Welcome to Business Insider’s tech gift guide for the 2012 Holiday season!
We put together our favourite tech gifts in the hottest categories like smartphones, tablets, TVs, and apps.
You can jump to a specific category by clicking one of the links below, or click here to flip through the complete list of must-have tech gifts >
Note: Many prices listed here come from Amazon, Best Buy, or the manufacturer. However, individual retailers tend to offer items at different prices, so it’s best to shop around before buying big items like televisions and computers.
Photo: Kevin Smith, Business Insider
Steve Kovach, Business Insider
Photo: Robert Libetti/ Business Insider
Barnes & Noble's new Nook HD tablet boasts one of the sharpest displays of of any tablet out there. The Nook HD comes with either a 7 or 9-inch display. It runs a custom version of Android and lets you create separate user profiles in case you want to share the tablet with others. You also get quick access to Barnes & Noble's library of books, magazines, and Android apps.
Price: Starts at $199
Microsoft's first tablet, the Surface, runs a special version of the new Windows 8 operating system called Windows RT. It features a brand new touch-based interface with Live Tiles, tiny apps that update in real time on your home screen. You can also get a special keyboard 'touch' cover that snaps on the bottom, essentially turning the device into a laptop.
Price: Starts at $499
Google partnered with Samsung to bring the first 10-inch Nexus tablet. It runs the latest version of Android called Jelly Bean, which lets you create separate profiles for multiple users. The Nexus 10 also has a sharper display than Apple's fourth-generation iPad.
Price: Starts at $399
Amazon's second-generation tablet, the Kindle Fire HD, now comes with the option of a 7 or 8.9-inch display. The tablet's operating system is based on Android, but locked into Amazon's own ecosystem of books, apps, music, and movies. As the name implies, Amazon made the Kindle Fire HD's display sharper than before, so games and videos look better than ever.
Price: Starts at $199
Apple's highly-anticipated iPad Mini is a smaller, cheaper version of the original full-sized iPad. It has a 7.9-inch screen, but the resolution isn't as good as the Retina display on other Apple gadgets. Still, Apple offers the best apps and content for tablets, so you'll have plenty to do.
Price: Starts at $329
You can't go wrong with the king of all tablets. Apple's full-sized iPad recently entered its fourth-generation and has a processor that's one of the fastest in any mobile device out there. Plus you get the brilliant high-resolution Retina display and access to more than 200,000 tablet-optimised apps.
Price: Starts at $499
Motorola's Droid Razr M features a nearly edge-to-edge display on an attractive and sleek device. Between the price and top-of-the-line features, it's one of the best values in Verizon's lineup this year.
The Galaxy Note II is Samsung's second-generation phone/tablet hybrid device. It has a huge 5.5-inch display and a special stylus that lets you write and doodle on the screen. It's size will be a turn-off for most people, but if you want the biggest screen possible, the Note II is your best buy.
HTC released a new version of its well-reviewed One X phone this fall that comes with a faster processor and other beefed-up specs. Between the amazing camera and excellent Android customisations, the One X+ is one of the best Android phones available today.
HTC pulled off an incredible feat with its new Droid DNA. The phone has a 5-inch display and is the first mobile device that can play full 1080p HD videos. Even with such a big screen, the Droid DNA is sleek and thin.
Nokia's Lumia 920 is one of the first phones to run Microsoft's new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8. The Lumia 920 comes in a variety of colours and has some cool hardware features like wireless charging and a super-sensitive screen that responds to touch even if you're wearing gloves.
Google teamed up with LG this year for its fourth-generation flagship Nexus Android phone. The Nexus 4 runs the newest version of Android called Jelly Bean and features a really cool panoramic camera mode that lets you take full 360-degree photos. You can buy the phone unlocked directly from Google and run it on any GSM carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile.
Samsung's Galaxy S III is the best Android phone on the market. It has a gorgeous 4.8-inch display and a ton of cool sharing sharing features like the ability to swap content with friends by tapping your phones together.
Overall, Apple's new iPhone 5 is the best smartphone available today. It's incredibly light and thin, yet has powerful features like a high-resolution display and the ability to connect to the fastest data networks. Plus it has the best library of apps, movies, and music for you to enjoy.
