Top 5 PCs for 2013

19 February, 2013 Play No comments
Top 5 PCs for 2013

With the rising popularity of tablets and the increasing versatility of smartphones, you might wonder if there’s still any room for the desktop PC. Absolutely. Desktop computers are bulky compared to sleek tablets and laptops, but they’re still the powerhouses of the computing world—and many of them are surprisingly affordable. PCs are still the best option for parents that want to exercise full control over their younger kids’ computing habits, and most game enthusiasts swear by their desktop rigs. 

Simply put, a day may come when the desktop PC is irrelevant, but that day is still a long way off. And if you’re looking to buy, there’s no shortage of great options. Here are 2013’s top 5 PCs. 

Dell Inspiron 660’s – These lightweight and affordable computers are packed with features, but start at a sensible $349.99 USD (monitor not included). Each model is equipped with Windows 8 and has more than enough power to run games and social networks. Perfect for families. 

Apple iMac 27 Inch – The all-in-one iMac is as sleek and professional as ever. The 27-inch model, released late 2012, is remarkably thin. It also features more processing muscle and storage than previous iterations. 

Acer Predator G3 – It sounds intimidating, but this sleek black computer from Acer is perfect for a household. It comes installed with a wireless adapter, and it boasts plenty of RAM for getting tasks done. It has a DVD player rather than a Blu-ray player, but given the falling costs of Blu-ray players, remedying that shouldn’t be a problem. 

Cyberpower Black Pearl – If you’re big into heavy-duty PC gaming, you need all the power you can get—but if money’s a problem, you may have to compromise a little. The CyberPower Black Pearl isn’t a top-of-the-line gaming PC, but it packs an impressive processing punch for the asking price.  

MicroExpress MicroFLEX 37B – The MicroFLEX 37B is another affordable desktop PC that’s engineered for hardcore gaming. Its liquid cooling system and hot-swap drive bay keeps things cool while its innards heat up, keeping you in the game.

Best Toys and Games of 2012

2 January, 2013 Play No comments
Best Toys and Games of 2012

With 2012 over and 2013 now dawning, we can say this much: The year provided us with some excellent toys and video games. The growing video game market produced some real winners, especially for folks looking for family-friendly titles, and the hottest toys are encouraging kids to build, dream, and fiddle with smaller versions of the electronics that are quickly becoming an inseparable part of their daily lives. 

Need a refresher of what’s worth checking out? Here are ten of 2012’s best toys and video games – the good news being that many more (i.e. the LeapsterGS, Imaginext’s line of playsets, a variety of MegaBloks kits, etc.) are available in droves.

Wii U – Nintendo’s latest contribution to the video game console race is tons of fun for game players of all ages and skill levels. The system is considerably more powerful than its predecessor, the Wii, but its most notable feature is its tablet-style controller that lets you enjoy games while the family TV is wrapped up for other purposes. 

Skylanders Giants (Nintendo 3DS, Wii, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) – When you can’t choose between toys or video games, grab a compromise. Skylanders: Giants is an adventure game that’s packed with plastic figurines. Said figurines come to life when they’re scanned into the game via an included “portal” accessory. 

Rayman Jungle Run (iPhone, iPad) – Rayman Jungle Run is a well-build and easy-to-play endless running game for iOS. At 99 cents, it’s also very affordable! 

Pokemon Black Version 2/White Version 2 (Nintendo DS) – These direct follow-ups to Pokemon Black/White for the Nintendo DS bring offer tons more content for Pokemon enthusiasts, including more Pokemon than ever to catch, and hours and hours of exploration and content. 

Minecraft (PC) – This independent world-building game is a colossal hit, and for good reason. Players literally carve out their own world from a huge canvas, and several pioneers can play in the sandbox at once via the game’s multiplayer options. 

Hot Wheels RC Terrain Twister – RC vehicles are a lot of fun, at least until the vehicle goes offroad and slows to a crawl. The Hot Wheels RC Terrain Twister is meant to take on all surfaces, including road, grass, dirt, and snow.   

Tabeo – Toys R Us’s exclusive 7-inch tablet is engineered specifically for kids. With the help of a Wi-Fi connection, youngsters can play fun and educational games, and there’s even an HDMI output allows the tablet’s content to be broadcast on bigger screens. 

SuperStructs – This series of pegs and round blocks lets kids snap together all kinds of fun creations. There are different model kits to choose from, but each one is extremely versatile and encourages kids to add their own flourish. 

Lego – Legos remain an extremely popular gift choice, and for good reason. Building block towers never gets old no matter what age you are, and playsets like the DC Universe help keep things fresh.

Glow Crazy Doodle Dome – The Glow Crazy Doodle Dome gives kids their own hideout, which they can subsequently make their own by doodling on the walls with a lightwand (included). It’s fun, it’s affordable, and best of all, it’s mess-free.  

