Christmas Post 2012

Hi everyone!

Christmas fireplace decoration - courtesy Shinead FeehanAs the Christmas shopping season comes along, you will be led through a maze of confusion as the big stores put pressure on you to buy their specials during this frantic shopping period. Here, you could end up buying a device like a printer that is very costly to run or a special that is at the low end of the range and doesn’t have all the important features.

Computers

Fujitsu Lifebook LH772 notebook at Rydges On SwantstonThis year I have revised the Laptop Buyer’s Guide article to encompass the newer Ultrabooks and other ultraportable computers. These are portable computers that are made to be very light but don’t have enough in the way of connectivity or secondary storage to suit their use as a primary computer. Here, I have positioned them as to be specified as a “traveller” or other secondary computer while you maintain a desktop or larger laptop as the main computer.

Sony VAIO J Series all-in-one computerSimilarly, I have seen desktop computers exist beyond the norm of the three-piece package with a system unit being in the form of a “tower-style” box. There are some of these computers that come with a system unit that is about the size of a toaster or a large book, if not smaller. Similarly, the “all-in-one” style desktop like the Sony VAIO J Series that I reviewed is gaining some respect as a legitimate desktop computing device. In these cases, the new chipsets are allowing the computers to perform as good in gaming and graphics as the classic desktop.

Windows 8 has come out this year at very affordable prices for upgrading existing computers or as part of newer computers. Here, this has made the touchscreen computing become mainstream and legitimised form factors like tablets and convertible laptops as regular computing devices.

Tablets and smartphones

Toshiba Thrive AT1S0 7" tabletThis year has become the year of the 7” coat-pocket tablet with this form-factor being useful for where portability is important. This is more so where you may want to carry that tablet in the average ladies’ handbag or in that coat pocket.

This has be underscored by the arrival of the iPad Mini which has brought Apple’s iOS platform to this particular form factor. As well, the Google Nexus 7 has shown how affordable tablets of this form factor can be when you are thinking of this form factor. Similarly, I have reviewed the Toshiba AT150 tablet as an example of this form factor earlier this year.

I also have written an article about what app classes to look at when you are filling that smartphone or tablet with new apps. This is more so for people who have just got in to the idea of these devices and are wanting to get an idea of what to purchase or download from iTunes App Store, Google Play or Windows Phone App Store.

Smart TVs, games consoles and network-enabled video peripherals

Increasingly, more of us are buying the smart TVs or enabling existing TV sets with network-enabled video peripherals like the Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray player. This has opened up paths like access to catch-up TV or video-on-demand services as well as the DLNA Home Media Network.

I have prepared an article about using the DLNA concept to show family pictures on the large screen of a Smart TV. This is something that can be of interest especially if you want to have your elderly parents have their family photos ready to view on the large screen. Even the idea of scanning the old family snapshots or having the slide collection scanned on to an optical disc to transfer to your network-attached storage can bridge these photos to the digital age.

Let’s not forget that the XBox 360 and the PlayStation 3 do still excel not just as games consoles but as multi-purpose network-enabled entertainment units. In some cases, these consoles could work with an older or cheaper TV as a DVD or Blu-Ray player and an on-ramp to the DLNA Home Media Network. This would be of importance as your older children consider the idea of leaving the family nest.

What to do for the Christmas season

It may be worth reading my article about getting Skype ready for the Christmas season. This would be important when you have distant relatives and you want to use this technology to catch up with them during Thanksgiving or Christmas.

To this same extent, it may be worth thinking about the issue of having the family house where you are having your Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas celebrations at connected to real wireline broadband Internet. In this same way, it could be worth encouraging people who have just retired not to leave their computer skills at the office door. In this way, you could think of encouraging the purchase of books about computer skills or choosing the right equipment for these people to have for their home computer.

Gift Ideas

Sometimes you may be stuck about what tech gifts to get for Christmas or what to write on that Christmas wishlist.

Voyetra Turtle Beach M3 gaming headsetI have reviewed another pair of headphones and written up a buyers’ guide about headphones and earphones. Here, you can consider using different headphones or headsets for different purposes such as lightweight headphones for walking and jogging or enclosed headphones for games or music where the bass response is needed.  This can also go alongside a buyers’ guide that I have previously written about computer speakers. Similarly, I have written an advisory article on how to wirelessly play music from that smartphone, tablet or laptop through other equipment including the Bluetooth speakers and Wi-Fi wireless speakers that are on the market.

I have also written about whether to use a mouse with that laptop or just stick with the trackpad that is part of these computers. This includes some suggestions concerning what kind of mouse to buy for that laptop.

Similarly, I have written up an article about choosing TSA-compliant laptop luggage and focused on other factors to consider beyond that standard. This isn’t just about having that bag pass through security at US airports but encouraging you to be sure you are getting a good-quality piece of luggage.

If you can’t afford to, are embarrassed by or feel it’s out of place to buy that highly-useful but expensive gift for that person, I would recommend that a group of people like a household, family or friends pool resources towards buying that gift.

I am wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a very happy New Year

With regards,

Simon Mackay

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