Just Say 'No'
Ah, it's that time of year again. Winter begins its slow escape over the Canadian border, Christmas lights transform your block into a Pink Floyd concert, and the tech blogosphere attempts to tell ol' Saint Nick how to do his job.
While there are some truly revolutionary gadgets, gizmos, and doohickeys out there, there's also a lot of "hot" tech gifts that aren't nearly as exciting as our various media compadres would have you believe.
Here, we present the overhyped, oversold, overwrought techno gifts that you may indeed get from Santa this year, but will probably find their way to Ebay in another month or so.
If you believe the commercials for Galaxy Gear, Samsung's device will turn you—yes you—into a Sci-Fi super hero! But, unfortunately, the reality of Gear is much less impressive.
Sure, Gear can alert you to notifications and allows you to take calls directly on your wrist, but is it that much easier than using a smartphone? If numbers of returns are any indication, most early adaptors have tended not to think so.
A smartwatch might be worthwhile some day, but the Gear isn't it. If only Samsung had listened to our suggestions in the first place they might have avoided this mess.
3D printing technology has the potential to revolutionize numerous industries. Everyone says so. And the price of desktop 3D printers are finally becoming approachable. But that leads to the question: What are you actually going to do with a 3D printer?
Consumer-grade 3D printers give users the ability to do little more than spend hours rendering tiny monochromatic plastic figurines. Unless you are an architect or avant garde chess piece designer, that's quite an expensive hobby gift.
Also, 3D printers are slowly poisoning people.
I'm not a big pixel nerd, but I have seen these new "ultra-HD" 4K TVs and failed to be as blown away as I am supposed to be.
But even if you happen to be an image connoisseur, there are two things you need to consider: 1) While the prices on 4K TVs are coming down, there's simply no content yet and 2) You have to be really close or have a huge TV for the resolution to truly make a difference.
Ouya, the $99 Android-based Kickstarter darling was all set to revolutionize home gaming! But the hardware was handily outclassed by the last generation of consoles, not to mention most of today's top-tier smartphones.
If you're willing to deal with unpolished software, lackluster hardware, and a library of ported games, then perhaps there's something here. But most gamers will be left wanting.
HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4
These two high-end smartphones were two of our favorite from 2013, so what on earth are they doing on this cranky list?
Well, if previous smartphone release schedules are any indication (they often are), then the next generation of each of these phones will be introduced sometime in the first half of 2014. So, if you are indeed lucky enough to get your hands on one of these truly great phones, you will only have a few glorious months of being on the bleeding edge of mobile before you are a generation behind.
The Nook Color is a fine device. I have a two-year old version in my home and converted it into an Android tablet, which made it work even better. But the Nook world is slowly dying under the crushing weight of Amazon Kindle and the many other Android tablets out there. If you find yourself with one, it probably doesn't have long to go until you are that weirdo still jamming out with a Zune.
If someone got you the Lenovo Yoga Tablet, they don't really like you. Despite what Ashton Kutcher says, the new low-end tablets are still very much a work in progress. Especially when they are around the same price as the actually decent Nexus 7. Someone will create a decent sub-$200 tablet one day, but it just hasn't happened yet.
Any Windows Phone (That's Not The Lumia 1020)
Someone bought you a Windows Phone?! What did you do to them? Well—let me take that back, most Windows Phones are bad buys. The Lumia 1020 with its 41-megapixel camera was one of our favorites of 2013, and the 1520 is decent enough if you have ginormous ham hands.
The real problem though is not the Windows Phone hardware or even software—it's the Windows Phone environment. Apps and hacks are what make smartphones worth it, and for right now, Windows Phones exist in a teeny tiny ecosystem that has struggled to get even the most basic apps. If you are on a Windows Phone, you're already starting far behind.
Any Activity Tracker
Of course, you probably don't keep a smartphone on your person while you sleep. But if it's really important for you to keep track of how you dance and jiggle in your sleep, then activity track away.
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