Christmas gifts for the gadget fan

Gadgets and gizmos always make great presents for the tech-savvy and tech-curious.
 
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01 .Gadget gift ideas

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For the tech-savvy and the tech-curious gadgets always make fun and exciting Christmas presents. But buying the latest technologies doesn't always mean forking out the highest price, as many of our test results show.

We've put together a selection of some of CHOICE's latest-reviewed gadgets and gizmos, including smartphones, eBook readers, and compact digital cameras. Products have been broken down into these categories:

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    Cameras and camcorders

    Casio_Exilim_EX-H5Compact digital cameras

    The festive season and the summer months are often the most social and active, so there are usually plenty of opportunities to get the camera out and take some happy snaps. Buying a compact digital camera for someone can be a daunting exercise — there are literally hundreds of models on the market and a bewildering array of specifications and features. To make the task easier for you, CHOICE has reviewed 99 models, including the Canon Ixus 1000HS, and the Nikon Coolpix P500. Take a look at our Compact digital cameras review to see which one comes out on top, and also see the CHOICE Digital cameras buying guide to find out which camera will suit your needs best.

    Nikon_D5000_AF-SG_18-55VRDigital SLRs

    DSLRs may be much larger than their compact counterparts but once you've enjoyed their benefitsit's hard to settle for anything less. There are several makes to choose from, with camera and lens kits for well under $1000. We've tested and reviewed popular models such as the Canon EOS 60D, and the Nikon D7000 to find out which cameras are the best. Take a look at our DSLRs review for more information. You might also want to read our article on digital SLR zoom lenses. See also our brand reliability survey 2010 to see how our members rate the reliability of the key brands over time. 

    Camcorders

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    These days you can buy a HD camcorder that will work well in all lighting situations for well under $1000. And if you are looking for a point and shoot that will capture your memories in HD, you can pay as little as $500 for a model that will perform well in most situations. However, some of the top-performing models are priced at well over the $1000 mark. The best camcorders are easy to use, have very good sound and picture quality, and have very good autofocus capabilities. Some models also have wind filters, and remote controls. For more information, take a look at our Camcorders review.

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    Pocket camcorders

    Pocket camcorders are a good option for anyone who wants to capture good quality HD video and play it on a large screen TV, or share it over the internet, without having to pay $1000 for the privilege. CHOICE tested 15 pocket camcorders (also known as multimedia cameras), including the Sony Bloggie, and the Panasonic HM-TA2, to see which deliver the best combination of video and audio quality, and which are easiest to use. We also compared the video quality of the pocket camcorders on test with a variety of other devices that claim to capture video including Smartphone. For more information take a look at our Pocket camcorders review.


     
     

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    Tablets

    SamsungGalaxyTab101v

    Tablet computers will be some of the hottest tech Christmas gifts this year. The current crop, which includes the iPad 2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Motorola Xoom, offers super-small, fast and energy efficient processors, responsive finger-touch screens, long life batteries, and plenty of cheap or free programs that are readily available and easy to download. Our testing reveals which models perform the best, are the easiest to use, have the highest construction quality, and have the best selection of applications. For more information, take a look at our Tablet computers review.

    All-rounder laptops

    hp-pavilion-dv6If you're feeling extra generous this Christmas, a laptop is a gift that most people would be happy with. The latest family all-rounder laptops have a lot going for them. They have enough screen size, processing power and storage space to cope with everything from web browsing to movie making, and they’re easy enough to take with you almost anywhere without compromising on power or features. We tested 12 models, including the Macbook Pro, and the Dell XPS 15z, for performance, ease of use, battery life and energy efficiency. Take a look at the CHOICE All-rounder laptops review to see which model scores best.

    Desktop computers

    08-HP-P6000Laptop and tablet computers seem to get all the publicity these days, but desktop computers still give you the best bang for your buck. Whether it’s a traditional tower box or an all-in-one unit, you’ll find desktops have a lot to recommend them. They’re larger capacity and far more expandable than laptops and tablets, so they can also give you a longer working life. We tested 11 desktop computers, including six all-in-ones (four with touchscreens) to see how they compare for performance, features and value. Take a look at our Desktop computers review for more information.

    Widescreen monitors

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    With so much digital entertainment content on offer these days, the line between the desktop monitor and flatscreen TV is becoming blurred. As technology changes push screen size up and prices down, the desktop monitor is doing double-duty for work and play. We put 13 widescreen desktop monitors to the test, across three size categories – 21.5”, 23”-24” and 27” – to see how they compare. Take a look at the CHOICE Widescreen monitors review to see how Apple, BenQ, Dell, and Asus models stack up against each other.

