Holiday Gift Guide: Tech Experts’ Top Picks

 

The Most In-Demand Consumer Technology of the Season Selected by Leading Industry Experts

When it comes to predicting the hottest tech gifts this holiday shopping season, top retail analysts have the inside scoop on the latest and greatest. That expert insight is crucial to not only picking the perfect gift, but also dodging gadgets that may seem appealing today, but have already been — or soon will be — rendered obsolete by the lighting quick pace of product innovation. From tablets to cameras, game consoles to hard drives, a panel of leading consumer technology researchers makes their picks for what will top many “most wanted” lists this year and point to a few you may want to skip.

Amazon Kindle Fire

“Looks to be the perfect integration of eBook reader and video device. Is it an iPad killer? No, but it is a single platform that combines Amazon video and [the ability to] purchase the latest bestseller, and has recently added the ability to borrow library books. Now, if the FAA would just approve eBook readers to remain turned on during take-off and landings.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

“Will this become iPad’s primary competitor or will it follow the same fate as other tablets?” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

“Fire is an interesting proposition for three reasons: aggressive price, built-in content availability and open Web browsing, a feature heretofore unavailable on a proprietary reader/tablet device.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

24-Inch, 1920×1200 Monitor

“The more you can see the more you can do. Prices have come down, but you have to get more lines than just 1080.” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

EVGA GeForce GTX 590 Graphics Chip

“Simply one of the fastest, best graphics cards you can buy.” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

GoPro HD Camera

“Options from $180 to $300. These cameras are great for the extreme sports enthusiast or the weekend warrior.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Apple iPad 2

“Now improved with iOS 5. Apple’s iPad remains the predominant player in a growing tablet market by offering a great selection of applications and media content.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

“Still the standard for tablet PCs.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Looxcie Wearable Video Cameras

“Options from $120 to $180 allow you to share every moment of your life with family and friends. These cameras stream video over Bluetooth to your handset and double as a Bluetooth earpiece.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Barnes & Noble Nook

“For avid readers, lovers of periodicals – skewing toward females.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

“eReaders should hot sellers for the holidays.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Big Screen Smartphone

“Any advanced, large-screen (4.3-inch-plus) smartphone hitting the market for the holidays. Higher resolutions, improved legibility, increased speed and better cameras all combine to create a better all-purpose device for you to carry with you every day for messaging, multimedia, photography, reading eBooks and yes, even making phone calls.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Sony Nex-3K 14MP Digital Camera

“Great for someone thinking about buying an SLR but is intimidated and doesn’t want the size and weight, and for lovers of SLRs that want a more portable camera but not a point-and-shoot.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Apple iPod Nano

“Do you really need one when your cell phone does everything? Yes, if you value something that won’t get in the way, weigh you down and interrupt you. Stores a ton of music, has a radio, light as a feather and counts your steps as well.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

Solid-State Drive

“No better way to speed up your PC. Just about everything is faster with one of these and your laptop will run longer on the battery as well.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

Sony Vaio Z21C5e

“It’s very cool looking, light (2.3 pounds) and has a high-res 1920×1080 screen. You can get [an Intel Core] i7 in it and SSD (I bought one).” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

Thin and Light Laptops

“As the netbook market declines and tablets surge, consumers may enjoy this intermediate form factor offering the utility and port availability of laptops while whittling down traditional laptop pain points in terms of bulk, weight and battery life.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

“We will lust after Airbooks and Ultrabooks.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Kinect for Xbox 360

“Ain’t just for games anymore. Your pay TV content will soon be joining major Web video providers on the box. Oh, yes, you can play games, too!” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

“With a solid gaming portfolio, the industry’s most popular motion-control solution and Microsoft’s aggressive expansion into TV delivery to the platform (with playback that can be controlled with a wave of your hand thanks to Kinect), the Xbox 360 seems poised to be the most versatile home entertainment-capable game console.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Roku

“Lower prices and increased content availability — now with HBO Go — keep making these devices very interesting.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

“Forget the smart TV. All the Web video content you could want will find its way onto this little box. The eco-friendly way to do Web on your TV.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

“Roku and WD TV Live streaming media players … represent an easier, more streamlined way to enjoy streaming video and connected services with broader content options than the Apple-content-ecosystem-limited Apple TV.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Wi-Fi-Enabled Blu-ray Disc Player

“Brand-name players with wireless networking capability are expected to hit the sub-$100 price level this holiday, combined with a slimmer, lighter form factor with faster navigation and a broader set of connected capabilities compared to the Blu-ray players of 2010.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

