Top Tech For Your Buck

By Tim Parker | July 28, 2011 AAA
Top Tech For Your Buck

You may not be one of those people who has to have the latest electronic gadget. If you're happy with your dial up internet connection and your not-so-smartphone, you probably aren't in the market for a brand new gadget. If we're honest, many of us probably have developed an insatiable appetite for the newest technology. Maybe one of these is on your list.

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Tips

iPad 2
Old news? Maybe, but the iPad 2 is just another in the long line of game changing devices that Apple has introduced to the market and it not only defined the tablet era but continues to be the gold standard. The iPad has the longest battery life, the most evolved and user friendly app store, and a list of apps numbering more than 100,000 for the iPad alone and hundreds of thousands that work on the iPad as well as the iPhone. Want more proof? From Apple's third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, iPad sales have risen over 180%.

If you purchase a new iPad, make sure to check out the Icade, which premiered at the Consumer Electronics show in January and is available for $99. It is a working model of an 80s era arcade console that holds an iPad. It even comes with one free vintage Atari game as well as many more available. If you're a vintage game enthusiast and you love the old Asteroids style game, you'll love the Icade!

For those looking to avoid the sticker shock of an iPad, there are virtually no tablets with the same wealth of features for a lower price. For those who don't want to buy in to the Apple hype, the Samsung Galaxy is worth a look. It is slightly lighter and the same thickness as the iPad 2 and uses the Honeycomb operating system - an interface that many tech bloggers believe could be a serious challenger to Apple's iOS operating system. (For related reading, see The Apple Ecosystem.)

Garmin Approach G5
Every hobby has its technology and, although technology such as this won't be allowed in professional tournament play, for those who aren't pro golfers and don't have a caddy with a book of yardages, the Garmin Approach G5 may be next best thing. The setup is quite easy. In fact, there's next to none. Just turn it on and go to work. All available golf courses are programmed in to the device and the device is ready to calculate yardages as well as keep track of your score with ease.

If the $349 price tag is a bit high and you don't want to carry around another device, one interesting alternative is the Skykap Advisor. This $199 distance finder clips on to your hat, lapel or waist band. Using GPS technology, it is completely voice activated and totally hands free. This 2011 winner of the Best New Product award at the PGA Merchandise show won't disappoint according to some golf enthusiasts. (For related reading, see 4 Industry-Changing Tech Trends.)

Apple TV
It doesn't hold the same popularity as other Apple products, but this second generation device is a welcome change from the first version. Apple TV allows the streaming of YouTube, iTunes and Netflix. With the newest software update, other outlets like major league baseball TV were added to the selection. Apple TV also allows for a user's iTunes account to be streamed to a TV or home theater system.

While the Apple TV is the most popular device for this niche, the Roku 2100X XDS may be better. This device streams everything that Apple TV does but adds Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Pandora and even streams iTunes. This device can stream more than 100,000 titles from available sources! The actual device may not look as sleek as the Apple TV but with each of these listing at $99, this may be one of the few places where Apple does not have the edge.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V
It seems like every device these days has a camera on it, but a cell phone camera isn't going to cut it for the true enthusiast. If you want to find the best camera for the money, look to CNET. They only let the best of the best on their list. Once you get through their "money is no object" picks, you find yourself at the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V. This camera may have a few too many features for the casual photographer. For those who are serious, however, this 16 megapixel camera shoots video in full HD quality and has everything from fully automatic shooting to full manual where the photography junkie can control all settings. At $349.99, it's not cheap - but it has many of the features of some of the far more expensive cameras. (The recent security breach of Sony's PlayStation network has been a financial and PR nightmare for the corporation. For more, see Most Costly Computer Hacks Of All Time.)

If you can wait, you may want to pick up a pair of the Lady Gaga designed GL20 camera glasses by Polaroid. These are actual glasses where the user simply looks at something, presses a button, and the image comes up on a small screen built in to the glasses. According to Lady Gaga, this is high fashion with a modern twist. Polaroid will only say that they will be available later this year at a price to be announced.

iPhone 5
With iPhone sales up 142% over the past year, the iPhone demand isn't close to wearing off. Although many would rather not see another i-something device on the list, it's impossible to deny that the buzz in the tech world is the upcoming iPhone 5 release. We don't know when it's coming or what new features it will have. With many speculating that the fall of 2011 will see the iPhone 5 hitting the market, we can be sure that market hysteria will be huge once again. Phones like the Droid X have gained market share but they even the Droid loyalists will admit that it doesn't have the mainstream appeal that the iPhone still has. Look for preorders to once again sell out fast just as they have with all iPhone releases.

If you like the idea of having an iPhone but don't want to pay the hefty premium that comes with that or other high end smart phones, the iPhone 3GS - a phone just two versions back from the coming iPhone 5 - can be purchased with a 2 year contract for only $99.

TUTORIAL: Maintaining Your Budget

The Bottom Line
Tech junkies have strong opinions when it comes to the "best of" in the technology space. One thing is for certain, there are quality devices on the market for people with both big and small budgets. We aren't giving our whole hearted recommendations to any of these products, but instead giving our readers a place to start as they look for the device that fits their needs. (For related reading, see The Beauty Of Budgeting.)

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