Holiday Gift Guide: Technology and Gear

27 November, 2012 Life No comments
Holiday Gift Guide: Technology and Gear

The holidays are here, and you know what that means: Technology and gadgets galore! With it just as fun for techies to give as receive, there’s no shortage of high-tech items crowding gearheads’ wish lists either – whether shopping for an LED HDTV, tablet PC, smartphone or otherwise, expect to be well-covered.

But picking the best electronic gifts isn’t as easy as it used to be, as shoppers suddenly face tough decisions on every front, e.g. to buy Apple or Android, 4G LTE or 3G. Thankfully whichever option you choose, and device you settle on, odds are you’re likely to come out a winner. Why? Growing power and performance combined with falling prices and increasing connectivity means that regardless of manufacturer or item, you’re effectively getting more bang for your buck across the board.

In fact, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), holiday shoppers plan to spend roughly $252 on tech-related presents this year – a full third of their gift-giving budget. The good news: With value a big watchword for manufacturers in 2012 and 2013, you’ll find that the best high-tech gifts (which now offer wireless and mobile connectivity, including support for downloadable apps and updates) don’t just make jaws drop… they also often keep on giving for months to come. So no matter if you’re dreaming of a snazzy DSLR camera or shiny new Wii U video game system, realize. Plenty of great gift ideas can help you stay snuggled up warm in front of your screen until Jack Frost takes the hint and finally flies south for the winter.

See below for just a few great high-tech gift ideas the whole family will love this holiday, each worth adding to your wish list. Note that you can click the below links to learn more about all options, and for online shopping deals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPLE iPAD MINI

Leading a wave of new pint-sized tablet PC launches, the smaller and slimmer iPad Mini does everything its larger cousin does, only in a more portable and lightweight format. A miniaturized alternative to traditional laptops, it also provides extensive online connectivity for surfing the Web or playing books, music, movies, TV shows and games in a format so hyper-intuitive that even toddlers can enjoy it.

Owners can easily check email, videoconference with friends or family, and browse the Internet on its gorgeous 7.9-inch LED screen, or enjoy immediate access to a virtual library’s worth of magazines, newspapers and periodicals to boot. Capable of 1080p high-definition video recording, and measuring up 23% thinner and 53% lighter than its full-sized cousin (clocking in at just 7.2mm and 0.68lbs), the device also packs 10 hours of battery life.

Great for enjoying on the couch or cross-country flights, support for high-speed WiFi and LTE wireless connectivity makes it easy to enjoy the best upside of all: On-demand access to hundreds of thousands of free or value-priced apps (read: bite-sized software programs) in every genre. Buy one, and you’ll greatly minimize chances of ever being bored again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAMSUNG GALAXY S3

Having recently claimed the title of world’s best-selling smartphone, it’s easy to see why shoppers and critics alike are raving over this sleek, high-speed handset. Among the most popular iPhone 5 alternatives available, the Android 4.0 model doesn’t just offer a brawny dual-core processor, brisk 4G LTE download speeds and sharp 8MP camera. It also packs an ultra-crisp 4/3-inch AMOLED (read: colorful and oversized) display, loads of memory for fast program juggling, and support for both speech recognition and voice commands, a la Apple’s Siri.

Priced competitively and available on a variety of cellular carrier networks including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular, the gadget also lets you quickly share photos, videos and documents using wireless “S Beam” transfer capabilities. As an added bonus, you can further access turn-by-turn directions, seamlessly share film clips you’ve shot to Samsung TVs and easily check friends’ social network updates. Crammed as the gizmo is with fun features and extras, it’s almost refreshing to note that basics like call quality, reception and data transfer speeds don’t disappoint. Anyone looking for a new phone without an “i” in the title would do well to make it a first port of call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOSHIBA 46L5200U 46” LED HDTV

While manufacturer Toshiba’s no slouch in the HDTV market – see its affordably-priced 24L4200U, which delivers myriad connectivity options besides solid screen performance – this stunning LED set quickly helps reinforce the point. A 46-inch flat screen that delivers vivid coloring and snazzy 1080p high-definition graphics in a sleek-looking package, it also offers a 120Hz refresh rate for seamlessly smooth motion while watching sports or movies. As with other models, myriad connections (including 3 HDMI ports, USB support and component video hookups) are offered to boot, so you can easily connect a Blu-ray player, Apple TV or media receiver.

Whether using the set to output images from your PC or screen a marathon of The Lord of the Rings movies, it takes just seconds to get the picture, both literally and otherwise. Credit workmanlike video performance, including wide viewing angles so you can enjoy screenings no matter where you’re reclining in a room, and vibrant coloring that helps bring on-screen images to life. While it lacks 3D capability and smart TV (i.e. Internet-connected and app-based options), it’s worth noting that the television also offers something supporting TVs don’t. Specifically, a more affordable price point, so you can enjoy large screen size and LED backlighting technology without breaking the bank.


