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.

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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.

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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.

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When Failure is Not an Option: Top Tips for Retaking Your Driving Road Test


If you are unfortunate enough to fail your first driving test you are actually in the majority rather than the minority, as less than half of us are given official permission to drive solo at the first attempt.

The record for failed tests goes to an unnamed man in Stoke who passed on his 37th go and one unfortunate woman failed her theory test a record 110 times, so don’t feel bad if you fail first time.

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Drink of the Week: The Poker Cocktail

The Poker Cocktail.I don’t do a lot of two ingredient drinks here, and that’s for a reason. After all, I’m not sure you really need my help to make a rum and coke, a 7 and 7, or a screwdriver. Still, as with the Rusty Nail and some others I can’t think of right now, there are a fair number of two ingredient drinks that seem worth exploring. Also, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and — especially if you dared to enter a retail store of any type today — you probably want to keep things simple.

The Poker Cocktail is, as far as I can tell, one of the true obscurities contained in Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” and I have no idea why that should be. It’s simple and, done right, it’s really quite tasty while offering the opportunity, if not the inevitability, of just a little bit of complexity. What, if anything, that has to do with poker, I couldn’t possibly tell you.

The Poker Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces white rum
1 1/2 sweet vermouth

If you are following Harry Craddock’s original recipe — and I see no reason to mess with it — combine the rum and vermouth in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No need to even think about bitters, garnishes, or other such bothersome trifles.

Alternatively, I won’t be too put out if you decide to stir your Poker Cocktail, the result will be slightly boozier and more forbidding, but you can make a case for it.


My first go at this might have been the best. The original recipe actually calls only for Italian vermouth (once synonymous with sweet vermouth) and Bacardi rum. So, I tried plain old white Barcardi and good old sweet Martini, and it was grand. Simple, yes, but tasty and, thanks to the shaking, surprisingly refreshing. Sweet, but not remotely cloying.

I also liked my results nearly as much when I went up a notch or two in class from regular Bacardi to Bacardi Maestro de Ron and also with Meyers Platinum Light. Brugal Especial Extra Dry also added an interesting bit of sophistication.

On the other hand, I was slightly less consistently pleased when I started experimenting with different vermouths. Switching from Martini to Vya was an interesting change of pace the produced a perfectly decent drink that was maybe, however, a hair less delicious. Oddly enough, Carpano Antica, which is so great in so many drinks, was also a hair or two less great when I tried it…but maybe I just haven’t found the perfect light rum to go with it. The search continues!


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