2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Games

The holiday season is the video game industry’s busiest time of year, with publishers saving many of their marquee titles to release on the public like an avalanche of digital goodness. It can actually be quite overwhelming with so many different options to choose from, so we’ve done our best to put together a collection of what we feel are some of the year’s best titles, and ones that the gamer on your shopping list will love.

Click on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Sony PlayStation 4

Sony’s already broken launch day sales records with the PS4, meaning that getting one for the holidays won’t be easy. That’s a shame, too, as by all indications, it is one incredible piece of hardware that has developers across the industry whistling in wonder. Sony really went out of their way to address many of the complaints people had with the PS3, and the PS4 not only fixes them, but adds exciting new features like built-in live streaming capabilities and a much more versatile and comfortable controller. If you do manage to get your hands on one, be sure to download the addictive and intense shooter “Resogun” to go with it. While it may not look like much, and isn’t that long, it’s the “Geometry Wars” of the new generation, meaning you’ll be playing it over and over again and long after bigger games have begun gathering dust on your shelf. It’s the unlikely can’t-miss game of the PS4’s launch.

Microsoft Xbox One

Is the Xbox One the system for you? Well, to answer that, you first must ask yourself if its $100 increase in price over the PS4 fits your budget. If so, then buying one means getting a gaming console that has both an intense interest in becoming the centerpiece of your home theater and the capabilities to do so. The Xbox One’s ability to work harmoniously with your TV and other devices through a native interface as sleek and capable as we’ve ever seen is so incredible that you would be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that it’s also quite a gaming system. Of course, the phenomenal Day One lineup of games available for the Xbox One should go a long way to reminding you. It’s hard to choose just one to spotlight, but if you haven’t yet got your fill of zombie killing, then be sure to consider “Dead Rising 3” and its own particular over-the-top brand of undead apocalypse. Much like the PS4, though, all of this is assuming you can somehow find one. Going by the pre-order numbers, that won’t be easy.

The Last of Us

“The Last of Us” has been referred to by some in the past as the greatest “Resident Evil” game ever made, and it’s been taken as an insult. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though, as it’s a statement only meant to convey the absolutely unbelievable mix of horror, survival, plot and atmosphere you get from this game. Purchasing “The Last of Us” is like giving a toddler on a sugar rush access to all your emotional buttons. Its world of despair and terror where survival is the only reward left is the perfect setting for its cross-country journey in search of hope. There’s nothing quite like “The Last of Us” in the history of gaming and, as much as fun as the game is to play, it’s an even better experience.

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2013 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 and greatest tablet or something to please that audiophile in your life, you can find something that fits almost any budget.

Click on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Seiki 4K TV

4K TV is very real. By that, I don’t mean that it simply exists, but rather that it is the heir apparent to HDTV as the next format of television which will become standard. However, you should be cautious. 4K is an improvement over HDTV like Blu-ray is an improvement over DVD. That is to say that it’s noticeably better looking, but not necessarily mind blowing. Not to mention, the technology is still in its infancy. That being said, if you want to get in on 4K now and don’t want to pay a price too ridiculous to do so, the absolute best way to go is Seiki’s 4K model, which routinely goes for around $1,000 for its 50-inch model and, for a limited time, around $500 for the 39-inch model on Amazon. It’s the cheapest 4K on the market to be sure, but having sampled it earlier this year at CES, I can say with some confidence that it is far from a bargain model in quality. Sooner or later, keeping up with the Jonses will mean buying a 4K TV. If you need that to be sooner, the Seiki is the way to go.

