Holiday Gift Guide: The Gifts You Want (But Can’t Necessarily Afford)

As Mick Jagger once said, “You can’t always get what you want.”  And around Christmas time, this statement holds especially true.  In a time of giving and sharing, Christmas is always about making a personal wish list, checking it twice, and waiting for the 25th to roll around to see what items can be crossed out and which ones can’t.  For most of us, that list is still quite full on December 26th.

It’s just a cold hard fact of holiday gift giving: you don’t always get everything you asked for.  But this is most certainly not a bad thing.  Just look back on your childhood for example.  For five years, you asked for the $200 Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego building set, but did you get it?  No. You always got the $30 X-Wing set or something similar.  But of course, this did not hamper your dreams of flying Lego Han Solo around the galaxy/living room.  It’s ultimately the feelings of excitement and hope that makes compiling that Christmas list a joyful task every year.

So for all of those people out there with high-priced gadget wishes this Christmas year, don’t get discouraged.  Here are some Millennium Falcons to consider placing on that holiday wish list.

Tablet PC

Price: $1,000 to $2,500

Something that hasn’t quite hit mainstream computing yet is the idea of the tablet laptop.  But what a great idea they are!  On one hand, they have the same components, features, and processing power as a normal laptop computer.  At the same time they allow the user full access of the screen to draw, write, and select items with a unique stylus pen.

Considering that the classroom and workplace gets more and more digital every year, why shouldn’t your note-taking do the same?  Tablet laptops can easily be found at your local electronics website, and range from $300 netbooks to $2000 laptop machines.  If I had to pick any gift from this reasonable list, it would have to be this.

DSLR Camera

So many choices

Price Range: $400 to $3,000+

It’s official: thanks to technology, anyone can be a professional photographer.  But let’s be honest here, if you want to be a true professional, you’ve got to spend the dollars on a good digital single-lens reflex camera, or DSLR.  Made by Canon, Nikon, and others, DSLR is all about taking your photography skills to the next level.

Using advanced focus technology with  high resolution imaging options (why have 4 mega-pixels when you can have 22?), and many other obvious and important features (like anti-dust technology), why wouldn’t you want to spend 500 dollars or more?

Granted, most DSLR cameras will run you around $400 – $2000.  But if you are completely photo passionate, then ask for the Canon – EOS-1Ds Mark III 21.1-Megapixel Digital SLR for Christmas, to the tune of 6,999 dollars.  Your artistic side will thank you.

3D Camcorder

Price: $1,400

Cameras and photos are nice to have around for the family gatherings, but camcorders bring back the memories in an entirely different way.  And to make things even better, Panasonic has upped the ante of video recording by developing a 3-D camcorder for personal use.

Yes, you heard me right, a 3-D video recorder.  Called the Panasonic HDC-SDT750K, it is being labelled as the world’s first 3-D shooting camcorder.  Full-HD 1080/60p resolution, progressive movie recording, 9.15 mega-pixels, auto-focus; this camera has it all.  Just think of how excellent it would be to strap on those 3-D glasses and literally immerse oneself in the family Christmases of old.  It’s almost like you were there!  And now that YouTube allows for the uploading of 3-D videos now, it appears that this camcorder came right on time.

HDTV

In HD, that guy on the left looks even more surprised than usual

Price Range: $600 to $5,000

If you ask any retailer what their number one selling item was on Black Friday this 2010 season, it would unanimously be flat screen TV’s.  LCD, LED, Plasma, 3D – they all have their positives and their negatives.  Most good HDTV’s have 1080p resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and a few HDMI connections.  And of course, no new HDTV is complete without a brand new Blu-Ray player and an ethernet cable to connect it to the interwebs.

In all honesty, though, some of these TV’s have come a long way since their conception ten years ago.  If you are lucky you might even snag a TV capable of connecting to every other major gadget in your house (thanks to the Digital Living Network Alliancenow wouldn’t that be nice to know how to do).  Because of their widespread popularity, one can easily find a TV that matches their price range.

