2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Gadgets

Adults like toys too, so if you’re on the lookout for a memorable gift for your spouse, or just treating yourself to an early Christmas present, a cool gadget is always a great option. Of course, prices run the gamut in this arena, so you’ll need to be careful, but whether you’re shopping for the latest smartphones or something to please the audiophile in your life, you can find something that fits almost any budget.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

HTC One A9

There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding HTC’s newest addition to their award-winning One family that it looks suspiciously like the iPhone 6, and although the similarities are undeniable, if you’re a diehard Android fan that’s always been jealous of Apple’s sleek design, the HTC One A9 is the perfect compromise. It’s also a pretty solid mid-range smartphone, sporting a five-inch, 1080 x 1920 full HD display, 2TB of expandable microSD card memory, BoomSound with Dolby Audio and a 13-megapixel camera with Optical Image Stabilization. The camera includes some really cool features that photography nerds will love, like the ability to make moving time-lapse videos (called HyperLapse) and capture photos in RAW format for greater editing control; the added fingerprint sensor/home button is one of the best on the market; and the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS delivers improved performance across the board. The HTC One A9 doesn’t quite have what it takes to compete with the big boys, and because of that, it’s $499 price tag may seem a bit high, but for those who want an iPhone lookalike that runs Android, this is about as close as you’re going to get.

Polaroid Z2300 Instant Digital Camera & ZIP Instant Photo Printer

For as much as digital cameras have changed our lives, there’s just something about the instant gratification of a Polaroid picture that’s difficult to replace. The company aims to recapture that feeling by blending the old with the new in their latest line of products, like the Polaroid Z2300, a 10-megapixel camera that contains all the usual features – 6x digital zoom, 32MB of built-in memory, an SD card slot for extra memory and the ability to capture 720p HD video – but with the addition of a built-in printer that prints 2×3” photos. Though the Z2300 is too bulky and heavy to carry around like a normal digital camera, it’s great for birthdays, weddings and other gatherings to be used by guests who want to snap their own photos to take home as a keepsake. Of course, if you’d rather use the camera on your mobile device, or already have a collection of digital photos that you want to print out in the same wallet-sized format, the ZIP Instant Photo Printer delivers a more mobile and personalized Polaroid experience. Using the free iOS and Android app, you can add filters, text, emojis and borders, or even create a collage, for a truly one-of-a-kind photo. Both products make fun gifts, but if you’re buying for someone under the age of 35, we’d recommend the ZIP printer solely due to its smaller footprint.

Read the rest of this entry »


You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Movies

These days, if you don’t own a Blu-ray player, you’re missing out, especially with a variety of classic movies being offered in high definition for the first time ever. But while we could easily fill several pages with suggestions of great films and cool box sets that deserve a spot on any holiday wish list, we’ve picked some of our favorites released over the past 12 months. If you can’t find anything worth buying here, then chances are that the person you’re shopping for doesn’t like movies.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Back to the Future: 30th Anniversary Trilogy

By this point, you may well be weary of hearing about “Back to the Future,” given how much press the time-travel trilogy received when the first movie hit the big 3-0 earlier this year, but at some point you’ll find yourself wanting to revisit the fun of these three films, and that’s when you’ll want to have a copy of this five-disc set in your collection. In addition to a disc for each of the films, each of which has deleted scenes, “Tales from the Future” documentary segments, audio commentaries and various other bonus material, there’s also a separate bonus disc that includes a variety of additional mini-docs, plus a 2015 message from Doc Brown, two new commercials (one for “Jaws 19,” the other for a Hoverboard), and two episodes of “Back to the Future: The Animated Series.”

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki is one the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animation, boasting a unique style that shines through in every one of his fantastical stories. Though Miyazaki’s films are currently available as individual Blu-rays, this 12-disc box set – which is available exclusively through Amazon – is the first time that they’ve been offered in a single collection. All 11 movies are included, from 1979’s “Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro” to 2013’s Oscar-nominated “The Wind Rises.” In addition, there are several hours of bonus material that are perfect for the Miyazaki admirer, including his 1972 TV pilot for Tetsuya Chiba’s “Yuki no Taiyo,” three episodes of the 1972 anime series “Akado Suzunosuke,” the 90-minute press conference announcing his retirement, and a 37-page collector’s book featuring the essay, “The Great Dichotomy: Looking at the Works of Hayao Miyazaki.” It’s probably not worth the double dip if you already own all of his movies on Blu-ray (especially since the extras from those releases have strangely been removed here), but this box set is a must-have for fans of animation, as well as kids who are beginning to outgrow their Disney and Pixar collections.