Sceptre LED HDTV

By now, most people have some sort of HDTV in their home, but if you still haven’t gotten around to upgrading and don’t have the money to splurge on a higher-end brand, Sceptre makes some pretty nice budget-friendly LED and LCD HDTVs that are worth checking out. The company’s newest 40-inch model features a FullHD crystal clear viewable area, 1920×1080 panel resolution and 3 HDMI ports for as cheap as $250 depending on where you look. And if you don’t need all the fancy add-ons (like Wi-Fi, entertainment apps and 3D capabilities) that some of the more expensive brands feature these days, that’s a really good deal for a TV that isn’t too far off in terms of quality. It also boasts a lightweight and slim design, which makes it perfect for mounting on a wall, and is Energy V6.0 compliant, with an estimated yearly energy cost of about $13. You really can’t ask for more from an HDTV that costs less than most tablets.

Apple iPad Air

Ah, the iPad. Since the very first iPad model was released, gift guides have featured one iPad model or another, and for very good reason. However, the iPad market has grown more crowded than it once was with many consumers wondering just what model is right for them amongst a sea of options. While it’s difficult to account for personal needs, if you’re looking for the best iPad period it’s hard to argue against the iPad Air. Its $499 price tag may be daunting, but for it you get a model that is in a league of its own among full-sized tablets. No other product in the field can possibly compare to the iPad Air’s enticing paper-thin design, crystal clear display or flex-worthy processing muscle. The debate on the best overall tablet period is not an easy one, but if price is not an issue, then it’s a conversation that begins and ends with the iPad Air.

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2013 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 on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy will likely go down as one of the best franchises in movie history, so it’s not too surprising that Warner Bros. has decided to capitalize on the films’ success with a fancy Ultimate Collector’s Edition box set. Though most people have probably already purchased the movies individually, this limited edition six-disc set (with only 141,500 copies produced) is geared more towards diehard fans – the kind that would gladly buy all three films again if it meant getting their hands on the exclusive bonus disc (featuring a new retrospective on the series and an interview between Nolan and “Superman” director Richard Donner) and the Happy Meal-sized reproductions of the Batmobile, Batpod and Batwing. The set also includes an introduction letter from Nolan, a glossy photo book, and a series of cool art cards by Mondo artist Jaw Shaw featuring the trilogy’s villains. The only thing it’s missing is your very own Batsuit.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Extended Edition

It was never going to be an easy job adapting “The Hobbit” for the big screen, especially after the success of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and although that likely played a hand in Peter Jackson’s initial decision to let another director take the reins, at the end of the day, it just wouldn’t have felt right with anyone else behind the camera. Not only does Jackson know the source material inside and out, but in keeping with the same tone and breathtaking visuals from the original trilogy, the movie feels like it’s part of a bigger story. Though it’s not as great as the “Lord of the Rings” films, “An Unexpected Journey” is still a delightfully fun trip back to Middle-earth with a solid lead performance by Martin Freeman. And for those diehard fans who have been patiently awaiting the customary Extended Edition, it’s arrived just in time for the holidays with 13 minutes of additional footage, an audio commentary by Jackson and co-writer Philippa Boyens, and two entire discs of supplemental material clocking in at over 9 hours. If this doesn’t satisfy your “Hobbit” fix, nothing will.

Star Trek: Stardate Collection

Most diehard “Star Trek” fans probably already own all of the films on Blu-ray, but for those that still haven’t gotten around to picking up high-def versions of the U.S.S. Enterprise’s first 10 big screen adventures, the Stardate Collection is the easiest and most cost-effective way to remedy that. This 12-disc set combines the previously released Original and Next Generation Motion Picture Collections into one massive box of sci-fi goodness, including every feature-length film starring the respective crews of Captain Kirk and Picard, from 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” to 2002’s “Star Trek: Nemesis.” Additionally, there’s over 25 hours of bonus material like audio commentaries, featurettes and the 70-minute roundtable “The Captain’s Summit.” While “The Wrath of Khan” remains the only installment to have received a 4k restoration (though likely not for long with the original show’s 50th anniversary just around the corner), the rest of the movies still look and sound better than ever.

