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10 Holiday Gifts for Tech Lovers

I can't believe I'm writing this post in early November, 1.5 months before Christmas. Then again, I noticed that brick-and-mortar stores were already putting up their holiday-shopping displays before Halloween this year , and I've also been seeing “leaked” Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving sales) ad previews since the beginning of the month, so maybe I'm late . Sigh. Bah, humbug.

My buddies at EDN recently asked me, admitted perpetual follower of any and all things consumer electronics-ish, to come up with a top-10 Christmas shopping suggestion list for y'all. Their only qualifiers were “no smartphones or tablets.” Alrighty, then, here goes, in no particular order save for how they streamed out of my noggin.

1. Go solid-state
A solid-state drive (SSD) is, IMHO, the single best upgrade you can make to an existing system, or component you can choose for a new system you're purchasing or building, to maximize its usable life from a performance standpoint (as I’ve written about many times in the past, and recent commenters also rightly noted). And at today's prices, they're a no-brainer choice; check out, for example, the 240 GB SSD I recently saw for $64.99 after coupon and rebate. Performance differences exist between SSDs, but versus the HDD alternative, there's no comparison, especially on random read-intensive tasks. And, if you need more capacity, consider a flash memory-plus-rotating storage hybrid.

Samsung 840 Series SSD

Samsung 840 Series SSD

2. Good fiscal sense
Why pay your DSL or cable provider $10 or so a month for the “privilege” of renting equipment (along with, in Comcast's case, the “privilege” of allowing other subscribers to sip from the same bandwidth straw that you’re paying for), when for a scant upfront investment you can dispense with rental fees forever via your own broadband modem and standalone router? Note, for example, that state-of-the-art cable modems now regularly sell for less than $50, as do full-featured 802.11n routers (and even some 802.11ac units). Plus, by separating the modem and router functions, you can more easily upgrade each unit to keep up with state-of-the-art technology, versus with an integrated alternative.

3. Fiscal sense redux
Continuing the theme of the prior list entry, if you're a cable television service subscriber, why spend good money every month to lease a set-top box or DVR for each TV in your household? Instead, buy (or build) a Windows 7- or 8-based PC, and leverage its large HDD and built-in Media Center facilities in combination with an ~$100 CableCARD-based HDHomeRun Prime receiver. Xbox 360s or Xbox Ones (which you may already own) make for excellent Media Center Extenders. And the $1-or-so per-month CableCARD usage fee comes with high-def service for free.

Motorola CableCARD

Motorola CableCARD

4. Cut the cord
Long-time readers may remember my ongoing ATSC reception coverage; apparently I was a cord-cutter way before cutting cords was cool. Further extending the “fiscally sensitive Christmas” theme, why not drop your coax-, fiber- or satellite-served subscription television service entirely and go with free (advertising-supported) over-the-air TV instead? Replace the above-mentioned HDHomeRun Prime with a well-under-$100 HDHomeRun ATSC receiver, mate it to a capable indoor or outdoor antenna, and you're good to go assuming you're in an adequate reception region.

5. Get tangled up in Blu
Long-time readers may be initially shocked to see a Blu-ray player on the list, considering my longstanding critique of the format. To be clear, I was never opposed to Blu-ray in an absolute sense, only relative to the amount of money you were expected to pay for the privilege (its discard of laser technology backward compatibility with DVD, versus the HD DVD alternative, admittedly also irked me). And the amount of money you have to pay has now largely become a non-issue. Bare-bones Blu-ray players that also upscale DVDs can now be found for well under $50, with fuller-featured Wi-Fi-inclusive units still coming in at around the Ulysses S Grant point. And better yet, given my cord-cutting suggestion above, they also support a variety of alternative online content distribution services… Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, VUDU, etc. Hey, even HBO’s getting in on the cord-cutting act.

Philips BDP2100/F7 Blu-ray player

Philips BDP2100/F7 Blu-ray player

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EDN.

22 comments on “10 Holiday Gifts for Tech Lovers

  1. t.alex
    November 26, 2014

    Blu Ray has never been one of my favourite list. Its expensive and inconvinent.