Read the rest of this entry »


2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Television

Television fans must love the holidays, because it’s the one time of year when studios unleash a host of massive box sets collecting their favorite dramas and comedies. This year is no different, with several critically acclaimed shows getting the complete series treatment. But while we like to devour an entire TV show just as quickly as the next person, sometimes a little self-discipline is required, which is why we’ve also included some less time-consuming (and more affordable) suggestions as well.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Justified: The Complete Series

Justified” is one of those shows that never really got the credit (or the audience) it deserved, because it’s a sharply written and well-acted neo-Western that managed to pull off what most series have failed to do: stick the landing. Though it started out as a more formulaic, crime of the week-type drama, “Justified” evolved into something much richer over the years by focusing on the relationship between U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens and smooth-talking outlaw Boyd Crowder, two men who grew up in the same poor, coal-mining town in Kentucky, but ended up on different sides of the law. Both Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins deliver strong, well-rounded performances in their respective roles, but while it would be difficult to imagine the show without either of them, the supporting cast is just as important, especially Nick Searcy as Givens’ crusty boss, Jacob Pitts and Erica Tazel as fellow Marshalls, and Joelle Carter as Boyd’s fiancée/partner in crime. The rotating cast of guest stars is also impressive, adding to the series’ rich tapestry of down-and-dirty hillbillies, criminals and lawmen to create a lived-in world that feels more genuine than just about anything else on television. The fact that “Justified” was able to maintain its high quality throughout all six seasons is pretty extraordinary, but it’s also one of the few shows to produce a satisfying series finale, and that definitely earns it a spot among the TV drama elite.

Californication: The Complete Series

With Hank Moody, David Duchovny created a character that ranks as one of the greatest hedonists in television history. “Californication” was loaded with great characters and it thrived on introducing countless examples of the bizarre and interesting people you’ll find in L.A., but everything revolved around Hank and all of his crazy exploits. He could be arrogant and often self-destructive, but watching his endless exploits with the flaky but often beautiful women of La La Land made you want to hop on a plane and rent an apartment in Venice Beach. The best part was that Hank always found a way to enjoy the ride, even as things got a little rough. Through it all he was still crazy in love with his ex, Karen, played by the lovely Natascha McElhone, and Evan Handler was excellent as Charlie Runkle, his dopey but ever-loyal agent and sidekick who had his own ups and down with his hilarious and nutty wife Marcy. Now you can enjoy all 84 episodes on 14 discs in this new box set. Give it to someone who needs to learn how to enjoy life again, or at least can use a vehicle to live vicariously through someone else’s crazy adventures.

Read the rest of this entry »


Taking A Gamble: “Is roulette the best way to win big?”

4 Ferrari LaFerrari
Is a Ferrari always going to be out of reach?

Everyone can dream! When we gamble, we play for fun and the thrill of winning some money, but in the back of our minds there’s always some element of the fantasy of really hitting it big – like buying a Ferrari big!

Of course that’s not really that realistic, but . . . . anything is possible . . . Hence the fun of gambling!

When you think of casino gambling, the type of game dictates the mentality you have towards winning. Some games like blackjack favor grinders who play the rules and look to make consistent games. Other games offer big payouts with big risk.

Read the rest of this entry »


Slot Games Are a Whole Lot Cooler Than You’d Think – Here’s Why

Visiting Vegas is unlike riding a bicycle; you probably going to forget it. The load-the-guests-with-free-booze approach of the casinos works wonders – memories from Vegas are as hazy as the early morning hours on an autumn day in Nebraska.

If you’ve never been to Vegas, well, do an IMDb search for “Vegas” and binge yourself to oblivion. Or rather, take advantage of those sick days and get yourself to the most bling-bling oasis to be found among the deserts of this planet.

The Strip, the main street, cluttered with the most whacked architectural creations in North America (kudos to Macau for going even whackier) actually has a city around it. Not many know this, but there are real people, families and stuff, living in Las Vegas; 603,488 of them on last count in 2013.

Read the rest of this entry »