But since it is Christmas and this is an item going on your wish list, try getting the family to gift your the $6000 Samsung – 65″ Class / 1080p / 240Hz / 3D LED-LCD HDTV.   You know what they always say: bigger is ultimately better.

Alienware Alien-51 ALX

Why not?

Price Range: $3,999 to $9,000

If you know anything about computer gaming (even Bejeweled counts) , then you know that Alienware is the Bugatti of computers.  The best of the best, the cream of the crop, the most expensive computer you will ever buy.  But they are worth every penny.

With options like the Intel I7 980 CPU operating at 4 GHz, dual Video cards operating with SLI technology, and a special gaming keyboard, it is not hard to see that this is as good as it gets.  Not only are all your friends going to be jealous of it (when they actually get around to visiting you at your house), but your family will be happy that $6,000 was well spent.

Seabreacher

Price: $65,000 to $85,000

As long as we are dreaming up holiday gifts to add to that wish list, why not shoot for the stars with something along these lines.  It’s a boat… it’s a dolphin… it’s a dolphin boat?  Yes indeed, it is a fiberglass boat built to look and act exactly like a dolphin.  And it is plainly obvious that this is truly what you want for the holidays.

Sure, if you live in Northern regions it might have to be stored until May or June, but just look at this thing zoom around on that lake.  The massive amount of enjoyment it outputs makes the wait completely worth it.  This specific boat is called the Seabreacher X, and can be custom made for about $60,000 to $80,000.

That may sound a bit expensive, but is money going to get between you and a great Christmas?  It wouldn’t be the first time the issue of a dolphin boat ruined the holidays.  Don’t make the same mistake.

Solid Gold iPad

Proceed to Checkout?

Price: $185,000

Last but not least is the most desired portable item this holiday season: the iPad.  We all know that we can buy an iPad pretty much anywhere these days, but a solid gold iPad?  Those things sell so fast they can’t stay on the shelves in most stores.

At a reasonable price of 129,995 British Pounds, your family would be foolish to not take up such a great deal when shopping for you this December.  I would circle and underline this one a few times on that wish list to make the need for it especially evident.

Flickr Images Courtesty: basvandenbeld, penmachine, retrocactus, and williamhook

Holiday Gift Guide: Something For The Whole Family Edition

For some, holiday shopping is a joyous and fun task, but for others it’s a difficult one. A lot of the difficulty stems from not knowing what to get someone. Being a person that loves shopping, let me give you a little guidance for buying gifts for the whole family.

Gift Ideas for Grandparents

My grandparents live down south, but they love to keep in touch with me and the rest of my family. If I had lots of money to spend this holiday season, I know exactly what I would purchase them – Cisco Umi.

Webcams/Video Conferencing

Cisco Umi is a consumer-focused telecommunications system that offers the ability to connect with people via videoconferencing on HDTVs. Cisco Umi comes with a high-definition camera embedded with a microphone, a set-top box, and a remote. In order to use it, however, you must possess internet service and an HDTV – if you are really feeling generous this holiday season you could buy them an HDTV as well, just in case they don’t have one.

In essence, Cisco Umi is a product that offers extremely high-quality videoconferencing.  It can bring your grandparents into your living room and vice versa. (Note: in order to use Cisco Umi, both parties must possess it.)

Cisco Umi retails for around $599.00 plus a $24.00 monthly fee.

If you aren’t interested in spending that much money on your grandparents, I have a few other suggestions:

  • Buy them a webcam and tell them about the magic of Skype.
  • Buy them a notebook, laptop, or computer with a built in webcam and then tell about the magic of Skype.
  • Or buy them a plane ticket to come visit.

Digital Picture Frames

A much cheaper gift idea that would bring you guys closer is a digital picture frame. Digital picture frames are picture frames that digitally display pictures – for this they generally use a memory card to store the pictures. They have been on the market for a few years now, but have dropped significantly in price so that they are more affordable.

When they digital picture frames first came out they cost a few hundred dollars, but now you can purchase one for around $50 dollars. I actually bought my grandparents and my mom one for Christmas this year (hope they aren’t reading this). I bought them on Black Friday for only $40.

