Tech Sense by John Bell November 2022: Shopping for Holiday Tech
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
Shopping for Holiday Tech 2022
In some ways I am feeling the way Costco must feel when they start to put Christmas merchandise out in October before Halloween. But if I want to give you technology shopping advice before Black Friday then I have to write in October to meet my deadline. This Holiday Season seems to be full of uncertainty as we are still feeling the economic impacts of the COVID virus. But things are better in that now seems to be safer to go out into public and shop. Even if the shelves are empty and prices are going through the roof.
The sales season may be extended this year. Amazon already had big sale in October this year with some great prices on Amazon hardware. Amazon has released newer versions of their eReader, TV Streaming, and Voice Assistant devices. This usually means that the older versions will often be available at extremely good prices if any are left by Black Friday.
Home Voice Assistants
Google, Apple, and Amazon all make and sell home voice assistants. These devices wait for your command and respond with hopefully an appropriate answer. If you have an Apple household, that is; you own multiple Apple phones, computers, tablets and AppleTV, then you may get value for Apple’s Siri based assistant. Otherwise, I can only recommend the Amazon series of devices that answer to the start word “Alexa.” The reasons are as follows; both Google and Alexa have many more devices sold and operational than Apple. Google and Alexa tend to follow standards making it more likely that the devices you want to control will work with the assistant. But Google has now earned a reputation of abandoning devices and applications leaving consumers without solutions. The Stadia gaming platform is a good very recent example. Also, Amazon usually discounts their devices during the holiday season.
Of course, mobile phones always make a good practical gift. Apple has released the 14 series of iPhones priced at $1000 and more. From what I hear, most people are better off waiting until the next series from Apple. Google has just released their Pixel 7 series and it is getting excellent reviews. Priced from $600 to $900 and with cameras that rival Apples the phone is less expensive and gets all of the power of the most recent versions of Android with Android updates for at least 3 years and security updates for 5 years. The Pixel 6a is also still available for less than $500 but is expected to be replaced early next year by the Pixel 7a. Last year I purchased a Pixel 5, and I am very happy with it.
Motorola is being recognized this year for its series of value phones, particularly the G series. These phones are priced as low as $169 many with 5G support. There are also some great bargains on last year’s models. Most Motorola phones have excellent battery life but the primary down sides I have found is the slowness with deploying updates and lack of NFC.
Last year I said there was no need to move to 5G because the technology is not yet ready. Well, the technology is here now, so if you get a 5G phone it should work with the three major carriers. But if you choose to wait longer that will be OK too.
Home computers basically come in two forms, laptops and desktops. Laptops are portable devices that are easily carried around. Desktops are typically larger and tend to be stationary. In general Desktops are better for high end gaming and working with video and artwork. Desktops are often upgradable to add more storage, faster video cards, and add other expansion devices. Laptops are great for portability but have limited ability to be updated. It is possible to buy laptops for specific purposes such as gaming but if you do make certain that the laptop supports the specifications required to play the games you want.
Most computers sold today should come with Windows 11. A Windows 11 computer has hardware requirements that many Windows 10 computers cannot meet. So, a Windows 10 computer is likely to be obsolete in the next 3 or so years.
There is a series of computers that use Chrome OS. Chrome OS computers tend to be less expensive and easier to use. They load their software from the Internet and have limited local storage capability. Many are incapable of playing modern games. But that is changing as new technologies allow remote rendering. Chrome OS is a good choice for those that primarily use their computers to access email and use the Internet.
TVs and Streaming
If you plan to purchase a new TV for the holidays, make sure it is at least an Ultra High Definition (4K UHD) High Dynamic Range (HDR) television with resolutions of 3840 by 2160 pixels. Not much has changed since last year, but some big bargains are back this year.
Most streaming devices have now been updated to support 4K UHD/HDR and service like Disney+ and HBOMax are now delivering 4K streams.
Home and Auto Security Cameras
Doorbell cameras, indoor, outdoor, and driving cameras have all become very popular as gifts over the past couple of years. Remember that most monitoring cameras for the house also require a subscription service to capture and archive the video. This also means that your home views may be viewable by strangers if the company has a security breach.
Car cameras normally record a loop while the vehicle is being driven and will store data on the camera when an accident occurs. They are not Internet connected and do not pose much of a risk.
Well, I am out of space so I guess that this will wrap up my list for this year. It is great to see our community open up again. The couple of years have been challenging for many of us. Let’s all remember the things we have to be thankful for this Holiday season. May all your gifts bring joy to those that receive them!