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Holiday tech guide: Fill out your gift list here
[November 25, 2012]

Holiday tech guide: Fill out your gift list here

Nov 25, 2012 (Tulsa World - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The relatives have gone home, the last of the turkey is made into sandwiches and holiday shopping has accelerated into full swing.

Any quick glance at shopping center parking lots or the 71st Street corridor will show you that Tulsans are in a buying mood. In its annual holiday shopping forecast, the National Retail Federation estimated Americans will spend an estimated $586.1 billion on gifts.

That's an improvement of 4.1 percent over last year, which had also improved 5.6 percent over 2010.

Local retailers say they're ready for them. Brian Dausses, store team leader for Target at Tulsa Hills, said his store was already getting solid traffic even before Black Friday.

And Rodney Watson, manager of Best Buy Tulsa Hills, said his employees have been preparing for days.

"We've been getting in and organizing a lot more product than we normally have for Black Friday," he said.

Naturally, manufacturers have also been working hard to unleash a new wave of gadgets for shoppers to buy. The sheer volume of new devices out there can be a little overwhelming, so I've selected a few that are most likely to bring some Christmas cheer.

HOLIDAY TECH GUIDE Don't head into the holiday shopping season without knowing what kind of gadgets you'll need to make that special person -- or yourself -- happy. From tablets and ultrabooks to cameras and home theater systems, it's important to find out what works best for your pocketbook. World Staff Writer Robert Evatt gives his insight below after speaking with Rodney Watson, manager of Best Buy Tulsa Hills, and Brian Dausses, store team leader for Target at Tulsa Hills.

Wii U ($299-$349) Nintendo's latest console is the newest item on this year's list. Beyond improved HD visuals, the biggest selling point is its controller, which marries a traditional gamepad with a full compliment of buttons to a touchscreen tablet. This controller doesn't just bring new gameplay twists that combine the television and touchscreens. It also allows one person to continue watching TV while another plays on the controller. The Wii U also supports all of the regular Wii's games and accessories.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 ($249) Tablets in general have been selling well, though smaller tablets have been especially popular, Watson said. Apple's iPad Mini is the sales king, though there are many other options, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. This tablet comes with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, supports MicroSD cards and boasts a strong battery life.Acer 15.6-inch ultrabook ($579) Chip maker Intel has encouraged the creation of ultrabooks, which are laptop PCs that are ultra-thin and quick to power up. The first generation was expensive, but many manufacturers like Acer have brought their prices down swiftly. This particular model comes with 6GB of memory, 500GB of traditional storage and 20GB of solid state storage, which allows rapid access of the most critical functions.

Panasonic Viera 50-inch plasma 1080p HDTV ($999) HDTVs seem to get cheaper every year. Watson said many buyers are taking the new prices as an opportunity to get even bigger sets, with 60-inch becoming the new 40-inch. Stores are even selling 80-inch to 90-inch sets now. If you're looking for a somewhat more modest option, plenty of 50-inch 1080p sets can be found for less than $1,000 before sales, such as the Panasonic Viera.

Canon T3i SLR camera ($699) Price drops have also affected all kinds of digital cameras. If a traditional point-and-shoot camera seems a little stifling for a would-be shutterbug, professional cameras are now within reach of the average family budget. Single-lens reflex cameras, or SLRs, feature a wide array of photo options, replaceable lenses and even high-definition video recording. The Canon T3i has a mid-range SLR price point and relatively user-friendly menu options.

Netgear N600 wireless router ($79) It seems like every device has an Internet connection now. Even some large modern appliances have them. A growing number of connected devices can put a true strain on older routers, so it's worth upgrading. Manufacturers have put out routers at all price points, though the Netgear N600 is a good choice for a mid-tier router.

Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones ($299) Earbuds seem to have ruled the music world for the past few years, but traditional headphones -- the ones with solid clip supporting speakers that cover the entire ear -- have come roaring back as a very popular item. The traditional sound guys are making them in a wide range of price ranges, but if you're looking to really treat someone, the Bose QuietComfort 15 sounds fantastic.

Apple Lightning adapter ($29) Apple used its 30-pin data port for almost a decade, and in that time buyers of iPods, iPhones and iPads picked up a lot of accessories that use them. So when Apple abandoned it for the smaller Lightning port, people were upset that their accessories had become useless. An adapter isn't the most exciting Christmas gift out there, but it gives the gift of convenience to iPhone 5 and iPad 4 converts.

Toshiba soundbar SBX4250 ($299) Televisions aren't the only piece of the home theater that keeps evolving. Sound systems keep gaining new abilities and new options, and an entirely new class of speaker has shown up. Soundbars are long, thin speakers that can provide much better sound than stock television speakers but don't have the complexity and cost of tower speakers and receivers. Toshiba's soundbar features six sound inputs as well as a wireless speaker.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 ($59: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U) With more than $500 million sold in just 24 hours, there's no doubt that the latest Call of Duty military adventure is the single biggest video game release of the year. The game's single-player campaign bounces back and forth between Cold War skirmishes and near-future covert operations, while the online component has a robust number of settings and options, including a zombie mode.

Robert Evatt 918-581-8447 ___ (c)2012 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.) Visit Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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