App in the Air is the perfect companion for anyone taking a flight. The app helps users to fly smarter by providing airport information such as the best restaurant and Wi-Fi locations. The app also helps you keep your friends and family updated by integrating Facebook and Twitter.
Available on: iOS
Hipmunk helps make travelling easier.
The app helps you find the cheapest flight or hotel by displaying a clever interactive chart. It also makes booking easier. Once you've found the right flight, simply book it from your mobile device, email it to someone else, or finish booking on your desktop.
Clear is a very simple, yet elegant to-do list app that will help you stay productive and on task. The app is beautifully designed and it feels satisfying to remove completed tasks with a simple swipe.
Clear recently came out with an app for your Mac that syncs tasks to your iPhone.
Over 8 million people use Mint to stay on top of their finances.
The app is a well-designed and has many built-in alerts to help users stay on budget.
With Mint, you input information from your credit card, bank account, loans, 401k, etc. and the app automatically helps you manage your finances. You can set goals for yourself such as paying off a credit card or student loan, and Mint will help you figure out the best way to make it happen.
Instagram changed the way we share photos using our mobile phones. The app is fast, fun, and simple.
With Instagram, you snap a photo, add a funky filter and other effects, and upload it to a news feed. Like any other social network, you can follow people to keep track of their photos.
Facebook recently agreed to buy Instagram, so expect tighter integration between the two services in the coming months.
iMovie allows you to make gorgeous HD videos that stand out. The iOS app has unique multitouch features that are easy to use. Tap to add video, photos, music, and sound effects.
The app is packed full of effects and also allows you to make trailers for your films to draw people in. iMovie is a consumerized video editing suite, so it's very easy to pick up and start using.
Price: $4.99 (for iOS) and free with any Mac laptop or desktop purchase.
If you take a lot of pictures then you know that it is very easy for them to get lost in your camera roll. Flayvr instantly fixes that problem.
The app quickly organizes your photos by date and seamlessly patches video and photos into the same collection. Best of all, the app is fast and simple.
Switch to Flayvr and going through your photos won't be a chore anymore.
During a time when music piracy is rampant, Spotify has changed the way that users interact with music. The service gives you access to millions of tracks and makes the experience completely social. Users can see what their friends are listening to over Facebook and Twitter and discover new music.
Spotify will let you stream music to the desktop for free. But if you want to listen to music offline or take full advantage of its mobile apps, you'll need to subscribe to the service for $10 per month.
Spotify's music library is full of millions of tracks from all the major record labels, so you shouldn't have trouble finding what you need.
Price: Free (Premium subscription is $9.99/month)
Angry Birds is the most successful mobile game to date. The app proved that games don't have to be complicated or expensive to be a global success.
Angry Birds truly paved the way for mobile gaming and is available for almost every platform you can think of.
Not only that, but Angry Birds has opened up an entire universe of merchandise including toys, board games, theme parks, even candy.
The Netflix app is a gorgeous way to stream your favourite TV shows and movies. A cool feature is the ability to start watching on one device and continue watching on another.
Netflix also makes a great holiday gift. You can choose between one month and 12 month subscriptions.
Price: Free (with subscription, staring at $7.99 per month)
Dropbox can help this holiday seasons to keep everything in sync across your smartphone, computer, and tablet.
Dropbox lives on your desktop as a virtual folder. You can drag and drop files into your Dropbox and they'll appear on all your devices. You also have the option to store files in a public folder so you can easily share them with a simple download link.
Dropbox gives you 2 GB of storage for free, but you can earn extra storage by inviting your friends to sign up. There are also a bunch of paid plans.
The Canon SX50 is an excellent superzoom camera. It can magnify up to 1200mm all with its fixed lens.
Here's what The Wirecutter had to say about the SX50:
A superzoom is a high end point and shoot designed specifically to give a photographer a whole lot of magnification without having to spend a ton on a DSLR. You'll still see travellers all around the world dragging superzooms with them, because those insanely long lenses are a godsend for catching animals, sports, and tourist shots.
This Sony Cyber-shot packs in 20 mega pixels and is great for low-light situations. The Cyber-shot can also shoot full HD video at 50 frames per second. It's the best compact camera, if you can get past the price.
The Go Pro HD Hero 3 is the perfect camera to always have with you. It's extremely compact, weighs 2 pounds, and features 11 megapixels. The camera has built in Wi-Fi and is waterproof up to 197 feet.
