Here we are again, right in the middle of the silly season ready to give those of you who aren’t completely organised some last minute shopping advice.
This year seems to be better than ever for bargains with all retailers conducting an all out assault to keep you buying local and not overseas. So without further ado, here are our top picks for Christmas 2011
Discount iTunes Cards
With so many stores offering iTunes discounts this year, you would be mad to buy at full price.
For a list of current iTunes specials, you can look under our iTunes category.
Picture Frames from Kogan – $105 for three
Kogan, an Australian online retailer who source their products cheaply but offer an Australian presence and warranty are offering this exceptional deal at the moment. That’s one lucky person or three people sorted out for only $35 each!
Steve Jobs Biography
The Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson is a must read for those interested in the life of a brilliant, if not deeply flawed man and his accomplishments. Like him or hate him, it is a fascinating read none the less.
iBook – $13.99
Old fashioned book – ABC Shop – $45.00
Have someone on your list who would prefer to sit in front of a computer or console rather than play backyard cricket? Sounds like our kind of people!
Make their Christmas with one of the hottest games this season. Titles available from EB Games & JB-Hifi.
Click on the links below to see them in all their Youtube
For all those poor people who don’t have a brand spanking new internet connected 3D full HD fully sick 50″ TV in their stocking, (oh yeah, that would be us) allow them the privilege of playing videos, music, viewing photos and accessing the internet on their current system with a media player.
Boxee Box – $249
With an RRP of $249 (although you can shop around and find it for under the $200 mark) it sits at the higher end of the market for these devices however, the Boxee Box with it’s continuous software updates just keeps getting better.
Access local content from a Hard Drive or USB stick, connect to network servers or a NAS and access a multitude of internet services via apps including ABC’s iView.
WD TV Live – $138
For something a little cheaper than the Boxee Box, the new model of the WD TV Live now comes with WiFi embedded (the older model requires you to purchase an additional USB wireless adaptor) can be had for $138.00 at JB-HiFi.
Offering the same local media and network connected streaming as the Boxee Box (albeit, a little more clunky and with a crappier remote), it also accesses less online content than the boxee box but as far as a media player goes, it’s still about the most capable in it’s price range.
Smart Phones (Pre-Paid)
No one likes to be a dummy so why make them use a dumb phone when smart phones are so attractively priced!
Access your email, the internet and a slew of other content and applications on the go. Your dumb phone friend or family member will surely appreciate how much smarter they are for finally joining the modern age.
HTC Wildfire S $199 Telstra
The successor to the HTC Wildfire, the Wildfire S ticks all the boxes for those looking for a smartphone in a compact body. Not only is the price insane, if it’s anything like the original then it’s a very impressive smartphone. There is one iBrother who, if they had money to burn or a generous relative or friend, would, in the event of one landing in their Christmas stocking, drop their current Wildfire like it was hot!
HTC ChaCha $99 Vodafone
With a dedicated QWERTY keyboard and dedicated Facebook share button this phone is designed for people who love to text and share. The HTC ChaCha packs all that people love in their Android phones from HTC with Sense UI (user interface) all the while appeasing those who really like the tactile feel of their keyboard buttons.
Huawei X1 $71 Optus
Just to round out the offerings of each major carrier, we present the Huawei X1. It’s a really cheap, well built smartphone offering those who are looking to dip their toe in the water a chance to do so at an unbelievable price.
Didn’t you get the memo? PAPER IS DEAD!
That is of course unless you are like most people and still like printing photos or direct to CDs and DVDs and the occasional report, essay, project, dorothy the dinosaur cut out or captain feathersword paper hat your 4 year old just can’t do without …
Of course not all printers are just printers either. Some come with scanners and copiers too. Here are possibly the two best picks for this time of year.
Canon MG6250 – from $199
The Canon MG6250 is all-in-one bubble jet printer that has all the bells and whistles (print to CD/DVD, scanning as well as network and wifi connectivity) including support Apple’s AirPrint feature. Canon are currently offering a $50 cash back on this printer too – ends 31 December 2011
Brother HL-2132 Mono Laser Printer $44
You don’t need colour, scanning and want to keep your printing costs low? Exceptional value can be found in the Brother HL-2132 laser printer.
It’s a no frills USB connected printer but for a laser, it’s a hell of a deal! As much as we don’t like to encourage e-waste, for this price I am sure there is some dodgy uncle who would be thinking that they could just about throw the printer away once you run out of toner.
What is more fun than adventures on the road, soaking up the sun and surf or touring the Australian countryside? Doing it with a broadband connection that’s what!
All carriers and sub carriers (those selling Optus’ network) are offering mobile broadband these days in usually two ways – a USB modem, suitable for notebooks and computers and personal hotspots (as pictured above), suitable for devices which have a wifi connection available such as computers, smartphones and tablets.
iBrothers has conducted a few reviews for those who are thinking about mobile broadband (and really, who isn’t?) this Christmas.
Budget Laptop – $500
As we mentioned at the start of this article, Aussie retailers are all doing their best to get you to spend locally and JB-HiFi have come out swinging with this one.
The Asus X44LY is a 14″ Core i3 2.1GHz 4GB RAM 500GB HD ATI Radeon HD 6470 with 1GB Dedicated Graphics Windows 7 Home Premium for the amazing price of $508.30 (but known to go as low as $400 if you ask)
Seriously, we are struggling to find a better deal than this right now.
High end gaming Laptop – $1697
So, we figure there may be someone out there really wanting to spoil someone this christmas so we give you the gamers notebook.
The Alienware 14″ sports a Core i7 2.4GHz 8GB RAM 750GB HD NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M With 3GB Dedicated Graphics.