They can be purchased in assorted sizes (from 6” to 26″), assorted colors, styles, and brands. There are even have digital photo frames available now that connect to the internet so you can post your favorite pictures to the web, or even print pictures off using a built in picture printer.

Gift Ideas for Parents

Electronic Book Readers

Being huge fans of reading and books in general, I think a perfect gift for any parent that likes to read would be an electronic reader. Electronic readers are a great gift idea because in the long run it will cost you less money since eBooks are much cheaper than print books, it saves on paper (yay! for the saving the environment) and it will clear up some clutter in your parents’ house (my dad has books everywhere).

Electronic readers (eReaders) read electronic books (eBooks). They also do much more than just allowing you to read. They allow you to take notes and look up definitions. Some allow you to access the internet, play music, and even watch movies.

eReaders have only been around for the past five years or so, but have really caught on. A lot of colleges and classrooms have adopted eReaders, opting out of traditional books. When looking for eReaders, you will come across brands including Sony, the Nook by Barnes and Noble, The Cruise Tablet by Borders, The Kindle by Amazon and the Apple iPad (more of a tablet computer, but does have the iBook app), among other brands. Each one has their advantages and disadvantages, but I will leave the brand choosing up to you. I will say that The Kindle remains the most purchased and highest rated eReader on the market.

eReaders retails for as little as $80 and go as high as $600. The average, however, is right around the $200 mark.

Gift Ideas for Teens

Smartphones

There are so many great gift ideas for teenagers, today more than ever, thanks to the tech-savvy world we live in.

Even though cell phones have become a staple in our society, I think they are still a great gift – especially now that so many great smartphones have hit the market. Connecting with each other has become such a large past time thanks to texting, emailing, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. With a smartphone, you can get all that in one device.

When shopping for a smartphone, I highly suggest looking into an Android smartphone. Some of Android’s biggest advantages over other smartphones (dare I say the Apple iPhone?) is the ability to multitask (yes this can be done on iPhone 4), upgrade to new versions of Android, choose carriers (iPhone is locked into AT&T), an open market (consumers drive the app store, not the producers – store also isn’t censored as heavily as the Apple Store), customizable home screens, integrated with Google, and there is a larger selection of phones (this comes in handy when shopping with a budget).

Android smartphones range in price and availability depending on the carrier.

Apple iPad

If your teen already has a smartphone, then why not splurge a little and get them an Apple iPad? I was against it at first, because I have a computer and an iPod Touch and an iPad is basically those two things combined. It is those two things combined, but it’s a really slick device. There is so much you can do with it – listen to music, surf the web, watch movies, play games, study, write papers, etc. It’s a great item for travel and great to use while lounging around the house.

I love sitting on the couch and playing with the iPad, whether it’s reading a good book, playing a game, or connecting with people on Facebook and Twitter. It’s really a universal item that makes a great gift because it does so much!

Gift Ideas for Preteens

Gaming Systems

What better gift to give a preteen than a gaming system?

I would recommend getting them any of the major gaming systems: Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3. Those are great gifts because they are fairly universal as well. By universal, I mean you can do such much more with them than just playing games. They act as DVD players (excluding Wii), a Blu-Ray player (if you get the PS3), connect to the internet, and so much more.

If you purchase an Xbox 360 make sure to also purchase Kinect, and if you purchase a PS3 make sure to purchase Playstation Move. They provide the game with a more interactive experience by using motion, and gets kids active. Long gone are the days where you just sit down and play video games, now people of all ages can be active while playing – even exercising. It’s really a great gift for the entire family because it’s something that can bring the family together. Game nights have never been so much fun!

Gift Ideas for Kids

Educational Gifts

In my opinion, one of the best gifts you can give a kid is the gift of education. Sounds boring right? Not necessarily. Last year I bought my niece a LeapFrog Tag Reader for Christmas. It’s a special pen, that when used with LeapFrog Tag Books, will read the story out loud to the child. With each touch of the pen, words are read out, pictures come alive, and overall the book becomes interactive. It redefines the reading and learning experience for kids.

