Gadgets and Gifts: High-Tech Holiday Gear

24 November, 2013 Life No comments
Gadgets and Gifts: High-Tech Holiday Gear

The holidays are coming up quick, meaning that if you haven’t picked up the perfect present for everyone on your list, now’s a good time to start thinking about what gadgets, gear and gift options to grab. Between two new video game systems, high-powered and eye-catching smartphones, and numerous new ways to work and play, the good news is that plenty of viable options exist. Better still, the beauty of technology as a gift-giving choice is that it appeals to everyone, is bound to be used day in and out, and (thanks to downloadable add-ons, upgrades and streaming media choices) will sustain friends’ and loved ones’ interest longer than ever before. So if you’re on the fence about what to buy for everyone, consider browsing through an ever-growing range of consumer electronics: There’s no shortage of awe-inspiring choices to pick from.

Not a high-tech enthusiast? Have no fear. In addition to growing power and performance, one of the most exciting trends we’re seeing today amongst gadgets and mobile devices is growing accessibility, and ever more approachable user interfaces. Whether you’re looking to beam down high-definition (HD) songs, movies and TV shows to your living room, access a variety of useful apps, or check out the latest books, magazines or breaking news reports on-demand, everything’s now literally a click or call away. Which, of course, will prove a boon to both families and working professionals: For less than ever before, in more ways than ever before, you can access a growing range of practical and cost-affordable entertainment and productivity options. So if you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to pick up a new tablet PCs, grab a new sound bar for your home theater, or make the jump from paper to electronic books (eBooks), the holidays present a perfect excuse to give your life a 21st century upgrade.

Seriously – after 25 years in this business, even we are floored by the sheer scope and capabilities of the technology solutions on offer today. From portable media players to 3D gaming handhelds, wireless all-in-one printers to Swiss Army knife-life two-in-one hybrid PCs/tablets, we’re enjoying a golden age of gizmos unlike any experienced to date. Best of all, with Black Friday coming up, you won’t find a better time to browse the virtual aisles, as the week promises some of the best deals of the year to date. Skim through some of the recent collections of attention-getting accessories, gadgets and gear we’ve posted online at eBay, for example, and you’ll find just a few of hundreds of great options available in every category.

Which, of course, brings up another good point: If you’re no fan of long lines, or fighting tooth and nail for parking at the mall, online shopping provides a handy alternative this holiday season. Among its biggest pluses is the ability to browse far larger aisles than you’d find at local retailers, and have presents shipped right to friends’ and family members’ homes in just a matter of days. Note that there’s still plenty of time to grab gadgets and gear, get them to recipients’ front steps in time for the holidays, and do so without breaking the bank thanks to growingly fast and affordable shipping options as well. However, whichever route you choose to go when buying selections from the latest high-tech toys to hottest new family gaming picks, be smart about where you spend. Only buy the features you plan to use regularly, and those that promise to be most practical for your situation – there’s no need to spend extra just to feel as if you’re keeping up with the Joneses.

Wherever possible, we always recommend going hands-on with devices to see how you like their feel and design, and shopping around for deals from different vendors to see who offers the best mix of value as well. Some welcome options can be found in our recent collections of high-tech picks, which we’ll continue to post and update over at eBay, and here at TechSavvyMag.com as the coming weeks unfold. But don’t be fooled: A little searching around on sites such as these will also reveal dozens of additional deals in virtually every consumer electronics category. In fact, you might even want to consider getting loved ones and acquaintances gift cards and certificates as a present. Sometimes, the chance to browse through buying listings and top gift-giving picks can be every bit as fun as receiving a ribbon-wrapped present.

No matter if you’re looking for ways to entertain yourself on road trips and cross-country flights, or looking to swap out an old PC or laptop, it’s our pleasure to keep you up to date on the latest and greatest new high-tech options. Naturally, we welcome any and all suggestions from you and your family as well: By all means, please reach out and contact us, or post your own collections online, if you have added suggestions. In the meantime, we wish you and yours the best this holiday season – and the best of luck choosing from all those shiny new HDTVs, Bluetooth speakers, and mobile devices. If this year’s crop of connected gadgets is an indicator of what’s to come, 2014 looks to be an equally bright and promising year for fans of everything electronic.

eBay Collections are curated in collaboration with eBay.

#FollowItFindIt for more great picks and advice.

