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  TechSpot's Holiday Gift Guide 2005

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NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT/GTX videocard - $300-500
State-of-the-art videocard for the ultimate gaming experience

[Read Techspot Review] No holiday PC buying guide would be complete without a gaming videocard pick. The GeForce 7800 GTX is the fastest graphics solution available in the market today, and its less pricier sibling the 7800 GT, offers similar high-performance in pretty much any game you throw at it. Yes, you can do SLI with these babies, too, however it's our opinion that one card will be good enough present =). If you are on a more limited budget, there are still excellent videocard choices below the $200 price point, our favourite choice would then be ATI's Radeon X800 GTO.

Logitech® Z-5450 Digital 5.1 Speakers - $350
Wireless surround sound

The Z-5450 Digital is yet another incredible set of speakers by Logitech. Just about any gamer would gladly make this 300-watt speaker system the cornerstone of their PC multimedia experience. Because of the odd places people tend to have their desks; a wireless speaker setup is ideal. Don’t worry about the lack of wires; only the rear speakers are wireless and they sound great. Continuing the fine tradition of “less is more”, wireless doesn’t offer the best value unfortunately, but the convenience may be well worth the premium for some. However, if you have learned to become one with your cables you can score the 500 watt corded version for about the same price. By the way, “the same price” is about $350.

Microsoft Xbox 360 - $300-400
Next-generation gaming is now

Not much needs to be said about this highly anticipated gaming console, but this is the item to have for just about any console gamer. The impressive technical (and not so technical) specifications can be found here. The only flaw may be the limited list of games at launch, but sure hits like Call of Duty 2, King Kong, NBA Live 2K6 and Quake 4 keep the platform a solid investment before upcoming smashes like Halo 3 peek their heads out next year. For those already hooked on the original Xbox, the 360 really is the perfect Yule tide offering, since it is backwards compatible with many existing Xbox “one” games as well. That makes this possibly the easiest, hottest gift for the holidays. The only problem will be actually getting your hands on one.

Sony PSP and Nintendo DS
The portable gaming systems

Sony PSP - $245

On the bus, in the car, at the office and during squabbles this Thursday at your family’s dinner table, the PSP delivers all the power and eye candy of the Playstation/2 smack dab in your hands. An exciting gift for any gamer on the go, the PSP supports a wide variety of popular titles and lets you play them anywhere on a large-but-small widescreen screen measuring 4.3” (16:9 aspect ratio). Not surprisingly, the PSP also maintains an impressive feature set worthy of just more than gaming. Sony’s “PDA-esque” portable gaming system includes the ability to cruise the net (802.11b), watch movies (MPEG), listen to music and transfer/display digital photos. The PSP supports Sony proprietary technologies (surprise…) such as UMD (Universal Media Drive) and Sony Memory Sticks, which can enhance the portable media experience. To make an informed decision of your own, feel free to visit Sony and check this awesome device out.

Nintendo DS - $130

Similarly to the Sony PSP, the Nintendo DS is a high-end gaming device that fits in your pocket, but costs much less. More powerful than a N64, the DS features two three-inch touch screens, voice recognition and wireless multiplayer. Note that the wireless multiplayer capability in the DS is proprietary Nintendo technology, but it is also possible to connect this unit to 802.11b so you can get tangled up on the web. Another cool feature is the ability to play Gameboy Advanced games as well as original DS titles. Nintendo’s portable doesn’t have the graphics capabilities of the Sony PSP, but what might set the DS apart from the PSP is Nintendo’s commitment to a unique gaming experience and the prospect of some real interesting add-ons.

The choice will be yours. Expect competition to sizzle as we get closer to Christmas. Sony is currently offering the “Gigapack” which includes a 1GB memory stick with the PSP for around $299. Prices may start dropping since the DS hit the shelves at a paltry $129 (only $149 for the Mario Kart DS pack). Make sure to check out Pelican and Logitech for some great add-ons for both portables and get ready to surprise someone with a really fun gift.

PC Games
The latest and greatest for the PC - $30-50

There’s no denying, games make sensational stocking stuffers. Even if you don’t have stockings, games are simple, inexpensive, fun gifts. With this in mind, this holiday will truly be a great time for anyone that enjoys PC gaming. Some noteworthy shooter titles include F.E.A.R, Quake 4, Battlefield 2, and Call of Duty 2. Strategists might prefer the likes of Civilization IV, Black & White 2 or Age of Empires 3 while sports fans might have some real fun with Football Manager 2006 and FIFA 2006 (and most definitely Winning Eleven 9/PES 5 where available). If simulations are your thing, Movies, Sims 2 – Christmas Party / Night life, Zoo Tycoon 2 – Endangered Species might be a pleasant surprise as well! There’s plenty to choose from, and a title for pretty much everybody.

Logitech G7 Wireless Laser Mouse - $70
Accurate, comfortable and wireless

If there is a mouse worthy of wrapping paper, it is definitely the G7. It fits like a glove ((righties only!), scans with a super accurate laser and there’s no mouse tail to drag you down. Microsoft’s newest laser mouse is nice too, but I can’t help feel the difference with the G7 even over Logitech’s previous masterpiece, the MX1000. Specs include a rechargeable Li-ion battery and a 2000 dpi scan resolution and its own recharging cradle. You can’t go wrong with handing this one out.



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