My niece uses it constantly and it really improves a kid’s reading skills. LeapFrog has a library of over 40 books, including story books, game books, and map books that contain kids’ favorite characters (SpongeBob, Toy Story, Disney Princess, etc). The LeapFrog Tag Reader Pen retails for around $30, with the books costing anywhere from $10 to $20 (most of them are $13.99).

Art Gifts

Another great gift idea is the Color Wonder Magic Light Brush from Crayola. This is one of the gifts under my tree  for my niece already, and I’m excited for her to open it on Christmas because I really want to play with it. The product uses specially coated paper and a fiber-optic brush. It only works on the right type of paper – making it mess free. It retails for right around $20.

Another cool product from Crayola that’s worth checking out is the new Crayola Glow Station Day and Night. With the set, kids can create images in either light or the dark. In the light, the drawing turn out bright purple; in the dark, they magically appear to be bright green. This one retails a little higher at $25.

These are two products that are great gift ideas for kids because they are mess free (no more writing on the walls) and encourage kid’s imaginations and creativity.

Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

Google TV

I thought a good way to finish up this gift guide would be to suggest a gift that the whole family can use. Seeing that the TV is an item that generally brings the family together, I thought a great gift for the family would be the Google TV. Google TV combines television and internet into a seamless entertainment experience. It allows you to search your TV so that you can find exactly what you want to watch, and adds perhaps one of the best channels ever – the internet. You can also download hundreds of apps from the app store including some of the most popular apps: Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Weather, News, etc. Your Android smartphone, iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad can even be used as a universal remote to control the TV.

There are three products when it comes to the technology of Google TV. There is the Sony Internet TV (an HDTV with internet built in) which starts at $599. There is the Sony Internet TV Blu-Ray Player (which is a Blu-Ray player with internet built in that connects to your existing HDTV and retails for $399. Finally, there is the Logitech Revue (which is just a set-box, running Google TV, that connects to your existing HDTV and retails at $299).

With hundreds of dollar differences in the price tags, one wonders how the products differ. In essence, the main difference between them is that one is a TV, one is Blu-Ray player, and one is a set-box. If you already own an HDTV, then I recommend going for the Sony Internet TV Blu-Ray Player, because from reviews it seems run faster and have a cleaner interface than the Logitech Revue, and it’s a Blu-Ray player.

Conclusion

I hope by reading through this guide you got some ideas for Christmas presents. Happy Shopping!

Holiday Gift Guide: Snowboarding and Skiing Edition

Do you have a skier or snowboarder on your Christmas list, but have no idea what it means to shred the gnar or hit the deep pow? Worry not, because buying them anything on this list is sure to give them the same tingly feeling as making first tracks on virgin snow (it’s a good thing, trust me).

GoPro HD Hero

The GoPro HD helmet cam is an indestructible, waterproof, go-anywhere-do-anything kind of camera.

So much function in such a small package

The tiny size of it is nothing to scoff at. This baby does 1080i recording @ 30fps for beautiful HD and 720p @ 60 fps for silky smooth slow motion. It also records at 720p @ 30fps and a 4:3 aspect 960p @ 30fps.

The GoPro HD comes with a wide assortment of mounts to attach to helmets, boards, chest mounts, wrist straps and more, making it incredibly versatile. The battery lasts 2.5 hours and there are settings other than typical record video. You can take still shots with it if you want. The GoPro HD has a 5MP sensor, but no display screen or viewfinder. Also there is an option to have the camera take a picture every few seconds or minutes.

I’ve owned one of these for a little over a year and have been very surprised what has been packed into such a small casing.

For some more information check out their website, and you can buy the GoPro HD Hero and an assortment of mounts and accessories at Amazon.com.

Smith Optic Skullcandy Bluetooth Bombshell Audio Kit

iPod not included

Helmets are good. They allow me to do stupid things without having to worry so much about dying.