It's ridiculously easy to mount the Go Pro HD to helmets and other gear.
The Canon G12 is a very good point and shoot camera. It features 10 megapixels, can record 720p HD video, and has HDMI output.
The G12 can zoom up to 5x and has a optical image stabilizer.
Samsung's Galaxy Camera is a Wi-Fi connected camera with 16.3 megapixels that runs the latest version of Android, version 4.1 Jellybean. The Camera packs in 8GB of memory plus a micro SD slot for added storage.
The Galaxy Camera can connect to 4G and 3G networks via AT&T.
The Butler is a wall-mounted device that fits a wallet and keys in the top sleeve, an iPhone on the side slot with a concealed space for your charging cord, and includes extra space for glasses, hat, scarf and other standard items on the slide-out walnut piece.
These eight iPhone 5 cases are part of a set designed by Hiroshi Fujiwara for Uncommon. Hiroshi was considered the 'godfather' of Harajuku culture in Japan in the 1980s.
This series was just released and will make a perfect stocking stuffer. The funky hard shell cases come in several different colours and designs.
The Lavish Earth case by Cygnett is a leather portfolio case that can be adjusted to various angles.
It features a magnetic closer and works with the iPads sleep/wake function, just like Apple's Smart Cover.
If you're always on the go and never near Wi-Fi, the Verizon Jetpack is an excellent hotspot. The device allows up to 10 devices to surf the web at once equipped and uses Verizon's 4G LTE data connection.
The device itself costs $50, but you'll need a data plan from Verizon.
If you have a touchscreen smartphone and want to use it in colder temperatures make, sure you pick up a pair of GliderGloves.
The GliderGloves feature anti-slip silicon grips on the palms and the entire outer surface of the glove allows you to interact with your phone.
GliderGloves are available in multiple sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large and come in multiple colours.
The Big Jambox packs a powerful punch. With heavy bass and an overall quality sound, the Big Jambox is one of our favourite Bluetooth speakers out right now.
The Big Jambox's battery lasts about 8 hours and it has a built-in microphone in case you want to use it as a speakerphone.
The Parrot Zik headphones are hands down the best consumer headphones available. We love the rich sound, comfortable ear cups, and touch interface.
Nike's FuelBand is a fitness monitor that you wear on your wrist. It tracks how many steps you take in a day. Besides acting as a pedometer, the FuelBand can be used to keep track of a daily goal that you set.
The Fuelband syncs up with your smartphone so you can stay on top of your fitness.
The Nest is a smart thermostat that you can control from your smartphone. Nest connects to your home's Wi-Fi network and can learn your preferences so that eventually it can automatically adjust the temperature in your home.
Nest recently rolled out version 2.0 of its connected device, making it thinner and more capable with features like the ability to display multiple languages.
One of Apple's most popular laptops, the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers a beautiful Retina display that displays an image that's better than your HDTV. Upgradeable to 16 GB of RAM and 2.7 GHz of i7 processing power, this is a solid choice for a number of applications.
Apple recently released a 13-inch version of the MacBook Pro with Retina display too.
Price: Starts at $1,200, but prices vary depending on specs
If you're not in need of a powerhouse but still want an elegant and capable device, the MacBook Air is for you. Slender and portable, it still packs a reasonable punch under the hood. It comes with an i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM, and you have the choice between 128 GB or 256 GB of speedy flash storage.
Price: starting at $999
Although there are occasional complaints about its middle-of-the-road battery life, the Zenbook Prime has a sharp 1080p screen and a full-on HDMI port to make it a snap to get your video displayed on another screen. As far as Ultrabooks go, its i7 processor makes it capable and its size makes it convenient.
Gamers, take note--Alienware has historically made some of the most powerful laptops out there, and this one's no exception. It packs a 2.3 GHz i7 processor and 6 GB of RAM, more than enough to get you eyeballs-deep in whatever game has captured your imagination as of late.
For those unwilling to compromise on getting desktop power into a laptop form factor, Samsung has your number. This thing boasts 2.3 GHz of processing power, 16 GB of RAM, and a monster 1.5 TB hard drive.
Toshiba's new Satellite Ultrabook is a Windows 8 laptop that can convert to a tablet by sliding the screen over.
It's a funky take on Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system, but it could be useful for someone who wants more choice in hardware.
