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Upping the ante --- Gifts $150 to $300
|The basics – Gifts less than $150
|Taking it up a notch – Gifts $300 to $600
|Upping the ante – Gifts $150 to $300
|Beyond gadgets – Gifts more than $600
If you know anyone with an Xbox 360 console who would enjoy some good family fun then we'd recommend putting this one on your gift list. The Kinect sensor costs $150 and includes Kinect Adventures, a disc full of mini-games that you control using nothing but body movements. You can also do video chat with other Kinect users or friends on Windows Live and get voice control over your Xbox 360. If you are shopping for a hardcore console gamer, however, we'd recommend holding out until more mainstream titles that can use these new gaming mechanics are available.
Need to buy a gift for anyone with a home entertainment center that doesn't already own a Logitech Harmony One? Well, you can cross them off your list because this will be something they'll find themselves both using and appreciating day in and day out. The Logitech Harmony One provides an all-in-one programmable universal remote control solution that simply works. As the cherry on top, why not accompany it with a hammer to bid farewell to the six remotes he has scattered around the living area?
The Echo smartpen records everything you hear, write and draw and saves your notes to your computer so you can access them later. When used on Livescribe's proprietary dot paper, the pen records a digital image of anything that's written, and if the internal microphone is enabled, the audio also syncs with the text. After recording, simply tap the pen or click on any word to hear what was being said at that time. Pretty impressive and the audio quality of recordings is quite good. It's the perfect gift for busy executives or students who also happens to love cool gadgets.
Boxee Box by D-Link brings all your favorite shows and movies from hundreds of free or paid online sources to the TV in stunning 1080p and Dolby Surround Sound. Unlike cheaper alternatives like the Ruku and Apple TV, however, it also pulls local content from your network and presents it all together on a neat interface. Boxee Box also makes it easy to share your favorite content with friends on social networks. And if you're feeling unsure about spending $200 on this little box (or if you already have a HTPC hooked up to your TV) the Boxee software is available to download for free.
Although non-subsidized prices range from $450 to $699 and up, few customers ever pay this much for their smartphones. If signing up for a 2-year contract is not an issue there are plenty of high-end devices available at the $200 price point, including Apple's popular iPhone 4, T-Mobile G2, HTC Evo 4G, and the just-released Motorola Droid 2 Global. Take a look at our smartphone guide to find an alternative that suits you, and also keep out for the round of Windows Phone 7 launches this month.
It's a good time to be into PC gaming, with video card makers rolling out their DirectX 11-enabled hardware, and game-makers scrambling to take advantage of the latest technology. With a suggested price of $239 the Radeon HD 6870 from AMD delivers the best value graphics card in the sub-$300 range, but Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 remains a very tempting alternative at its new $170 price point, not to mention killer SLI performance. Either way you go your beloved one will certainly appreciate it, as both cards can handle pretty much any modern game you throw at them.
Quality surround sound doesn't have to mean premium prices or bulky speakers and cables. If you're on a budget and you are trying to find a great gift for someone setting up a small home entertainment center, the compact Sony HT-CT150 Sound Bar is the answer. One speaker unit provides three audio channels while the slim subwoofer fits out of sight in most small spaces. Complete with four HDMI ports (3 inputs, 1 output), Audio Return Channel support, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, and 300W of power you'll be hard-pressed to find a better option in this price range.