What they don’t do, however, is allow me to comfortably listen to music or use my phone. Smith and Skullcandy have collaborated to make a product that fixes this problem (the music, not my affinity for stupidity on the slopes).

Skullcandy, the headphone maker, has developed a system that integrates with any Bombshell Construction, Smith Optics helmet. This system allows you to hook your music player AND phone to a blue tooth transmitter that sends signal to the wireless headphones made to snap into the helmet. Mitten friendly large buttons on the headphones make it a snap to switch between your music player and phone.

The helmet and audio system are sold separately.

DaKine Heli Pro DLX 20L Backpack

Room for everything you need

If you’re a serious border/skier you need a good bag. What you put in that bag is up to you. It could be some munchies for a mid day snack, different colored lenses for changing light conditions, or some extra layers in case weather takes a turn for the worse.

If that’s all you want to throw in there, go ahead and buy any bag.
But, if you want to carry all that plus a camera in a waterproof, fleece lined dedicated pocket; a bottle of water in an insulated, deployable water bottle pocket; have snowboard and ski carry; 1200 cubic inches of storage; and a quick draw sleeve for you ice axes you need the DaKine Heli Pro DLX 20L.

If you want to look fly doing it, I recommend the CHECKS or HOMBRE color options.

Music Infused Apparel By iThreeSixty

Affordable, hassle free music

If you’re not looking to drop about $300 on a Skullycandy Bombshell Audio Kit, but think your winter enthusiast could use some music in their life, check out the headgear offered by iThreeSixty.

iThreeSixty apparel works by creating a neoprene, moisture-proof pocket for your iPod or mp3 player. In that pocket is a headphone jack that connects to two speakers integrated into the hat or headband. Plug it in, push play and you have music without having to run annoying wires and headphones inside your coat.

iThreeSixty apparel works with all the iPod Nanos except 3rd generation. Other MP3 players may fit, make sure and check out the website if you have something different. Overall it’s a very cost effective way to get some music without having to mess with headphones and coat pockets.

Check out their website, or pick one up at Amazon.com.

Transcend Goggles by Recon Instruments

Ridiculous..

Does the snowboarder/skier in your life think they have everything? Is every piece of equipment they own the cream of the crop, and do they insist they cannot be done one better? If so, and if you have $500 to spend to prove them wrong, I will go as far as to guarantee they do not own a pair of these goggles.

Lets run down a list of features, yes, features… for goggles.

  • Auto color adjusting lenses for changing light conditions (adjusts from light yellow to dark amber)
  • A heads-up display that shows you your current speed and altitude, and odometer for distance traveled, stopwatch, outside temperature, oh and a clock.
  • Did I mention all of this information is viewable in real time?

Check out their website for more information.

Conclusion

There’s my list – from the affordable to the ridiculous, there is something there every winter enthusiast would enjoy.

Images courtesy of Amazon.com & DaKine.com
Special thanks to Nick Danforth for helping me put this list together.

Techerator’s Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Buying gifts can be a challenge (and you don’t want to be the person that only gives gift cards for presents, do you?) so our team is putting together some great holiday gift guides this season to help you out.

This list will be updated as new guides are published, so keep checking back for new ideas!

 

Commuter’s Gift Guide

by Bryant Sombke

Technology has drastically increased the number of entertainment options the typical day-commuter has for the boring trips to and from the office. Whether your loved ones take the train, bus, or carpool with others, here are five great gift ideas that they are sure to love.

 

Gamer’s Gift Guide

by Kevin Schulte

Gamers can be a tricky bunch to buy for. Taste in games varies wildly, and if you’re unlucky you might accidentally buy Kinect Sports for someone who was hoping to play Fallout on Christmas morning. Talk about embarrassing.  This guide will give you great tips for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS, and Sony PSP.

 

Snowboarding and Skiing Gift Guide

by Derek Johnson

Do you have a skier or snowboarder on your Christmas list, but have no idea what it means to shred the gnar or hit the deep pow? Worry not, because buying them anything on this list is sure to give them the same tingly feeling as making first tracks on virgin snow (it’s a good thing, trust me).

