High-Tech Holidays: 2014 Wish Lists

High-Tech Holidays: 2014 Wish Lists

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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Video Games: Fun Picks for Fall

26 September, 2013 Play No comments
Video Games: Fun Picks for Fall

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.

Great Gifts for Him: Fall and Holiday

25 September, 2013 Life No comments
Great Gifts for Him: Fall and Holiday

Some find fall and holiday shopping for gifts for guys to be more than a little difficult, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Provided the subject in question leans more towards technophile than rugged outdoorsman, there are a variety of staples you can come back to time and again to provide everlasting enjoyment. Following are several of the best gifts and gadgets for guys available now, all of which can help put a smile on that special someone’s face.

Beats by Dre Beats Studio – Dr. Dre is a legend in the music industry, acting as both a rapper and a producer. As a result, you can bet that he has a good idea of how music should sound when delivered to your ears. That inspired this line of headphones which allows fans of music to “feel the emotion and hear the music the way artists intended it to sound from the studio.” Read: Really loud, really crisp, and really likely to make neighbors jealous.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12 –The future is now. While Tony “Iron Man” Stark has J.A.R.V.I.S. and Master Chief has Cortana, those of us looking for high-quality speech-to-text translations have Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12 for PC and Mac. Designed for easy dictation and note-taking, you’re no longer limited to typing as this software allows you to dictate your needs directly so that you can modify documents and spreadsheets, send e-mail, search the web, and more. You can even relay on-the-go recordings back to it to be transcribed back on your PC. The free companion iPhone app works nicely for jotting down memos as well.

Kindle Paperwhite 3G  and Kindle Fire HDX – Reading books is fun, but reality tends to get in the way, particularly if you’re on the go a lot. The weight and space taken up by carrying numerous books is negated with this eye-catching tablet from Amazon, which works in a variety of lighting conditions. Just load it up with titles and take it wherever you go, whether it’s a hotel on a business trip, or you’re just waiting for Zs to kick in at night. The battery lasts for up to eight weeks per charge, and it even features free 3G wireless access for when you need to grab the latest hit novel while away from home. Great for both New York Times bestsellers and self-published books, also be sure to see the Kindle Fire HDX – a super-charged, color version of the device sporting a gorgeous 8.9-inch display, beefy 2.2GHz processor, and 11 hours of battery life – plus a Mayday button for free, 24/7/365 tech support between playing games, watching movies and web surfing.

Sony MDR-10RNC headphones – If dealing with ambient noise is a problem for you while listening to music, then Sony has the answer. The MDR-10RNC headphones are compatible with Android and Apple devices, and can analyze the environment around you to properly reduce up to 99 percent of ambient sound at the push of a button. With a swivel design, they travel well too, making them an especial boon to frequent commuters.

Targus 17 inch Deluxe Leather Laptop Case – One’s laptop can be a very valuable piece of equipment, and taking good care of it is always a priority. This particular case is designed to carry and protect such pieces of equipment bearing screens of up to 17 inches, and is designed for easy top-loading access. Other features include a workstation for carrying on-the-go business essentials, a removable pouch, phone section, file holder, and even a strap for attaching it to a larger rolling travel case.

Samsonite Columbian Leather Flapover Case – Made from full-grain brown or black leather, this luxury choice for transporting your laptop measurse in at 15.6 inches and features a main compartment with padded storage, a removable and adjustable padded shoulder strap, and a SmartStrap to slide over the handles of upright luggage, allowing for greater ease of mobility. Among the most stylish cases we’ve ever seen, it’s perfect for bringing along on business trips, and turning both clients’ and colleagues’ heads.

Amped Wireless REA20 802.11ac Range Extender and Router: Dealing with weak or dropped wireless Internet signals is always a pain, but Amped Wireless has the cure for what ails your WiFi network with its newest flagship product. Staking its claim as the first router model in the industry to utilize the 802.11ac standard, this device can repeat, amplify, and rebroadcast signals from any wireless router up to 10,000 square feet, and is reinforced by a variety of different security features. Trust us: When you’re trying to download games from Steam or stream videos from Netflix throughout the house, it can be a godsend.

Madden NFL 25 Are you ready for some football? EA Sports celebrates its quarter-centennial of Super Bowl winning victoies with legendary National Football League player, coach, and commentator John Madden like never before in this year’s release. Numerous new features have been added, from improved graphics and physics to new running controls and an environment which reacts to how you play within it. Designed with the next-generation PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in mind, this title is also available now on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with some retailers allowing customers to trade up to the newer version when the new consoles hit in November.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist – Available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC, the latest installment of Ubisoft’s hit stealth action series brings secret agent Sam Fisher back into the heat of the action with single and multiplayer modes, as well as a new “Killing in Motion” ability that allows Fisher to take care of multiple opponents in rapid succession without missing a beat. The Wii U and Xbox 360 versions feature unique elements, such as controlling Sam’s arm-mounted computer directly on the Wii U GamePad or saying things to distract enemies through the Xbox 360’s Kinect sensor before attacking.

Beats by Dre Pill Headphones are good when you’re keeping your music to yourself, but there are other times when you want to share the love with everyone around. For these party-time instances, the Pill portable speaker helps really bring the noise. Lightweight, wireless, and Bluetooth-enabled, it’s especially easy to swallow with a wide variety of different colors and styles to choose from.

Norelco SensoTouch 3D – One, two, three times the shaving power is what you get with this product line from Norelco. Touted as the company’s most advanced electric shaver, the three-way flexible heads boast a comfortable shaving experience, whether you prefer to go in dry or lather it up with some foam for a more refreshing wet shave.