Price: Starts at $1,100
Boasting a high-resolution display (that's even touch sensitive) and a speedy i5 processor, this computer is built to work perfectly with Windows 8. You might even think of it as the iMac of the PC world.
Recently refreshed to be thinner than ever, Apple's iMac reeks of sex appeal. It comes in a 21.5' and 27' form factors, meaning you can buy as much or as little computer as you want. Starting with a 2.7 GHz i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM on the entry-level side, the specs top off with a 3.2 GHz processor on the more professional side.
Price: Starts at $1,299
You don't need to drop serious cash to get a respectable computer. This one from HP will get you a nice 23-inch display for less than $700. It's not a performance monster, but it's more than capable of handling your work and non-demanding computer games.
Though it looks like it came from an alien spaceship, the MicroFLEX 37B offers a lot for the price.
It has a liquid cooling system to prevent it from overheating and a zippy i7 processor, so your games will look great and your edited video will render quickly.
Take note that there aren't any FireWire ports on it, however.
Small, simple, and a great entry point into the Apple world. The Mac Mini requires you to bring your own keyboard, mouse, and monitor to the table, but most of the work is done by its dual-core i5 or quad-core i7 processor, depending on which model you spring for.
Price: Starts at $599
If you want total custom control over what goes into your gaming PC, see the folks at Origin. Starting at less than $2,000, the Genesis X79 can support some powerful components to make running even the most demanding games a cinch.
Price: Starts at $1,720
Don't let the boxy design fool you--HP's Z1 is a processing beast, sporting an Intel Core i5-2500K and 8 GB of RAM.
There's a glaring feature missing here, however--pretty much all other competing devices feature a touchscreen, but the Z1 unfortunately lacks one.
Creative professionals of all kinds have found the power and performance they want in the Mac Pro. It's Apple's Formula One racer of its lineup, maxing out with two 2.4 GHz processors and 12 GB of RAM.
It's more than enough for designers and filmmakers to become productivity monsters.
Price: Starts at $2,499
More and more people are able to do their entire jobs inside of a web browser today. The Chromebox runs Google's Chrome web browser, which is heavily customisable via various extensions and plugins (you can even play games).
It's a bare-bones solution, but it works elegantly.
Price: Starts at $329
Here's your all-in-one media solution for your TV from Samsung. It includes a 7.1 channel system, Blu-Ray player, and a vacuum tube/digital audio combination to make sure you're getting the best possible sound.
If you're looking for a more affordable home theatre system, this is your ticket. The Blu-Ray player includes a bunch of smart TV features that'll let you run apps and get online with your TV. And the 5.1 channel audio is still perfect for your entertainment needs.
Mac users might want to take a look at the Apple TV, the company's own smart TV box. It runs all the apps you'd expect, like Netflix and Hulu, and can even wirelessly mirror your computer's display for turning your television into a giant monitor.
You don't need cable to enjoy all kinds of smart TV functionality. Boxee TV works with over-the-air signals, YouTube, Netflix, and your own digital files to become a pretty robust entertainment platform. Throw in the fact that it's also a DVR with unlimited storage space, meaning you'll never need to delete a show again, and you can really see the appeal.
The Playstation 3 offers a great selection of video games and apps to turn your television into a full-fledged entertainment centre. It offers an integrated movie store, the ability to play your own digital files, and of course your Netflix and Hulu apps.
Microsoft's own gaming console offers plenty of the same functionality you'd expect--apps, movie files, and of course, video games. Buy music and movies in Microsoft's own media stores, play games against friends via Xbox LIVE, and go through your Netflix queue by using the app.
Price: Starts at $199.99
Nintendo's newest console, the Wii U, comes with a special tablet controller that displays extra gaming and video content while you play. It also works with your old Wii remotes and games and will soon offer streaming services like Netflix and other on-demand videos.
Price: Starts at $299.99
Samsung makes some of the best TVs you can buy, so you can't go wrong with one of its new Smart TVs. This model comes with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu built in so you don't need to buy a separate box. You can also download apps for stuff like Facebook, news, and weather.
Price: Starts at $799.99
Toshiba has a lot of great TVs, but its 55L7200U model is one of the best. It has a full 1090p display, 3D, and can connect to your mobile devices wirelessly so you can beam content from your phone to the big screen.
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