 

Gift Guide for the Whole Family

by Jacob Bean

Shopping for the whole family – grandparents, parents, teens, preteens, and kids – can be a big challenge.  Being a person that loves shopping, let me give you a little guidance for buying gifts for each of these groups, and some gifts that the whole family can share together.

 

Delightfully Expensive Gift Guide

by Kevin Ivanca

It’s a cold hard fact of holiday gift giving: you don’t always get everything you asked for. For five years during your childhood, you asked for the $200 Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego building set, but did you get it? No. You always got the $30 X-Wing set.

So for all of those people out there with high-priced gadget wishes this Christmas year, don’t get discouraged.  Here are some Millennium Falcons to consider placing on that holiday wish list.

 

… more guides coming soon!

Image credit: Alex Tran

Techerator Holiday Gift Guide: Gamer’s Edition

The holidays are right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me you haven’t even thought about starting to shop for gifts. In the past this situation might have ended with you in tears at the mall, desperately fighting against throngs of soccer moms and biting children, hoping to grab the last of whatever this year’s best seller ends up being in the final days leading to Christmas.

This year, however, with our series of gift guides and the convenience of online shopping, you can buy gifts for everyone on your list in between matches of Call of Duty.

Gamers can be a tricky bunch to buy for. Taste in games varies wildly, and if you’re unlucky you might accidentally buy Kinect Sports for someone who was hoping to play Fallout on Christmas morning. Talk about embarrassing.

Thankfully, some games have near universal appeal, that any gamer would be happy to find in his or her stocking. I’m here to tell you about these games, one for each of the major systems available today.

PC – Minecraft

Do you have someone on your list who likes Legos? Of course you do, everyone likes Legos. It should then follow naturally that everyone likes Minecraft.

Minecraft has been around for a while now, but this past summer it saw an explosion in popularity, and it seemed like every PC gaming website on the planet was giving their take on the indie sensation. All this attention didn’t come without a reason, and Mincraft – though it’s still in the alpha stage of development – manages to live up to the lofty expectations set by its success.

In its current form Minecraft is a pure sandbox style game. There are no goals to accomplish except those set by yourself, and you can do anything you want, whenever and wherever you want. All the geometry in the game (including your character) is based around the simple Lego-style block, which can be combined with other blocks of different types to form new objects. Punch a tree for long enough and a block of wood will fall out. Combine two blocks of wood and you get a stick. Combine that stick with blocks of coal that can be mined, and you end up with a torch that can light your path.

Blocks of material can also be moved around to create structures in the game world. This comes in handy, as you can build yourself a house to protect you from the monsters that come out during the game’s nighttime.

On top of how fun and engaging Minecraft can be, until it’s final release the game can be bought at a discount. That means you can afford to buy yourself a copy as well!

Try building THAT with your Legos.

Xbox 360 – Fable III

Peter Molyneux, the mind behind the Fable series, is a bit of a controversial figure in the world of gaming. He’s the man responsible for some of the greatest games in the history of the PC, including Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park, Magic Carpet, and Black & White. More recently, however, he has a habit of making claims that his games cannot possibly deliver on (see his Wikipedia entry for more information).

Thankfully, Fable III manages to live up to most of the hype and offer an enjoyable gaming experience. If you played Fable II, you should feel right at home as you’ll be slinging the same spells at the same Balverines, working to level up your melee, ranged, and magical arsenals.

On top of the familiar gameplay, your character now also has to deal with the day to day management of a kingdom, with your decisions influencing the direction the game takes. Heavily tax your citizens and let criminals wander freely and the world responds by becoming visibly poorer. Take the opposite strategy and watch as your kingdom flourishes.

Fable III isn’t without its flaws, but is absolutely bursting with charm that makes it impossible to not enjoy, making it an excellent holiday gift for that gamer on your list.

