The holidays are upon us so I thought I would highlight some of the cool new gadgets that are available that might make good gifts for the tech-minded people in your life. Some of these things I have actual experience with, some I have researched and am keeping my eye on, and some are on my wish-list just waiting for release so I can snatch them up.
*Disclaimer* As much as I would like to highlight absolutely everything, that would end up being a book. A lot of this list is what I am excited about and keeping an eye on so as such there is going to be a lot of personal opinion here. Fortunately for you dear reader, I tend to be platform agnostic. I go for what OS/Brand/Device that works best for me at the time I am not a fan boy (except when it comes to Marvel vs. DC, Marvel all the way!!) and don’t stick with one platform just because it exists.
There has been some big news here the past couple months with the release of larger iPhones (see what I did there?). Two new larger but thinner iPhones are available at long last. If you are considering an upgrade it will probably be the size that matters. If you are still on iPhone 4 then it’s pretty much a no-brainer to upgrade to get the newer processors. The decision is a little more difficult with a 5 or 5s as far as basic hardware goes, but is a must if you want a larger screen. I personally have an iPhone 6 Plus on order.
Other big news in smartphones (I did it again) is the release of the Galaxy Note 4. One can argue that this is a more productivity minded device as it includes a stylus and the awesome ability to have two apps open and running side by side on the screen. It’s not a huge update from the Note 3, but if you are thinking of getting into the Android Phablet arena this is the one to beat.
While nobody has totally gotten this right yet, things are much improved with the current wearables. If you are or know a gadget junky like me, one of these is definitely on the list.
The Pebble smartwatch is arguably the one that really started to make wearables a “thing”. It has a reasonable price point and works with multiple platforms. Until the release of the Pebble Steel it wasn’t necessarily the prettiest device, but it worked well for getting alerts from your phone at a glance and a wide array of customizable watch faces was a nice touch. It does lack any type of fitness sensors but will pair with the fitness apps on your phone to present information. I had one of the regular Pebble’s without the metal band and found it very useful but eventually stopped wearing it because the e-ink look of it just wasn’t exciting.
The Samsung Gear line put some wow into the wearable lineup with color touch screens, fitness sensors, a camera, a microphone, a kitchen sink, well maybe not that last one but they did cram in a lot. These are good looking devices that pack a lot of features but they are bulky and unfortunately only work with certain Samsung phones.
The new kid on the block is the Microsoft Band. This pretty much came out of nowhere. This thing is loaded with sensors, has a color touchscreen and uses the Windows Phone live tile style interface. It’s kind of a cross between a Nike fuel band and a Pebble. Fortunately they went with the band form factor. Not sure what it was, but once I saw this I had to have it. I have only had it for a couple of days but it is meeting my expectations. Battery life has been awesome and it works with Android, iOS, and of course Windows Phone. If you have a Windows Phone you do get the bonus of voice commands but I would expect that support for Siri and Hey Google will be forthcoming.
I’m just going to focus on the two main contenders here, the Playstion 4 and the Xbox One. The choice here is less cut and dry than in past console generations. For the purposes of most people, the hardware power in each is pretty much the same, they both have online multi-player infrastructures set up, they both can do other things like stream Netflix. There are also less console exclusive games this time around. The decision will probably come down to which ecosystem you like better. I am heavily invested in the Microsoft environment and I like how everything comes together, so I got an Xbox One. That being said, as soon as the PS4 gets more games for it that I want to play, I’m sure I will end up with both. Both systems have been out for a year now and the game libraries are starting to get better and better, which leads me to….
It’s going to be a busy fall for the gamer in your life. I for one am going to be very busy. On November 13th the new World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor drops. My guess there will be a lot of people taking some time off of work or school that weekend. Next up is Dragon Age Inquisition dropping on November 18th. With a 100+ hours of game play and already getting great reviews, this game will be a good investment as well as a lot of fun. Released at the end of October, but still well worth the time, money and need for just…one….more…turn is Civilization Beyond Earth. For shooter fans, Halo Master Chief Collection will let you relive your Halo memories with full HD remakes of the original Halo and Halo 2 plus Halo 3 and 4. Want something to keep your tension levels pegged? Try Alien Isolation. Or how about….well, if I don’t stop now, this will never get published so I’ll just say that this season is going to be a great one for tech, and enough games that hibernating this winter will not be an issue.