Even if you’re not a self-professed gearhead or gadget enthusiast, it’s impossible to avoid technology’s growing influence: From smartphones to tablets, streaming media extenders to cutting-edge gaming systems, high-tech advancements are increasingly permeating all facets of everyday life. Happily, as a working parent, business owner, and longtime fan of consumer electronics, I’m pleased to say that it continues to open doors for today’s end-user – literally hundreds of options in every connected category now offer incredible (and incredibly accessible and affordable) ways to work, play and have more fun. Being a practical man though, I’m all about picking the mobile devices and gadgets that are laser-focused on everyday value. As you can see from some recent collections of awe-inspiring new gadgets and accessories we’ve assembled, the key to picking the right high-tech gear is choosing the gizmos, accessories and features that make life simpler and more enjoyable on a day-to-day basis.
With so many options to pick from in every area of consumer electronics from HDTVs to digital cameras, we already try to strike a balance in terms of performance and practicality when it comes to helping friends and family compile their wish lists for the 2014 holiday season. As you’ll quickly see from top reviewed picks such as the iPad Air, PlayStation 4 and Garmin nuvi 3597LMT HD, most of our selections offer a wide array of both entertaining and practical uses, and are continually being expanded via additional software downloads. (Many free of charge – score!) You, see when it comes to choosing the best technology gifts for the holidays, it’s important to focus on maximizing bang for the buck, and buying devices that not only serve a variety of exciting functions from social networking to beaming down streaming videos, but can also double in place of other gadgets. If you take a look at some of the recent suggestions we’ve compiled (you can see several collections at eBay, where we’ll be regularly updating readers with recommended picks) from the best travel gadgets to innovative new ways to work and play, you may notice a running theme. Specifically, that all include selections that don’t just meet a variety of needs and interests, and boast features you’re likely to use on a running basis, but also are easily expandable to become even more entertaining and useful over time.
If you’re buying on a budget, no need to fear either: Plenty of chic smartphones, eye-catching tablet PCs and accessories, and high-tech toys for kids of all ages can help get you connected. And if you look online, you’ll notice a promising trend: More and more great options are available to choose from with each passing day, and quickly falling in price. Whether it’s a Kindle Fire HDX tablet or Beats by Dre Studio set of headphones that’s caught your eye, a quick glance online reveals dozens of deals available in every category, so you can pick up some serious high-end hardware without breaking the bank. Better yet, it’s not just actual devices that are getting an upgrade either. As with downloadable apps, courtesy of growing online and Internet multiplayer capabilities, today’s best video games and family-friendly game choices for every system no longer end, but rather begin with what’s in the box instead. Across the board, these upgrades add up to devices, online services and apps that are more compelling, more varied, and more useful with each passing day.
Moreover, you don’t have to be a self-professed geek to get the most out of any of these choices either. Thanks to the growing popularity of touch-screens, hyper-intuitive applications and speedy setup procedures, users of every experience level will quickly find today’s top mobile devices and gadgets increasingly simple to enjoy. So if you haven’t put high-tech gear and accessories on your list of top picks for friends and family this year, I highly recommend doing so. You’d be amazed just how much of a hit technology can be with all interests and ages – and how much the entire gang will get out of the experience. As an added bonus, thanks to widespread Internet access, growing availability of streaming media and increasing social network and sharing capabilities, realize – most devices make for gifts that keep on giving.
We invite you to stay tuned throughout the holidays as we continue to bring you a growing selection of top choices to keep an eye on, and make the gift-giving process easier. To keep up with many of our favorites and share your own collections, be sure to stay tuned to our top picks, which we’ll continue to post at eBay, and check back regularly over here at TechSavvyMag.com as well. Stick around, and you may be surprised at just what kind of sparkle the season has to offer. We’re thrilled and delighted to help share these highlights with you and yours – especially with so many great gadgets now easily affordable and accessible to a skyrocketing number of enthusiasts.
eBay Collections are curated in collaboration with eBay.
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Fall is among the busiest seasons for the best new video game releases. With the holiday shopping months just around the corner, game publishers frequently do their very best products on shelves just before the winter fervor begins, which leads to a torrent of releases spread out from September and October to Thanksgiving and beyond. But with so many top new games demanding attention, what are some of the better bets? Here are some which often lend their appeal to an older audience.