Playstation 3 – Gran Turismo 5

Ok, I lied a little bit earlier. Gran Turismo 5 might not have universal appeal, but to the right person it might be just what they’re hoping for, and it’s definitely going to be a big seller this holiday season. Does the person you’re shopping for make their own motor noises while cruising around town in their purple Dodge Stratus? Get them Gran Turismo 5 and they’ll love you for life.

Any car/driving/racing enthusiast will find plenty to do in Gran Turismo 5. The fifth iteration (obviously) of the critically acclaimed driving simulation series Gran Turismo, GT5 is a game that’s been in the making for six long years. It boasts a roster of over 1000 cars (though some are more detailed than others), and you’ll be doing everything from go-kart racing at 75 MPH, to learning about NASCAR from Jeff Gordon, to, of course, lots of racing in cars you’ll never be able to afford on real world tracks you’ll never visit.

Gran Turismo 5 certainly isn’t perfect, but it still manages to succeed on a level never before seen in a racing simulator. If you want to know what went on during those six years of development, hop into your favorite supercar and take it for a spin around Nürburgring. As you open up the throttle on the track’s long straightaway, taking in the beautiful scenery, the roar of the engine loud in your ears, you’ll know you’re playing something special. Or at least whoever you buy it for will.

Yes, it's that pretty

Wii – Goldeneye

Ah, the memories. Four kids huddled around a tiny TV. Each looking at their quarter of the screen, pretending not to look at anyone else’s. Ripping each other apart with RCP-90s and blowing each other to bits with the dreaded proximity mine. That one kid who always (annoyingly) picked Oddjob. If you played video games in the ’90s, you know exactly what I’m talking about: Goldeneye. The name alone brings back waves of nostalgia.

Unlike Perfect Dark for the Xbox 360, Goldeneye for the Wii isn’t a direct port of the N64 classic. Instead, it’s more of a re-imagining. Throughout the game you’ll see some familiar areas, but there’s plenty of new ground to cover and people to shoot. Additionally, Pierce Brosnan’s visage has been replaced by the most recent actor to play James Bond, Daniel Craig.

Multiplayer can be enjoyed by up to four people on one console, split-screen style, or you can opt to take the more modern approach and play with up to seven other people online. All your favorite classic characters make an appearance (yes, even Oddjob), and even the one-shot-one-kill Golden Gun returns to wreak havoc. Any classic gamer on your list lucky enough to get it will certainly enjoy Goldeneye.

Nintendo DS – Super Scribblenauts

Before its release, the original Scribblenauts was set to be quite possibly the greatest game of all time (I might be exaggerating slightly). It allowed you to think of nearly any object, type it out, and watch it appear before your eyes. Particularly tough enemy got you down? Instantiate a time machine, take it back to the past, and ride back to the present on a freaking dinosaur and eat the problem away. Or just summon Cthulu and watch as one of the Great Old Ones demolishes your opposition. Only your imagination (and the game’s nearly bottomless dictionary) stood in the way of solving all the puzzles the game had to offer.

Unfortunately, infuriating controls and some lame levels marred an otherwise enjoyable experience. This year, Scribblenauts is back, bigger and better than ever.

Super Scribblenauts manages to solve most of the problems of the first game. The annoying touch-based only controls of the previous installment can now be replaced by more precise d-pad controls if you wish, and the level design is much improved. Additionally, adjectives can now be attached to objects you summon. Why wield a simple sword when you can instead brandish a much more intimidating flaming sword? Almost anyone can find joy in playing Super Scribblenauts, making it a perfect gift.

Sony PSP – God of War: Ghost of Sparta

The God of War franchise is known for its stellar gameplay and polished gaming experience, and this excellence carries over to its latest mini form, Ghost of Sparta.

Just like in past incarnations of God of War, you play as the demigod Kratos, and like usual you’re mad as hell.  Thankfully there are legions of mythical creatures just waiting for you to hack and slash them to bits and release some of your anger.

And boy is that hacking and slashing pretty. Somehow God of War‘s developers have managed to cram the graphical quality of a PS2 game into the aging hardware of the PSP. Ghost of Sparta is one of the must-have games for Sony’s portable console, so it’s a safe purchase for that special someone on your list.

