Welcome back to TechSpot's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide! All of this year's tech gift recommendations are coming individually from our staff members and editors with their own picks on gifts they would like to receive or give. Ivan is a professional graphic designer, currently in charge of the Product Finder section on TechSpot. Ivan is a self-confessed gearhead and big time BSC fan (local soccer team – and one of the world's greatest if you ask him, of course).
Find his picks below and be sure to check out the rest of our staff's gift guide posts here.
Sony Xperia Z1 $600
The latest flagship smartphone from Sony, the Xperia Z1, strikes up a nice balance between quality and functionality. It sports a 20.7MP rear camera, great for capturing that special moment, expandable storage via microSD, Android 4.3 and has an IP55/IP58 rating for water and dust resistance. In terms of performance the phone is capable and snappy enough to run pretty much any mobile app you throw at it thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. For me there's no doubt that Z1 will be an ideal gift this Christmas.
Product Finder score: 83
Acer Aspire S7 (2013) $1300
Despite the portability of tablets, I'd rather have the full capabilities a laptop has to offer. Acer refreshed last year's Aspire S7 391 with the latest Intel Haswell processors and it makes for quite the difference. It is arguably the best Ultrabook in the market today. Starting at around $1,300, the S7 392 includes a 1.6GHz Core i5-4200U processor, 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 1920 x 1080 touchscreen display. The almost-silent fan and improved battery life make this laptop a really tough contender this holiday season.
Product Finder score: 80
Sonos: Play 3 $300
Music is essential in my life and I like to enjoy good music wherever I am at home. Unfortunately smartphones and tablets have weak output and the wiring needed for high end systems can be a hassle, not to mention costly. The Sonos Play: 3 is a great option for any music fan. This wireless speaker can be managed from your Android or iOS device through a dedicated app. Setup is simple and the system is expandable – so if you can invest in at least two or three of these you'll have an awesome multi-room wireless speaker system in no time.
Product Finder score: 84
If you are looking for a backup or multimedia sharing solution this Christmas, the WD My Cloud is perfect for you. Western Digital bills this as a personal cloud storage device so your files are always stored where they're safest, your own home. This also means there are no fees involved for large amounts of storage and you can access your "My Cloud" from anywhere on PC, Mac and iOS or Android devices. Among its key features are automatic backups for multiple computers and the option to easily transfer files between Dropbox and My Cloud.
Product Finder score: 80
Polar RC3 GPS $330
There are a lot of GPS-enabled devices for a wide range of sports, from golfing to running and bicycling. A GPS watch like the Polar RC3 is great for runners as it tracks all of the important data they need to know, including heart rate measurements, calories and both distance and altitude. The Polar RC3 GPS connects to your computer via USB and you can download all your stats and share them with your friends.
Pioneer AVH-X8500BHS $475
I'm at my happiest when off-roading with some good music to boot, for that reason my wish list includes the best Pioneer radio money can buy, the AVH-X8500BHS. This unit comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display, HD Radio tuner and is compatible with your iPhone or Android phone. It incorporates Bluetooth for hands-free calling and a new great feature from Pioneer called AppRadio Mode, which lets you connect your iPhone to your radio and enjoy full on-screen control of your contacts, messages, calendar, maps and more – that's great for safer in-vehicle operation of your phone.
Sony NEX 5T $850
If you want a good mirrorless camera that can take high-quality pictures, capture full 1080p videos and is easy to use, you can't go wrong with the Sony NEX 5T. Among its key features is NFC connectivity for using your smartphone as a remote viewfinder and shutter, as well as Wi-Fi to upload your pictures right after you take them. Photos can be saved in RAW format for optimal quality. If you want an entry-level DSLR camera, look no further.
Product Finder score: 85
Samsung UE65F9000 $4500
Everybody loves a big screen TV and it can't hurt if it's also Ultra HD (4K) compatible, right? The 65" Samsung UE65F9000 offers a gorgeous viewing experience, outstanding picture quality with HD scaling, and even 3D support for good measure. It's also well suited in the "smart" department with a variety of streaming services built in, social apps, voice controls, and even a camera and mic for Skype video chat.
Another great touch is that all of the connections – four HDMIs (one with MHL capability), three USBs, Component and the usual array of aerial, Ethernet and digital output – are housed in an external box that can be tucked away for neatness. The box then uses just one video cable to communicate with the TV.
Product Finder score:
TechSpot's Holiday Gift Guide 2013 is sponsored by Best Buy.