And here we are: the final weekend of Christmas shopping. The last push to get everything on your never-ending list of perfect gifts for all those people you love, and those you are sort of obligated to love. In these final stressful hours of panic and claustrophobia galore, one thing always seems to elude us as consumers: bargain hunting. It’s always a game of looking for the best deals right after Thanksgiving, with Black Friday being the culmination of it all. Yet as December 25th approaches, we find ourselves more and more concerned with getting anything at all, rather than getting something for the best price. And while yes, the smiles and laughter and joy of everyone’s satisfied faces on Christmas morning are worth it, what sort of looming raincloud awaits your wallet once the festivities are over?
To help you out, here are seven simple substitutes to some of the hottest tech gifts of the season. Instead of buying that five-hundred dollar game console, why not opt for something half the price, and worth equal amounts of fun? Check out the alternatives, and don’t go broke during these last few shopping-frenzied days.
Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II — $314.95
It’s no secret that BOSE is the leader in sound technology and quality. The Bluetooth speaker is quickly emerging as the new big thing in speaker production. Not only do you not need to plug in your music device, but now the common dock for sound devices isn’t even necessary. The music is wirelessly transmitted via bluetooth from your device to the speaker, and we don’t have to tell you that the sound quality is pristine.
While BOSE is the leader in sound, it can be a little pricey. This speaker comes in at $314.95.
Sonos Play 1 — $199.00
The Sonos Play 1 is a newer item to the market, offering the same technology of wireless music connectivity for a lower price. While the device may not have the namesake, the quality is there. The Sonos Play delivers music without wires or docking, and can offer multiple speakers (with purchase) playing from the same music device all at once.
The Sonos Play 1 is available starting at $199.00.
Apple TV — $99.00
So, you have iTunes, and tons of movies, but can only watch then on your iPhone or iPad. Same with your streaming Netflix account, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, etc. So what do you do? You get Apple TV. It’s a device that takes these entertainment streams and puts them onto your television screen. Sound useful? It is. The device can be used to project photos, games, apps, YouTube, and so on. Only possible setback – if you don’t have an apple device, it probably won’t prove very useful.
Apple TV is available for $99.00.
Google Chromecast — $35.00
Google has recently come out with the answer to streaming devices such as Apple TV – the Google Chromecast. It’s a small USB-looking device which does, well, the same thing. The Chromecast receives your streaming entertainment wirelessly and connects to your TV’s HDMI hookup, displaying your media on the big screen. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Chrome, HBO Go, and many other mediums are included, and at a much lower price.
The Google Chromecast is available for $35.00.
Apple iPad Air (32 GB with WiFi and LTE) — $729.00
Not much need be said about this one; Apple usually is in the forefront of the hottest tech items for the Christmas season. This year is no exception. The new iPad air is the lightest full-range tablet, with retina-display graphics and a pristine processor. The sleek look of the iPad is one of its biggest selling points, coupled with its reputation overall. The price, however, holds true to Apple standards, cutting a large dent into any purchaser’s finances.
The iPad Air is available with multiple options from $499.00 to $929.00.
Google Nexus 7 (32 GB with WiFi and LTE) — $349.00
The Nexus 7 has been rated one of the best tablets for 2013 by techradar.com. While it might not be the holy grail of tablets, it’s a very smart and sleek alternative. The device features countless apps and the display is sharper than most tablets on the market. For business or pleasure, if the iPad is too large an investment, the Nexus 7 would be the smart way to go.
The Google Nexus 7 is available with multiple options from $229.00 to $349.00.
Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch — $299.99
Smartwatches are emerging, and fast. It’s not just a watch – it’s connected to your phone. The most popular smartwatch on the market right now – The Samsung Galaxy Gear. This watch, with a digital touch display: displays your emails, displays your texts, locks/unlocks your phone, makes hands-free calls, uses voice commands, and more. The one big obvious negative – the watch only syncs with Samsung phones.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch is available for $299.99.
Pebble Smartwatch — $150.00
The Pebble Smartwatch is a fully functional wireless smartwatch that syncs with Android and Apple smartphones. With a less colorful display, it’s certainly an alternative to other smartwatches, but features a wide range of useful tasks, including text display, email display, music selection, alarms, and fitness apps. The Pebble does what you need for half the price.
The Pebble Smartwatch is available for $150.00.
Apple iPhone 5s (32 GB) — $299.99
It’s the hottest phone on the market, and the only smart-phone featuring fingerprint technology. The sleek iPhone 5s sells itself, boasting retina display, fingerprint recognition, a super-fast processor, and two HD cameras.
The iPhone 5s is available with multiple options from $199.00 to $399.00.
Apple iPhone 5c (32 GB) — $199.00
Same Phone. Same company. Four very different elements: The shell is plastic, as opposed to its aluminum counterpart on the 5s – A slightly slower processor – Only the rear camera is HD – No fingerprint technology. With all of these in mind, the difference of about 100 dollars certainly makes up for what is missing considering the phone is still a highly functioning iPhone.
The iPhone 5c is available with multiple options from $99.00 to $199.00.
Xbox One — $500.00+
This one will probably take the cake this year as the hottest selling item. The Xbox One sells itself. It supports the most popular games with the most pristine graphics, features streaming of movies and television shows, and features skype built in, to chat with fellow gamers or family & friends whenever you want. And, you can do all those things simultaneously. Given its popularity, the price of the One is rising as the Christmas deadline approaches, growing from a base price of $500. Retailers are selling it currently from as low as $500 to as high as $700 plus.
The Xbox One is available for at or around $500.00.
Wii U — $299.00
Trust us, they’ll love this one just as much. Yes it’s been on shelves for over a year, but the Wii U is still going strong, offering users an immersive gaming experience which puts the elements of the game both on the big screen and in their hands. The Wii U by all means stands up to the competition, and is nicely priced at 200 dollars less.
The Wii U is available for $299.00.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX (32 GB with WiFi and 4G) — $369.00
Tablets and readers: can’t go wrong with those this Christmas. And the Kindle Fire HDX surely measures up. It features sharp color display, several apps and display options, WiFi, and 4G capability (addition monthly plan). This reader is more than a book reader, offering email, games, social media apps, and documents. If it’s the reading you’re serious about however, you might want to check out the alternative.
The Kindle Fire HDX is available with multiple options from $229.00 to $424.00.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (WiFi and 3G) — $189.00
Plain and simple, it’s a reader. There are no other functions like apps or video, just books. What makes the Paperwhite different is the display. The screen is lit to give readers full and clear resolution in any light – even in the dark. It’s all you’ll need, holding up to 1,100 books.
The Kindle Paperwhite is available with multiple options from $119.00 to $209.00