|Tablets: Android, Windows 8, and All The Rest|
|Portable devices are becoming ever more powerful, and users are increasingly utilizing them to keep up with news and friends, get work done, and for entertainment. Smartphones and tablets have never been so powerful, and if you're in market for either, it's going to be a fun holiday season packed with some great options to choose from.
Whether it's for yourself or someone else, consider this your go-to guide for picking out the perfect tablet or smartphone. We're all about spreading the holiday cheer around here, and if it means sifting through dozens or even hundreds of devices to find the best ones, then so be it. This is what we do, and we'd much rather you spend your time this holiday season with your family and friends than clicking frantically through the web trying to make sense of all the available models. We've already done it, and these are our picks.
Holiday Tablet Favorites
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX: $179 to $219
7" version is just $179, while the 8.9" edition goes for $379.
Google Nexus 7 (2013): $229
when we reviewed it back in August. Put simply, you won't find a better all-around tablet in this size or price range. From the exterior design and its display to its internal engine, this is the total package, and it's affordable to boot. If you're giving this one as a gift, whoever is on the receiving end will be quite pleased. $229 for the 16GB and $269 for 32GB of Nexus 7 goodness is the current going rate - not bad at all.
Microsoft Surface 2: $449 (32GB)
our review) is worth a look. It offers up Windows 8.1, a beautiful 1080p display, Bluetooth 4.0, up to 10 hours of battery life, and it's definitely the one to get if productivity is on the brain. Microsoft has a firm grasp on how to make a great tablet, hardware-wise, and the company is starting to understand how to build a good mobile operating system and ecosystem that still offers desktop-like capabilities.
Asus Transformer Book T100: $379 (64GB)
$349 for the 32GB version and $379 for the 64GB model we’re looking at here. At those price points, with a companion keyboard dock and Office, it's a great value.
iPad Air: $499 16GB, $599 32GB and up...
|Smartphones: From Budget to Phablet|
|Samsung Galaxy Note III: $169 - $299 and up unlocked
LG G2: $199+
G2 is a wildly fast phone, and it offers control button placement that you won't find on any other device. The G2 is LG's attempt to dethrone the Galaxy S4, or at least produce a handset that rivals it in every meaningful way. The company has definitely accomplished that goal. The G2 is tremendously powerful, has a battery that can easily last a full day even with extensive use, offers a brilliant new position for the power and volume rocker switches, and touts one of the nicest mobile displays we've ever seen. On the software front, the subtle enhancements to Android are largely quite positive, and the double-tap to lock/unlock is perhaps our favorite addition to the OS since the advent of Google Now.
Google Nexus 5: $349 (off-contract) or as low as $120 on contract
What does stand out about the Nexus 5 is Google's new Android 4.4 Kit Kat operating system and LG's smartphone SoC (System on Chip) processor of choice, namely Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 quad-core. Qualcomm is known for licensing ARM core technology and making it their own within their Krait architecture, and Qualcomm's latest Krait 400 with Adreno 330 GPU that comprises the Snapdragon 800, is a powerful beast.
Nokia Lumia 1020: $99 (on contract) and up
Apple iPhone 5s: $199+
a phone that's blisteringly fast and a pleasure to use. Performance wise, the iPhone 5s is in a class of its own. It's markedly faster than the iPhone 4S and 5 that came before it, and its 64-bit underpinnings make it a formidable opponent when compared to rival platforms, too.
Moto X: $49+
the quality is notable. It's rigid, rugged, and feels like a premium product in the hand. The soft-backed cover is curved for perfect handheld operation, and the thoughtful Motorola dimple on the rear enables easy one-handed operation. It's true that the raw specifications list won't impress some, but the overall fluidity of the phone more than compensates and it's graphics performance is actually top-notch.
|Notebooks: From Ultrabooks to Desktop Replacements|
|Why let the phones and slates have all the fun? For those who are in the market for a new notebook, this year's laptop bounty is plentiful if you're shopping for one. Windows 8.1 is out, as is Apple's latest OS X (Mavericks). Plus, consumers have never had as many form factor choices, and battery life figures have never been stronger.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro: $999
Alienware 18 Gaming Notebook: $1999+
this new edition looks classier without feeling dull; the lighting schemes and options are all still present, the keyboard is loaded with toys, and the new backlit touchpad (whose lights you can switch off if you prefer) is just plain cool. There’s really not much one has to say about the Alienware 18 that isn’t borne out in the benchmarks. The machine tore through our spate of tests and took the top score in almost every one, showing off the horsepower afforded by the mighty Intel Core i7-4900MQ processor and the graphics firepower of the dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M cards in SLI.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Haswell-Powered): $1299+
13” and 15” Retina-based MacBook Pro range, and the results are impressive. Outstanding battery life, cooler-running machines, and more power than ever before. Plus, it’s the only machine line in our list that can run both OS X and Windows. If you’re into dual-booting, you don’t have many other options if one of those operating systems is going to be Mavericks. Plus, these new rigs have lower price points, gorgeous high-res displays, and a best-in-class trackpad.
Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook: $769+
Dell XPS 13 is a peppy little machine. That's evident right from the get-go, as it takes a mere 12 seconds to boot into Windows 8. Microsoft deserves considerable credit for that feat, but so does Dell for pairing the operating system with a high-performance mSATA SSD from Samsung.
HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook: $999+