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Are you looking to upgrade your tablet over the coming year? Or maybe 2013 will be the year that marks the purchase of your first tablet. Either way, the bustling tablet market has you covered: There are more models to select from than ever before, and they’re all available in a multitude of colors, sizes, and price brackets. And between iOS, Windows, and Android, you even have your choice of operating systems.
Stumped on what you ought to buy? Here are the top ten tablets for 2013.
iPad (Fourth Generation) – The iPad is still the go-to brand for tablet computers. The highly popular device is now into its fourth iteration and boasts powerful hardware, a familiar interface, and tons of game and app support courtesy of the App Store.
iPad Mini – Apple’s trimmed-down answer to the 7” tablet craze is approximately as powerful as the iPad 2, and for the most part it supports the same apps and games as its larger cousins.
Nexus 7 – Looking for an Android-based tablet that’s affordable and versatile? This little fellow from Google and Asus might be your answer. It’s perfect for reading eBooks and watching television programs, and it’ll only set you back $299 USD.
Microsoft Surface – This laptop/tablet hybrid is the perfect buy for anyone who wants the portability of a tablet, but the accuracy of a keyboard. Its detachable keyboard doubles as a protective cover, and there are two versions to choose from: A model that comes with Windows RT, and a model that includes Windows 8 Pro.
Motorola Droid Xyboard / Xoom 2 – The Xyboard is smaller, sleeker, and faster than its predecessor, Xoom. The “media edition” of the tablet can stream content from your PC, and the whole package has been made water-resistant. Perfect for bad weather, though we don’t recommend taking it for a dunk in the pool.
Sony Xperia Tablet S – The Xperia Tablet S is the successor to the Sony Tablet S. It has a thinner, lighter design than its ancestor, and an improved camera. It’s even equipped with an infrared blaster, which lets you use the device as a universal remote.
Asus eee Pad Transformer Prime – Arguably the coolest-named tablet in the world, the Asus eee Transformer Prime actually does transform from a tablet to a more complete laptop. All you need to do is pick up the Prime’s optional docking keyboard for a little QWERTY power.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 – Samsung’s popular tablet runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Delicious, but what does it mean for you? It means tons of processing power that blasts through work during the day, and deliver gentle stories at night. Between books, pictures, movies, and video, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a perfect family media hub.
Kindle Fire HD – The Kindle Fire HD is the color-screen follow-up to Amazon’s enormously popular Kindle line of book readers. It runs on a modified version of Ice Cream Sandwich, and is capable of playing video, movies, and games. Needless to say, you can also read ebooks off it. All yours for a still-affordable $199 USD.
Blackberry Playbook – The Blackberry Playbook may not have set the world on fire upon its initial release, but price cuts have made it more attractive. You can use the Playbook to make and record videos, play games, and much more. Interestingly, the Playbook is pre-loaded with an app that grants access to over 1,500 films from the National Film Board of Canada, which makes the device worth the price of admission for nostalgic Canadians.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This post is part of eBay Finders, a new partnership that presents collections of items curated by a carefully selected group of electronics experts. Find more great products on eBay Electronics. #eBayFinders
Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.
With winter comes another holiday season. And with another holiday season comes an opportunity to wade into the candy-colored plastic land that makes up the kids’ toy market. Some kids are very clear about what they want for Christmas, but offer up items that are difficult to obtain (fire-breathing ponies). Other children are shy about suggesting what they want, or they just can’t make up their minds.
In either case, you don’t want to give them something uncool—that would burden your conscience for the rest of the season, wouldn’t it? Heck, that’s the reason why our very own Scott Steinberg has a blog at Sears Toy Shop where, as resident Toy Tech Expert, he saves himself untold embarrassment in his family’s eyes under the guise of helping other parents pick the perfect technology gifts for kiddos. Looking for a quick cheat sheet to the best the year has to offer? Check out his blog, or have a look below, to quickly get yourself up to speed on the top 10 best holiday toys for 2012.
Furby – Furby is back. Sorry. The little gremlin-thing with “A Mind of Its Own” was in huge demand back in the mid-‘90s, and Hasbro is hoping that 2013 will be the year that everyone starts speaking Furbish again. Furby’s personality will develop according to how you interact with it, and if all else fails, it’ll dance to your favorite songs.
Wii U – Nintendo’s next video game console features a built-in tablet that changes how players interact with the game on the TV screen. Games can be switched to run off the tablet exclusively mid-play, so no more battles over the family TV. The Wii U is also launching with tons of games, including New Super Mario Bros. Wii U and Nintendoland, a Nintendo-themed collection of minigames.
LeapFrog LeapPad 2 Learning Tablet and LeapsterGS– If your kids aren’t quite at the iPad stage yet (maybe you’ve decided the time won’t be right until their fingers aren’t perpetually covered in jam), LeapFrog’s LeapPad 2 Learning Tablet is a safe, hardy alternative. Kids can use the LeapPad 2 to play with exclusive games and apps that are easy to download and use. Also check out the LeapsterGS – among the best new learning handhelds parents can find for kids today.
Kidz Bop Ultimate Hits and Musical Toys – The Kidz Bop kids are back, and “Ultimate Hits” ensures that everyone of all ages can enjoy today’s pop hits. Tracks on this collection include “Tik Tok,” “Party in the USA,” and “I Gotta Feeling.” Imperial Toy actually has a full line of musical gear that’ll help kids get the party started right, and quickly, from Mega Star microphones to Glimmerati electric guitars – definitely check them out this holiday season.
Razor Pocket Mod Electric Scooter – Kids love bikes, but they go absolutely bananas for small motorized vehicles. Razor’s Pocket Mod Electric Scooters can go up to 15 miles per hour and up to 10 miles on one charge. It comes in a variety of models and colors, and at $199.99 USD, it’s relatively affordable.
LEGO Ninjago Epic Dragon Battle – This huge LEGO playset delivers what it promises: Ninjas, epic playtime, and enormous battles wherein a four-headed dragon takes center stage. An ideal gift for the young ninja or kunoichi in your life.
Doodle Roll – Doodle Roll is essentially a tube of paper that’s easy to tear off, easy to unroll, and most importantly, easy to draw on. Doodle Roll is an inexpensive, mess-free and hassle-free way to promote your kids’ creativity. Crayons included.
Micro Chargers Time Track – Tiny cars are fun. Tiny cars that zip around tracks at incomprehensible speeds are even better. Toy cars go careening around the Micro Chargers Time Track at crazy speeds. Race your opponent to the finish line!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair Playset – The Turtles have achieved relevancy again (it seems to go in and out with the phases of the moon). Help your kids celebrate with a TMNT “sewer” playset that’s almost as big as they are.
Monster High High School Play Set – Halloween is over, but the Monster High toy series remains popular. In fact, the Monster High School Play Set stands to be one of the hottest toys this holiday season. Your kids’ favorite Monster High dolls can hang out in the cafeteria, in the hall, and even in class—but who goes to school to study, right?
Don’t forget to check out other top picks like VTech’s Switch & Go Dinos (which morph between dinosaurs and vehicles – awesome!), Fisher Price’s Disney’s Jake and the Never Land Pirates Bucky Pirate ship and more either. The good news for parents? Dozens of great options exist for kids of all ages.