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Taking it up a notch --- Gifts $300 to $600
|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
Now that Intel's newest Atom N550 processor has arrived, the netbook category is starting to get interesting again. The Eee PC 1015PEM is Asus's first 10-inch netbook to use the dual-core chip and yet it still manages to keep the price under the $400 mark. It boasts a 1024x600 WSVGA matte finish LED display, a 250GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 3-in-1 card reader and three USB 2.0 ports. If you need a little more screen realstate and graphics power then the Ion 2-equipped Eee PC 1215N is a great alternative at around $485. Check out our favorite netbooks here.
If hobbyist photographers or dSLR shooters looking for a sidekick camera are on your list this year, you'll find the Canon PowerShot S95 is a perfect fit for your loved one. An overall improvement over the S90, Canon's latest premium compact camera sports better image stabilization, a full set of manual controls, excellent low-light photo quality, and 720p HD video recording. Toss in a black matte finish and you have one of the best compact cameras on the market.
Here's a gift that the whole family can use. The Lexmark Genesis is a unique all-in-one printer boasting a 10-megapixel imaging sensor that can transfer documents to digital in just 3 seconds. Besides printing, copying, scanning and faxing with one easy touch, it features a 4.3-inch touch screen for an instant preview of your scanned documents or accessing many cloud-based apps like Stamps.com, Evernote, Box.net, and TripIt - yes, it has Wi-Fi built-in. Unfortunately the Lexmark Genesis won't start shipping until early 2011, but you can pre-order it now at Bestbuy.com.
A large, high-resolution LED-backlit IPS display, an incredibly responsive multi-touch screen, and a powerful Apple-designed chip. All in a design that's thin and light enough to take anywhere. The iPad is hands down the best option in a whole new category that fits between the smartphone and notebook. An awesome gift for anyone who would like to surf the web while on the go, catch up with emails, read books and magazines, and access thousands of apps and games on iTunes.
For anyone who would like to jump into the tablet bandwagon but finds the thought of Apple's walled garden a little too difficult to stomach, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is largely considered the first real contender from the Android camp. Its crisp display, compact form factor, and dual cameras make this a worthy contender to the iPad that's also available in Wi-Fi only versions (delayed until early 2011) and 3G – with plans on Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. Initial reviews have been quite mixed, so be sure to catch up on your reading and decide if the Galaxy Tab is for you or if you'll wait for the next version.
PC gamers looking for a powerful graphics card that can handle any modern game you throw at it will surely appreciate Nvidia's newest, top-of-the-line GeForce GTX 580. The new card marks a major improvement over the GTX 480, by delivering faster performance with less heat, noise, and power draw. Nvidia has also worked closely with the developers of Call of Duty: Black Ops and H.A.W.X 2, so you can expect those titles to take full advantage of specialized features such as 3D Vision.
If you just need to create a few documents and check your email, you can get by on much less than a $500 desktop. Buying a netbook is a worthy route for the road warrior, but desktops still reign supreme in terms of cost-to-performance and expandability. If you follow our guide's Budget build to the T, you can gift a system acceptable for any role apart from running graphically intense applications – which could also be attainable by investing a few extra dollars in a dedicated video card.