Hot Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Tablets, Smartphones, Laptops, and Systems

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Convertibles and Tablets All The Way

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Season's greetings; it's that time of year again, when we here at Hot Hardware assemble our holiday gift guides for your browsing and shopping pleasure. There was an embarrassment of riches this year, as the industry continued to innovate and come up with interesting new designs based on the latest, greatest technologies. Those of us buying computer hardware demand more and faster from every iteration, and many OEMs usually manage to deliver. Some don't but you won't see them on this list. This list is a collection of some of the best hardware for gifting in four top categories that we think are well worth the money, whether the purchase is for yourself or someone else.

From budget products to flagship devices, we've got you covered. There is quite a collection here spanning a wide range of gear, but just in case we missed one, we hope you'll add your own recommendation in the comments below to help your fellow geeks.

We'll start with convertible devices and tablets and move on to smartphones, notebooks, and desktop systems on the pages ahead...

Amazon Fire HD8 - Starting at $134.99

When you buy cheap Android tablets, you tend to get what you pay for. But Amazon's Fire HD8 is one of the better, affordable media consumption tablets you can get. It's perfectly suited and totally optimized for things like downloading, streaming, reading, and watching Amazon content. It doesn't have any of Google's native apps or even access to Google Play, but Amazon made a tablet dedicated to consuming its content that can access Amazon's right ecosystem. That should keep many people happy, considering the affordable price on this device.

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Samsung Galaxy TabPro S - Starting at $699

On the other end of the spectrum there is the Galaxy TabPro S, a Windows 10 based 2-in-1 that is even thinner than the iPad Pro or Surface Pro, and has the horsepower to do regular work. The TabPro S is roughly $100 cheaper than the Surface Pro but doesn't cut corners. Battery life is very good and in-line with other large tablets, while graphics performance is adequate for casual gaming. All told it's an excellent example of the convertible, 2-in-1 device experience. Read our review here.

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Dell XPS 12 - Starting at $609

Not every 2-in-1 is created equal. Some only do one task well. Dell's XPS 12, though, is just as capable as a laptop as it is a tablet thanks to Dell using both a solid 12.5-inch screen and a top flight keyboard assembly. Some convertible  keyboards are inferior to a standard laptop, but not here. For as low as about $600 you get a Skylake processor, 8GB of RAM and a speedy SSD. That's the kind of specs you'd expect to find in a full sized notebook. It even comes with the keyboard assembly, whereas Microsoft charges an additional $130 for its Type Cover attachment. Once again we have a solid alternative to the Surface products from Microsoft while saving a few dollars in the process. Read our review here.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet - Starting at $989

While other 2-in-1s are aimed at general consumers, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet is aimed at business users. Targeting a different market segment also means slightly different specs and features. For example, Windows 10 Pro is installed instead of Home, and Intel vPro is supported, just to name two. Also adding to the appeal are add-ons, such as a projector or extra battery, useful to a business user. Even better is that it comes without any bloatware and includes only useful applications like Lenovo's Solution Center, which can tell if a piece of hardware is defective or on the verge of failing, and Lenovo Companion to keep your laptop optimized and running smoothly, by automatically doing things like software and even BIOS updates. Read our review here.


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