FIFA 14 – The world’s most popular sport is back for another round. New licensing agreements mean that even more soccer teams from around the world are available this year, and the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions will feature added realism in the way the players look, move, and act. Those who opt for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions now will find that some retailers are willing to offer full-value trades to those who want to upgrade to the next generation versions upon their November release.
Grand Theft Auto V – Rockstar Games returns to the city of Los Santos for the ultimate heist with triple the trouble. Players take control of three different characters over the course of this crime spree adventure, each with their own special talents for causing chaos and their own unique roles in the story. An online multiplayer mode adds to the mayhem, allowing up to 16 players to collude and conspire in anything from bank robberies to street racing to just seeing who can be the last man standing in a good old-fashioned death match.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – Final Fantasy XIV is an online version of the hit role-playing game which was released in 2010, and fell completely flat. Rather than just give up on it and its users, developer Square Enix instead opted to drop a meteor on the world while tucking its players away somewhere they’d be protected until “it’s safe to come out again.” That brings us to the remade, rebuilt, and re-envisioned A Realm Reborn, which sees players interact with each other online as they set about to forge a new future from the ruins of the old world.
Call of Duty: Ghosts – The latest in Activision’s smash-hit military shooter series places players in a near future in which the United States has lost its status as a global superpower. Taking on the role of a U.S. Special Forces operative in a unit known as “Ghost,” your goal is to help protect the country from the invading threats forming to the south of the nation’s borders. And as always, the game’s ever-popular online multiplayer will return with new features, including character customization.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist – Sam Fisher is back in the series’ sixth installment, and this time he’s out to thwart the scheme of a terrorist group who plan to continue initiating a series of escalating attacks against on United States assets unless the government gives in to their demands of recalling all American troops deployed abroad. Multiplayer features both competitive and cooperative options, and the Wii U and Xbox 360 versions each provide unique ways to interact with the game through their respective GamePad and Kinect controllers.
Watch_Dogs – In a future where Chicago is controlled by a massive supercomputer mainframe, players take on the role of Aiden Pierce, a hacker who can use his fists as well as his wits to achieve his goals. Hack into everything from bank accounts to traffic signals while sneaking through the shadows and parkour jumping from building to building to reach your objective. Watch_Dogs also contains the sneakiest online multiplayer mode ever devised, wherein a second player joins the first’s single-player game without their knowing to try to siphon off information without being caught.
Saints Row IV – This is a game where the lunatics run the asylum. The Boss of a gang known as the 3rd Street Saints manages to disarm a nuclear missile in midair before it reaches Washington, earning the adulation of the American public. Five years later, the Boss has been elected President of the United States and has made the Saints cabinet members… just before the aliens invade and capture them all. This is open-world mayhem in the style of Grand Theft Auto, but with a much zanier and more humorous tone than its contemporary.
Batman: Arkham Origins – Set five years before the hit Batman: Arkham Asylum, Origins takes us into the second year of the Dark Knight’s legendary career. At this point, Batman has made his mark and now has a price on his head, leading to a group of assassins hunting him as he chases down criminals who are readily taking advantage of the situation. This installment also introduces a new multiplayer mode which pits members of Bane’s gang against members of the Joker’s, all while the third faction of Batman and Robin are out to take out both.
Madden NFL 25 – This year marks a quarter-century of EA Sports’ National Football League-branded title which celebrates and is endorsed by the legendary player, coach, and commentator himself, John Madden. Better graphics, physics, and more accompany new gameplay features, such as the ability to move teams to new cities, including international markets or revive historic teams, including those in the ill-fated NFL Europe. Those who purchase the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions will also find that some retailers will allow them to trade the games towards the more advanced Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions as they become available in November.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – From the Third Crusades to Renaissance Italy to Colonial America, the Assassin’s Creed series has spanned the pages of history. Its next stop: Setting sail on the high seas as a pirate, players will venture across the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. For those familiar with the series, this chapter seeks to return to the more open-world feel of the original game, with over 50 locations to explore across the land and sea and encounters with real historical individuals such as Blackbeard.