 

 

 

 

 

 

HP OFFICEJET PRO 8600

While a printer may not seem the sexiest holiday gift, it’s among the most practical, and likely to keep on giving, especially if you’re in the mood to save vacation photos, or running a small or home-based business. Offering high-quality color prints with a fraction of the time and cost of competitors, the HP Officejet Pro 8600 cranks out up to 20 great-looking pages a minute in black and white or 16 per minute in color. A touchscreen powered all-in-one that offers the ability to copy, scan and fax, it doesn’t just connect to wired or wireless networks either – it also offers downloadable apps and printing from mobile devices.

If you’re looking to enjoy wireless home printing for less, you might also give the HP Officejet 6700 Premium all-in-one a look this holiday season as well. A value-priced option that also packs a touchscreen, WiFi connectivity, built-in apps and the ability to print from mobile devices or throughout the whole home, it strikes a nice balance between performance and practicality too. Whether churning out holiday photos and fliers or simply downloading Disney cutouts or other arts and crafts projects to entertain kids on break, it’s a fun and useful addition to any home, or home office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOOGLE NEXUS 7

Another strong offering in the slim and lightweight tablet PC category, Google’s answer to the iPad Mini (also available in a 10-inch format) does for Android what its rival does for Apple’s own iOS. Priced to sell and tailor-made for travelers, you may be surprised to learn that the eye-catching 7-inch display isn’t necessarily the main draw here, though. Rather, it’s on-demand access to hundreds of thousands of apps from online store Google Play, serious graphical horsepower, and long-lasting battery life that make the device a must-see for both enthusiasts and casual shoppers alike.

Compatible with mobile wireless GSM carriers worldwide, WiFi-enabled and offering 32GB of storage, we’re most psyched about the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor the system packs. Able to pump out jaw-dropping 3D graphics and juggle multiple apps with minimal hiccups, the system shines brightest when playing games or pumping out videos, making it a portable digital entertainment hub. Equally great for killing time alongside guests during the holidays or while cruising at 30,000 feet, it also offers effortless web browsing and Internet surfing, and the ability to read reams of eBooks during cold winter nights.

From favorite songs to films, TV shows and novels, it’s all there waiting to be enjoyed from the cloud. Happily, around 9-10 hours of playback or online usage are offered per charge as well, so you won’t find yourself suddenly sprinting for an outlet during extended layovers as you voyage towards sunnier shores.


 

 

 

 

 

 

BORDERLANDS 2 (2K GAMES)

Letting Mad Max fans live out their every post-apocalyptic fantasy, this sequel to the multimillion-selling action role-playing game (RPG) epic will be a surefire favorite with gaming enthusiasts. Albeit for mature audiences, the uniquely-styled adventure – which looks like a living, breathing graphic novel – lets up to four players patrol a blasted futuristic wasteland battling mutants and marauders, and collecting piles of loot as they gallivant along. Packing weeks of replay value in solo or multiplayer modes, it lets you pick from literally millions of weapons, pieces of equipment, and gear, then travel the desert blowing adversaries to kingdom come.

Successfully straddling the line between a white-knuckle first-person shooter and stat-crunching 3D dungeon crawl, it delivers the kind of depth diehard fans crave alongside the accessibility casual players can’t resist. Which makes it something of a rare beast among games these days: The kind you can dive into and blow off stress in just minutes by enjoying a little co-op, split-screen and LAN-based play, or alternately spend months immersed in ferreting out every last collectible or clue. An overarching campaign helps add some depth to the proceedings, but make no mistake whether you’re a PC, PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 owner. The real fun here’s in grabbing a few friends, getting your hands on increasingly spectacular randomly-generated gear, and settling in for an evening of casually using it to splatter slavering monstrosities across the sand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LENOVO IDEAPAD YOGA 13

It’s a tablet. No wait – it’s a notebook. OK, so maybe it’s a little of both, with this so-called Windows 8 “ultrabook” (lightweight, mid-range portable PC that mimics the best features of each) sitting somewhere in-between. Designed for road warriors who demand more versatility from their computing solutions, the touch-based model essentially packs a streamlined layout and physical keyboard for heightened productivity, yet also boasts a screen that swivels a full 360 degrees.

Think form meets functionality: Capable of transforming into four different modes – laptop, tablet, stand and tent – the system is built for maximum convenience. That way, you can switch its setup to pound out reports, play games and videos, or enjoy streaming music and social media updates as situations dictate. Offering a 13.3-inch HD display, multi-touch capability and up to 8 hours of battery life, yet weighing in at only 3.4lbs, it makes an ideal travel companion. Credit a unique mix of performance and practicality, with models capable of packing up to an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory and 128GB SSD storage.

Can’t decide between an iPad and full-sized Windows 8 machine? Perhaps you don’t have to: The Yoga 13 effectively splits the difference, making it a uniquely engaging contender in its own right.

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