    HD webcams

    05-Logitech-C720A webcam could be a great gift for someone who wants to stay in touch with friends and family living far away - after all the Christmas is all about reconnecting with your loved ones. We high definition webcams from Logitech, Creative and Microsoft, for performance and ease of use, and discovered that some of the cheaper options on the market, beat their expensive counterparts. For more information, take a look at our HD webcams review.

    Colour laser multifunction printers

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    There’s been a changing of the guard in personal printing. Colour laser printers have long been thought of as large, expensive and exclusive to business workplaces, while inkjet printers were the low-cost alternative for personal use. In many cases, you’ll pay a bit more upfront for a colour laser MFP but you may be much better off in the long term once running costs are factored in. We bought and tested 10 models to see how they compare for performance, ease of use, features and value. Take a look at our Colour laser multifunction printers review for more information.

    Televisions

    01-LG-47LE7500-TABuying a TV in the 21st century is no mean feat. Even some lower-end models come with a confusing variety of features. Then there are all the different screen types to negotiate – not to mention getting your head around new technologies like 3D. CHOICE has taken the guesswork out of the whole process. If you're choosing between a Sony Bravia, a Toshiba, or a Panasonic Viera, our rigorous testing will reveal which TVs have the best picture and sound quality, are the easiest to use, and use the least energy. For more information take a look at our reviews, which have been sorted by size:

    Click here for the latest on the digital TV switchover, and for the pros and cons of different screen types, have a look at our LCD vs plasma buying guide.

    Mini stereo systems

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    Choosing a mini hi-fi system involves a compromise between price and performance. One thing our CHOICE testers can comfortably say after testing many cheap mini/micro stereo systems is that while you may get lots of features, good quality sound isn't cheap. We put a range of CD, DVD and Blu-ray stereo systems through their paces. For more information, take a look at our Mini stereo systems review.

    Wireless headphones

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    Headphones are an ideal way to listen to music or TV without disturbing others in the room. Wireless headphones allow you to move around the room or throughout your home while you listen. CHOICE tested 12 headphones that use wireless technology to transmit audio from a televisionmusic system or radio to the listener. We've reviewed Sennheiser, Sony, and TDK models, so take a look at our Wireless headphones review for more information.

    HD set-top boxes

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    Set-top boxes are a small part of the big change to digital TV. They're a cheap and relatively easy way to get more channels, increased picture quality and often better reception. They're designed to replace your existing television’s tuner - If you have an older analogue TV, the box will give you the option of watching digital programming, and if you have an LCD or plasma TV with a standard definition digital tuner (or none at all) it will allow you to watch the HD channels. Take a look at the CHOICE HD set-top boxes review to find out which models scored the best.

    776Smartphones

    Smartphones can virtually perform as a mobile office. And whilst Apple's iPhone made these devices more accessible, Google’s Android operating system is making sure Apple doesn't have everything its own way. Android-based touchscreen phones, such as the HTC Desire, and the Samsung Galaxy S2, have created some tough competition for Apple's latest smartphone, the iPhone 4S. The Android OS has now eclipsed both Apple and Nokia as the most widely used smartphone operating system in the world. To find out which models come out on top, take a look at our Smartphones review. And see our article on smartphone operating systems to help you decide on the software, a factor to consider for your overall experience.

    MP3 and MP4 players

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    MP3/MP4 players have evolved over the last decade to the point where the latest models provide an intuitive interface and a simple, effective way to get music from a computer into your pocket. Since the rapid uptake of the smartphone, prices for media players have dropped significantly in the last few years. Our latest review of 19 media players, including Apple's iPod Touch, Nano and Shuffle, as well as Creative's ZEN, reveals which models are the easiest to use, have the best sound and video quality, and are the most durable. For more information, take a look at our MP3 and MP4 players review.

    09-SonyPRS-650eBook readers

    At the moment, competition is increasing in the eBook reader space, and the steady trickle of computer tablets hitting the Australian market (offering eBook reader capacity), means manufacturers are making rapid improvements. Most eBook readers adhere to the basic requirements; long battery life and portability. In addition to this, you should look for a screen that's clear to read in all lighting conditions and does not cause eye strain. We've tested models such as the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook, and the Sony PRS-650. Take a look at CHOICE's latest eBook readers review to find out which models scored best.

    Car GPS

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    A dedicated GPS for your car is a great Christmas present for those who do a lot of road-travel, and like to know exactly where they're going. While GPS-capable smartphones such as the iPhone are making some inroads in the GPS market, it seems most drivers still prefer the full functionality of a dedicated car GPS unit. Features such as  lane guidance, announcement of  school zones  and  text to speech are standard in most models. Some even come with preloaded maps of Australia. Have a look at our latest Car GPS review to see how models such as the Garmin Nuvi, Navman and TomTom compare.

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