2010 Holiday Gift Guide: Gear For Gamers

Powermat 3X

By Craig Goldstein

Earlier this week, we took a look at some good game picks to watch out for this holiday season. Unfortunately, gamers are notorious for being on top of game releases and there's a chance you could be giving them a game they've already finished. We're a dedicated bunch, we are.

A nice alternative to giving the gift of specific games is giving a gift of something else the gamer would enjoy. We've been digging through the tech of the holiday season to find some solid overall picks to help you through this trying time.

Name: Powermat 3X (pictured above)

Manufacturer: Powermat

Price: $99.99 for the Powermat 3X with Powercube. Extra device receivers ranging from $9.99 to $39.99

Who's It For? All mobile device users, techie crowd, and space-challenged neat freaks.

With every new and cool device that comes to the market, there comes a not so cool way to power it. Powermat has introduced their line of Wireless Magnetic Induction charging devices and just in time. The Powermat 3X with Powercube includes a universal receiver with eight tips to charge some of the most popular devices on the market. They include phones, Music players, eBook readers, Mifi cards and more.

The Highs

The 3X's surface charges three devices simultaneously in the same time it would take if they were plugged in. In addition, The 3X tops off the charge and then shuts off. The feature saves energy and battery life. The 3X is well built and it's easy to use.

The Lows

Price. At $99.99, the sci-fi inspired 3X is out of reach of some users. For each device you attach a receiver to, there is an additional charge anywhere between $9.99 and $39.99.

The Verdict

Powemat's 3X technology, style, ease of use, ability to get back well needed plug space and the expanding array of receivers make this product one for the holiday.

Refugee

Name: Refugee Backpack

Manufacturer: ful (pronounced "Fuel")

Price: $49.99

Who's It For? Students, gamers, urban day trippers, musicians.

With so many new and cool products coming into our lives, we are always looking for new bags to carry them in while we go along with our daily lives. I think I found the perfect solution for that dilemma. Founded in 2005, ful has been releasing sophisticated yet cool looking bags to the market. Their line ranges from messenger bags, slings and roller units. The model that struck my eye was the Refugee backpack.

The Highs

Made from ballistic nylon, the Refugee backpack is perfect for daily use. Generous sized front pockets, a well padded laptop area that fits a 15 inch laptop, full support back area, side and front areas to store smart devices and cords and a water-resistant bottom. The top pocket has a slot to drop your ear buds and secure them while you wear the bag to and from your destinations. The water-resistant bottom comes in really handy when you ride the bus or train and have to drop it on the floor.

The Lows

Some brands of larger laptops have issues fitting in the side pocket.

The Verdict

Great looking bag for everyday use. Cool camo scheme.

Astro A30

Product: A30 Audio Headset System

Manufacturer: Astro Gaming Equipment

Price: $129.95 for the stand alone A30 headsets, $199.95 for the A30 wireless system.

Who's It For? Hardcore PCConsole gamers, Portable Gamers, trend-setting music lovers.

The A30 headset system from Astro, The company known for their industrial design of the Xbox 360, Alienware Computers and HP's Blackbird desktops, have designed a headset system worthy of their name. From the packaging to the components, everything has been well thought out. The A30's are compact, lightweight and very stylish compared to its competitors in its price range.

The Highs

A30's feature a dual mic system (removable), quick disconnect system, comfortable ear cushions and speaker tags that can be customized (extra cost). With the upgrade to the 5.8 MixAmp wireless system, you get a dedicated voice channel.

The Lows

$129 might be too high for the casual gamer and there are limited in-line controls. The Astro MixAmp or wireless MixAmp 5.8 MUST be purchased in order to use Xbox Live and PlayStation Network online voice communication and enable 7.1 Dolby Surround in your A30 Headset.

The Verdict

Great sound, trend setting style, and the ability to upgrade makes the A30 a good pick for the holiday.

Harmony

Product: Harmony 650 Remote Control

Manufacturer: Logitech

Price: $99.99 MSRP

Who's It For? Home theater enthusiasts, gamers, budget minded gift-givers.

With the dizzying amount of new devices coming into our homes and dorm rooms, so too does the amount of remote controls we have to trip over. Say hello to the Harmony 650 Remote. The least expensive of the Harmony line of remote control devices.

The Highs

The Harmony 650 is a well priced remote that packs many of the same features of the higher priced remotes into an entry level device. The 650 replaces up to five devices out of the box. The 650's form factor is a natural fit for your hand. The buttons are raised and are placed very similar to many of the more commonly used remotes. The color LCD screen lights up when the remote control is picked up making it easier to select a device in low light. The vast amount of devices in the setup library is what you would expect from a Harmony remote, it even has codes for the Xbox 360.

The Lows

The Harmony 650 runs on two AAA batteries (included) and is not rechargeable. The unit is limited to five devices and does not have RF or Bluetooth built in. A downside if you have devices built into an entertainment center. Setup software can be tricky to use.

The Verdict

You can't go wrong with the Harmony 650. The ability to control five devices on one remote alone is worth the money.

Logitech

Product: Logitech Revue with Google TV

Manufacturer: Logitech

Price: $299, includes Revue TV with Google device and keyboard control.

Who's It For? Early adopting techies, TV enthusiasts, internet junkies and TV-watching multi-taskers.

For some time, we have been hearing about a device from Logitech and Google that will transform the way we watch TV. The Revue has the ability to watch TV, surf the web (using Google Chrome), view movies and content from your PC and the internet as well as control your DVR from your couch. All this by using a lightweight multifunction keyboard.

The Highs

Easy to use keyboard allows the user to search the web while watching TV. Straight forward on screen setup is a plus. The ability to stream movies from Netflix, music from Pandora and content from ESPN with one keystroke is cool. Adding the optional HD video camera ($149) transforms your TV into a video chat for friends and family. An upcoming Android marketplace update opens up the potential for apps and games.

The Lows

At three times the cost of other similar products, the steep price might be a deterrent. The new screen might need some getting used to. Some major content providers have blocked programs, which is an annoyance.

The Verdict

Logitech has opened up the possibilities for many on how TV can be viewed. More than a content collector, Logitech's Revue TV with Google provides a real interactive TV experience to the user.