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Beyond gadgets --- Gifts more than $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|
If TechSpot's Matthew DeCarlo happens to be on your shopping list get him this – god knows he's been thinking about buying this awesome work desk for too long! Otherwise anyone who spends long hours in front of a computer will appreciate the freedom GeekDesk provides by allowing you to change work position throughout the day. It operates easily via a surface-mounted switch control, going from sitting to standing position in less than 20 seconds. Helps reduce fatigue by giving your back a rest and your body some variety.
With an outstanding resolution of 2560x1440 (WQHD) pixels, this versatile 27-inch monitor delivers deep, rich colors, offers a multitude of input options that include 4 USB ports and a media card reader, a dynamic contrast ratio of 80000:1 and a fast response time of 6 ms. The U2711 uses IPS panel technology rather than the TN (twisted nematic) technology used on most mainstream monitors. This is reflected in the hefty price tag but also in quality. For professionals that are very critical of color accuracy and detail this monitor is a pleasure to be in front of. Also available in a $1,300, 30-inch version.
Internet-based media streaming boxes are a great way to bring the web's content to your living room. However, if you are willing to spend a little more on an actual HTPC you'll get much more functionality out of your investment. The Asrock Vision 3D is the most powerful mini-PC we've seen yet, offering Blu-ray functionality, plenty of connectivity options and discrete graphics with 3D gaming support; all in a small, well designed package that'll easily blend into any home theater setup. Even if not destined for the living room the ASRock Vision 3D is still a very capable desktop that will fit in space-confined areas.
Integrate the web and TV viewing experience with Sony's latest range of internet-connected HDTVs. Equipped with the recently-relesed Google TV interface, the 40-inch NSX-40GT1 offers a pretty compelling package at $999. You get LED backlighting and full HD 1080p resolution, built-in Wi-Fi, 4 HDMI, 4 USB 2.0 ports, and a remote control with a thumb-sized QWERTY keyboard. Sony's Internet TVs will come preloaded with several apps including Netflix and Pandora, as well as a web browser, and starting in early 2011, users will be able to access a myriad of other apps through the Android Market.
We have a few favorites in this category but if you're buying for someone else the choice will largely down to their taste in operating systems. Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air is a real beauty in terms of design and it packs a pretty solid hardware combination for around $1,300. On the other hand, the Toshiba Portege R705 offers superior hardware and perks like Intel's WiDi in a surprisingly thin and light package for less than a grand. Both systems will make for a great gift this Christmas but if you want to look around at what else is available be sure to check out our laptop buying guide.
Apple's 27-inch iMac is the biggest and sleekest all-in-one desktop out there. The latest update maintains the same aluminum unibody design of its predecessor but packs a faster quad-core processor and a new graphics card to help it stay competitive on the performance side. At $1,999 it's certainly not cheap but you'll get an amazing LCD with best-in-class resolution. If Blu-ray is a necessity or you'd prefer a Windows-based alternative, we suggest looking at the Dell Inspiron One 2305, which uses a significantly smaller 23-inch screen and more modest specs, but also a friendlier $600 starting price.
If you want to go all out and just get the most insanely powerful gaming rig for your loved one, but are not up to the task of building it yourself, check out Maingear's Shift Gaming PC. Pricing starts at just over $2,300 and depending on the options selected it can escalate very quickly. We recently had the chance to put one of these beasts to the test, configured with a water-cooled Core i7-980X Extreme, triple SLI graphics and a custom paint job. Needless to say you'll be paying a hefty premium in exchange for top quality customer service and not having to handle building and overclocking yourself.