Whether Santa left you a lump of coal or you’re just trying to figure out what to do with those new gift cards here is a simple list of cool gadgets and must-have accessories that will keep you in the holiday spirit.
This “after the holidays buyer’s guide” includes top picks for affordable 2-in-1 hybrid notebook tablets to gaming and multimedia systems of all sizes. And if your Christmas cash won’t stretch quite that far we’ve rounded up a few must-have accessoeries for the new year.
The ASUS Transformer T100 2-in-1 hybrid laptop is an attractive and affordable Windows 8 PC that we called “an extraordinary feat of engineering.” Inside is a quad-core Intel Bay Trail next-generation processor, running at 1.33GHz. There’s 2GB of RAM, and either a 32GB or 64GB SSD. A single USB 3.0 port rests on the side of the keyboard dock.
Made of metal and plastic, the T100’s display measures at 10.1 inches, with a 1366×768 resolution. Unlike that old netbook you bought a few years ago, the screen is actually quite good – HD and IPS – with excellent viewing angles. Moreover, the whole device’s build quality is really quite excellent despite the fact it’s available for less than $400.
In short, this is the ideal after-Christmas gift if you want both a lightweight laptop and a tablet but don’t want to pay for two separate devices.
If you don’te care about tablets and have some extra cash then the updated Acer Aspire S7 is the ideal Ultrabook. Acer has taken last year’s well-built albeit flawed ultraportable and turned it into a true top-tier notebook for work and play. Increasing the capacity of its 4-cell battery and making the move towards Intel’s new fourth-generation Haswell processors, the old endurance problems that plagued the first generation Acer Aspire S7 are no longer an issue.
While Acer was quick to rectify the Aspire S7’s faults, the company also held onto the device’s best features. The unique white metallic chassis design returns with an improved keyboard and even faster performance; all while retaining its incredibly thin form factor.
With key improvements to performance and battery life along with a unique sophisticated design the Acer Aspire S7 has become one of the most appealing ultrabooks on the market.
Sure, the Acer Ultrabook has the performance you need but you still want the option to convert your laptop into a tablet. Well, this is where the Sony VAIO Duo 13 comes to the rescue.
The Vaio Duo 13 differs from many traditional hybrids in that it converts from tablet to notebook via a wide hinge mechanism under the display. It’s a slider. When activated with a light lift of the display, the screen slides up and docs at about 120 degrees, revealing a full-sized keyboard as well as a small touchpad.
In notebook mode, the display is stuck in its angled position, and can only be adjusted back into a flat tablet mode. This is purposeful, and should be at a comfortable angle for drawing and drafting.
While the VAIO Duo 13 isn’t a budget-priced PC, the performance, features, and the excellent N-trig active pen make it a solid value.
No, we’re not talking about the kind of razor that you use with Gillette shaving gel, this Razer Blade is a high-performance gaming laptop about the size of a budget MacBook.
The Razer Blade features a 14-inch 1600×900 display, Intel quad-core processor, powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M graphics and available storage up to a 512GB SSD. It’s 2/5 the thickness and 2/3 the weight of its closest competitor, the Alienware 14. The Blade features an all-aluminum construction, backlit keyboard and is an all-around enticing choice for a portable gaming notebook.
While you can easily find a cheaper 14″ laptop none of those budget notebooks can play all the PC games that are currently on the market the way that this little giant can.
If you don’t have the budget for a new laptop but you aren’t happy with your current notebook’s performance then the WD Black2 Dual Drive might be the cure to your holiday blues. This new high-performance drive fits into “most” 9.5mm, 2.5-inch drive bays (don’t try to jam it into an ultra-thin laptop like a MacBook Air). Inside its compact stature, however, lies two separate physical drives: a 120GB solid state drive plus a 1TB spinning hard drive.
What makes this drive so much more attractive than something like a generic Solid State Hybrid Drive is that YOU get to choose exactly what goes onto the flash portion of your disk, and what goes onto the hard drive portion. If you’re a designer, you can easily put Windows and most of all of the Creative Suite onto the SSD for lightning-fast editing and store all of your project files on the hard drive space.
The idea of storing your important files “in the cloud” sounds convenient but you don’t want to risk sending your personal or business information out into the ether of “the cloud” then the LenovoEMC PX2-300D is perfect. This is a networked storage unit — essentially a mini server — targeted at home and small business users. Designed to fill multiple roles for companies without sizeable IT departments while keeping it simple enough for consumers to use, the PX2 gives you access to all your files and media when you’re at home or traveling.
Home owners and small businesses will also appreciate that the PX2 lets you remotely keep track of all your security cameras. Granted, there are less expensive network storage solutions if you don’t need the option of security camera access, but the PX2-300D does a fantastic job of giving you an “all in one” network storage and remote management system.