Holiday Gift Guide 2011 - Win the Sony Xperia PLAY 4G Smartphone
Besides our usual gift guide, to celebrate the holidays, we’re giving away the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G Smartphone for AT&T. But the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G isn’t your ordinary Android Smartphone at all, this is a super powerful gaming device that is the first PlayStation certified smartphone! It comes with 7 games out of the box like Sims 3 and Crash Bandicoot.
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There are three ways to enter to win!
1. Simply go ahead and Like our Facebook page and then leave a comment on our Facebook page telling us what you would do with the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G from AT&T if you won it for the holidays.
2. Tweet at us saying “I want to win the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G http://www.chipchick.com/2011/11/holiday-gift-guide-2011.html @attnetwork @bestbuy @chip_chick #giveaway”
3. Leave a comment on this post telling us what you would do with the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G if you won it for the holidays.
Holiday Gift Guide – Part I
Halloween is just settling into its grave for the year. You know what that means. Yes – the holidays are here! What’s another fifty or so days, anyway? It’s time to dig out the Christmas music, put up the lights if they aren’t already up from last year (in which case, kudos for good foresight), and, of course, start hitting the stores. Those holiday gadgets aren’t going to buy themselves. Need some guidance to find just the right geek gift for that special someone? That’s where we come in. All the hottest tech toys are below for your benefit – we’re like Santa Claus for ideas. Sorry we can’t handle the tangible gifts. Elves weren’t in the budget this year. Also, this year we’ve divided the gift guide into different categories:
- Money to Burn Gifts
- Budget-Friendly Gifts For the Geek Who Has It All
- Gifts for Gamers
- Gifts for Road Warriors
- Smart Docks and Smartphones
Have some extra green laying around? Have someone you really, really need to impress this year (future spouse, or more importantly, parent of said future spouse)? These gifts are guaranteed to drop the jaws of any techie come Christmas morning.
Everyone wants to shoot DSLR quality photos. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to invest in really learning how to use one to maximize quality. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that quality from a camera that has the simplicity of a photo shoot? Done, thanks to the Sony NEX-5N. It packs in an Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, allows up to 10 FPS shooting, and has a maximum ISO of 25600. Even better, you no longer need to know what any of those things mean to benefit from the beautiful pictures they allow you to take. Just point and shoot, and get top-notch pictures thanks to high-end technology and a detachable, high powered lens. Giving the gift that brings together the best of both worlds isn’t cheap – the NEX-5N is going to cost you about $700, including an 18-55mm lens.
It may not look like anything special from the outside, but it’s what inside that counts. And, what’s inside the Sonos Play:3 is loads of HiFi goodness for the audiophile in your life. In addition to high-quality sound that doesn’t get distorted at high volumes, the Sonos Play:3 makes it easy to stream music from most of your devices straight to your speaker system. When using an iPhone or an iPad, it’s possible to use the Sonos app as a remote control for one or more Sonos speakers in the home, controlling volume and track selection, among other things. To top it off, the Sonos Play:3 can play local radio stations and is compatible with online music services, including Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM, and Rhapsody, among others. Sound good? Just make sure you’re equipped to deal with the price – the Sonos Play:3 is going for about $300 right now off Amazon.
AM04 Dyson Hot Fan Heater
When it’s hot out, things are simple. You cool off with a floor fan, easy. Cold weather isn’t so easy to deal with. It’s no fun trying to huddle around one of those smaller heaters, and using the heater at home can get expensive in a hurry. Thanks to Dyson, the problem has been solved. Check out the AM04 Dyson Hot Fan Heater, a small heater that blasts out warmth in a healthy eight foot radius. Plus, it has no grill, so cleaning is a snap. You can grab a Hot Fan Heater in either iron/blue or white/silver for $400. Your cold-weather buddy will be eternally grateful this holiday season.
