Bargains' top recommendations:

Holiday Kitchen Gadgets

  1. Portable Induction Cooktop: by Nesco ($99.99, Available at QCI Direct) -- The Portable Induction Cooktop is an energy saving cooking solution for the kitchen, office, RV or dorm. Since there are no open flames, it's safer than a traditional stovetop.
  2. iGrill Thermometer: by iGrill Inc ($79.99, Available at Best Buy and Apple Stores) -- The iGrill is an app-enabled wireless Bluetooth cooking thermometer. Download the free iGrill app for your Apple or Android device. With the iGrill's long-range Bluetooth technology you are able to monitor your cooking from up to 200' away. Your device will alert you when your food is ready!
  3. Chef Sleeve: by Chef Sleeve ($9.99 for 10-pack for iPhone or iPad $19.99, Available at Target) -- Sleeve effortlessly shields the iPad with a snug and secure fit. Also available for Kindle at $19.99 for 25 pack.
  4. Dishwasher Safe Cutting Board and Stand: by Chef Sleeve (Board: $64.99, Stand: $34.99) -- A perfect compliment for using the iPad in the kitchen. Made from Epicurean's eco-friendly paper composite material, heat resistant to 350 degrees, two separate viewing angles.
  5. Smart Shopper Grocery List Organizer: by SmartShopper Electronics ($149.95) -- The SmartShopper Grocery List Organizer uses voice recognition technology, so anyone in the family (from ages 5 to 95) can quickly enter an item onto the family grocery list using just their voice. When the family is ready to shop, a categorized list prints right out of the unit!

Tech Gifts for the Family

  1. NeoTV MAX: by Netgear ($69.99, Available at Target, Staples, and Best Buy) -- Turn any TV into a Smart TV with hundreds of streaming channels for your TV. Enjoy thousands of streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, and more. Easily browse YouTube clips or listen to Pandora or Rhapsody on your TV. Free NeoTV remote control app for smartphones and tablets.
    *Great gift for the entire family!
  2. Innotab 2: by VTech ($79.99, Available at Target and Wal-Mart) -- VTech's InnoTab 2 is a multi-media tablet with a 5" inch touch screen great for kids ages 3-9. It comes equipped with tilt sensor, photo viewer, video player, MP3 music player, e-reader, art studio, microphone and more.
    *For child
  3. Candy Speaker: by QVC ($17) -- This sweet lollipop speaker plugs into an MP3 player and pumps out approximately six hours of continuous songs in terrific sound quality. When the music stops, you can use the USB rechargeable speaker as a fashion accessory!
    *For teen
  4. "Chant" Bluetooth Speaker: by House of Marley ($99.99) -- Let's you take your music with you, providing great sound from a compact, earth-friendly package. And it easily connects to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch via Bluetooth. A portion of all proceeds go to 1Love.org which partners with charities that empower people to take action.
    *For teen
  5. Power Cup USB & AC Car Charger: ($35, available here) -- Quiet, powers off when you turn off your car, two outlets, USB outlet, smart style, won't roll around like my old inverter when not in use, keep in cup holder and very practical.
    *For Mom & Dad
  6. Phorus Wireless Speaker: by Phorus ($199, Available at Amazon and Phorus) -- Wireless home audio solution for Android. First speaker to feature Play-Fi allowing quality audio over standard Wi-Fi, anywhere in the house. Compatible with android devices.
    *For Mom & Dad

Hot Holiday Tech Trends & Out of the Box Tech

  1. Ultrabooks: ENVY 4 TouchSmart Ultrabook by HP ($900, Available at Best Buy) & IdeaPad Yoga 13 by Lenovo ($999, Available at Best Buy)
    The IdeaPad® Yoga 13 is the world's first multi-mode Ultrabook that provides the ultimate flexibility between a laptop and tablet. With its 10-point multi-touch screen and keyboard able to fold back 360°, it's designed for work and play.
  2. Mobile Charging: Instant Messenger Bag by Powerbag ($179.99) & Zip Mini Touch-n-Go by Joy Factory ($49.95)
    Powerbag: Battery system powerful enough to charge a smartphone up to 4 times. The laptop and tablet pockets are padded for safe transport, external one-touch battery level indication and power button. The logo button turns Powerbag on or off when you press and hold for 2 seconds.
    Zip Mini: The Zip Mini is bundled with ultra-short, tangle-proof "ZipTails" which are equipped with rounded magnetic chargers at the end and connect to any of the dimpled spots on the main charging pad. The Zip Mini can charge up to four cellular phones at once.
  3. Wireless Audio: Rukus by Eton ($150) & Ecoxbt by ECOXGEAR ($129.99) -- both available at Amazon
    Rukus: a Bluetooth compatible boombox with solar panel. Never run out of power (the device also comes with an AC adapter for easy charging). Rukus also features an easy to read E Ink display that allows you to see stats like battery charge, solar charge and Bluetooth connectivity even in direct sunlight. It can also charge most devices that use a USB cable.
    Ecoxbt: Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker. It floats and has 10 hours of play time.
  4. Out of the Box: Sony Personal 3D Viewer ($799, available at Sony)

Tablet Wars

  1. iPad 4th Generation (starting at $499, available at Apple)
    Find available deals and details at Tech Bargains.
  2. iPad Mini: (starting at $329, available at Apple)
    Find available deals and details at Tech Bargains.
  3. Google Nexus 7 : (starting at $199, available at Staples)
  4. Kindle Fire HD 7" (starting at $199, Available at Amazon)
  5. Kindle Fire 7" (starting at $159, available at Amazon)

For more details on what each tablet has to offer, check out Consumer Reports' tablet reviews.

And as the crazy holiday season of traveling and shopping gets fully underway, check out Consumer Reports' 2012 Naughty or Nice list to see which companies' policies and practices are meeting consumers' expectations.

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