14 Dec

Tech Gifts for 2011

December 14, 2011

By Becky Osborne, WVU Extension Service Office of Technology

Are you creating your Christmas shopping list electronically this year? If not, maybe Santa should bring you a tablet!

If you do receive “something electronic” under the tree or in your stocking, you’ll be in good company. The Consumer Electronics Association predicts two-thirds of holiday spending will be on electronics.

Top Tech Gifts

So, what are the top electronic products for 2011, and how does that list compare to yours? According to an article at squidoo, the top 10 tech gifts for 2011 include the following:

  1. iPad
  2. 3D TV (and some don’t require glasses!)
  3. digital camera
  4. Blu-ray player
  5. video camcorder
  6. eBook reader
  7. GPS portable navigator
  8. laptop computer
  9. iPod or MP3 player
  10. gaming system (Wii, PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox)

(Check out the full article to see what brands and models received a minimum of 50 reviews and had at least a four-star rating.)

Another source lists Kindle Fire tied with the iPad in popularity as a gift this year. Are you confused about the differences between the iPad 2 and the Kindle Fire? It might help to read the comparison. Also, check out CNET’s tablet reviews for more information about these devices.

Smartphones may not be rated in the top 10 at Amazon (probably because more phones are sold by providers), but they are on many lists. Jefferson Graham of USA Today chatted with shoppers at The Mall of America in Minneapolis who echoed the notion that smartphones would be a welcome gift.

A touch-screen TV might be a gift for someone (e.g., parent or grandparent) less experienced with computers. One example of this is the telikin—“a simpler, easy to use computer. The cooks in the house might appreciate a touchscreen all-in-one TV in the kitchen. [Search for “all-in-one PC” for models.] Some even have software loaded to leave electronic “sticky notes” for family members.

If you’re stumped coming up with a gift for a true “geek,” take a look at possible gift ideas at ThinkGeek,, or ExtremeGeek.

Do Your Homework

To feel confident purchasing requested electronics, do some “homework” before buying.

  • Figure out exactly what each person wants.
  • Request a picture or website with the item.
  • Determine if you need to buy a specific brand.
  • Read online reviews comparing brands, prices, and vendors (e.g., CNET’s and ZDNet’s holiday gift guide).
  • Compare your notes with others who currently own items on your shopping list or who might be looking.
  • Consider refurbished items. Many carry a full warranty and are as good as new. Sometimes, an unused device is labeled “refurbished” if its box was opened.

Keep in mind additional costs and constraints as you make purchases. For example, cell phones and satellite radios both include monthly fees.

Gifts under $50

Can’t afford items over $50? You’ll find many accessories and supporting products that make great gifts. Think about:

  • antivirus and antispyware software
  • battery charger and rechargeable batteries or solar chargers
  • any form of additional power or charging product (you can never have enough power!)
  • small-sized, energy-saving, or multi-purpose surge suppressors
  • case or cover
  • Bluetooth headset
  • cell phone charger
  • speakers for a notebook/netbook
  • noise-cancelling earbuds/headset
  • headset with microphone
  • wireless keyboard and/or mouse
  • high-capacity storage card
  • jump drive
  • webcam
  • extended warranty for a newly-purchased device
  • video game (make sure you select one for the appropriate system and age level)
  • gift card (for music, apps, software or accessories)
  • anything “mobile” or that supports a mobile device

Look at the slideshow of great tech gifts under $50 for additional ideas that won’t leave you regretting January’s bills.

Another slideshow titled Enterprise Mobility: 10 Holiday Gadget Gifts for Geeks on a Budget isn’t as budget-friendly but still has many lower-priced gift items for people on the go.

Still Need Ideas?

If you’re still stumped for ideas, consider the following:

  • Purchase a gift card to an electronic store, local or online.
  • Watch morning news shows.
  • Read current men’s and women’s magazines.
  • Search the web for phrases like “hot tech gifts” or “holiday gift guide 2011” or “consumer electronics holiday shopping”.
  • Review consumer websites like CNET’s and ZDNet’s holiday gift guide.
  • Purchase a year’s subscription to an online backup service. Need help in deciding which one?

Making the Purchase

After deciding what items to purchase:

  • Study store flyers and online sources to find the vendor with the best price.
  • Place online orders early to allow time for shipping (and eliminate “rush” fees).
  • See what online retailers offer free shipping and compare bottom-line prices.
  • If possible, ship gifts directly to the recipient to save time and money.
  • Purchase reasonably-priced “quick off the shelf items” and resist the temptation to keep looking for a better deal.
  • Only buy from reputable vendors highly rated by other consumers.
  • Take advantage of FREE Shipping Day on December 16, 2011. Check out the participating vendors.
  • If you have time, sign up for e-mail notifications from local or online retailers about one-day sales and other promotions. Some good ones are, TigerDirect, woot, computer vendors, and others.
  • Only use a credit card when ordering online, and only order from sites with “https:” in the address line and the “lock” icon. (Learn more about safely shopping online.)

Get out the wrapping paper—your shopping should almost be done!

Have a blessed, and hopefully less stressed, holiday season.

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