The holidays are a great time to buy your family, or yourself, exciting new gadgets. Smartphones, tablets, TVs, headphones, computers, streaming media players, soundbars, gaming consoles, robots, cameras ... . The list seems endless.
Unfortunately, you should avoid some items on that list. These tech no-nos are either on the way out, or not quite ready for prime time. Here are gifts to avoid this holiday.
Looking for a bargain laptop to surf the Web, watch movies, listen to music, read books, play casual games and perform other light computing tasks? You’ll find plenty.
More people are finding that for the same money, or less, they can do just as much, or more, with a tablet. A tablet is ultraportable, has better battery life, is more versatile and less susceptible to malware than a laptop.
Got to www.komando.com/charts/tabletmini.asp to see how they stack up in my handy comparison chart.
Surface RT Tablets
Speaking of tablets, I don’t recommend spending your money on Microsoft’s Surface RT or Surface 2 RT tablets. The hardware is good, but these tablets come loaded with Windows RT, which only has 100,000 apps and doesn’t run regular Windows programs.
If you must have a tablet that can run Windows, consider the Surface 2 Pro. It starts at $899, which is much more expensive than most tablets. However, it works using the complete version of Windows 8.1 so you can use your favorite Microsoft programs.
Samsung made headlines when it announced the first high-end smart watch. And the new Samsung Galaxy Gear SmartWatch ($299) looks good at first glance.
You can make phone calls, check email and even take photos and video. If you want to feel like James Bond, this gadget can get you there.
Don’t buy the Gear, or any smart watch, just yet. Your smartphone already does everything a smart watch can do, only better and faster.
To date, there are only about 70 apps available for the Gear, and battery life is not much better than the average smartphone.
Another much-hyped smart watch is the Pebble ($150). It has a better battery life than the Gear, up to one week, but uses a black-and-white e-Ink screen and has few apps.
Video game consoles
Supplies will be better and more games will be available. If you’re after an older Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, prices will be lower next year as well, and they’ll still have the newest games like Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4 and Madden. Microsoft has said it will continue to support the Xbox 360 until at least 2016.
Ultra HD TVs
Ultra HD TVs, sometimes called 4K TVs, have four times the screen pixels of HDTVs. That results in a clearer, sharper picture. The downside? Ultra HDs can cost four times more!
The main reason to pass on Ultra HDs this season is there’s just not enough 4K movies and TV shows available to really show it off. In addition, unless you are sitting with your nose pressed on the screen, it’s difficult to notice the increased resolution.
Wait for prices to come down and new screen technology like OLED to go mainstream.
Buying a new HDTV instead?
Go to www.komando.com/buyguide/index.aspx?id=7634 to read my HDTV buying guide.
Point & shoot cameras
Point-and-shoot digital cameras made photography convenient and affordable. Sorry, the days of low-cost point-and-shoots are over.
Today, decent image sensors, creative editing tools and simple photo sharing apps have turned smartphones into the go-to carry-everywhere camera of choice.
If you want a dedicated camera, spend more for a good mirror-less hybrid model. They offer many features of a DSLR without the bulk or price tag.
Go to www.komando.com/columns/index.aspx?id=15552 for five things to know before buying a hybrid camera.
Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com.
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