“An LG networked Blu-ray player, not necessarily for Blu-ray, but if you or someone you are buying for doesn’t have a connected TV, console or media adapter, this device gets your existing TV access to Netflix, CinemaNow, Vudu and YouTube.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Apple TV

“With AirPlay, this is a killer combination to bring content from the tablet to the TV.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Canon PowerShot 12 MP Camera

“Can find it online for $99 now, great for someone whose point-and-shoot is a few years old or a great gift for a younger person who won’t be getting an iPhone 4S or another smartphone with 8MP.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Gaming Mouse

“Go faster, kill more.” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

Griffin Beacon

“Make your iPhone a universal remote control for under $100.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Amazon Kindle or Kindle Touch

“The new lower price for these eReaders will make them hot sellers.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

“The new ad-supported Kindle brings the industry-standard eBook reader to its lowest price ever.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

“For readers in your life, the $79 Kindle is a no-brainer gift.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

MIMO Wireless-N Router

“As the popularity of watching streaming video over-the-top or via a pay TV operator’s TV-anywhere client increases, so too will the needs for bandwidth and quality of service within the wirelessly connected household.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

(MIMO, pronounced “my-mo,” is an acronym for Multiple Input Multiple Output. It is a technology used in broadband routers and cell phones. These routers improve data rate by sending multiple data streams in parallel.)

Portable Speaker Dock

“[Some] can easily go over $100, but for volume: Logitech rechargeable speaker ($99) … lots of options with iHome having an option that also supports the iPad for about $20.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Powerstick USB Portable Charger

“With all the devices we carry, having a little extra juice available is a must. And you can store your files on it, too.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

Wireless Keyboard

“The thin and light models are cool-looking, comfortable and quiet.” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

Standalone Digital Video Recorder

“Between digital cameras and advanced smartphones, most of which take better video, is there a need for this product anymore?” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Apple iPod

“As people are moving toward the smartphone, only justification for an iPod (except for the Shuffle or Nano) would be an inexpensively replaced, tiny, non-bothersome form factor for active folks.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Apple iPhone 4S

“Small screen, no 4G, same boxy shape. Could be time for a Nexus S.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

Related stories

How the Subconscious Drives Buying Decisions

The Touch Generation: The Evolution of Digital Natives

High Tech Workers Embrace Technology Relics

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Tech Experts’ Top Picks

 

The Most In-Demand Consumer Technology of the Season Selected by Leading Industry Experts

When it comes to predicting the hottest tech gifts this holiday shopping season, top retail analysts have the inside scoop on the latest and greatest. That expert insight is crucial to not only picking the perfect gift, but also dodging gadgets that may seem appealing today, but have already been — or soon will be — rendered obsolete by the lighting quick pace of product innovation. From tablets to cameras, game consoles to hard drives, a panel of leading consumer technology researchers makes their picks for what will top many “most wanted” lists this year and point to a few you may want to skip.

Amazon Kindle Fire

“Looks to be the perfect integration of eBook reader and video device. Is it an iPad killer? No, but it is a single platform that combines Amazon video and [the ability to] purchase the latest bestseller, and has recently added the ability to borrow library books. Now, if the FAA would just approve eBook readers to remain turned on during take-off and landings.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

“Will this become iPad’s primary competitor or will it follow the same fate as other tablets?” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

“Fire is an interesting proposition for three reasons: aggressive price, built-in content availability and open Web browsing, a feature heretofore unavailable on a proprietary reader/tablet device.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

24-Inch, 1920×1200 Monitor

“The more you can see the more you can do. Prices have come down, but you have to get more lines than just 1080.” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

EVGA GeForce GTX 590 Graphics Chip

“Simply one of the fastest, best graphics cards you can buy.” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

GoPro HD Camera

“Options from $180 to $300. These cameras are great for the extreme sports enthusiast or the weekend warrior.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Apple iPad 2

“Now improved with iOS 5. Apple’s iPad remains the predominant player in a growing tablet market by offering a great selection of applications and media content.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

“Still the standard for tablet PCs.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Looxcie Wearable Video Cameras

“Options from $120 to $180 allow you to share every moment of your life with family and friends. These cameras stream video over Bluetooth to your handset and double as a Bluetooth earpiece.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Barnes & Noble Nook

“For avid readers, lovers of periodicals – skewing toward females.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

“eReaders should hot sellers for the holidays.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Big Screen Smartphone

“Any advanced, large-screen (4.3-inch-plus) smartphone hitting the market for the holidays. Higher resolutions, improved legibility, increased speed and better cameras all combine to create a better all-purpose device for you to carry with you every day for messaging, multimedia, photography, reading eBooks and yes, even making phone calls.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Sony Nex-3K 14MP Digital Camera