Samsung Smart TV
Need a knock-out gift this holiday season? Here’s a bright idea. Smart TVs are making old (dumb?) TVs obsolete, thanks to their Internet connectivity and access to entertainment apps. Throw in picture quality that is second-to-none, and you have the Samsung 55” 3D LED HDTV. The screen features 1080p resolution and can produce 3D images (which you will need glasses for). The real bonus is the smart parts, though – an app-based navigation system that gives you access to Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Twitter, Facebook, and a lot more. You can even stream media from your smartphone to your TV. It’s the ultimate entertainment hub for your home, and if you want, you can just use your smartphone as the remote control, using a specially made app. Pretty smart. Just be ready for the price tag – about $1,900. Pull this one off, and you’ll be the unquestioned holiday hero this year.
Beats by Dr. Dre, Now in Colors
The popular high-end headphones are now bringing a little more color to the world of music. Beats by Dr. Dre now come in pink, blue, red, white, orange, purple, and silver, in addition to the original black. People have been going nuts for Beats, lauding the combination of comfort, fashion, and deep bass fidelity. Add in noise-canceling that basically forms an audio wall between you and the rest of the world, and you can start to see why these fall into the big spender category this holiday season. Each pair of headphones from the legendary soundsmith goes for about $300. For the music lover who needs both style and substance, accept no substitutes.
Gifts for the other 99% of us – if you need to get through the holiday season without having your bank account be bled completely dry, check out this list of affordable gadgets that are sure to please any tech nut this year.
If you have a budding music professional in your family, give them a real surprise this year with the Akai SynthStation25. It’s a handheld iPhone and iPod Touch dock that features two octaves of velocity-sensitive, synth-action piano keys. There are pitch and modulation wheels to the side, too. Your favorite composer can use the SynthStation25 with Akai’s own app, or use it with any number of apps that have been created by third parties for the device, including 50-in-1, Music Studio, iVoxel, and nanoStudio. Recording your own hot new tracks on the go comes at a reasonable $63 price tag, off Amazon.
ARCHOS: 35 Home Connect
At $150, it might eat up a pretty big chunk of that budget, so make sure this one’s for someone special. The ARCHOS: 35 Home Connect is the next step in alarm clock radio technology, and that’s a lot more exciting than it sounds. The Home Connect runs on Android 2.2, and features a 3.5” touchscreen. You can access over 50,000 web radio stations, or use the Alarm Clock app to wake up with traffic, weather, and news. Combine that with high-quality sound and portability, and your special someone could have the ultimate home and office companion. Who ever thought you would be able to check your email on your alarm clock?
Fuse Powerslice 06810 Universal Charger
We’re inundated with gadgets these days. That means a whole lot of wires everywhere when it comes time to charge everything up for the night. The Fuse Powerslice 06810 Universal Charger solves that problem – one cord, and you can charge up to three gadgets simultaneously. The base of the Powerslice has room for four “slices,” sold separately, that match up with a certain line of gadgets – iPhones, LG phones, Micro USB ports, Mini USB ports, and Samsung phones. The Powerslice comes with two iPhone charging slices, and the rest are sold separately for $10 each. The base sells for $40. Not a bad price in exchange for cutting cords (almost) completely.
FREETALK Connect Me Phone Adapter for Skype
You can ease someone’s phone bill this holiday season with the FREETALK Connect Me Phone Adapter. Connect Me bridges an Internet connection and a landline, allowing anyone to make or receive Skype calls using their landline phones. It’s a great way to take advantage of Skype’s low international and long-distance calling rates, and won’t interfere with normal use of a landline. You can give the gift of gab for about $40.
Fitbit Ultra Tracker
Any fitness junkie will appreciate the Fitbit Ultra, which figures to be the last word in fitness tracking. The Fitbit will track specific kinds of activity, telling you at the end of the day how many stairs you climbed, how many steps you took, and how many calories you burned, among many other things. It’s sleek and tiny, and can be worn as a comfortable wristband, too. You can also keep yourself honest by logging your meals and nutritional information. Best of all, the Fitbit works 24/7. Wear it in bed, and the Fitbit will give you information about the length and quality of your sleep. For about $100, you can make that special health nut very happy over the holidays.
