By Shawn McGowan, JobsInMD.com
First of all, let's talk gear. Whether it's searching for a job, performing tasks for a current job, studying or just plain having fun, phones and tablets will surely be the gifts of choice for all of the geeky parents and plugged-in students this coming season. Here are my picks and why.
Why? A 7.9" screen is larger than most in its category (usually 7"), it has a 5MP camera that shoots 1080p high definition movies and a 780p front-facing camera for Facetime video conferencing. Its A5 dual core processor makes for fast browsing and game playing. Price points: $329 to $429 wifi, with cellular LTE models costing $130 more per model. The Apple App Store is more robust than its competitors, but users may need to pay more there for the best apps (so be sure to include an iTunes gift card!).
Android OS tablet has the standard, slightly smaller (than iPad mini) 7" screen with resolution that almost approaches Apple's Retina Display (but not quite at 1280x800) and a quad-core processor for smooth gameplay, web browsing and movie viewing. It doesn't include a rear-facing camera and cellular models are not yet available, but with prices like $199 for 16GB and $249 for 32GB, does it really matter? With Google Play at the center of the user experience now for easy download of music, movies, books and apps plus Android's latest OS version (jellybean), this should satisfy any first time or veteran tablet owner.
It's thinner, lighter, faster, has a larger 4" screen, it's the best iPhone yet. It can now utilize LTE for lightning fast online performance (if your area has LTE, it's new and some areas are just getting up to speed). Requires a two year plan for carrier subsidized pricing ($299 to $399); carriers include AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Boasting a beautiful 4.8" (720x1280) screen, an 8MP camera, 32MB of built-in data storage and a very peppy 1.5Ghz dual core processor under the hood, this is one of the most sought after Android handsets at the moment. It starts at only $199.99 with a two year contract and is available on all major carriers.
Who isn't a Netflix subscriber these days? If it isn't already built into your fancy new smart TV, you might want to consider porting it into your living room with Apple TV or Roku. Both have a lot to offer in the way of features, channel selection, ease of use and set up and take up a tiny amount of space. Both boxes connect wirelessly with your home wifi network and provide a world of online streaming channels and services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as movies on demand to your television.
Apple TV is especially great if you use Macs and Apple devices and are committed to the Apple ecosystem, since you can connect to iTunes to purchase movies on demand, subscribe to TV shows, and even access media bought there with your other Apple devices! You can also stream content such as home movies, pics, and music from your Apple device to your television. Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr are all available as well. It is $99 available online or at your nearest Apple Store.
Roku has a vast amount of channels and services to choose from including Pandora, Netflix, HULUplus, Facebook, HBOGO and Movies on demand via Amazon (if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can access a library of movies and television shows to watch that are included in that subscription) and Crackle. There's a sea of specialized channels, screensavers, even games to choose from and add to your own custom channel list. Roku has four different models to choose from, ranging in features and priced from $49 to $99. I own the Roku2 XD (full 1080p but no games) and love it.
Music and Books
Here are a few extra fun additions to your favorite technophile's life that already have all their preferred gadgets:
Spotify is a streaming music service that provides users with an online library of thousands of artists, albums and songs to choose from. It is free to use online for users to search, create playlists and (Pandora-like) stations on their home computers. For $9.99 per month subscribers can stream music on their tablet and smartphone ad-free!
If you're like me, there are few gifts I love more than Amazon gift cards, but if you like to give more personalized gifts you might want to try giving your favorite reader your favorite ebooks this holiday season! Now, you can give Kindle ebooks to anyone with an email address for them to add directly to their account and enjoy on their Kindle or free Kindle reader app on whatever device they prefer.
Have a geeky holiday!
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As a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Shawn McGowan's passion for brand transparency and over 10 years of sales/customer service experience make him aptly suited for the job. A native of East Millinocket, Maine, Shawn grew up at the foot of Mount Katahdin and graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). When not writing, editing or immersing himself in the world of social media, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, art, music, tech, humor, Portland's amazing food scene, and all things nerdy. You can reach Shawn at smcgowan (at) JobsInMD.com and Twitter.com/shonymac.