The best gadget gifts for Christmas 2012

If you’re choosing a last minute Christmas gift for your gadget enthusiast (or a present for yourself) then you could well be weighing up the options. Whatever kind of gadget they’re into from consoles to tablets here’s the rundown of our favorite gadget gifts of the year, but you better get your order in quickly!

Tablets

There are tons of tablets on the market, but how do you choose the right one for you? This year it’s all about the mini tablet. Our favorite of the moment is the iPad Mini. It gives you access to all the apps available on iTunes for a fraction of the price of a full size iPad. It has the same feel previous incarnation, with the same smooth interface. What’s more it’s more practical as its smaller, but still big enough to run apps, watch videos and listen to music. It’s definitely on our list!

Smartphones

When it comes to smartphones there’s just too much choice available at the minute. After a lot of road testing we’ve finally picked the Nexus 4 as one of our favorites. The new smartphone from Google packs a serious punch with all the features you’d expect from a top of the range smartphone and more. Even better it comes with all Google’s apps preloaded, so it’s ready to go when you are! Add to that the amazing photo sphere camera (capable of taking 360° panoramic shots) and you’re on to a winner! Especially when you consider that it also offers wireless charging. The Nexus 4 is an insight into the future of smartphones.

Games consoles

If the person you’re shopping for is into gaming (or even is they’re not) the new Wii U console would be a sure fire hit this Christmas. The innovative tab game-pad is an entirely new way to play and adds a whole new dimension to the gaming experience. Coupled with HD graphics we think the Nintendo Wii U is the console to have this festive season! Plus you can get it in either the standard edition, or premium that offers 32gb of memory.

So, those are our top tips for gadget gifts this Christmas. Whichever one you choose it’s sure to be their favorite Christmas gift. Now you just need to figure out which you’re buying for them, and which you want yourself. For even more gadget gift ideas have a browse at Misco.

The iPad Mini – The Worm in Apple’s Core

The iPad mini was recently unveiled to the shock of few, but certainly the delight of many of the Apple faithful who, with outstretched arms and open wallets, welcomed the new 7.9 inch tablet into the world. It is beautiful, it is fast, and it is currently so hot that the surface of the sun is considering releasing a sex tape to stay relevant.

It also represents one of the biggest Apple missteps in years.

Now, let me make this clear. I love the iPhone 5 (though I prefer the Galaxy S3 in many respects), I would trade limbs for the any of the upcoming MacBook line, and I think that the iPad 3 and it’s mind blowing retina display is without competition the best all-around gadget on the market, and possibly the company’s greatest release on a purely technical level. I certainly do not hate Apple, and instead love them for how they force everyone to step up their game.

And that’s why I am tremendously disappointed with the iPad Mini. Since the original Kindle Fire received a great deal of mockery initially for being viewed as a “can’t afford the iPad, might as well settle” device, the small tablet market has become its own niche, no longer defined by the functions of the iPad. This is particularly evident by the quality of the Google Nexus 7, a tablet that’s versatility far outshines any limitations it is supposed to have. It’s also an idea that’s being carried on by the news of the upcoming Kindle Fire HD, which at its full price model is as statistically impressive of a 7 inch model as we’ve seen.

It would have once been impossible to imagine that a small tablet released by Apple wouldn’t storm a market set up to defy it like a bully on a fresh playground. Instead the visual we are left with after its initial unveiling is a timid child approaching with a drooping baseball cap feebly mumbling, “Hey guys…can I play?”

You can view the statistics and figures of the iPad Mini compared to its main competitors, and you’ll find that it is pretty much even, slightly better, or slightly worse in all fields. I like the super slim size and light weight of it to be sure, and of course appreciate its typical Apple beauty, but there is no one spec that jumps out at you as truly jaw dropping, or even noteworthy. Well, besides the price, which runs from $329 for the base model 16 GB with WiFi up to a 64 GB model with LTE capabilities for $659. This is compared to the Fire HD which is $199 for the 16 GB model, and the Nexus 7 which goes for $199 for and 8 GB and $249 for the 16 GB.

Now, you could justify the price of the iPad mini if it was indeed the top of the line, “Rolls-Royce” of  7-inch tablets. However, you just don’t get that vibe from the early word about the mini. The positives so far talk about what a great e-reader it is, its ultra slim design, and of course the benefit of the Apple app market which is far and away deeper than the Android market, and has apps designed more for a tablet in mind which Android is lagging on. That last point has been a the major defense of Apple since the announcement of the mini, as they have been feverishly supporting their price point to many different sources, with the main idea being that what you’re really buying here is the Apple brand and everything that comes with it, more than a product that can be easily defined by numbers.

But the question for consumers must be is that really still worth it? Can you justify using the word investment on what is still essentially a first gen product, that will no doubt be outstripped by a new model next year for the benefits of the tablet specific apps, and the Apple brand? Apple is touting that the mini is not a reduced and instead a condensed form of  the regular iPad, but ironically  in a market once created as a smaller alternative to the iPad comes an actual smaller iPad that finds itself in a field where that is no longer enough. The Google Nexus 7 was a game changer for 7 inch tablets as it proved that you don’t have to compromise for a smaller size, and that a cheaper tablet can perform on a high level for a reasonable price, with features and qualities unique to its model. It’s hard to say the same for the iPad mini which still looks and feels like a smaller iPad, but not a 7 inch iPad of its own.

In times gone by Apple would not have put up with competition in its domain and would have unequivocally released the 7 inch tablets to end all 7 inch tablets. While the iPad mini looks like a more than competent device that will no doubt perform at a high level, for the first time in a long time consumers have viable options to choose from when facing the prospect of going against an Apple device.

The only question is, will they test these new waters in mass, or blindly take the worm like the good little fishes Apple seems to think they are?