Everybody has a favourite person that they like to buy presents for at Christmas, and if you're anything like us then that favourite person is yourself!
Whatever the case may be, we'll assume that you've all been good wee boys and girls this year and deserve something cool waiting for you under the tree.
With that in mind, we at Gameplanet have put together a Christmas gadget guide to show you what the hottest stuff is to get your grubby little paws on this season. We're not overly interested in the really expensive gadgets, as after all there's virtually no limit to what you can spend if you have the cash - rather these are more sensible feature-rich gadgets that have really stood out this year. So go on, splash out - it'll be good for the economy!
Personal Media Player - Samsung P2
When it comes to MP3 players, it pays not to blink too much because you may miss an eternity of new models and price drops.
Right now, however, there's a great range of players on the market and picking between them can be tricky. The P2 from Samsung ticks all the right boxes - great price points (from $199 for the 2GB model and $299 for the 8GB variant), great looks and great features.
It has a huge 3" widescreen display with touchscreen control, video playback, and - the feature that sets it apart from competitors like the iPod Nano - Bluetooth connectivity. This means that when you use it in conjunction with a Bluetooth-enabled cellphone (like the N96 below) the player will automatically pause the music you're listening to when a call comes through and you can even receive the call of the player itself. No more pausing your songs then having to reach into your other pocket to get your cellphone out, that's for schmucks!
You can also connect two sets of Bluetooth headphones up so that you can enjoy your music or videos with a buddy.
Cellphone - Nokia N96
Cellphones are the one things that you're likely to have on or near you 99% of the time, and it's not hard to see that there's one phone that sticks head and shoulders above the rest.
Sure, with an RRP of $1699 it is expensive, but the N96 from Nokia is simply the friggin' best when it comes to cellphones.
It has a five Megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics (which can record VGA video at 30 frames per second with TV-out playback), Bluetooth, audio/video playback with expandable memory, GPS (face it, who would carry round a separate GPS device with them?), Web browsing, email, Quad GSM band roaming, and more.
The only possible feature of interest that it's missing is a touch screen, but that's not a huge concern to most people. And hey, if you really want a touch screen you can go buy an iPhone (snigger).
Television - Samsung 6 Series LCD TV's
The LCD market is fiercer than ever right now, with all major brands pumping out extraordinary products in this category. Samsung takes the lead spot here because it delivers the full package - full 1920x1080 resolution, impressive 15,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, HDMI inputs left right and centre, hi-tech motion compensation technology and a built-in FreeView HD tuner.
These last two features are key;
Firstly, the "DNIe Pro" image processing engine in the TV, which smooths out on-screen motion (like jumpy panning shots, or action sequences) and touches up the image quality, is just superb. Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, LG, Philips, and most other major brands all do their version of this technology but right now Samsung seems to be the most effective.
Secondly, the built-in FreeView HD tuner has a number of benefits - you don't have to buy a $300 tuner on top of the cost of the TV; there's one less box to put in your entertainment unit (as well as having less cables and plugs); and there's one less remote to worry about. And last but not least - the TV is sexy as hell! Prices currently range from about $1850 for a 32" set, and up to $4999 for a wall-replacing 52" size.
Portable PC - Asus Eee PC 1000H
Netbooks are the latest must-have accessory for geeks.
Cranking out big massive laptops on the ferry or in the cafe is just downright embarrassing now. Some Netbooks have bigger screens, bigger hard drives, or some other interesting feature not present in this unit from Asus, but the Eee PC 1000H is definitely the all-round winner.
For under $800 you get a 10" hi-res screen, 80GB storage, 1GB of memory, 802.11n wireless connectivity and a 1.3 megapixel camera all in a stylish little package weighing less that 1.5Kg. It also has reasonably large keys for such a small device, so typing on it is pretty much as comfortable as typing on your average laptop.
Stealing people's wireless internet bandwidth while walking down the road has never been easier.
Console - Xbox 360
The PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360 have traded a lot of blows in the last year or two as far as popularity goes, but the 360 seems set to fly off the shelves this Christmas thanks mainly to a recent and rather hefty price drop.
We're not going to debate which of these consoles are actually superior in regards to graphics or features, but you have to hand it to Microsoft; for about $350 you can get the arcade bundle with a wireless controller, 256MB memory unit and 5 arcade games, or for another $100 you can upgrade to the Pro bundle with a 60GB hard drive and two popular gaming titles. That's an awful lot of value for not much money.
Some popular titles to keep you busy over the silly season would be Tom Clancy's EndWar, Pro Evolution Soccer 2009, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty: World at War, and the raucously entertaining Guitar Hero: World Tour.
Digital Camera - Canon EOS450D DSLR
A few years ago, two grand wouldn't have got you anything particularly impressive in the way of photography equipment.
Now you can quite easily get semi-professional cameras that rival the quality of fully professional equipment costing many times this amount.
The latest Digital SLR camera from Canon is a perfect example of this. With a mind-blowing 12.2 megapixel resolution you could print photos with enough detail to enlarge in size to cover a whole wall in your house, which I'm sure is what you've all really, really wanted to do at some point.
For about $1,300 you get the camera by itself, and for $300 - $500 more you can get extra lenses to suit your zooming requirements.
Video Camera - Sony HDRSR10E High Definition Handycam
Hard Drive cameras are really cool- no tapes! Just record video onto the built-in 40GB Hard Drive and then download the videos on your PC.
You can then edit scenes out or shuffle them around, add titles and menus, and burn off DVD copies to give to friends and family so they can bore themselves to death with your holiday footage in the comfort of their own home!
The other cool thing about this Sony unit is that it can record in full 1920x1080 High Definition format - perfect match for your new Full HD TV! You'll need a HD-DVD/BlueRay recorder if you want to burn off copies in Full HD but the results are simply outstanding. This particular model from Sony will set you back about $1,700, but standard definition Hard Drive video cameras are available for around half this price if you don't need or want Full HD.
So there you have it, just some of the latest and greatest toys to keep you entertained over the holiday period. As you can see, Samsung have some really great products available this year, and along with Asus, Sony, Microsoft, Canon and Nokia you can't go too far wrong in the quality department.
No pressure or anything, but there's only one way to drag a country out of a recession and that's to increase household spending - so get out there and be good little consumers, for the good of the nation!