Holiday Tech: Droolworthy Gear Coming This Fall

You're still slathering on sunscreen, and the dog days of summer (by ancient reckoning) arrived less than two weeks ago; but the most tempting HDTVs, Ultrabooks, games, and smartphones for the impending holiday season are already coming into focus.

What's going to be hot this winter? Will retailers slash prices on Windows 7 laptops as they push newly arriving Windows 8 PCs? What pricing gimmicks will they try? What's going to be the big thing with HDTVs, games, and cameras?

We talked with experts around the country to find out what great technology will be available in a few months, when deals are sure to be spectacular, and what newer tech will reach stores in time for you to slap a bow on it. Here's what we found.

The Hottest Products

Droolworthy Tech Headed Your Way
Mobile connected devices--smartphones and tablets--will be the hottest things going, followed by Intel-powered Ultrabooks and other laptop computers running the new Microsoft Windows 8 operating system, according to Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis with the Consumer Electronics Association.

This year's refresh of the iPhone will likely be on the scene, too, and it will undoubtedly be a hugely popular gift again this year. Scads of 4G Android smartphone alternatives, as well as handsets running the new Windows Phone 8 OS, will vie for consumers' attention, too.

Your tablet choices will include everything from the budget Google Nexus 7 tablet to the as-yet-unpriced Microsoft Surface RT, along with countless rivals from other manufacturers.

Amazon may try to make a play again this year for holiday tech purchases. According to rumor, the company may launch a second-generation Kindle Fire with a larger 8.9-inch display in time for the holiday shopping season.

More than 140 Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabooks are in the pipeline; of those, more than 40 will be touch-enabled, and a dozen will offer convertible, swiveling-screens. These touchscreen Windows 8 models will bring the tapping and swiping experience from tablets to laptops.

"Touch-enabled systems will be key for Windows 8 sales; and convertible systems, combining the best of a notebook and a tablet, are clearly where the industry is headed," Koenig says.

Gaming

Gaming consoles and games are perennial favorites with holiday shoppers. This year Nintendo is looking to reclaim lost market share with two new pieces of gaming hardware: the 3DS XL and the Wii U. The former is a bigger and brighter version of the Nintendo 3DS handheld console.

For its part, the Wii U will blend game play between its DS-like touchscreen controller and your TV screen. The Wii also features motion-sensitive game play, streaming media support, and social gaming connectivity.

You shouldn't plan on seeing a Sony PlayStation 4 or a Microsoft Xbox 720 this season, however. Sony's current console is hard to improve on at this point, and Microsoft's new console is unlikely to arrive until late next year.

New Super Mario Bros. U for the Wii U
New Super Mario Bros. U for the Wii U
As for new games, Bob McKenzie, GameStop's senior VP of merchandising, says that Madden NFL 2013, which comes out on August 28, looks to be the best one yet.

Other games that McKenzie think will excite gamers appear in the charts below.

Anticipated Games for Multiple Platforms

GAMERelease date
Borderlands 2 September 18
FIFA 13 September 25
Just Dance 4 October 9
Resident Evil 6 October 2
Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2 for Nintendo DS October 7
Skylanders Giants Octobr 21
Assassin's Creed III October 30
Halo 4 November 6
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 November 13

Anticipated Nintendo Wii U Games

GAMEMaker
New Super Mario Bros. U Nintendo
Lego City: Undercover Nintendo
Ninja Gaiden 3 Nintendo
ZombiU UbiSoft
Batman Arkham City Armored Edition WB Games
Scribblenauts Unlimited WB Games

Release dates not yet available

Anticipated PC Games

GAMERelease Date
Guild Wars 2 August 28
Borderlands 2 September 18
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria September 25
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 November 13

"Also, when Nintendo announces the release date for Wii U, there are many exciting games that will ship for this new platform. There are also many accessories for Wii U that will be popular with gamers and gift givers for holiday 2012," McKenzie says.

HDTVs

Vizio M3D470KD smart HDTV
Vizio M3D470KD smart HDTV
Televisions are another popular item during the holidays, less as presents than as bargain electronics at that time of year.

According to Gartner principal analyst Paul O'Donovan, the big thing this year will be Smart TVs, which can connect to the Internet via broadband. These HDTVs also can draw a wide range of content from sites such as Netflix and YouTube, and let you download everything from games to Google Maps.

"These smart TVs will be able to be controlled from Android-based smartphones and tablets," O'Donovan says. "For some models, you can share content from your smartphones or tablet or even laptop on your smart TV wirelessly. [On] some you can use your mobile device like a wireless games machine controller, and play a video game on your smart TV."

O'Donovan says that LG, Samsung, and Vizio are developing a number of smart TV apps, and he expects that most TV manufacturers will offer a range of smart models.

Next: Cameras, Windows 8, Deals, and Black Thursday

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