HELO TC Touch-Controlled Helicopter for iPhone / iPad
The future of remote-controlled toys is already in most of our hands – the smartphone. The HELO TC, from Griffin, is a sleek, cool looking black and white helicopter that is controlled by touch via any iOS device. Just hook your device up to the Flight Deck, a dock made just for this helicopter, and you can use the joystick on the touchscreen to pilot your own missions. Gyroscopic movement is also possible, so you can tilt your device to turn, descend, or ascend. Kids looking for their first set of wings will be salivating over the ultimate remote-controlled toy this holiday season. You can grab the HELO TC Touch-Controlled Helicopter for $50 off Griffin’s website.
Victorinox Slim Flash
USB key’s may be a dime a dozen, but Victorinox’s Slim Flash is so much sleeker, and prettier than your typical USB Flash drive. The Slim Flash is available in five eye-catching colors, and it can be customized with an engraving. Plus, the geek in your life will appreciate the device’s ability to secure and password protect data with AES 256 encryption technology. Available capacities range from 4GB through 128GB.
Whether you’ve got a cutting-edge gamer or an old-schooler with a craving for the good old days, this holiday season has offerings to satisfy everyone’s gaming needs. Here are the best and brightest of what the world of video games has to offer this winter.
Nyko Zoom for Kinect
The Kinect has been a hit with gamers all over the country, but it isn’t without its limitations. One is that you need to be fairly far away from the television for the Kinect to work, especially if you’re playing with more than one person. Not a great deal for college students in dorm rooms, or those living the apartment life. The Nyko Zoom for Kinect is a small attachment that slips over the Kinect’s lenses, reducing the amount of space that needs to be between the gamers and the television for the Kinect to function properly. Just like that, problem solved. You can home in on the Nyko Zoom for Kinect on Amazon, for just a little over $20.
Past meets present as your shiny new iPad or iPad 2 becomes an old-school Atari arcade, playing the classics. But, you probably miss the classic joystick and buttons just as much as the games, right? Discovery Bay Games’ Atari Arcade brings home the entire retro experience – it’s an iPad dock with a physical joystick and four buttons. The dock won’t charge your iPad, and the Atari Arcade only works with Atari’s Greatest Hits App, but that one app really has all you need. Missile Command comes free, and you can buy all 100 games in the app for $14.99. All of the classics are here – Centipede, Asteroids, Pong, Super Breakout – everything you need for a proper overdose of nostalgia. The Atari Arcade costs $60, and is sure to delight any child of the ’80s this holiday season.
Star Wars Edition Xbox 360 with Kinect
Of all the Xbox 360 limited editions that have come and gone, the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Kinect Star Wars Bundle puts them all to shame. With this package, you get an R2-D2 themed console with a custom C-3PO-themed wireless controller. Sure, it’s a bit pricey for $449, but it’s still worth every penny. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for it to be released on December 31st, but who ever receives this gift will agree that it’s worth its wait in C-3PO gold!
Saints Row: The Third
Over-the-top gangland action returns when Saints Row: The Third hits stores on November 15th. The Third Street Saints Gang has achieved fame and fortune, which means there’s going to be a whole lot of outsiders trying to bring them down. The newest installment promises moments like a giant tank careening through the sky, an orbital airstrike on a gang of masked wrestlers, and more ridiculous helpings of sex, violence, and all other forms of nefarious activity. Ruling the streets with muscle will set you back $59.99 when the game finally hits stores later this month. Give a gift that’s truly awash with holiday spirit of giving – pain.
