Oh, the holidays: a time of mirth, masticating and merchandise. While I'm excited by the whole "family and food" part of the whole shebang, this post is dedicated to all the great stuff I've scoped out this year to give (or get!) this season. So pour yourself your favorite holiday libation, sit back, relax, and start your wish list.
Money is No Object
EPIC-M RED DRAGON PRO COLLECTION
I'll always, always be an A/V geek. I like shiny new toys for video and photography; if it's got lenses, apertures, and a bunch of options, I'm into it, which is why I'm obsessing a little bit over RED's newest addition to their line of incredible cameras, the Epic-M Red Dragon. With its carbon fiber body, true-to-life RAW shots, and a bevy of must-have accessories to round out the Pro Collection's kit, it's any videographer's dream camera. RED's cameras have revolutionized filmmaking with their sleek design and affordable price points for the industry, and the Epic-M Red Dragon Pro Collection continues the trend. Did I mention this bad boy shoots in 6K? Sure, you might not *need* 6K footage (and most people don't even really *need* 4K footage at this point in the game), but who cares? I'm the Tim Taylor of videography, people! MORE POWER! MORE Ks! ALL THE Ks!
Gifts Under $2,000
Sonos Home Theater Starter Kit
$1845.00 $1845.00 for a configuration that includes a Sonos PLAYBAR, (2) Play:1 speakers, a Sonos SUB, and a Sonos Bridge There's no denying it: I am an outright, unabashed fan of Sonos products. They're pretty popular with the entire TechnoBuffalo crew, but I believe I have the honor of having the most Sonos product of anyone on the team in my home. With the recent addition of the Play:1 speaker to the Sonos lineup, it's crazy cheap to set up wireless, hi-fi audio in your home, from your living room to your kitchen, and I've come up with what I think is the best "Starter Kit" for Sonos in your home. The Sonos PLAYBAR is a damn near perfect soundbar for your TV set, two Play:1 speakers to either use as rear channels for your living room setup (or split up and disperse throughout your home for maximum music coverage), a Sonos SUB to drop the wub wub when you're partying or watching a movie with big booms, and a Sonos Bridge to link them all together. The best part about Sonos is that you can add and remove to fit your budget and needs, so feel free to take this setup and tweak it to what suits you. If you've got the money to spend, this is a big ticket sound setup you won't regret.
Gifts Under $500
iPad mini with Retina Display
$399.99 I didn't make the leap from the iPad 3 to the iPad 4, because I felt like I was getting tired of such a large tablet in my hands. I wanted something smaller, but the iPad mini's lack of Retina Display kept me from downsizing to something more portable. Fortunately, Apple just made the newest iPad mini official, and I'm thrilled I can now upgrade to the tablet I've been wanting ever since the diminutive iPad showed up on retail shelves just over one year ago. The iPad mini has Retina Display, and a current-gen A7 processor (the very same that's in the iPhone 5s), so I can pick up my Tiny Death Star IAP easily with my thumb. This one's a no-brainer for anyone on your list who's been very, very good this year (and loves iOS). No TouchID on board, but since the newly launched iPad Air also doesn't have that feature, I won't feel like I'm missing out on anything.
$249 $249 for Nest Thermostat; $129 for Nest Protect (Total bundle cost: $378) Nest's strategy thus far has been pretty efficient: find home products that are outdated, overlooked, and relatively unchanged, and then make them cool to look at and use. I love the Nest Thermostat, a beautiful control for your central AC/heat that learns your day-to-day activities and adjusts your AC/heat output accordingly. Saving all that money on your energy bill obviously gives you the ability to invest in another new gadget, so why not the new Nest Protect? Nest's version of a smoke and carbon monoxide detector aims to be much less irritating than standard smoke detectors, which, if they're anything like mine, scream-beep at you until you wave your dinner-making smoke away from it (or much worse, take the battery out in frustration). We all love high-tech solutions, so why not upgrade the box in your house keeping you safe from smoke and carbon monoxide while you sleep?
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Gifts Under $250
$199.99 Yeah, yeah, I know. Another Sonos product. But you know what? I don't care! They're too good, and now I can finally get my grandparents into Sonos at an affordable price with the Play:1. The number 1 complaint from every single one of my friends and family members interested in Sonos is, "Ashley, it's too expensive to start! Just one Play:3 and a bridge costs $349!" That argument's now completely invalid with the advent of the Play:1. Got a dorm room, or small apartment? Perfect. Drop one of these babies in there, and then expand your Sonos lineup as you move into larger places. Even better: the holiday special for the Play:1 speaker includes a free Sonos Bridge (usually $49). The Play:1 might be my favorite gift this holiday season.
$129.99 Fitbit is, in my opinion, the most stylish of the fitness bands out there, but it's not only a delight to look at, it's lovely to use. Stripped of all the fluff you might see on expensive smartwatches, the Fitbit Force is a fitness band designed to give you basic information, and track when and how you're moving (even while you sleep). Its predecessor, the Flex, is pretty great in its own right, but the Force adds a small OLED screen with a watch display, a highly requested addition to the design. It's sweat, rain, and splashproof, so it'll survive the shower and the gym just fine, and the app helps you keep tabs on your daily fitness routine. Fitbit also says they'll be adding the ability to get call notifications on the Force for any iPhone 4s or newer running iOS 7, so for anyone using a new-ish iPhone, it's a little bonus feature you may have been hoping for. If not, that's fine; the Force has so many other tracking options for exercise and sleep that you'll be plenty happy using it as your every day fitness band.
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Gifts Under $50
$25 / $35 $25 for 20″x30″ poster, $35 for 20″x38″ poster Okay, so if we're being technical, it's just a large photo, not a poster — regardless, this could be a fantastic gift for anyone who loves snapping artsy pics on Instagram. You can choose from 50 to 512(!) images, and Printstagram will organize them neatly in a grid and print them for your displaying pleasure on one big poster. It's a great way to memorialize your year through the gift of photography in a creative, fun way, and it doesn't break the bank to have done. If you want to grab a Printstagram poster, though, keep in mind two important things: one, you'll have to have access to the Instagram account in question to allow Printstagram to load your pictures; and two, you'll need to order early if you want a poster in time for the holidays, as Printstagram's turnaround time is about 3-4 weeks. Fortunately, Printstagram also offers gift cards for anyone wanting to gift some photo printing happiness upon a loved one, without ruining the surprise by asking them to log in for you.
A (Little) Sad Keanu
$25 / $45 $45 for Little Keanu, $25 for Teeny Keanu Culled from the "Best Memes Ever" filing cabinet, there is nothing, NOTHING on this Earth that's more amazing than this tiny, 3D-printed Sad Keanu Reeves. Suddenly, your life won't seem so bad, as you contemplate what could have made than man who played Neo so melancholy. Your artsy photos of food and flowers will be so much cooler, and your friends will marvel at how kitschy it is that you have a Keanu in miniature sitting atop your monitor. There's no point to it. Which is why I'm so charmed. Cheer up, Keanu! The Matrix made you rich!
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