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BW Businessworld

Season’s Gifting

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Ah, my favourite time of the year is back, when parents loosen purse strings and significant others look the other way as you ready yourself to plonk down some hard-earned cash to indulge your deepest gadgety desires! And just in time, our time-honored list of the picks for this festive season — unequivocal must-have gadgets of 2012, gadgets that have earned their spot at the front of the line, vying for your attention (and wallets!) —is back! Go ahead folks, splurge to your heart’s content!

Smartphones: Flagship phones from the iOS and Android stables quite literally sell themselves, so it’s no surprise the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the HTC One X and the iPhone 4S make the cut as the must-have picks for the season. But for its unbeatable price-features-combo, the HTC One S earns my pick for the smartphone to pick up this season – it’s powerful, stylish, beautifully thin and blessed with great features that make you question why you’d pay more for the incremental upgrades in the flagship devices. Plus, it’s due an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean upgrade before the month runs out! Savvy buyers would also realize that with upgrades just around the corner, prices on the One X and the iPhones are set to dip, and you can snap up a great deal on one of these during the festive period!

Cameras: I came away mighty impressed by the Sony RX100 in my recent review, and the more I think about it, this is the camera for which I’d put some serious money down. Premium build quality, bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, an innovative lens ring and full HD video – this is one for the photo enthusiast as well as the fashion conscious. But it’s the exceptional low-light performance and DSLR-level images in a compact form factor that really seal the deal for me, and alleviate some of the pain caused by its dSLR-challenging price. For those who have a hankering for interchangeable lens and portly dSLR bodies, you can’t go wrong with Nikon D3200 or the Canon 600D – both offer room for the photographer in you to grow, without breaking the bank.

Laptops: Blame the marketing mavens in Intel for this category being overrun by ultrabooks in this year’s picks. Yet, two ultrabooks have risen above the clutter to earn my recommendation – the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the HP Envy Spectre XT (look out for my review for both in the weeks to come). Both represent the best of the category – premium design, ultra-thin and blazing fast! Be aware that the cloud of the Windows 8 launch looms large over the PC/notebook segment, so the months to come will be nothing short of exciting in terms of launches. It may be prudent to wait and watch for the new breed of Windows 8 hardware before you take the plunge.

Tablets: It’s still iPad territory ‘round these parts, and with the rumors of an iPad mini growing louder, it remains the tablet to plonk your hard-earned money down for. That said, some genuinely credible competition from the Android stables has come this year, from the most surprising of quarters – budget Android tablets. Google’s foray into the tablet market with the brilliantly priced Nexus 7 makes this my go-to Android tablet to pick up - albeit from ebay unless you’re willing to wait for the official November launch. Since this a Google ‘Nexus’ device, it packs in the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS – in fact, as you read this, the next version 4.1.2 is already out on the device. Not to forget the tablet’s other big draws - a top-of-the-range Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, a stylish build, and a price-tag of $199 that makes all other Android tablets look horribly overpriced and bloated! Just goes to prove the old saying – if you want the job done properly, you may as well do it yourself! The Micromax Funbook Pro and the BSNL-branded Penta T-Pad are great budget alternatives as well.

Gaming Hardware: With major gaming consoles yet to see a long-overdue refresh, what’s a gamer to pick in terms of hardware? My vote goes to the Alienware X51 – a powerhouse of a gaming PC squeezed into a stylish console-sized case that feels more at home in your living room hooked up to your TV than hidden away in a study.

But this form factor hasn’t come at the cost of performance? Not at all, with the X51, the specs remain reliably ludicrous – even inside its smaller shell, Alienware have managed to cram in up to an Intel Core i7 3.40GHz processor, supported by a colossal 8GB of RAM and up to a 1 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555 graphics card as well. Granted, it’s far pricier than an Xbox or a PS3, but the dizzying array of specs give it a huge performance advantage that will let you crank up the settings on your PC games to mind-boggling levels. And with PC games available for about a third of their console siblings, it can even out if you’re a heavy gamer!

Game of the Year:
It’s been a great year in terms of games, and it’s likely to get even better with some of the titles that are set to launch in the year-end. But for now, Sleeping Dogs, with its excellent storyline and top-notch realism and gameplay earns the top spot in games to play this season. You could think of it as a Hong Kong version of Grand Theft Auto – for me, it’s easily the most enjoyable game of this year…so far.

Accessory: There are so many excellent accessories for your gadgets, but few that do the job as elegantly as the Olloclip, a small iPhone add-on that adds fish-eye, macro, or wide-angle capabilities to the iPhone camera. Take it for a spin, and you’ll realise what a difference it makes to your shots!
 

technocool at kanwar dot net
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