By Raymond Porreca
In 1963, singer Andy Williams described the Christmas season as the “most wonderful time of the year.” While plenty of people may agree with him, for many, the holiday season is nothing if not stressful. Family gatherings, cold nights, and the looming expense of shopping for all of the special people in your life are enough dampen the holiday spirit.
Anyone who has ever dared to go out shopping on Black Friday to take advantage of massive deals will be quick to tell you that it’s tough out there. Go in unprepared and you risk missing out on the best that the sales have to offer.
For technology enthusiasts, electronic items rank chiefly among the must-have pickups for this holiday season. From games to smart phones and televisions, if you want to be ahead of the curve come Black Friday, take a look at the best of the best below.
Video games are more popular than ever, with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One having a higher install base than ever. According to VGChartz.com, a site that tracks game console hardware sales, both Sony’s and Microsoft’s systems can be found in more than 40 million homes worldwide.
If there is a gamer in your life, he’s itching for the biggest new releases of the holiday season. If that’s the case, then be on the hunt for the games listed below:
Star Wars Battlefront
With the upcoming release of “Star Wars: Episode VII” later this year, the collective geek world’s “Star Wars” hype is at an all-time high. This makes the Nov. 17 release of “Star Wars: Battlefront” the perfect gift for any Force-worshipping gamers in your life.
Available on PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One, “Battlefront” allows players to live out their “Star Wars” fantasies as an Empire soldier or a member of the Rebel Army. Expect massive battles and an appearance by Darth Vader, lightsaber and all, in what publisher Electronic Arts calls “the most immersive game.”
“Star Wars: Battlefront” retails at $60.
Publisher Bethesda Softworks have been feeding video game fans a steady drip of “Fallout 4” since the official reveal of the game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Calif.
“Fallout4”takesplayersonajourney through a post-apocalyptic Boston where they will be tasked with exploring and surviving in the wasteland.
The “Fallout” series has long been regarded as one of gaming’s most respected franchises and “Fallout 4,” according to Bethesda Softworks, is the studio’s “most ambitious game ever,” and “the next generation of open-world gaming.”
Expect the game’s $60 price tag to net you hundreds of hours of content.
Modern society’s infatuation with technology and electronics has led to major breakthroughs in consumer devices. With razor-thin laptops and watches more powerful than the supercomputers of a few decades ago, it can be tough to keep on top of the constantly evolving electronic marketplace.
The gadgets listed below offer a look into some of this year’s most notable general electronics.
Xbox One Elite ControllerMicrosoft is no stranger to top-of- the-line peripherals in both the PC and gaming departments. The company’s latest controller for the Xbox One is no exception.
Released in late October, the Xbox One Elite Controller has been met with rave reviews from tech critics.
Writing for TechRadar.com, columnist Nick Pino praised the controller, stating “It’s hard to spot a serious design flaw on Microsoft’s new game pad.” Pino also points out that the
ability to customize button layouts and the controller’s additional triggers make “versatility…the Elite’s greatest strength.”
While the Xbox One Elite Controller is pricy compared to other devices on the market – clocking in at $149.99 — there has never been a controller with more bang for your buck.
Apple iPad Air 2
Since the initial release of the iPad in 2010, Apple has continued to iterate on the tablet design across five different “generations.”
The Apple iPad Air 2, released in Oct. 2014, remains one of the most in demand tablets on the market. Billed as “the best tablet of 2015” by PCMag.com and dozens of other outlets, the i Pad Air 2 is sure to be on top of a lot of people’s Christmas lists.
For good reason, too, as the device offers something for everyone.
The Air 2 offers improved cameras and a faster processor for all of your usage needs inside its scaled-down design.
Best of all, Black Friday should offer some worthwhile deals on the Apple iPad Air 2 this year, considering Apple’s November release date of the iPad Pro. The Apple iPad Air 2 retails starting at $499.
Fitbit Charge HR
Wearable electronics have taken off in the last year with consumers adopting devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit’s line of activity tracking bands.
Fitbit offers a large product line for the health conscious consumer. The band to have, however, is the Fitbit Charge HR. With a lengthy list of features including a heartrate monitor, exercise tracking, and a sleep monitor, the Charge HR is a smart choice for those who are interested in getting healthy and staying active.
After a hard day at work or a long week of classes, few things are more enjoyable than plopping down on the couch and relaxing in front of the television.
For Black Friday, expect to find plenty of deals on all the gizmos that you could ever need to make your time in front of the TV better than ever.
Bose SoundLink Mini II
Wireless and Bluetooth technology have helped usher in a new age of hands- free music enjoyment. Plenty of companies have entered the wireless speaker market, but one name still holds plenty of clout: Bose.
Bose’s SoundLink Mini II blends affordability and ease-of-operation with an appealing design and the manageable price tag of $199.99.
Through the SoundLink’s pairing ability, Bose’s portable speaker makes accessing and playing music through apps like Spotify and Pandora a breeze.
Vizio Smart TV
There are hundreds of televisions currently on the market and with 4k resolution, 3D capabilities, and Wi-Fi capabilities to take into consideration, it can be difficult to find the perfect unit for your living room.
Vizio has been producing quality televisions at competitive prices for quite some time. The brand’s E series are positioned to be among the best TVs available without breaking the bank.
Described as producing a “very good picture quality for an affordable price,” by CNet.com, the E-Series ranks among the smartest buys on the market for anyone who plans to take their television viewing experience to the next level.
Vizio’s E-Series includes sets that range from 24 inch televisions to 70 inch units. Their prices start around $199.99 for smaller models, all the way up to $1,299.99 for the largest.
Holiday shopping is never easy, especially when there are dozens of stores competing for your attention and hard earned cash. However, the advent of online shopping, Black Friday – and the online exclusive event Cyber Monday – ensures that the best deals are often at your fingertips.
Check your local store’s weekly ads for Black Friday specials and deals.