If it sometimes seems like finding the best fall or holiday gifts for women can be difficult, realize: Technology makes a great starting point, with loads of great gadgets, gear and accessories to pick from for every budget and interest. As technology improves, so too does value continue to compound as well – expect high-tech presents to be well-received, as they’re gifts that keep on giving. A few great examples of top picks you might begin with include:
Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum and AirFloss – Hearing someone with a camera shout “smile!” doesn’t need to be a cause for awkward hesitation – and certainly not when you’re taking extra-good care of those pearly whites. The Sonicare Flexcare Platinum is an electric toothbrush with extra-long bristles and pressure sensors that can help keep your teeth healthy and bright. The AirFloss takes care of eliminating plaque by getting into those harder-to-reach places by using microburst technology to distribute micro-droplets of air and water between your teeth. In short, you get a great looking smile and fresh breath – still more gifts that all can enjoy.
Phiaton PS 210 BTNC Headphones – Usable with everything from the iPhone and iPod to laptops, MP3 players, CDs, and even DVD players, these headphones offer greater freedom of movement through Bluetooth 3.0, and provide noise-canceling and “MaxBass” technology, meaning that songs don’t have to be affected by ambient sounds from without or the reverb that would normally be caused within. The added microphone adds further functionality, allowing these headphones to enable phone conversations as well.
Parrot Zik Headphones – These headphones offer a degree of control unlike any other. Using touch sensor technology, you can do everything from adjust the volume to switching tracks, as well as take, end, refuse, or even set up dual phone calls with just a swipe. They even know when to play, based on whether they’re being kept around one’s neck or raised to the listening position, and can be configured to generate a concert hall-like effect, making the music sound as though it’s coming from in front of you.
Hawking HWREN2 Wireless Extender – Losing your home wireless connection is always irritating, but with this wireless extender, you can rest easy. The HWREN2 boasts not only double the normal Wi-Fi network coverage, but also a performance level that’s three times stronger than any extender or repeater on the market. This can be especially handy if you’re living in an older building with denser walls not made to allow signals to pass through.
iPhone 5S – The latest release in Apple’s seemingly unstoppable iJuggernaut is this revision of the iPhone 5. Available in three colors (gold, silver, and space gray), this iteration features an improved camera and a new sapphire crystal Home button that adds greater security by reading your fingerprint before unlocking the device, negating the need for a four-digit password. Not only do you get a stylish and handy smartphone that’s great for a variety of day-to-day uses – you also get heightened power and performance.
Nexus 7 2013 – The newer, lighter Nexus 7 is an Android tablet which features a 7-inch screen and provides up to nine hours of high definition video playback or ten hours of web browsing and reading. Play games, read books, watch TV, or listen to music, all in one half-pound portable device. Recharging is a snap, too, as this gadget allows the task to be handled wirelessly, making it easier than ever to keep your device ready at a moment’s notice.
Pikmin 3 – Get back to nature in a whole new way with this casual strategy game. Taking control of three different microscopic spacemen (well, two men and one woman), your objective is to direct groups of the eponymous plant-people to conquer challenging puzzles and predators in the oversized wilderness while retrieving enough of the giant fruit scattered about to sustain your hungry home planet. You can also challenge a friend in the two-player Bingo Battle mode, wherein you’ll each try to obtain four of the fruits on your card first for victory!
Saints Row IV – Though video games can often be seen as a boys’ club, everyone enjoys a good story and a bit of mayhem, and Saints Row IV brings both in spades. Whereas the Grand Theft Auto series has all but completely left behind the zanier part of its roots, Saints Row has come to not only embrace that brand of over the top craziness, but expand upon it as well. Create the character you want– male or female– as you prepare to take on the role of the President of the United States and fend off an alien invasion.
Targus UltraLife Thin Canvas Case – Sometimes, having your phone or tablet around just isn’t enough; you need to have your laptop on hand. That’s where this handy case comes in: A top-loading compartment for laptop computers with screens up to 14.1 inches in size, a slim design, magnetic clasps, and storage for numerous other items mean you can have it all at your fingertips when you’re on the go. Plus, it comes in three different colors (black, gray, or white) and even features a retractable handle for when the shoulder strap won’t do.
Philips SatinPerfect Epilator – When it comes to hair removal, the SatinPerfect Epilator has you covered with an extra-wide head and textured ceramic tweezers which boast more hair removed in a single stroke. Use the built-in opti-light to reveal the tinier and finer hairs which might otherwise escape notice, and the controls allow you to set the speed you’re most comfortable with. One charge lasts for 40 minutes of epilation, and it recharges again in just one hour.