LittleBIGPlanet2 Special Edition
LittleBIGPlanet has been a best seller for good reason. It’s creative gameplay combined with its adorable sack figures, never seem to grow old. This latest edition is compatible with the PlayStation Move. You can also pick up the collector’s edition which comes bundled with the PlayStation Move for $98.
Samsung Series 830 SSD With Batman: Arkham City
When you go shopping for solid state drives for your computer, you probably don’t expect to find bundles as sweet as this. Any gamer will be in for a double treat if you surprise them this holiday season with a brand new SSD to install into their computer. The efficient new drive will increase performance of any PC across the board – especially when it plays games like the included Batman: Arkham City. Samsung could have bundled in any average game, but Batman: Arkham City is anything but average. The open world brawler that sees Batman take on the grittiest of Gotham’s criminals has been hailed as one of the best games of the year, and is a must-have for any gamer. Talk about a double bonus. The Samsung Series 830 SSD with Batman: Arkham City bundle starts at $230 for a 128 GB drive for desktops, and goes up to $850 for a 512 GB model for either desktops or notebooks.
The old 9:00 – 5:00 sit-at-your-desk job is quickly going by the wayside. Today’s world demands mobility, and there’s tons of tech out there to help us on the go. So, whether you have an intrepid world explorer or a high-powered businessman or woman in the family, you’re sure to find someone who will love one of these gifts as their next cherished companion on the road.
Charging up is a nightly ritual for just about everyone these days, most of all for the travel-weary. Help them pack a little bit lighter by giving the gift of a triple charger that will work for today’s holy trinity of gadgets – the laptop, the tablet, and the smartphone. The Kensington AbsolutePower has a jack compatible with most laptops, as well as two USB ports for easy, fast all-in-one charging thanks to 100 watts of power. This useful travel buddy is selling now for about $120 off of Kensington’s website.
V-Moda Crossfade M-80 Headphones
The V-Moda Crossfade M-80 Headphones are one of many high-end, bass-friendly headphones on the market. They sound great, and the inclusion of Apple and non-Apple optimized cables is a sweet bonus that you won’t find in too many other products. So, why are these the way to go for the road warrior? For the outdoors adventurer, the only good product is one that will hold up to abundant punishment. That’s what the M-80 headphones are designed to do. Bend them, drop them, drop something on them – they’ll take all you can dish out and keep pumping out sweet tunes at high quality, and look great while they do it. Bring music to the ears of your special world traveler this holiday season for $230.
No doubt you’ve heard about one of the toys that promises to be a big seller this holiday season. A $199 tablet will definitely raise a few eyebrows. The entertainment junkie in your life will probably love the Kindle Fire, which features a high-quality 7” touchscreen and access to all of your Amazon content from Amazon’s cloud servers. There isn’t much in the way of storage, at 8 GB, so you’ll want to make sure the recipient of this gift is a big Amazon customer. Also, make sure you know what the Kindle Fire isn’t – there is no 3G connection, no camera, and no Android Market. It’s an Android device, but it runs a stripped down version – the UI is all Amazon’s doing. The Kindle Fire does one thing and does it very, very well – it streams entertainment. You can preorder the Kindle Fire, which comes out on November 15th, from Amazon’s website.
Logitech Tablet Keyboard for Android
The tablet is rapidly becoming the premier choice for productivity on-the-go. Still, it’s tough to type out e-mails and prepare documents with that little touchscreen keyboard. The Logitech Tablet Keyboard for Android Tablets is here to help – a small, lightweight physical keyboard with stand that will easily go everywhere your tablet – and you – go. The keyboard is a Bluetooth device, and comes with a case that doubles as the tablet stand, for quick and efficient word processing wherever your road warrior is. Get your traveling businessman or woman this portable gem for the holiday season. The Logitech Tablet Keyboard for Android Tablets will run you about $70.00 from Logitech’s website.