The 14″ screen may seem on the smallish side for some, but if portability is your key concern, this little bugger has the power where it counts and currently can be had for $1697 at JB-HiFi (ask for a better deal of course).
Tablet (e-book reader)
Without a doubt, at least as far as iBrothers is concerned, a tablet is still one of the most asked about gadgets. Of course not every tablet is created equal and depending on what you intend to spend your time on primarily, there are something that fits both purpose and budget.
Amazon Kindle from $99 refurbished
While the US are enjoying an e-book upgrade right now (colour screens and the benefits of Android), we in Australia are still only able to access the older model however, when it comes to reading e-books, the low cost, light weight and incredible battery life (2 months!) of the Amazon Kindle makes for a capable product.
We know of a few people now who swear by them and while they tend to sport iPhones for everything else, they wouldn’t part with their Kindles for e-book reading.
iPad 2 from $49 p/m on 24 month contract
There is really little we can say about the iPad 2 that hasn’t already been said to death.
Available in 16,32 & 64GB sizes with or without 3G support, you will generally find one that suits your needs and budget.
Oh, there was one other thing – the iPad 2 is now being sold by Telstra from $49 p/m 24m includes 1GB data. It’s another way to get into this fantastic product!
So you have your new iPhone 4s and are thinking, “why do I need a digital camera?”. Well, for starters if you DON’T have an iPhone 4S it’s one expensive digital camera and despite what some people think, there is much more you can achieve with photography with the right gear.
Canon IXUS 115HS – from $165
The Canon IXUS 115HS packs a 12.1MP 28mm Wide Angle Lens 4x Optical Zoom Full HD Video 3″ Screen and Dig!c4 Processor from $165 (Purchased about 4 months ago for a very lucky iDad). It’s a super easy to use point and shoot that packs a lot of intelligent features in a small body for a now cheap price. A great camera that takes a good photo.
DSLR Camera – from $499
So, you couldn’t quite muster up the funds for the gaming notebook? That’s ok as the Canon 7D DSLR comes in as our second most expensive gift idea at $1255. Representing Canon’s flagship APS-C sensor DSLR, this baby was recently hired by yours truly for a film shoot. It’s as good as it gets before getting into the serious stuff.
Oh, the 7D was a little above your budget? Not a problem. If you happen to have someone on your list that is looking to step up to their first DSLR or upgrade their current entry level DSLR to one that supports video, you can’t really go past the Canon 1100D which starts at $499. For this price you are only getting the body (no lenses) so if it is a first time camera purchase, the kit version which comes with an entry level lens can be had for around the $650 mark. Be aware if you are purchasing a camera for someone as an upgrade, make sure their lenses will be compatible with the new camera.
Our tips on digital cameras from last Christmas still hold true and instead of making you hunt for them, here they are again:
Brand: Brand is something that is often an individual preference. The feel and the controls offered in a DSLR (as well as familiarity) is something usually very personal to the photographer. Unless you know the brand of camera (Nikon, Canon, Pentax …) your intended recipient is used to, it’s probably worth reconsidering this as a gift option. It’s also worth noting that if you are buying a DSLR as an “upgrade” to an older model a loved one has, make sure it’s the same brand as they may have already purchased lenses that are only compatible with the brand of camera they own.
Inclusions: You will often find that cameras sold will come with some included extras. A memory card is common as is a gift card offering something like free prints if you are buying from a major camera retailer. Some models will often come with an included lens or a “kit lens”. These lenses are often mediocre quality but are a good start for those new to a DSLR to learn the basics. As with the previous point in regards to brand and lenses, if this gift is an “upgrade” to a newer better model, be sure to look for the “body only” version of the camera as it is usually cheaper than one that comes with lenses.
A final point: Sometimes, a gift card at a respected store, which offers a range of options, is a better gift for the camera lover. It still shows the person you were considering their particular hobby and iBrothers would attest that if someone dropped a sizable gift card for Michael’s Camera or Camera Action House in their stocking this Christmas they would be oh so appreciative.
A little bit out there
Now it’s time for some fun stuff which offer little in practicality but promise immense enjoyment.
Air Swimmers – $30
Air Swimmers RC flying sea creatures, available in both shark and clown fish, stalk through the air with incredibly smooth and life-like motion. Filled with helium (not included), they last for weeks and are controlled via remote for up down, left and right.
If you are not convinced of how incredibly fantastic this would be to scare kids, pets and friends, take a look at the video below.
Nespresso Lattissima Plus by DéLonghi – $429 after cash back
Alright, so this one DOES offer some practicality … the Nespresso Lattissima Plus by DéLonghi (Only released November this year), is the latest machine from Nespresso. It’s a well designed DéLonghi unit, which can be found at most major retailers for around $529 – ($429 after the current $100 cash back offer till 11 January 2012). iBrothers have long been a fan of the Nespresso system/ club, and the Nespresso Lattissima Plus is the second machine bought (the first Nespresso machine lasted 6 years and was retired rather than because it had broken down). They have a huge range of coffee and it can take sometime to find the right ones you like, but once you do, it’s the fastest, easiest, and cleanest coffee you can make yourself. Click here for details on the current promotion.
Parrot AR.Drone – $299
The sting of disappointment can still be felt when neither of us at iBrothers got one last year ;( … so it’s back on the list again this year.
The AR.Drone is Quadricopter Controlled by iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Android Devices. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, this is one of the greatest pieces of kit which has 100% fun with 0% practicality we have witnessed two years running.
The awesomeness of this device can only be exceeded by having two of them to virtually dogfight together.
Santa, are you listening?