Consoles and handheld gaming devices
The holiday season is usually met with indecision, headaches and a flurry of last-minute shopping as you frantically try to balance life (because it never gives you a break) with finding the perfect gift for your favourite people.
To help you survive the winter madness, TechRadar has put together a 2013 holiday gift guide of the best tech goodies you can get, so you can spend more time watching the faces of the people you love light up with joy as they receive an awesome present from you.
After all, that’s what the holidays are about, right? Having a good time with great people, and giving something to get that smile and squeal of excitement.
So happy holidays from all of us at TechRadar, and get some shopping done with our techtastic and gamerific 2013 Christmas gift guide!
Consoles and handhelds
The console war between gaming veterans Sony and Microsoft has been amplified this year with the upcoming release of two new next-gen consoles. Other gaming names refuse to be left out though, and have entered their machines into the console race for a chance to sit in your living rooms.
PlayStation 4 – $549
First up on our list is the Sony PlayStation 4. The system boasts great features like free streaming and recording and the PS4 is more developer-friendly – meaning the list of games will continue to grow, allowing more variety.
Along with making gamers as happy as possible, the console has big ambitions to be the most affordable, high-end gaming machine on the market and it looks like the company’s hard work is paying off since demand for the PS4 is off the charts.
With its $549 price tag – the PlayStation Eye will be sold separately for $99.99 – it’s no surprise pre-orders filled up and nearly disappeared before its launch date on November 29.
However, Sony claims there should be enough to go around as the holidays draw closer, so check this off your holiday gift guide list as this machine will be gone before you know it.
- Check out the PS4 Dualshock 4 hands on.
Xbox One – $599
Microsoft’s Xbox One is the other crazy popular (and much more controversial) console. Selling for $599, it’s a bit pricier than its opposition – but the Kinect comes included with the whole package.
The new One console wants to be your one-stop entertainment solution for the living room by integrating live TV, games, movies and web services such as Skype, all controlled using Kinect’s improved voice recognition features.
By getting one person an Xbox One for gaming, you’re also picking up a whole entertainment system for the entire family.
Microsoft says with Skype and SkyDrive functions, the system would also make a great platform for businesses.
Essentially, the One is a multipurpose console that could be given to anyone, so you really can’t go wrong picking one of these guys up.
- Check out the Xbox One Gamepad hands on
PS Vita – $269.95
If you’ve managed to get a PlayStation 4, it only makes sense you pick up an accompanying PS Vita.
Thanks to the new PS Link feature, you can use your Vita to play PS4 games over Wi-Fi. During sale season, we’ve see a PS Vita bundle drop to $199.
- Read more about the PS Vita
2DS – $149.95
Thanks to its affordability and durable looking build, the $150 Nintendo 2DS is sure to be a hit with parents looking for a handheld for the younger gamers this holiday season.
The 2DS serves as an introductory gaming system and is definitely geared towards families with multiple kids who all want a handheld.
The 2DS’s slightly more expensive predecessors are already a popular bunch on most holiday gift guides and with popular Nintendo-only games like Pokemon and Mario, you really can’t go wrong picking up a 2DS.
- 5 things Nintendo’s Hiroshi Yamauchi gave to gaming
More gaming gifts to check out!
You can also pick up an "old school" PS3 or Xbox 360 bundled with the latest games for a fraction of the price you’d pay for a next-gen console. Take a gander at some holiday bundles:
- Xbox 360 250 GB Bundle including Halo 4, Forza Horizon and Duke Nukem Forever, as well as download tokens for Tomb Raider, Fable III, Halo Reach, Skyrim, $258
- PS3 500 GB Bundle including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and The Last of Us, $368
These other handhelds would also be a welcome present: 3DS, 3DS XL, Wii U
Holiday Gift Guide: PC gaming and PC parts
Headphones, gaming mice, laptops and PCs. Whatever you want to spend, there’s a PC gaming gift here to suit your budget.
Contrary to the notion that PCs and their things cost a ton of money, if you do a little digging, you can actually find decent parts and peripherals without having to pay too much. But in case you do have the dough to spend, we’ve added as many fun things we could find that the PC fan in your life would love.
Corsair Vengeance M95 – $99
If you prefer thinking to shooting, you might appreciate the M95 mouse, which is designed for MMO (massively multiplayer online) and RTS (real-time strategy) titles. You can even create custom button setups for individual games.
- Get the Corsair Vengeance M95 from TechBuy
Corsair Force GT – $208.95
Adding an SSD (solid state drive) is an easy way to speed up any PC, whether it’s for better in-game performance or just to get it to boot faster. It can either supplement your PC’s mechanical hard drive or replace it completely. This Corsair Force GT is perfect for the task and comes in a range of sizes up to a huge 480GB.
- Get the Corsair Force GT from PC Meal
Roccat Isku Illuminated Gaming Keyboard – $149
The Roccat Isku looks basic but as always, looks are deceiving. With this gaming keyboard you’ll have 36 easily-customizable macros, ice blue backlighting with 6 adjustable brightness levels, an Easy-Shift[+] key as a one-stop short-cut that makes giving orders quicker and easier and more.
