12/03/2013 12:18 EST | Updated 02/02/2014 05:59 EST

Holiday Gift Guide: The Techie Edition

Searching for the perfect gift for friends or family this season? Think outside the sock drawer and get them something they really want...TECH! With so much new and cool tech to choose from, I've narrowed down just what to look for this season to satisfy everyone on your gift list.


Tablets are always a popular gift for the holidays. Some are even beginning to replace laptops, offering comparable speed and connectivity as well as typing functionality with coordinating keyboard accessories that snap into place, sync wirelessly over Bluetooth or roll up for convenient storage. Tablets are also taking over the classroom, with certain models offering touch-optimized versions of PC programs like Microsoft Office that allow students to work smarter on the go. Slick looks, camera and video recording capabilities and apps for social networking also top the must-have list for students.

Don't forget the kiddies!

Children want to be just like mom and dad, sporting the latest tablet, but putting a $200+ breakable device in a child's hand is a disaster just waiting to happen. Thankfully there are a variety of kids' tablets on the market that are educational, fun and durable. Some models even let parents remotely access their child's tablet from their own PC where they can change settings, monitor their child's progress and even send video messages directly to the tablet. And, if you don't want to shell out the money for two tablets, look for kid-friendly models that also work as full-featured tablets.


The smartphones at the top of the list are packed with a range of desirable features that will delight just about everyone. Big is in and "phablet" (phones that have large screens bigger than an average smartphone but not quite as large as a tablet) is the word of the season; well, that and "selfie." Our obsession with self-portraiture and photo apps like Instagram has made the front-facing camera a necessary feature, almost as important as the rear-facing camera. Certain phone models especially cater to shutterbugs, boasting image quality ranging from 20-41 megapixels. If the gift recipient uses their phone for running multiple applications at once, like surfing the Web, gaming and video playback, speed and power are important. Many new phones offer multi-core processors that are designed to handle these demanding tasks without compromising performance and they offer better battery life. Some phones even work with their own watch accessory for quick access to notifications and alerts.


The perfect portable speaker or stylish pair of headphones will have your gift recipients singing a happy tune. Portable speakers come in all shapes and sizes to fit your shelf or your pocket. And don't let their size fool you; many small speakers pack quite the punch and make it easy to get the party started anywhere.

Bluetooth technology is infused in many of the latest speakers and headphones, giving users the freedom to stream music wirelessly from their compatible devices. NFC (Near Field Communication) is also found in many new speakers, offering a revolutionary way to listen and share music with one-touch pairing. Music lovers who listen to music via their smartphone will enjoy the benefits of a speaker with built-in speakerphone so they can answer calls quickly at the touch of a button and then resume the song when the call is ended. The same benefit is available for headphones with in-line mics. Also keep in mind that style is equally as important as sound these days, so don't be afraid to go for that bright red speaker or angular-shaped colourful pair of headphones.


Those who are looking for a more professional way to capture holiday moments may not be completely satisfied with leaving it up to their smartphone camera. DSLRs typically offer the highest performance quality and control a photographer could ever desire. They're now more affordable and easier to use, making them a popular item on every photog's wish list. Interchangeable lenses, powerful sensors and in-camera editing capabilities help to turn the amateur photographer into a photo master. And with some cameras boasting built-in Wi-Fi, shutterbugs can transform into social butterflies with the ability to easily share photos on popular social networks.

Instant cameras are also making a comeback. More powerful, compact and colourful then the originals, these fun cameras pop out wallet-sized images that are great for creating photo collages or sharing with friends and family at a social gathering. Getting to see your final product instantly is exciting, and with approximately 10 shots per film roll, more thought is given to subject matter. That means no more going shutter-happy on tonight's entree.


If you're looking for an accessory to pair with your big-ticket purchase or a last-minute stocking stuffer, novelty tech is the way to go. Chances are the gift recipient will have nothing else like it and it will be a statement piece they will be talking about for years to come. Have a winter sports enthusiast in your life? How about a Bluetooth glove that turns your hand into a handset? The sound quality is great and it sure beats talking into your dirty shoe any day. A microphone is built into the pinky and a speaker is built into the thumb. With a simple tap of the wrist you can answer calls without having to take your phone out of your pocket.

Other notable novelties of the season include: a spy pen with integrated micro camera and built-in USB for direct file transfer; and a rolling dolly that you mount your smartphone on, allowing you to capture smooth panning shots for cinematic-quality videos.

There really is something for everyone when it comes to technology this season. So make your list, check it twice, and your shopping is all but done! Wishing you a wonderful holiday.

The Huffington Posts Technology Gift Guide