Acer Aspire S3 13.3” HD Aluminum Ultrabook
Acer is bringing style to the world of the laptop this holiday season, with a sleek, clean-looking 13.3” Ultrabook that will wow with looks and performance. At just a little over 3 pounds, carrying this one around on-the-go will be a snap, especially when you consider that it is a mere .5” thin. Looks aren’t everything, though. The Ultrabook packs in the specs to match, featuring an Intel i5 processor and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. Add in a 2 second wake-up time (perfect for the time-strapped mover and shaker), and you have the perfect mobile netbook. You can make holiday memories with the Acer Aspire S3 13.3” HD Aluminum Ultrabook for $900 right now off Amazon.
Until now, you usually only found that little blue OnStar button built-in to GM vehicles. Now, with OnStar FMV, you can purchase the car safety and security system for any vehicle, though it will need to be professionally installed. OnStar became popular for its crash assistance program, which can contact emergency services in the event of an accident. OnStar FMV can automatically sense when a crash has occurred, and can transmit GPS information to nearby emergency services if you have been incapacitated. Other features include turn-by-turn GPS, aided by real-life advisers and handled hands-free, GPS tracking for law enforcement in case your car is stolen, and a hands-free Bluetooth wireless service that allows you to make and receive calls without using your phone. It’s the ultimate companion for anyone who spends a good deal of their life on the road. This gift won’t come cheap, though – OnStar FMV costs $274.99 (a special sale price right now, from Best Buy), plus parts and labor for the installation.
When you’re on the move all the time, it’s hard to get back to home base so you charge all of your gadgets. And there’s nothing more frustrating than a dead smartphone right when you need it most. So, give your road warrior a little extra juice to get them through the day with the Powerbag. The Powerbag is a massive, sturdy, and waterproof backpack ideal for any outdoor explorer. The big draw is the inclusion of a 6,000 mAh or 3,000 mAh battery, depending on which model you get. This backpack has ports for the wearer to charge their tablets or smartphones, including Apple, mini-USB, and micro-USB connectors. With a button press on the backpack, you can also see the charging progress of each device, and the backpack automatically stops charging any device that has reached a full charge. The tireless wanderer in your family will be forever grateful for the new lease on life the Powerbag will give daily to their gadgets. The Powerbag starts at $140, and goes up to $180 for the business class pack.
Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage
External hard drives are nothing special in this day and age. Seagate recognized this, and took their hard drives to the next level. The GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage external hard drive stores your data, but also acts as your own personal mobile cloud, making your data available to up to three different Wi-Fi enabled devices. With a 500 GB capacity, this one will pack in enough entertainment for any road trip. There’s also USB 3.0 connectivity, for file transfers done the old-fashioned way. The next step in external hard drive evolution can be had for $200 for the Seagate website. You’re about to set up an all-time-great road trip for some lucky person.
If you want a surefire hit when gift shopping this year, look no further than the smartphone market. Unfortunately, there are tons and tons to choose from. It’s hard to even know where to start looking. So, start here, as we cover the highlights of the industry, so you can find that perfect smartphone for that special someone.
Sprint iPhone 4S
For the first time, an iPhone is available on Sprint’s network. There’s no shortage of reasons to jump ship over to Sprint, too. Sprint is the only iPhone carrier still offering unlimited data plans, with no throttling and no metering. Even those grandfathered in to AT&T’s unlimited data plan are still subject to throttling, if their monthly usage is high enough. More importantly, Sprint’s plans are just more affordable. Unlimited calling and data comes in at $110 per month, but you can get 450 minutes and unlimited data for an excellent $80. They’re far better deals than anything AT&T or Verizon is offering. Plus, with the witticisms of Siri and that new high-powered dual core A5 processor, there’s never been a better time to go Apple. The Sprint iPhone 4S sells for $200 and $300 for the 16 GB and 32 GB models, respectively, with contract.