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2013 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 on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Breaking Bad: The Complete Series

Is there anything more to be said about the late, great “Breaking Bad” at this point, other than the fact that it was one of the greatest TV series of all time and that, although it went out in a blaze of glory, it’s left a vacuum that’ll be damned hard to fill? Nah, that about sums it up. But if you’re a fan and you’re continuing to mourn, then Sony has put together a set that’s so awesome that it’s almost too much to handle… but not quite. The 16-disc set includes all 62 episodes and more than 55 hours of special features, including an all-new documentary which chronicles the making of the final season, and, of course, all of the bonus material from the previous season sets remains intact too. The whole thing comes packaged in a barrel, as well a series about a meth manufacturer should, along with a Los Pollos Hermanos apron, a collectible booklet featuring a letter from Vince Gilligan and a commemorative Breaking Bad challenge coin. We don’t actually know what a challenge coin is, but we do know that it was designed and created by Gilligan himself, and dammit, that’s good enough for us.

Dexter: The Complete Series

Loosely based on Jeff Linsday’s popular series of crime novels, “Dexter” is probably the biggest hit in Showtime’s history, which only makes its steady decline over the years that much more maddening. Though the last four seasons were incredibly uneven compared to the show’s first four years, “Dexter” continued to be appointment television every week thanks to Michael C. Hall’s brilliant, Golden Globe-winning performance as the titular antihero. It also featured an excellent rotating cast of guest stars that included John Lithgow, Keith Carradine, Jimmy Smits, Julia Stiles and Jonny Lee Miller, and at times, some of the best writing on TV. It’s actually quite amazing that a show with a serial killer as its protagonist was able to last as long as it did, and though it faltered a bit in the end, there are plenty of diehard “Dexter” fans that would kill to own this complete series set. Designed to look like the character’s iconic blood slide box (with every Blu-ray case featuring a blood drop on the bottom), the 25-disc set – which features all eight seasons and a bonus disc filled with over five hours of never-before-seen extras – is definitely one of the cooler collector’s items on the market.

Weeds: The Complete Collection

HBO has long been considered the undisputed leader of premium cable, but without shows like “Weeds” and “Dexter,” Showtime never would have become the worthy competitor that it is today. Though Jenji Kohan’s dark comedy series suffered a drop in quality during its later seasons, it delivered more than its share of subversively funny moments (as well as those of the WTF variety) over the course of its eight-year run. Constantly reinventing itself after Season Three’s game-changing finale, “Weeds” may not have always succeeded in the risks that it took with the storytelling, but it’s one of the few shows with the kind of punk-rock attitude to even consider taking such risks. And throughout its numerous highs and lows, the core cast never faltered, especially star Mary-Louise Parker, who made “Weeds” must-see TV for her crazy/sexy performance alone. For those that haven’t yet seen the series, or just never got around to picking up each season individually, now is the perfect time with this complete series set, which comes packaged in a nifty, translucent green box and features new bonus material like a cast roundtable, interviews with fan-favorite recurring characters and more.

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adidas unveils “BIG Logo” uniforms

If you’re looking for cool NBA-themed gifts for the holidays or some new gear for yourself, check out these new “BIG Logo” uniforms unveiled by adidas and the NBA that will be worn by all 10 teams playing on the Christmas Day games. The “BIG Logo” Holiday Collection incorporates short-sleeve jerseys featuring oversized team logos in a reflective chrome color scheme on the chest as well as holiday-inspired warm-up jackets and shooting shirts and are available for purchase NBAStore.com. I suspect plenty of NBA fans would love to get this as a gift and then see players wearing them on Christmas day so this looks like a great promotional idea.

Check out the slideshow above as Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Harrison Barnes and Iman Shumpert show off the new jerseys. Also, keep an eye out for the new TV spot below showcasing the new uniforms.

Here’s the NBA game schedule on ESPN and ABC channels:

12 p.m. – Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets
2:30 p.m. – Oklahoma City Thunder at New York Knicks
5 p.m. – Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers
8 p.m. – Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs
10:30 p.m. – L.A. Clippers at Golden State Warriors

  

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