And now for a bonus stocking stuffer idea:

Xbox 360/PS3/Wii Online Points Card, or iTunes Gift Card

If you’re having a tough time deciding what to get, take the easy way out and buy the gaming equivalent of a gift card. All three of the major consoles have an online service where plenty of downloadable games are available for purchase, so they’re bound to find something they like.

While iTunes might be most recognized for its music store, there are also plenty of games available. If your giftee owns an iPod Touch or iPhone, an iTunes gift card makes a great gift idea.

That’s it from me. If you have additional suggestions for good gifts for gamers, feel free to leave them in the comments section found below!

Image credit: wlodi

Five Great Gift Ideas for Public Transportation Commuters

At my previous job, I took the train from the suburbs straight to Union Station in downtown Chicago. The train ride would leave me with about 2 hours each day to do whatever I please, as long as it could be done on a train. Thankfully, technology has drastically increased the number of entertainment options the typical day-commuter has for the boring trips to and from the office. Whether your loved ones take the train, bus, or carpool with others, here are five great gift ideas that they are sure to love.

5) Amazon Kindle

Reading is probably the most old-school of activities one could do during a commute to work, or any time, for that matter. Old-school or not, people still enjoy reading during their free time more than any other pastime. Thankfully, with technology, it is no longer necessary to drag along your library books.

An entire book can be loaded on to this device, which is much smaller than your standard paperback novel. When you finish one book, there is no need to go to the library or the store to find a new book; one can browse for and download a new book from the Kindle Store, straight to the device itself. They even come equipped with 3G and WiFi, so the busy individual can acquire new reading material on the go. Available for purchase from Amazon.com, this gift is perfect for any commuter on your list that enjoys reading.

4) MP3 Player

There are all kinds of MP3 players on the market, most of which are quite capable of playing a large collection of music on the go. Perhaps the fact that there are so many options out there is what makes this such an attractive gift. But buyer beware, not all MP3 players are created equal. The right gift for that special someone can vary greatly based upon their own personal tastes.

Personally, I still love my iPod Classic, but I know many people that prefer their iPod Shuffles, iPod Touches, or even the iPhone. In my mind, the iPod Classic plays my music, and plays it well. I don’t personally care about the other features and apps of newer MP3 players, but many do, so it is important to take that into consideration when shopping for the audiophile on your holiday shopping list.

3) Netbook

How could one possibly go wrong with a laptop? They can do simple word processing, browse the internet, send email, watch video, and a seemingly countless amount of other tasks, all from one device. Add a 3G or 4G mobile device, and all of this can be done on the go. It’s literally the gift that can do it all.

Sure, it’s quite a bit larger than an iPad or similar tablet device, but personally, I wouldn’t trade in my laptop for anything. During my long commutes, I would actually write code and design websites, which would be much more difficult, if not unfeasible, to do on an iPad. A netbook or laptop is the perfect gift for the IT nerd on your list, or for the individual that wishes to perform many tasks from one device.

2) Android Smartphone

The single greatest advantage to the Android smartphone platform is the variety of different options available to the consumer. If you go with the undoubtedly solid iPhone, that is more or less your only option. Apple has a monopoly over the iOS, so you get whatever Steve Jobs says you’re getting.

Android, however, has many different flavors, and is available on many different networks, including the most dominant carriers, Verizon and AT&T. Consumer choice is the ultimate benefit of the Android platform, providing the perfect smartphone for anyone on your list, no matter their tastes.

1) Sony PSP Go!

This device is my personal favorite. I spent countless hours playing games such as Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness, God of War: Chains of Olympus, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, LittleBigPlanet, and even some PlayStation Minis. All of the games are downloadable from the PlayStation store, which features hundreds of titles spanning every genre known to man.

The PSP Go!‘s small size makes it easy to fit in your pocket, or backpack, or even your lunch bag. The possibilities are virtually endless, perfect for the avid gamer on your holiday list.

Images courtesy of Amazon.com