- Get the Roccat Isku from i-Tech
Mad Catz R.A.T. 7 – $99
The R.A.T. 7 changes everything, with its adjustable plates and Batmobile design. It’s comfortable in most hands, the build quality is beautiful and the 6,400dpi accuracy is plenty. Unfortunately, such tweakery does comes at a price, and with the release of the M65 and Ballista MK1, it has some heavy competition.
- Get the R.A.T. 7 from MWave
Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 9 – $169.95
If you really want to get a ‘lil crazy, you can pick up the most iteration of the Mad Catz mouse – the R.A.T. 9. It’ll run you a lot higher on your credit card bill but it may just be worth it for more extreme customization for maximum comfort during your recipient’s gaming sessions.
- Get the R.A.T. 9 from MWave
Holiday Gift Guide: Mobile phones
Do you know someone in your life who really needs to get rid of their half broken phone? You know, the one with the cracked screen, shoddy battery life and missing on/off button?
With all the great choices available on the market, maybe it’s time you help them out and choose a phone from our holiday gift guide.
iPhone 5S – $869
The iPhone 5S is probably the hottest phone out there (or in the top five at least) and would make a great gift for the Apple fanatic in your life.
Unlike the iPhone 4S, it actually feels like you’re getting a brand new phone thanks to the addition of Touch ID, new camera, better battery life and faster guts all around.
Boasting new color choices – black, space grey, gold – the iPhone 5S sales start at $869 outright.
- If you know someone that already has an iPhone 5S, you could get them a case instead
iPhone 5C – $739
If you’re looking for something a bit more flashy, Apple’s neon array of iPhone 5Cs is your best bet.
Hate it or love it, we think its still has a spot on our holiday gift guide. Some feel the phone is a bit childish and cheap because of the colors and its polycarbonate exterior.
But if you know someone desperate for an iPhone 5 but can’t afford it, you really can’t go wrong picking up the 5C since they’re essentially the same phone with a few upgraded tweaks here and there.
- Not sure which iPhone to give? TechRadar can help with that
Nexus 5 – $399
Let’s face it: the iPhone 5S is one expensive bit of tech. Thank goodness for the Nexus 5 then!
It’s a clean Android smartphone from LG and Google with enough grunt and power to stand up well against other Android devices – and all for a sub-$500 price.
It sports a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 chipset and 2GB RAM, as well as a 2,300mAh battery and a 5-inch 1080p display. It also features the latest version of Android – 4.4 KitKat.
You can pick it up unlocked from Google’s Play store, or head into Telstra, the only Aussie telco stocking the device.
- Stick with the old or spring a little more for the new? Here’s the Nexus 5 up against the Nexus 4
HTC One – $689
The HTC One released earlier this year, but definitely remains a top dog in the phone arena.
It’s full HD screen crammed into 4.7-inches, which brings a 468ppi – making everything you’re looking at crisp, clean and swoon worthy. On top of that there’s a CPU and RAM combo that is barely bettered, a more-than-enough 32GB of storage and top-end Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G/4G LTE connections.
The HTC One is without a doubt the best phone from the Taiwanese firm. It is still available from most telcos, and we’ve spotted the handset as part of online sales between $550-$700.
- Read the full HTC One review
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – $999
The latest and greatest from Samsung, the Galaxy Note 3 is a fantastic device, but decidedly not for everyone thanks in part to its hugeness.
It’s not going to have the broad appeal of the Galaxy S4, nor catch the eye of the fashion-conscious iPhone 5S purchaser.
But for those with Apple-fatigue and actually would prefer a larger screen (maybe the business types you know?), the 5.7-inches of full HD, 1080 x 1920 Super AMOLED display makes the Galaxy Note 3 is the perfect choice. Just be wary that the big phone means it’ll cost you big bucks – around $999 to be exact.
- Is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 better than the Galaxy Note 2? Find out here!
Holiday Gift Guide: Tablets
Almost everyone has a tablet nowadays, so why not pick one up for the person in your life who doesn’t have one?
Tablets are more portable and lightweight than laptops, but provide the extra screen surface a smartphone can’t. Our holiday gift guide wouldn’t be complete without the bus load of new tablets that came out this year, especially since they all seem to be better than the next one – specs-wise and price-wise (we wouldn’t be surprised if you got one for yourself).
New Nexus 7 – $299
Google’s earlier Asus-made Nexus 7 was already an amazing compact tablet so it’s no wonder the new Nexus 7 is also a dream.
With a low starting price, great battery life, powerful performance and beautiful HD screen it hurdles right over the expensive less impressive iPad mini.
The 16GB or 32GB go for a mere $299 and $339 respectively, with an LTE version selling for $439.
- The old Nexus versus the new Nexus, in case you were wondering
iPad mini 2 with Retina display – $479
The iPad mini was missing one little thing to really compete with Google’s Nexus 7 powerhouse, and with the newest iteration from Apple, it looks like the search engine giant will have a worthy Cupertino 7-incher.
Actually, the iPad mini 2 measures in at 7.9-inches, exactly the same size as the year-old iPad mini, but the display comes with a resolution boost of 2048 x 1536 meaning that it has a Full HD display. This doubles the original iPad mini’s 163ppi to 326ppi.