“Great for someone thinking about buying an SLR but is intimidated and doesn’t want the size and weight, and for lovers of SLRs that want a more portable camera but not a point-and-shoot.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Apple iPod Nano

“Do you really need one when your cell phone does everything? Yes, if you value something that won’t get in the way, weigh you down and interrupt you. Stores a ton of music, has a radio, light as a feather and counts your steps as well.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

Solid-State Drive

“No better way to speed up your PC. Just about everything is faster with one of these and your laptop will run longer on the battery as well.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

Sony Vaio Z21C5e

“It’s very cool looking, light (2.3 pounds) and has a high-res 1920×1080 screen. You can get [an Intel Core] i7 in it and SSD (I bought one).” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

Thin and Light Laptops

“As the netbook market declines and tablets surge, consumers may enjoy this intermediate form factor offering the utility and port availability of laptops while whittling down traditional laptop pain points in terms of bulk, weight and battery life.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

“We will lust after Airbooks and Ultrabooks.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Kinect for Xbox 360

“Ain’t just for games anymore. Your pay TV content will soon be joining major Web video providers on the box. Oh, yes, you can play games, too!” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

“With a solid gaming portfolio, the industry’s most popular motion-control solution and Microsoft’s aggressive expansion into TV delivery to the platform (with playback that can be controlled with a wave of your hand thanks to Kinect), the Xbox 360 seems poised to be the most versatile home entertainment-capable game console.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Roku

“Lower prices and increased content availability — now with HBO Go — keep making these devices very interesting.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

“Forget the smart TV. All the Web video content you could want will find its way onto this little box. The eco-friendly way to do Web on your TV.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

“Roku and WD TV Live streaming media players … represent an easier, more streamlined way to enjoy streaming video and connected services with broader content options than the Apple-content-ecosystem-limited Apple TV.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Wi-Fi-Enabled Blu-ray Disc Player

“Brand-name players with wireless networking capability are expected to hit the sub-$100 price level this holiday, combined with a slimmer, lighter form factor with faster navigation and a broader set of connected capabilities compared to the Blu-ray players of 2010.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

“An LG networked Blu-ray player, not necessarily for Blu-ray, but if you or someone you are buying for doesn’t have a connected TV, console or media adapter, this device gets your existing TV access to Netflix, CinemaNow, Vudu and YouTube.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Apple TV

“With AirPlay, this is a killer combination to bring content from the tablet to the TV.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Canon PowerShot 12 MP Camera

“Can find it online for $99 now, great for someone whose point-and-shoot is a few years old or a great gift for a younger person who won’t be getting an iPhone 4S or another smartphone with 8MP.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Gaming Mouse

“Go faster, kill more.” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

Griffin Beacon

“Make your iPhone a universal remote control for under $100.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

Amazon Kindle or Kindle Touch

“The new lower price for these eReaders will make them hot sellers.” — Jason Blackwell, ABI Research

“The new ad-supported Kindle brings the industry-standard eBook reader to its lowest price ever.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

“For readers in your life, the $79 Kindle is a no-brainer gift.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

MIMO Wireless-N Router

“As the popularity of watching streaming video over-the-top or via a pay TV operator’s TV-anywhere client increases, so too will the needs for bandwidth and quality of service within the wirelessly connected household.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

(MIMO, pronounced “my-mo,” is an acronym for Multiple Input Multiple Output. It is a technology used in broadband routers and cell phones. These routers improve data rate by sending multiple data streams in parallel.)

Portable Speaker Dock

“[Some] can easily go over $100, but for volume: Logitech rechargeable speaker ($99) … lots of options with iHome having an option that also supports the iPad for about $20.” — Danielle Levitas, IDC

Powerstick USB Portable Charger

“With all the devices we carry, having a little extra juice available is a must. And you can store your files on it, too.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

Wireless Keyboard

“The thin and light models are cool-looking, comfortable and quiet.” — Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research

Standalone Digital Video Recorder

“Between digital cameras and advanced smartphones, most of which take better video, is there a need for this product anymore?” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Apple iPod

“As people are moving toward the smartphone, only justification for an iPod (except for the Shuffle or Nano) would be an inexpensively replaced, tiny, non-bothersome form factor for active folks.” — Paul Erickson and Bill Morelli, IMS Research

Apple iPhone 4S

“Small screen, no 4G, same boxy shape. Could be time for a Nexus S.” — Colin Dixon, TDG Research

Related stories

How the Subconscious Drives Buying Decisions

The Touch Generation: The Evolution of Digital Natives

High Tech Workers Embrace Technology Relics