Christmas buying guide

We've trawled the site to bring you our best buys across a range of popular products.
 
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02.Gadgets

Mobile phones

Smartphones  HTCDesire

HTC Desire ($500)  Touted as the ïPhone killer", the Desire sports a capacitive touch screen similar to the iPhone's but uses the latest Android 2.1 operating system. It delivers a good web browsing experience with easy email setup and is one of the best performers for call sound quality. The recommended retail price is about $779 but if you use our Price and Buy function, you can lock one in for just $500, which makes it a very good buy. One thing to remember when buying the phone (applies to all phones) is to ask them whether it supports Next G (850MHz) or Optus Yes G (900MHz) network. There is a different model code depending on the choice you make and this difference is not readily apparent at the shop. See our video to learn more about the difference between the HTC Desire and iPhone 4. Read the full report on Next G mobile phones.

Basic phones Nokia 3720

Nokia 3720 Classic ($269)  This is a good basic phone option and readily available between $140 and $170. The 3720 GSM only phone (works on the national GSM network which means it is not ideal for web surfing or downloads) has an IP54 rating, meaning it’s designed to be shock-, dust- and water-resistant, with panels to keep out water and dust. An LED flashlight, together with a long talk and standby time, makes it a good choice for tradesmen or as a first phone for kids. It also has the lowest SAR (specific absorption rate, a measure of radiation energy absorbed into the body) figure of the phones on test. Read the full report on basic mobile phones.

Compact digital cameras

 Nikon_Coolpix_L110Both the Nikon Coolpix L110 ($399) and S8000 ($499) are recommended as our best buys, so deciding on which one depends on what you want to use it for.  

Nikon_Coolpix-_S8000

The Nikon Coolpix L110 (the red one) This SLR-styled camera has a long zoom (15x) and is good for taking in landscapes. The Coolpix S8000 has a shorter zoom (10x zoom) is about 185grams – slim and fits easily in your pocket – is good for sports photography. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank to buy any of the two. Click on our Price and Buy function at our compact digital cameras compare and review page where you’ll find the L110 offered for sale at $218 and the S8000 at $230. So, if you've set aside a budget of $500, you can buy both! Read the full report on compact digital cameras.

 

Car GPS

 Go Cruise GPS4300-A ($129) Go-cruise-gps-4300We've added 15 GPS units to our latest test and the cheapest of our Best Buys is this one from Aldi. The Go Cruise  offers what you need at only $129 from Aldi supermarkets.

The navigational device comes pre-loaded with maps of Australia and New Zealand and scored full marks for locating points of interests such as airports, hospital and shopping centres. It scored well for navigating in the city and regional areas, as well as verbal instructions. Read the full report on GPS.

eBook readers

Sony-PRS600-copy Sony PRS-65-/rc Touch Edition ($299)While the rest of the world clamours for the Apple iPad, electronic brands such as Sony wasted no time in developing their own and selling their ebook readers at a fraction of the cost of an iPad. Sony's e-tablet has an interactive touchscreen that is easy to navigate using either your finger or the stylus. You can also write and save notes in it. It was the clear favourite in our test for outdoor lighting and indoor lighting. Its bedroom lighting performance is only OK, but for $59 you can purchase a protective cover (which we recommend for all eBook readers) that incorporates a light with adjustable brightness. 

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Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi ($189)  This Kindle ranked well for indoor and outdoor lighting, and for $60 you can purchase a cover with integrated light to use in dim conditions. However, the interface can be confusing if you haven’t had any previous experience with Kindles. No software is required, so transferring content is simple; however, EPUBs are still not supported on the device, without the use of conversion software. Once Wi-Fi is turned on, users can browse and purchase dedicated content for the Kindle from the Amazon store (but not all content on Amazon is available for Australian users). Read the full report on ebook readers and also our video review of the original Kindle.
 

Games consoles

 WII_BIG For all-round family fun the Wii games console is hard to beat. Nintendo's little white box brought casual video gaming to the lounge room with a simple wave-and-point motion controller that can be used by anybody within minutes. The PlayStation and Xbox 360 now have motion control too, but as yet lack the Wii's maturity in this market, not to mention a massive back catalogue of family-friendly games.

 

See our full report on games consoles.

 

Noise cancelling headphones

Bose-Quietcomfort-15

Bose QuietComfort 15 ($499)   Audiophiles may be hard pressed to choose between the Sennheiser (German) and Bose (American), but we’ve decided the Bose QuietComfort 15 reigns supreme for both performance and price. Unfortunately – we’ve checked several local sites – we could not find them cheaper than $500. It’s selling at US$300 per pair in the US. With the Aussie dollar on par with $US, you will save money if you know someone who's travelling there and will be back by Christmas. No point buying online as sites such as Amazon charge at least US$70 for shipping. Read the full report on noise cancelling headphones.

 

Pocket camcorders

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Flip Ultra HD ($240) This pocket camcorder delivers top results on visual and audio quality – where a camcorder should – without breaking the bank. Flip Ultra HD’s maximum recording time is 135 hours, double the Sanyo’s ($499) 69 hours, and costs only $240. The Flip Ultra HD is not the smallest model we tested, but will still slip into most pockets and is ready for action in just 2.5 seconds. A ‘play’ and ‘delete’ button on either side of a large red recording button is basically all you need to operate the camera. It has a stereo microphone and the ability to store more than two hours of video on 8GB of internal storage with a HDMI connection - the easiest way to display the video and audio on a modern flat-panel TV. See our review of pocket camcorders.

 

 

Portable media players

Apple Touch

Apple iPod Touch ($378)  Two years ago, the Apple iPod Touch ranked fifth even though its video and sound score was on par or better than the Sony Walkmans tested. This year, we removed the battery score as we've found there are now only marginal differences between battery claims and actual performance. The result: the Apple iPod Touch took first place in this year's test for video and audio quality, as well as ease of use. The model tested has a storage capacity of 32GB and cost $549 two years ago. You can now buy a 32GB model for about $380.

 

 

 

Sony NWZS744


Sony Walkman NWZ-S744 ($299)  The Sony Walkman has very good video quality and is easy to use, but does not feature external speakers. Its compatible third-party music and video library software is the Windows Media Player, so sound and content transfer is easy. Read the full report on portable media players.

 

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