Best Board Games of 2013

Best Board Games of 2013

Though video games and other high-tech toys are more popular than ever, classic tabletop board games are experiencing a renaissance as well. A longtime favorite on family game nights, the best of the bunch continue to grow in popularity and production values as well. Looking for the top new board game picks available today? Here are several of the choicest selections of both new and classic experiences worth adding to your collection:

Monopoly by Hasbro – No list of board games would not be complete without Monopoly, so what better game to kick things off? Though there is a good chance you’ve played Monopoly before, there is an ever-growing list of variations to discover, and we don’t just mean themed versions based on a variety of pop culture staples such as Nintendo, Marvel Comics, The Lord of the Rings, and Dr. Who. Monopoly Empire, for example, introduces a tower to fill with billboards featuring such brands as McDonald’s, eBay, and Xbox, while Monopoly Millionaire challenges you to reach one million dollars first. Other variations include the app-enhanced Monopoly Zapped and the streamlined gameplay of Monopoly Electronic Banking.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG by Goodman Games – Rather than placing you in the role of hero, this role playing game allows you to take on a darker and more sinister persona, from reavers to cutpurses, heathen slayers, or even those creepy warlocks who guard secrets long since forgotten. Dungeon Crawl Classics promises fast, old-school style gameplay with modern rules which govern your use of sword and sorcery as you seek to claim the treasure that is so rightfully yours to take.

Pass the Popcorn by Mattel  –  How well do you know your movies? That is the question posed as you’re challenged to beat your friends to the punch as you race to guess the names of various films based on such clues as actors, characters, story snippets, or even memorable quotes. A 50-card booster pack adds numerous films from the ’80s and ’90s, and the first player to complete their category tiles is declared the Best Actor… er, winner.

Family Business by Mayfair Games – If you have under an hour you need to kill, this resource management card game will make sure your boredom sleeps with the fishes. Up to six mobsters compete to become the last family standing as you put out hits on other players and use a little bit of the ol’ “family influence” to save your own, all in the name of survival. After all, pushing up daisies isn’t good for business, capiche?

Descent: Journeys in The Dark Second Edition Board Game by Fantasy Flight Games – This revision of the popular dungeon-delving board game brings more of what you love with rules that have been streamlined, new heroes and monsters, class-based gameplay, and more. One player takes on the role of the evil overlord, while up to four others must stand together to overcome his/her treachery.

Words With Friends by Hasbro – First, there was the crossword board game Scrabble from Hasbro. Then came the online and mobile game Words With Friends by Zynga. Rather than fight, the two instead came together to produce the Words With Friends board game. Use your seven-letter tiles to form new words across the board vertically and horizontally until there are no more tiles left to determine a winner. The first person to run out gets to add the points of the tiles from the remaining players to their own score. For those familiar with Scrabble‘s board layout, Words With Friends features a different setup, providing some variety.

Age of Cthulhu: Death in Luxor by Goodman Games – The year is 1924, and your team of archaeologists has arrived in Egypt to investigate the legends of a great and evil terror which Ramesses III sacrificed his very empire to seal away beneath the sands of Luxor for all time. With death now roaming the city’s streets once again, it is up to you to succeed where even the mighty Pharaoh himself once failed in this globe-spanning adventure for horror role-playing game favorite Call of Cthulhu.

A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition by Fantasy Flight Games – Based on the fantasy novels of George R. R. Martin and the hit HBO television series which it inspired, this game calls for three to six people to rise up from one of the six Great Houses to converge and form armies to march across the Westeros map as you attempt to forge new alliances with your opponents, all in the name of taking control of this ever-changing political struggle. All the while, detailed artwork ensures you’ll be able to enjoy the series’ most memorable elements as you strive to shift the balance of power in your favor.

Blokus by Mattel – A strategic board game which has won the Mensa award for promoting healthy brain activity, the goal of Blokus is to fit all of your Tetris-like game pieces onto the game board. Of course, it’s not as simple as setting your pieces down and calling it a day; certain rules must be adhered to, such as the requirement of a new piece touching a played piece of the same color, but only at the corners. Other players may attempt to thwart your progress by laying pieces that can block your moves, just as you can do to them, leading to a game which is easy to understand, yet pits your wits against those of your family and friends.

 

Cards Against Humanity –  Self-described as “a party game for horrible people,” this smash-hit game for adults may bring out a surprising side of your friends and family. As you go around the group, each player draws a card from the deck featuring a question or a sentence with one or more words left blank. The remaining players must then choose from the cards in their hand a word they think provides the funniest answer, and you’ll be amazed by how abstract-yet-fitting or surprisingly on-target some of the answers can be. Just be sure to perform due diligence and research the game further before purchasing it, as it may not be right for everyone or every situation.

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.

#FollowItFindIt for more great picks and advice.