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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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.

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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.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Booze

Walk into any liquor store and you’ll see hundreds of options. You can zero in on someone’s favorite drink when picking a gift, or you can get creative and choose something they wouldn’t buy for themselves. Also, remember that you don’t want to come to a party empty-handed, so get in the habit of at least bringing a bottle.

And for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Roca Patrón Silver


It’s only been 15 or 20 years since high-end tequilas began to compete against Cognac and single-malt Scotch for supremacy among world-class sipping experiences, with often outstanding and highly accessible results. Already by far the best known premium tequila in the U.S., Patrón is upping their game even more with a new line of super-premium boozes, Roca Patrón, named for the stone wheels used to extract the juice of the blue agave plant. Unlike añejos and reposadas, silver (aka white) tequilas are un-aged and generally best used for cocktails and shots. At an MSRP of $69.00, however, Roca Patrón Silver is definitely no freshman-year bender fodder and a great gift for the man or woman who’s sipped nearly everything. The Patrón people describe the flavor as sweet, “with notes of black pepper, pumpkin and lime tea.” We taste mainly the honey-like flavor of the agave, but isn’t that the whole point of quality tequila? Not too stuffy to accompany a little grapefruit soda or perhaps even a perfectly a well-balanced classic margarita (shaken, not blended!), this definitely qualifies as not just the good stuff, but the very good stuff. Aged Roca Patrón Reposada and Roca Patrón Añejo are available at commensurately higher price tags.

Patrón’s Holiday Classic Cocktails Kit


Once maligned by the ignorant, tequila has emerged as every bit the equal of whiskey, gin and, yes, Cognac, as the basis for a truly tip-top cocktail – and we don’t just mean a classic margarita either, as marvelous as those can be. Now, the biggest name in premium tequila is marketing its own variation on one of the ultimate cocktail classics, the Añejo Manhattan, which substitutes aged tequila for the usual bourbon, rye or Canadian whiskey. This set (MSRP $54.99) includes a bottle of flavorful mellow Patrón Añejo, two very sturdy, large coupe glasses (a more rounded old-school variation on today’s standard martini glasses) and Dashfire Brandy Old Fashioned Bitters. The latter is a tantalizing alternative to standard Angostura aromatic bitters with a strong accent of smokey cloves; no self-respecting Manhattan is remotely complete without bitters, and this artisanal brand is an outstanding choice. All your giftee needs to add is a cocktail shaker/mixing glass, some sweet vermouth (ideally Carpano Antica), lots and lots of ice, and we’re off to the races! A strong gift selection for any open-minded cocktail enthusiast.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide: For Her

Whatever you decide to buy, please make sure you put some thought into it. This applies to your wife or woman that you’re dating, and even that mom or other women on your gift list. They will love if you buy something that makes them feel appreciated.

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

Brooks Running Gear


Marathons have become increasingly more popular over the last few years, and whether you’re a serious runner or just do it for fun, having the right gear is essential. While most people tend to stick to popular brands like Nike and Adidas, it’s better to buy from a specialty company like Brooks Running, who offers an entire catalog of products designed specifically with runners in mind. Footwear options range from the PureFlow 3, a lightweight shoe with a more rounded heel and repositioned Toe Flex to better align your stride, to the award-winning Cascadia 9, which is better suited for trickier terrain thanks to its 4-point pivot posts and a BioMoGo DNA midsole that adapts cushioning to your feet and the surface beneath. Both styles come in a variety of bold colors, and the same goes for all the apparel as well, including the water-resistant Infiniti Jacket IV, the retroreflective PureProject Jacket (which is both wind- and water-resistant) and the moisture-wicking Infiniti Tight III. After giving our wives the chance to test out some of the gear provided by Brooks Running, the verdict was unanimous: if you care about function and quality, this is one brand that every runner should add to the top of their wish lists.

eCreamery.com Custom Ice Cream Pints

We’re avid believers that ice cream is great no matter what time of year it is (especially for those whose winters actually feel like, well, winter), and the folks at eCreamery.com have created the perfect gift for the holidays: create-your-own ice cream, gelato and sorbet with customized labels on the packaging. All you need to do is select your base, main flavor and mix-ins, and then give your new creation a name. We made a custom ice cream (Cinnamon with Chocolate Covered Pretzels) and gelato (Cheesecake with Strawberry Swirls and Chocolate Chunks), and both were incredibly delicious, especially the latter, which is one of the best frozen treats we’ve ever sampled. There are over 40 flavors and 30 mix-ins to choose from, and the quality is definitely a step up from your typical store-bought ice cream, but it comes at a price, with four pints (the smallest possible order) costing a whopping $59.99, and that doesn’t even include shipping. While that may seem pretty steep for ice cream, eCreamery’s custom pints make for a really unique gift that’s worth splurging for at least once.


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