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Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas buyer's guide: Gifts for the gadget nut

Guide by Nick H.

Some people love their tech toys. Whether it is a games console, a pair of headphones, a keyboard or even something as simple as a mouse, some people can't get enough tech in their hands. 

Luckily this makes them very easy people to buy for! With almost an endless supply of gadgets landing on the market, you can be sure that you'll find at least something that your tech-head family member or friend hasn't got. To help give you some ideas, we've pulled together a short list of ten gadgets to think about. We've deliberately picked ones that aren't going to break the bank to help you keep within your Christmas budget, too.

Sony PlayStation TV - If you know someone who has a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation Vita, then you can be sure they will enjoy the PlayStation TV. This tiny little microconsole allows players to either stream PlayStation 4 games to a second TV, or play their PlayStation Vita games on the big screen. It's nice and cheap and easy to stick under the Christmas tree. Check out our review for more details.

Price: $149.95
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The New Nintendo 3DS - If you're an Australian, then for perhaps the first time ever, you're the lucky one when it comes to gaming. Nintendo has decided to release its newest games console, the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL, in this market first (outside of Japan), and while our American and European friends need to wait until the new year to experience the console, we're able to stick it under the tree for a loved one. Check out our review for more details.

Price: $219 (New Nintendo 3DS), $249 (New Nintendo 3DS XL)
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Braven 705 Bluetooth Speaker - Bluetooth Speakers are the new rage, with funky, fashionable devices now delivering great sound from devices not much larger than your pocket. For our mind though, Braven is consistently the best brand if you want a relatively inexpensive device that delivers a sound standard that enthusiasts can still enjoy. The 705 model is water resistant, comes in funky colours, and has an incredibly long battery (that can also act as a battery backup for your phone while out and about). Perfect for people that spend a lot of time outdoors, but want to listen to their music.

Price: $149.95
Buy this gift here



WD My Passport Wireless - If you have a gadget nut in the family, then the chances are that they're always in the need for more storage, whether that is for movies and music, games, photos, or whatever else they might be doing. Storage can be a boring gift, but the WD My Passport Wireless is actually pretty funky. As the name suggests, it's actually wireless allowing you to share data between laptop, mobile and tablet devices while out and about without the need for cords and the like. And if you've got camera that takes photos to SD card, you're able to automatically copy them over while out in the field. Very useful for people that travel a lot.

Price: $248 (1TB)
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Alienware Alpha - When it was announced that Steam was going after the console market (in a way) with its Big Picture mode and Steambox concept, people rightfully got pretty excited - after all, who wouldn't like the idea of mixing the interface and ease of use of a console with the range of games that Steam offers? The Alienware Alpha is perhaps the best example of this concept to date. It's an expensive gift, to be sure, but Alienware knows gaming, this box does come with a controller, pre-installed games (Payday 2, Magicka, Magicka: Dungeons and Daemons DLC), and an exclusive interface to Alienware that makes it the most console-like Steambox of all.

Price: $699
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Razor Gaming Kit - Do you know someone who needs a whole host of new toys for his/ her PC? Razor's got you covered there - why not consider a full set of gadgets for consistency, such as the Deathadder Chroma mouse, the Kraken 7.1 Chroma Headset, and the Blackwidow Ultimate Chroma keyboard? There's no essential reason to only buy Razer, but it does make for a nice, set of boxes to unpack, and Razer is very consistent with its quality across all of its products.

Prices
Deathadder Choma Mouse: $77
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Kraken 7.1 Chroma Headset: $169.95
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Blackwidow Chroma Keyboard: $218.00
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ViewHD Toslink Optical Audio Splitter 1x3 - I was presented with a unique problem earlier this year while testing some headphones out for my entertainments center. Every device was running into my television, and my audio then outputted from the television into my surround sound system via optical cable. However, my stereo did not have any additional outputs aside from the speakers - so I was tasked with trying to figure out how to have the wireless headphones hooked up at the same time. Enter the ViewHD Toslink Optical Audio Splitter, which lets you split a single output to up to three sources. I ran that audio out of my television into the headphones and my stereo with one more output (I hooked that up to a second set of headphones). Audio remains crisp, there is almost no effort to the setup and I do not have to bother unhooking and plugging things in to juggle my current audio needs now.

Price $49.95
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PORTTA PET0301S 3x1 Port HDMI Switch - Similar problem as above, but reversed. All of these great consoles and only so many inputs on my 3D television. Two HDMI inputs to be precise. So how to best hook up PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One if you want them all via HDMI cable? Well, I now run those last three devices into this switch. It accepts up to three inputs and then channels them into a single port on the television. With some switchers running as much as fifty dollars or more, this guy comes in at a much lower price point and has been working flawlessly for me since I bought it. It will automatically switch to any new signal allowing seamless jumping from one unit to the next, and also comes with a remote control. It technically does not need power (though it has an input for an AC adaptor - I actually am powering it through the USB on my television to cut down on plugs being used) to work, so long as the device outputting to it provides power (for example a DIRECTV Genie does not provide the necessary juice).

Price $17.39
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Lightpack - This is a content-driven backlighting system for televisions or computer monitors. I had friends who talked about creating ambient light against the walls for their screens using tricks like old Christmas lights in order to help lower the severity between the bright screen and their dark room. Lightpack takes things a step further by essentially scraping the computer screen to determine what colours to project against the wall behind the screen. The result is an incredibly impressive light show perfect for the holidays. The LEDs are easy to set up on the back of the display, and there are different settings (colour ranges, pulsation and more) that can be used even if you are not looking to directly draw the colours off of your computer screen.

Price $119.00
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Siberia Elite Prism Gaming Headset - These is hands-down one of our favourite PC headsets. The soft foam padding around the ears makes these comfortable to wear for hours on end while doing an excellent job of keeping the sound I want in and the ambient noise from within the room out. They have a quick adjusting band so my son and I can use them without having to manually do anything. They look sharp, sound great and hook up without any hassle. I have had a chance to work with over a dozen different headsets this year and these are still my go-to every time.

Price $199.99
Buy this gift here



- Nick H. 
US Editor
Christmas buyer's guide: Gifts for the gadget nut
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