Verizon BlackBerry Bold 9930
Members of the business world will love seeing this gem in their stockings this year. The newest iteration of the BlackBerry Bold packs in both a physical keyboard with trackpad and a 2.8” touchscreen, making it a flexible, useful addition to the professional’s collection of gadgets. Add that to integrated social networking apps that come installed and the excellent BlackBerry Messenger Service, and you’ve got the makings of a winner this holiday season. The BlackBerry Bold 9930 is $250 with a two-year contract from Verizon. Do keep in mind, though – this smartphone hasn’t made the leap to 4G yet. The BlackBerry Bold 9930 is still just a 3G device.
AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II
The thin, lightweight Samsung Galaxy S II is the must-have smartphone for the entertainment lovers, with a 4.3” Super AMOLED display that sports truly second-to-none picture quality. Samsung’s media Hubs make obtaining books, movies, music, and more a breeze, and the 8 MP camera takes high-quality photos. Not to mention, it’s an HSPA+ capable device running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). It’s smart, it’s sleek, and it’ll have people going nuts when they score one this holiday season. You can be someone’s holiday hero when you buy the Samsung Galaxy S II for $200, with a two-year contract with AT&T.
T-Mobile HTC Radar
Your social media crazed teenager will undoubtedly flip if they unwrap an HTC Radar this holiday season. This Windows 7 Phone packs in tons of social networking features out of the box, keeping friends close and accessible. Sharing is a snap, and if your social butterfly wants to share photos, the Radar has an excellent camera featuring an F2.2 lens and a BSI sensor, which takes photos that approach or match standard point-and-shoot digital camera quality. To top it off, the phone works on T-Mobile’s excellent 4G network. The HTC Radar isn’t on sale just yet, but you can rest assured it’ll be in stores before the holiday crunch really sets in.
Virgin Mobile Motorola Triumph
Virgin Mobile is quietly offering very affordable rate plans for data and talk for their line of smartphones. One of the best available is the Motorola Triumph, running on Android 2.2 (Froyo). It packs in just about everything you would expect of a smartphone these days – 1 GHz processor, 4.1” touchscreen, 5 MP camera, a front-facing camera, and a camcorder capable of 720p HD video. It might not be the technical powerhouse you’ll find from the major smartphone players, but it’ll get the job done for anyone, be they entertainment junkies, high-powered businessmen or women, or social networking fiends. The Motorola Triumph has a high entry cost at $300, but those low rate plans might just make this 3G smartphone worth it.
Philips Fidelio for Android AS351 Speaker Dock
Android phones and tablets finally get their own speaker dock this holiday season, with a focus on quality audio. The Fidelio doubles as a charger, holding your device in place with a micro USB connector. The communication between device and speakers is actually handled by Bluetooth, and the speakers are controlled via the Fidelio app, which also gives you access to tons of radio stations from around the globe, in addition to your own music library. With audio quality that is a cut above the norm, the Philips Fidelio for Android should be music to the ears of any Android fan in your life this holiday season. You can pick one up from Amazon for about $130.
JBL Speaker Docks for iPhone and iPod Touch
JBL is making some of the funkiest-looking speaker docks for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but you can’t deny that these things have style. Best of all, they’re battery powered – totally wireless, so you can move them around the house or take them on the go in an instant. Once the party is ready to start, the sound quality will knock the socks off of anyone within range. For the discerning music listener in the family, a gift of unique style and top-notch quality will be highly appreciated. The JBL iOS speaker docks start at $100 on JBL’s website.
Giveaway Rules & Regulations: Last day to submit entries is November 30th. Only U.S. residents may submit entries. ChipChick.com and AT&T Wireless are not responsible for any lost packages or incorrect shipping addresses. Wireless service is not included with the prize. Winners are responsible for taxes. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Approximate value of prizes may vary. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness and/or voice/photograph and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation over the internet and picture data storage).
Update 12/7/2011: Congratulations to Tanya L. of Dunwoody, Georgia. She won the Sony Xperia PLAY 4G Smartphone!