Each year, technology becomes more advanced, user friendly and aids us in our everyday lives. Although it is hard to compare technology from ten years ago to what we have today, it does not stop us from wondering what will arrive next.
There were many really awesome pieces of technology released and IT News Africa has compiled a list of the hottest gadgets we believe will make for great gifts. Some of the items might seem a bit pricey, but the receiver will be eternally thankful for the gesture.
1. Windows Surface
The latest (and first) tablet by technology giant Microsoft is sure to take the technology market by storm. While it is only available in the US for now, rumours abound that it might be released elsewhere before Christmas (South Africa might only get it in January 2013). The tablet makes use of Windows 8, Microsoft’s redesigned operating system, and comes with an active keyboard cover that makes typing a lot easier. The Surface is aimed at competing with Apple’s highly-successful iPad. Originally unveiled in June, Surface with Windows RT will initially be available in three SKUs: a 32GB version priced at US$499, a 32GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover priced at US$599, and a 64GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover priced at US$699.
Price: to be determined for Africa, but starts at $499 in the US
2. HP Deskjet 4625 E-All-In-One Printer
The Deskjet 4625 is not one of the best-looking printers around, but it certainly gets the job done. An inexpensive All-In-One option, it falls into the Ink Advantage stable, and while it might not have all the bells and whistles of some of the high-end printers, it does the job superbly – with some ink to spare. Weighing in around 6kg, the simple design will occupy 448 x 550 x 207mm on a desk, and has the ability to copy, scan and fax – and naturally print images from a computer, be it wirelessly or with a printer cable. In terms of quality, design and overall usefulness, the HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 4625 e-All-in-One Printer performs at the top of its class.
Price: R1 499
3. iPad mini
Apple has finally released a smaller version of the iPad. It has been available in the US for some time now, but was only recently made available in South Africa. The iPad mini features a 7.9-inch Multi-Touch display, FaceTime HD and iSight cameras, ultrafast wireless performance and ten hours of battery life. It comes in a new aluminium and glass design that is just 7.2 mm thin and weighs only 0.68 pounds. The 7.9-inch Multi-Touch display delivers the same iPad experience users have come to expect, in a design that has 35 percent more screen real estate than 7-inch tablets and up to an astonishing 67 percent more usable viewing area when browsing the web.
Distributor: Core Group
Price: starts at R3 399
4. Canon IXUS 510 HS compact camera
You should be capturing those holiday snaps and memorable moments with Canon’s IXUS 510 HS compact camera. The tiny and lightweight device features a 10.1 Megapixel CMOS, 12x optical zoom with Wi-Fi for easy sharing, 8.0 cm (3.2″) touch screen with Touch Shutter and HS System for incredible photos and Full HD movies even in low light. For getting those long shots, it features a digital zoom of up to 21x without losing quality, and Powerful DIGIC processing coupled with Intelligent IS. Compact cameras are an inexpensive alternative to lugging around a bulky shooter, and Canon makes some of the best in the business.
Price: approx. R2000
5. Samsung AtivS
One of Samsung’s latest products is the AtivS, Samsung’s first phone that runs off Microsoft’s Windows 8 mobile operating system. The device features a 4.8″ HD Super AMOLED screen and is only 8.7mm thin. In terms of specs, the AtivS will run on a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, will have 16 and 32GB users memory, as well as 1GB RAM, and a microSD expansion slot. It measures 137.2 x 70.5 x 87mm and weighs only 135g. The product is being punted as a business and entertainment device and will be shipped with Exchange ActiveSync, On-Device Encryption, MDM, Office 365 and Lync.
Price: To be determined
6. Garmin nüvi 3590LMT GPS
The nightmare of getting around an unfamiliar city can easily be avoided with Garmin’s global GPS systems. The nüvi 3490LMT features and easy-to-use 5.0″ (12.7 cm) capacitive, automatic dual-orientation colour touchscreen, free lifetime map updates and City Navigator. It also features Lane Assist with PhotoReal and Birds-Eye Junction Views, and users will be able to make Bluetooth hands-free phone calls. As far as in-car navigation systems go, the nüvi 3590LMT is the best of the bunch.
Price: R3 149
7. Sony Bravia 4K television
Coming in at a whopping R270 000, Sony’s 4K Ultra High Definition Bravia with LCD display is the best 84-inch television on the market.It displays images at four times the resolution of standard High Definition, creating a crisper and clearer image – even from just 1.5 meters away. While the price tag might be a bit steep, it is truly an investment for any home theatre lover. At this point it is by no means an essential gadget, but the sheer thought of an 84-inch television is enough to put a smile on anybody’s face.
Distributor: Sony Electronics
Price: R276 000, which includes installation and set-up
8. Beats by Dre headphones
Headphones are a hot commodity in today’s busy world. Users like to take their music with them wherever they go, and to do that they need a stunning pair of headphones. Beats by Dre is probably the pinnacle of headphones and comes in six different variations. The bigger Studio headphones makes use of a noise cancellation feature that amplifies the music as it blocks out noise, giving consistently powerful, intense sound. The headphones fold away into a neat carry bag and have been designed to be lightweight and comfortable.
Price: approx. R1790
9. Xbox bundle
Around Christmas a number of gadget shops bundle together Microsoft’s Xbox video game console with a number of recently released games. These bundles can be picked up at lower prices over the Christmas period. The video game console is one of the most popular gifts year-round, and combined with the Kinect peripheral, players will be able to enjoy games without making use of a controller.
Price: starts at R3000 depending on bundle
10. Computer game bundles
A number of budget game titles will be available over the Christmas season. Most of these games are re-releases of classic PC games such as the original SimCity and Rollercoaster Tycoon. The games, while not current, would be great for younger players who are not as up to date with current titles as older players. Despite being almost a decade old, the games will never the less still provide for hours of fun.
Distributor: Apex Interactive
Price: starts at R99 per title
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor