6 Companies That Will Save Christmas
Good news for retailers this Christmas season: Industry researcher IBISWorld predicts that a "strong holiday season" is in store for retail merchants. According to a recent report, IBISWorld predicts that Christmas sales will be up 3.6% from last year. That's great news for retailers, and it's largely due to several companies whose must-have products will be bringing shoppers into stores - with wallets open - for the holiday season. (For related shopping tips, see Coupon Shopping: Clip Your Ways To Savings.)

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Amazon - The Kindle
The Kindle, now in its second year, is Amazon's most popular item, and this year's model is better, faster, stronger and can leap tall buildings in a single bound ... or something like that. According to Amazon.com, the new Kindle is better because of a lighter weight, a better reading contrast, a better design, increased memory for up to 3,500 eBooks, built-in wireless, and a longer battery life. E-readers are expected to be one of the season's biggest products, and the Amazon Kindle is one of the top sellers.

Apple - The iPad and iPod Touch
You can't have a review of must-have holiday products without mentioning Apple, and this year's potential top-selling items include two Apple products: the iPad and the iPod Touch. The iPad launched the tablet PC trend, which electrical retailer DSGi predicts will be outselling netbooks two to one by December, 2010. And though the iPad has competition, it's not likely that any other tablet will be able to achieve the popularity of the iPad by the holiday shopping season. DSGi spokesman Jeremy Fennell predicts that "the iPad is going to be the number one Christmas gift this year".
As if producing the season's top Christmas gift weren't enough, Apple is also offering up the latest version of the iPod Touch. The only other Apple product more popular as a gift item might be an iTunes gift card.

Microsoft - Kinect
Microsoft won't let its long-time rival own the holiday shopping season, however. This year, Microsoft expects sales of its new Xbox 360 controller, the Kinect, to reach 5 million by Christmas. The Kinect is a hands-free, motion-sensing controller that allows user to interact; it's one of the advanced offerings for the video game world, in direct competition with Sony's Playstation Move and the Wii. The Kinect is also priced to sell; it can be purchased as a separate add-on for only $150, or as a package with the Xbox for around $300. For consumers already sold on the Xbox, the Kinect makes a perfect addition.

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Motorola - Droid Pro, Droid X, Droid 2
Several versions of the much-anticipated android phones are expected to be strong sellers this season, and among them are Motorola's three versions: the Droid Pro, Droid X, and Droid 2. With different price points, a variety of features and plenty of apps, Motorola's version of the touch-screen alternative to the iPhone promises to be a popular choice for the holiday season.

Sony - Gran Turismo 5
Sony's fifth incarnation of the popular racing video game will be released in late November, just in time to create a huge rush for Christmas shoppers everywhere. It's been five years since version four came out, so fans will be ready to try out the new challenges, new racetracks and new graphics available on this latest release from Sony. It's also a gift that's a bit easier on the wallet, with price points ranging from $60 to $100 for a collector's version of the game.

Panasonic - 3D Television TC-P50VT20
Everything old is new again and, fortunately, vastly improved. The 3D glasses aren't paper anymore, and the 3D televisions are a completely different technology and a completely different experience than the first go-around. Things are better in 3D world, but there are still a few kinks in the 3D home-viewing options. However, that won't stop those who want to be first on the block to get the newest technology in their own living rooms, and Panasonic's 3D television is receiving better overall reviews than that of major competitor Samsung (UN55C7000). Though the bottom line is that it's a lot of money for something not yet perfected, enough people will want to be first to venture into the uncharted, expensive territory that it will be a newsworthy item on the post-Christmas gift round-ups.

The Bottom Line
Gadgets rule the retail world this year, which is somehow appropriate since internet shopping and online sales are part of what is making retailers expect more sales this Christmas. So we can use our latest gadgets to buy our next gadgety gifts and everyone goes home happy. (For related reading, also check out Shopping Online: Convenience, Bargains And A Few Scams.)

Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: G20 Leader Spats And China Fakes It.

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