    My list would be

    1. Apple Watch

    2. Iphone 6

    3. Chrome disk

  2. Daniel
    November 26, 2014

    “My buddies at EDN recently asked me, admitted perpetual follower of any and all things consumer electronics-ish, to come up with a top-10 Christmas shopping suggestion list for y'all. Their only qualifiers were “no smartphones or tablets.” Alrighty, then, here goes, in no particular order save for how they streamed out of my noggin.”

    Brian, but I think other electronic gadgets like IPhone and wearable devices are more attractive than SSDs or other listed items. I personally feel wearable or IoT base devices/gadgets make more momentums in market during this shopping season.

  3. Daniel
    November 26, 2014

    “Blu Ray has never been one of my favourite list. Its expensive and inconvinent.  My list would be

    1. Apple Watch  2. Iphone 6  3. Chrome disk”

    Alex, what's this chrome disk. Is it an SSD?

  4. ahdand
    November 27, 2014

    @Jacob: Blue ray is inconvenient? Why is that ? 

  5. ahdand
    November 27, 2014

    @Jacob: Well I cannot agree 100% on the solution because it all depends on what your requirements are

  6. ahdand
    November 27, 2014

    @t.alex: Whats the Chrome Disk ? 

  7. Himanshugupta
    November 27, 2014

    All the suggestions are good and cool but apart from the buy-plug-and-play systems such as HDD or blue-ray other suggestions need some hands-on and know-all kind of guy to implement. I am sure internet will of much help in all the suggestions.

  8. Himanshugupta
    November 27, 2014

    Chrome disk is nothing but google drive to store the data on clouds.

  9. ahdand
    November 28, 2014

    @himanshugupta: Well don't you think there is a risk involved in it ?

  10. ahdand
    November 28, 2014

    @Jacob: Just one concern, do you think Apple Watch is a worthy thing ? Well you cannot do a lot with it after all comparing it with the price tag it carries

  11. Susan Fourtané
    November 28, 2014

    t.alex, 

    At this point I would also say that Blu-ray is pointless. It was Okay some years ago, but pretty much useless today. It's just a thing of the past. It would be like adding to the list a DVD player. 

    -Susan

  12. FLYINGSCOT
    November 28, 2014

    I liked this article very much and thought the tips were excellent.  However are Windows based PVR systems up to snuff now as I know a few years ago I tried one of these and it was too finnicky to make me move away from a subscription service.

  13. Nemos
    November 28, 2014

    Great list, but I would like one more 😉 the flying drones with the ability to record video, many TV shows or documentary films now they are using the gadget to record amazing videos, as you can have a panoramic view of a place. The cost is quite high (900$) for a 12 MP camera but it relatively cheap if you choose a 2 MP camera(80$).

  14. Taimoor Zubar
    November 30, 2014

    I think one of the best tech-related gifts this year would be of Google Glasses. They're one of the latest attraction in the tech world and every geek is trying to get their hands on it. I have already browsed several deals for them on the sites.

  15. Taimoor Zubar
    November 30, 2014

    @Nemos: I recently saw Flying Drone Cameras being used to cover events like concerts and weddings. They're becoming increasingly popular with amateur video makers and I think soon they'll become even more common. Seemed very cool to me.

  16. Daniel
    December 1, 2014

    “Well I cannot agree 100% on the solution because it all depends on what your requirements are”

    Nimantha, that's true. I just mentioned about the new and which can attract more attention from preoperative customers.

  17. Daniel
    December 1, 2014

    “Blue ray is inconvenient? Why is that ? “

    Nimantha, I never mentioned about that.

  18. Daniel
    December 1, 2014

    “Just one concern, do you think Apple Watch is a worthy thing ? Well you cannot do a lot with it after all comparing it with the price tag it carries”

    Nimantha, that's a different question. Once you used; then you may lose the interest for that gadget. 

  19. happynew
    December 10, 2014

    Yes I too totaly agree with you.Don't find any use of Blue Ray.Iphone will be best.

  20. Daniel
    December 12, 2014

    “Yes I too totaly agree with you.Don't find any use of Blue Ray.Iphone will be best.”

    Happynew. Am not particular about any product. I just mentioned some of the items which are popular in market

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