This isn't your typical tech gift guide. The iPhone 5 gets enough publicity as it is. The same could be said for the iPad, the Kindle, the Nook, the Kinect for XBox and every other tech item that's selling like hot cakes this holiday season. Forget them.
HDTVs, personal computers and DSLR cameras are often too similar to stand out. Plus, those pricey items depend so much on a user's preferences (i.e. wall space, memory required) that it wouldn't be much help to write about them here.
Forget them, too.
Consider this a guide to the most overlooked, underrated and intriguing tech items on the shelves as Christmas creeps around the corner. From tablets and phones to headphones and other gadgets, we've got you covered.
Samsung Galaxy S III ($200 with contract)
For half the price of the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S III gives you the 4G network, an 8-megapixel camera, and a superb HD display for large-screen lovers. Plus, it can act as a mobile hotspot for up to 10 mobile devices.
The S III also boasts S Voice technology -- Samsung's equivalent of Apple's Siri -- which enables users to wake up their phone with a simple voice command. And Samsung's voice recognition goes further. Saying, "Hi Galaxy ... picture," for example, opens the phone's camera app, and saying "cheese" takes a picture. Face-recognition software then identifies Facebook friends within images, and prompts the user to share them.
"The S III has the face recognition that the iPhone 5 doesn't, and a lot of people say that S voice is way more accurate than Siri is," says Nicole Wilkinson, sales associate for Best Buy Mobile in St. Joseph.
Nokia Lumia 920 ($100 with contract)
Candy-colored cases meet the eye-catching Windows 8 operating system in Nokia's premier smart phone with a generously sized 4.3-inch screen. In addition to running the latest version of Microsoft's mobile OS, it comes loaded with Nokia apps including Nokia Maps, turn-by-turn sat-nav Nokia Drive and the subscription-free music service Mix Radio.
"It's the first phone to use Windows 8, so that's exciting," Ms. Wilkinson says. "And its sleek design is amazing."
Google Nexus 7 ($250)
At a lower price point than most other quality tablets its size, the Google Nexus 7 is light and fast with an excellent display. The Nexus 7 offers both a voice-typing feature and access to all of Google's apps.
Microsoft Surface ($500 to $700)
While it remains to be seen whether the colorful Surface will catch on as widely as Microsoft hopes, this product is definitely bringing Windows into the tablet and touch-screen competition. With its keyboard attachment, large screen and ability to run Microsoft Office, this tablet easily can be flipped and used as your primary computer. Who knows? You might actually get some real work done on a tablet for once.
Samsung Touch All-in-One ($1,100)
Designed for fast and easy use with Windows 8, the Samsung Touch All-in-One PC boasts a 23-inch-high definition touch screen merged with a stunningly thin design, a powerful Intel processor and a 1TB hard drive. The full flat design of this tablet/PC Frankenstein allows you to lay the PC all the way down, making it a full horizontal touch interface. Basically, the Samsung Touch All-in-One bends to your needs, not the other way around.
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