With the Retina technology on board, the new iPad mini comes with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 meaning that it has a Full HD display. This doubles the original iPad mini’s 163ppi to 326ppi.
- Hmm, which is better: the iPad mini or the iPad mini 2 with Retina display?
Surface Pro 2 – $1,019
Microsoft’s latest tablet seems pretty much the same as the previous iteration, but in actuality, the 10.6-inch Surface Pro 2 is much more powerful.
The added upgrades really can’t be ignored especially if you’re looking to get a Windows 8.1 device. Running Intel’s latest i5 Haswell chip gives it some appreciated speed and battery life making it almost as quick as an Ultrabook.
The $1,019 price is steep, especially for a tab, but someone in your life would probably greatly appreciate this well-made machine over its bulkier, even more expensive counterparts.
- Does Windows 8.1 make the new Surface Pro 2 worth getting?
Sony Xperia Tablet Z – $539
Sleek, powerful, iconic – these are all words used to describe the impressive tablet from Sony.
With a super slim chassis, impressive screen and whole glut of Sony extras on board, Sony has surpassed expectation with this and delivered a tablet that wouldn’t look out of place in a business class lounge or at the center of a home entertainment network.
It’s light, really light, yet looks premium, all the while being waterproof too – sure, you might not use that feature a whole lot, but it gives it an air of ruggedness that puts your mind at ease when manhandling something that costs so much.
- Maybe Amazon’s newest Kindle Paperwhite is better for your recipient?
iPad Air – $598
Apple hater or Apple lover, you know the iPad Air is going to be a major seller this year, which is why it’s definitely on our holiday gift guide.
We really can’t blame the Apple fans in your life for desperately wanting an iPad Air tablet though – it’s 20% thinner at just 7.5mm, which is a whopping 2.2mm thinner than the outgoing iPad 4 and more than a millimeter thinner than Google’s Nexus 10 or Nokia’s 2520.
You can pick up this faster, lighter, slim-bezeled beauty from a variety of places starting at $598 for a 16BG Wi-Fi only model, where 32GB costs $699, 64GB is $799 and the 128GB for a hefty $899.
If you want a little cellular data with your Wi-Fi connection, you’ll have to dish up to $749 for 16GB, $849 for 32GB, $949 for 64GB and $1049 for 128GB.
- 10 things you should know about the Apple iPad Air
Holiday Gift Guide: Grab bag
If you managed to get the big gifts out of the way and want something else to add to the pile, our holiday gift guide also includes a grab bag of sorts for you to sift through and maybe find a few stocking stuffers (albeit they are somewhat pricey, so they could actually be a bigger gift).
Or perhaps you’ll find a few accessories and peripherals for the tech and gamer people in your life who already have it all.
Fitbit Flex – $130
The Fitbit Flex combines the company’s honed pedometer technology with a convenient wristband that, while not the most stylish of accessories, oozes ruggedness like no other tracker.
An adjustable clasp keeps things secure, while a black strip acts as a simple progress display that’s activated with a double-tap and powered by a removable plastic sensor housed inside a rubber pouch.
Battery life is around five days, and although the five LED lights helpfully indicate the number of steps taken in a day, it’s the iOS and Android apps that offer a more detailed and extended picture of your activity.
- Want some more fitness-sided ideas? Check out our top 10 fitness gadgets
GoPro HD Hero3+ Black Edition – $529
Truly the king of action cameras, the GoPro Hero3+ provides jaw-dropping image quality in both light and dark scenes. It’s really easy to use and comes with housing that waterproofs it to 60 metres, making it perfect for diving.
There’s also a Wi-Fi remote so you can control it from afar, and an app so you can use your smartphone to preview your footage.
Creative Sound Blaster EVO Zx – $279.95
Though the Creative Sound Blaster EVO Zx headset is for the PC, we’re sure you know at least one PC gamer who would appreciate new headphones, especially since they get better every year.
Creative Sound Blaster is a known presence in computer audio and has been making headphones for a while now. They aren’t always perfect, but you’ll get decent sound quality from the EVO Zx.
If this pair isn’t up to your standards, or if you don’t feel like spending $250 bucks, there are plenty of other gaming headset options out there to choose from.
Bose QuietComfort 20i – $399
Bose QuietComfort 20i (with the "i" standing for the Apple version) in-ear headphones are definitely a must for the audiophile in your life, if you have $400 to spend.
But heart attack inducing price aside, you really get what you pay for – amazing noise canceling tech and incredible sound added to the fact that the QuietComfort 20i is also really quite comfortable.
There’s also the neat "Aware Mode" feature which is designed to help you be able to hear important things that the noise canceling may drown out.
Sonos Play:1 – $299
The Sonos Play:1 at $299, impresses with what it offers for its size, but perhaps more importantly, we’re impressed with what it offers for the price. And for the holiday season, it’ll sure be a welcome addition to households.
There’s no Bluetooth to be found on the Play:1 and no battery either. This is totally about high quality streaming around the house that’s only limited by your Wi-Fi capabilities. Well, that and the location of your power sockets.
- Check out our full review here