Welcome Upgrades: Gifts and Gear

25. September, 2013 Life No comments
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In the world of technology and consumer electronics, greater power and performance seem to be all the rage. That’s definitively a positive for end-users: We like better, brawnier and shinier new devices as much as any enthusiast. But an even more important trend to keep in mind as you go about shopping this year is the push towards broader functionality – in other words, single devices that can double in the place of many, allowing you to purchase them once and use them as a substitute for other gadgets, and in a variety of helpful everyday contexts.

Case in point: Microsoft’s promising new entertainment and gaming system, the Xbox One. This all-in-one games and entertainment system makes an engaging holiday option to keep in mind. Besides its ability to play a ton of great games including Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome, you can actually plug the device into your cable box and use your voice to find your favorite shows. Plus, Apps like Skype allow you to use the Kinect camera to video chat on your TV, and its motion-sensing camera offers a ready way to physically interact with on-screen action. Happily, the device launches November 22nd, so you won’t have long to wait to check it out.

Fans of DIY projects might also want to have a close look at the Craftsman Bolt-On system, which can help out with all those household projects you’ve been putting off this holiday as well. Essentially, it’s America’s largest modular power tool attachment system, offering 10 interchangeable attachments so you can take a Drill/Driver starter kit as a base, then transform it into a router, reciprocating saw and more in just seconds – naturally, this makes it a handy all-purpose performer. Normally $120, the set’s on sale for $80 this holiday season, as are the attachments. For more info, you can go sign up online for the Craftsman Club featuring Shop Your Way Rewards which offers a variety of useful deals too.  

If you’re like us, you’re probably using a PC that’s 4 or 5 (or more!) years old too – and probably know all about the waiting game, as you sit there in bored frustration waiting for programs to load. So you might want to consider buying a new system, in which case, it’s definitely a good idea to think about balancing both power and versatility in any machine you consider. Worth noting: Intel’s 4th generation Core processors power a new “2 in 1” category of devices such as the Sony VAIO Duo 13, which you may want to scope out because they not only transition from laptop to tablet, but also offer considerable horsepower, impressive graphics capabilities, and upwards of 9 hours of battery life – always useful on those long holiday trips.

Music lovers also have a variety of welcome all-purpose options available, as we’re pleased to note. We’ve been playing around with and enjoying the Ultimate Ears (UE) Boom wireless speaker, just one example, which connects to your device through Bluetooth, letting you switch songs and adjust volume from up to 50 feet away. Most impressively, the speaker’s 360-degree design blasts crisp, powerful sound in every direction, so you basically get room-filling audio from a small, highly-portable device. As an added bonus, it features a 15-hour rechargeable battery and is water- and stain-resistant so it also travels nicely.

Worth noting as an aside: If you’re looking to beat the holiday crowds, and save the trouble of fighting your way through crowded parking lots and lengthy lines, it may be worth doing much of your gift shopping online. One useful option to consider here would be picking up an Amazon.com Prime membership (just $79 – don’t worry, you can always sign up now for a free 30-day trial), because it offers unlimited free two-day shipping on something ridiculous like 15 million items. (As in literally click to delivery in two days – always handy if you wait until the last-minute like we do.) Needless to say, it can save you time and trouble.

As we pointed out above, whichever fancy new upgrades you choose, it’s not always about buying the biggest and brightest gadgets: Sometimes, it’s also about picking up those that can offer a Swiss Army knife’s worth of capabilities, helping you save time and money in the long run.

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About author

Nadia Oxford

Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com's Guide to the Nintendo DS.

View all posts by Nadia Oxford

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