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The holidays are a time for merriment, coming together with your nearest and dearest, eating too much and the sending and receiving of gifts. Ruthless consumerism is all well and good, but if you play it smart and ditch the boring perfumes and costly consumables you might want to consider upgrading the tech in your home.
These are the gifts that last all year round, most of which will serve you well for many years to come. Say no to socks, reindeer antlers, overpriced chocolate and the new fragrance from a French guy you’ve never heard of, and treat your abode to some of the latest technology this December 25th.
Here are some suggestions for improving your living quarters this holiday season.
A Samsung 55” Smart TV to be exact, with LED backlighting, full 1080p resolution, a buttery smooth 240Hz refresh rate and stereoscopic 3D technology. Sure, you might have to spend a good half hour explaining to grandma why the 25,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and nearly-55” screen size meant you absolutely had to have it but the purchase will speak for itself once you start streaming Netflix, YouTube, Pandora and more over Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
The apps might be a little gimmicky, but at just over an inch thick it’s as good to look at as the rich pictures it produces.
Samsung and Apple don’t always see eye to eye, but if you go for the stunning Samsung 55” behemoth listed above then you can’t go far wrong with an Apple TV. Rent, stream and download movies and TV shows as well as using it as an AirPlay receiver to stream content from your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Mac running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.
If you really want to get the most out of an Apple TV then watch out for the third generation jailbreak that’s rumoured to be coming soon.
The recently announced iPad Mini is lovely to hold and even better to walk around with, but it shows up its bigger, faster, and sharper brother when compared side-by-side. While the iPad with Retina display is mobile enough you’re most likely going to be using it at home, on the sofa.
The next generation of gaming has arrived and Nintendo are once again first to release their hardware, well in advance of both Sony and Microsoft. Unlike the Wii, the WiiU feels more like an incremental upgrade than brand new concept in gaming, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With a brand new controller complete with touch-screen, backwards compatibility with the Wii and the ability to play many new games without the need for a TV your WiiU will last you a few holiday seasons yet.
You’ll probably want to opt for the Deluxe version which comes with more storage and a copy of Nintendo Land, don’t forget to pick up a couple of Wiimotes and nunchucks for multiplayer action if you don’t already have them lying around.
Don’t Forget The WiiU’s Best Launch Titles
The WiiU’s launch titles have been described as “uninspiring” and “lukewarm” by consumers and reviewers alike, but that’s not to say there’s nothing worth playing. Two games will keep you thoroughly entertained, with the first being New Super Mario Bros U.
Mario is back in 2D which can only mean one thing – thoroughly addictive gameplay that will keep you busy for hours. It’s a solid game that doesn’t necessarily say much for the WiiU but reaffirms our faith in Nintendo’s ability to still churn out quality plumber-themed platformers and it’s must-have stuff for any new WiiU owners.
The second somewhat overlooked title you’ll probably want to buy is ZombiU, a game that – from the title at least – sounds like a glorified tech demo. What initially seems like just another zombie game soon proves itself to be a challenging, brutal and ultimately rewarding undead tale that will shock, scare and thrill you.
Because a network is for life, not just for Christmas – right? If you’re adding devices that hog network bandwidth then you might want to consider upgrading your crusty old router to a nice new one, like this Negreat RangeMax router. It has a standard set of four Ethernet ports, wireless-N, plug ‘n’ play shareability via USB and a built-in bandwidth usage monitor to ensure you don’t exceed your monthly cap.
Of course you could keep your old router handy and use it as an access point to extend the range of your network, a fitting post-Christmas project to sink your teeth into.
You can never have enough storage, especially network-enabled media storage that’s ready to stream via DLNA/UPnP like this WesternDigital MyBook. This particular edition comes with an impressive 2TB of data which is housed in a metallic charcoal casing. Sit it next to the router, on your desk or pick it up and take your entire movie, TV and music collection to a friend’s house for easy streaming.
Use it for media, important files or as a backup slave for your PC or Mac, with gigabit Ethernet and built-in wireless the potential uses are endless.
Windows 8 Your Household
Are you “ready” for Windows 8? If you’re thinking of taking the plunge then you could probably do with a copy of Windows 8, and why settle for the base version when you can get Windows 8 Professional with Media Centre functionality?
If you’re unsure about using the Modern UI with your mouse and keyboard alone then you could always opt for an Acer T-Series IPS Touchscreen monitor.
Featuring a 23” anti-glare panel, ultra-fast 5ms response time and sophisticated styling to boot this Windows 8-ready monitor will transform your laptop or desktop into a multi-touch, multi-input machine that plays nicely with Microsoft’s latest release.
Robot vacuum cleaners aren’t for everyone, but if you live in a Roomba-friendly household (i.e. not too many tough to reach nooks and crannies, no overly destructive pets) then the 770 might just be for you. The bagless design features a three-stage cleaning system, dual HEPA filters for better dust filtration and an anti-tangle system designed to avoid and traverse any wires that might be in the way.
The Roomba 770 can be scheduled to clean whenever you like, so it could wake up in the day when you’re out at work, or start cleaning at night while you sleep so you can wake up to a spotless floor. Regardless, it makes the holiday cleanup a lot easier and even returns to its charging station when it runs out of juice.
Do you have any favourites from this list? What would you get for the house this holiday season? Leave your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below!
Image Credit: Vector Gift (Shutterstock)