In today’s world, we are getting used to instant gratification. Many smart phones, tablets, computers and other hi-tech items change—improve—so fast these days, it sometimes seems like a minor miracle. In 1969, there was sufficient technology in this country to send men to the moon. The computing power of those days was so limited, though, that nobody—and I mean nobody—would want a cell phone, computer or any other devices based solely on that era’s technology.
So, what to get this holiday season? The choices are many, prices vary and the technology is breathtaking. I’ve tried to select a couple of good picks from each of the following categories: Wearable Tech, Tablets and e-Readers, Smartphones and Computers (Hybrid Laptop/Tablets).
This category is defined as stuff you can wear, like a watch or a necklace that comes with technology.
The Basis B1 Band, starting at about $170, allows you to tell time, track steps, heart rate, calories and much more. It syncs with Bluetooth and Android devices. The drawback? It’s bulky.
Next is the Fitbit Force that costs about $130. It, too, is a fitness-tracker. It has a large digital display, and is lightweight and elegant. It also syncs with Bluetooth. However, it is hard to close the wristband and syncing requires one of the later smartphones.
Tablets and e-Readers
There are plenty of choices in this category, and you should pick the one that best meets your functional needs. If you are just going to use it for reading books, many of the newer e-readers, like the new Kindle models, are more than adequate. If your business depends on the device, you need to go with a complete tablet; and here, there are lots of choices again.
My favorite is the Google Nexus 7. It can do ‘everything,’ but it might be considered pricey. It starts at $200. but you may want accessories and they are not cheap, so you may end up spending $500 or more. The best part of the device is the clear-as-crystal display. It can function as a phone, camera (although there is some criticism on the camera quality) and much more. One of the accessories is a foldable keyboard for those of us with fat fingers. The price of the keyboard itself runs almost as much as the device.
More expensive (and, of course, attached to the Apple name) is the iPad Air. Costing approximately $500, it is called the fifth-generation iPad, another example of how quickly technology changes. There are lots of apps to run, it has great performance and a fantastic display. iPad Air comes in four different ‘strengths,’ with the 128GB version of the iPad Air costing more than $800 (the most powerful of the four).
Next is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. This runs on the Android system, just like Google Nexus 7. For about $500, it comes with two cameras, and it is light. It also is equipped with a Stylus (S Pen) that is much improved over older models.
Speaking of Samsung, when it comes to Smartphones, they have the edge in that department. The Samsung Galaxy S4 (GS4) smartphone gets the best reviews all around. It comes with an amazing camera and it has a powerful processor that, among other things, can function as a TV remote. It has more storage than most other phones, you can remove the battery, the 5-inch display has a very high resolution, with high color saturation, contrast and sharply defined edges. Photos and videos really look good. The Galaxy S4 costs approximately $200 when you sign up for a plan.
Another phone is the HTC One, which is about $100 with plan. Also with a 5-inch, HD screen, with even more storage than the GS4, the HTC has some advantages, but also some drawbacks. You cannot expand with extra SD cards or replace the battery. This phone directly competes the GS4 and either choice gives you a great phone.
Here, we are talking hybrid laptop/tablets. Laptop sales are down, tablet sales are up, and hybrids definitely are the wave of the future.
First in line is the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2, which costs approximately $1,000. This device allows you to do touchscreen or use a regular keyboard, if you prefer. It comes with a 13.3-inch screen with 3200x1800 resolution, and allows you to fold it 360-degrees. The only drawback is the relatively short battery life.
The skinniest and lightest hybrid is the Dell XPS 11. It also is priced at about $1,000 and, like the Lenovo, features a 360-degree fold. Which one you pick seems to be a matter if you prefer Dell or IBM-owned Lenovo.
And all the rest...
We have only scratched the surface in this ocean of new tablets, smartphones and much more. We have not yet even mentioned cameras, gaming, TVs, home theater, portable audio or car-tech-related products. But, that’s all, folks! Have a great holiday season in high-tech land!
Longtime computer trainer and editor Richard Gavatin is a co-owner of IMS, Inc. (ims-stlouis.com), a computer consulting company that specializes in the support and customization of accounting software. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Prices listed are based off of advertised prices at time of print. Prices may vary.