A few days ago we posted our Holiday Smartphone Buyer's Guide, and now we're here for you procrastinators and gift card recipients with our Holiday Gadget Guide. This is a short and sweet list of our favorite gadgets of 2010. Click on the product name to read our review.
Apple iPad Like the iPhone 4, the iPad hardly needs an introduction. This 9.7" tablet with an IPS touch screen running iOS is one of the biggest hits of 2010.
Sure it doesn't do Flash but it does have a YouTube player and HTML 5 video support. You can watch and listen to all your iTunes content, with iTunes movies and video being much better thanks to the huge display. It does iBooks, the web, email and all sorts of other fun (and sometimes productive) things. $499- $829 depending on storage capacity and whether it has 3G.
Samsung Galaxy Tab At 7", the Tab is much more portable than the iPad (it's about half the size) and it has all the power of Android OS 2.2 Froyo. Better yet it's available on all 4 major US carriers, so you're bound to get 3G service anywhere (yes, it has WiFi too). Our review covers all 4 versions so you can decide which one offers the features and pricing most attractive to you.
Our pick is the T-Mobile Galaxy Tab for its fast HSPA+ data speeds (assuming you have coverage in your area) and reasonable $40 data plan that includes WiFi tethering. Our other pick is the Verizon model since its the only Tab on the big 4 that does full desktop mode when web browsing, and because Verizon's coverage is so darned good. $399 to $649 depending on carrier and whether you get it with a contract.
Sony Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 There are several very good digital cameras on the market, but Sony's NEX-5 and its slightly cheaper sister the NEX-3 are a new kind of beast. The NEX is an interchangeable lens camera for the dSLR sense of versatility and quality, yet the camera isn't much bigger than a point and shoot. It uses a full APS-C size sensor that's 14.2 megapixels.
It features continuous autofocus for video shooting and the NEX-5 does full 1080p. Image quality is stunning and low light shots are particularly impressive. $550- $699 depending on lens bundle and model.
Barnes & Noble Nook Color The Nook Color is a 7" LCD reader with an IPS display that has higher pixel density than the iPad. We didn't expect to love it but the combo of extreme reading comfort and new features like print-style magazines and interactive children's books impressed us so much we gave the Nook Color our Editor's Choice Award.
The Nook Color runs a customized version of Android 2.1 and it has a web browser, video player and music player. $249
Amazon Kindle 3 The Kindle 3 is Amazon's best 6" Kindle yet and it features a Pearl E-Ink display and improved web browser. It's available with WiFi and WiFi + 3G.
Though we pick the Sony Reader PRS-950 Daily Edition for its elegant touch interface, the Kindle is cheaper (good in a recession) and has the clout of Amazon's huge bookstore behind it, not to mention their excellent customer service and easy shopping experience. $139-$189
iHome Charging Station You've got way more gadgets than outlets, or you simply don't want to hunt down all those little charger bricks.
Enter the iHome Charging Station that can charge up to 4 devices simultaneously. It charges iPad, iPhone, iPod, ebook readers, BlackBerry smartphones and more. $59.99
iHome iA100 iOS Clock Radio Sure, there are plenty of alarm clock radios available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. But the iPad? Not so many.
The iHome iA100 is a beefy bedside companion that can stand up to the iPad's weight, and it offers a few neat features including Bluetooth for speakerphone conversations when using an iPhone. It works with iHome's free iHome + Sleep App for a customized bedtime and waking experience. $199
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview