2011 Gift Guide Part 2 – Suggested Gifts

Following the 2011 Gift Guide Part1 – Ok, Great! Now what should I buy? article here are my recommendations for just about every budget level, given our recent thorough discussion about Mobile Device Ecosystems.

It’s true.  The hottest ticket items this 2011 Holiday Season are all mobile – tablets, smartphones, music players, ultra-portable notebooks (the netbook is dead) – and the like will undoubtedly find their way to a gift box near you. Ecosystem aside, there are some really cool gadgets out there right now, and figuring out which basket to put all your eggs in can be confusing.

In order to make your last minute gift buying a bit easier, I’m going to take a quick moment and give you a couple recommendations in a couple different categories.  I hope this helps you in your Holiday gift giving.

Tablets

  • Apple iPad2: Ranging in price from $499 USD to $829 USD, depending on the storage and communications options you choose, the iPad has established itself as the clear leader in this category. This is the gadget that all tablet lovers are going to want this Holiday, as it plays music, movies, TV shows, runs applications, and is a great eReader. So if you’re budget is up to it, this iOS powered iDevice will be a sure winner.

  • Kindle Fire: At $199, this break-even priced Amazon, Android powered tablet has been labeled by some as the only non-iOS based tablet that can challenge the iPad. It streams thousands of movies and TV shows instantly via Amazon Prime, runs Android apps, plays music from Amazon’s MP3 store, comes with 8GB of internal storage, and reads Kindle eBooks without batting an eye. If the iPad is outside of your budget’s comfort zone, give the Kindle Fire some serious consideration, as the tablet’s UI and features are sure to improve in the coming months.

Smartphones

  • Apple iPhone 4/4S: Ranging from $99 USD to $399 USD, Apple’s iPhone 4/4S is the most popular smartphone in the US, and likely around the world.  Siri, available only on the 4S, will remake the way users interface with their iPhones, and is perhaps the biggest draw for new and existing iPhone customers alike. If you’re planning on giving an iPhone for the Holidays, order now, as many carriers, as well as Apple, are reporting lengthy lead times and delivery dates that are quickly nearing the end of December.

  • Droid RAZR: If Apple’s smartphone isn’t your cup of tea or is outside your budget, the Droid RAZR, available on Verizon Wireless in the US, also represents head-turning technology within the Android ecosystem. While a little more expensive than the entry level iPhone, at $299.99 USD, it sports “advanced artificial intelligence,” learning the user’s work habits, and speeding up those tasks it knows you’re going to perform most often.

Ultra-Portable Notebooks

  • Apple MacBook Air: As the only non-iOS/Android powered product in this gift guide, the Apple MacBook Air is both a Windows as well as a Mac based computer. The entry level model comes with 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. This ultra-thin, SSD equipped ultra-notebook ranges in price from $999 to $1599 USD, and may be a bit on the pricy side. However, as current models don’t have DVD drives or Ethernet ports, you’ll need to remember to buy the external SuperDrive as well as the appropriate adapter not only for your desktop monitor, but its Ethernet adapter as well; and this will push the entry level price up by $137 USD.  You may also want to invest in a USB hub or two. Despite all this, however, the Air is proving very popular with consumers and enterprise users alike.

  • Asus Transformer Prime: The $499.99 USD Asus Transformer Prime is technically a tablet, but with its $149.99 Transformer Dock, it instantly becomes a powerful, light weight ultra-notebook, capable of satisfying most of the needs for a computing device in this category.  The best thing about this device is its ability to function as both a tablet and keyboard-based computer.  While the device currently runs Android’s Honeycomb 3.2, its sure to get an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, ensuring that the device will provide a number of years of usability at roughly half the price of Apple’s MacBook Air.

As far as digital music players are concerned, the only one really left on the market, besides a slew of off-brand players is the Apple iPod.  You can’t go wrong with ANY of these, from the Shuffle to the iPod Touch.  You just need to pick a price point and a model and go with it.  This is a sure winner with anyone.

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