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Hardware 2.0 Holiday 2014 Ultimate Gift Guide

Rather than pick gifts for you and yours, I'm looking at the best of the best when it comes to tech that I've had the pleasure of using this year, from the big stuff like notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, to smaller stuff like storage devices and smart bulbs.
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Introduction

This is a gift guide with a difference. Rather than pick gifts for you and yours, I'm looking at the best of the best when it comes to tech that I've had the pleasure of owning, using, and drooling over this year, from the big stuff like notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, to smaller stuff like storage devices and smart bulbs.

There are also a few toys thrown in, along with a few things you didn't even know you wanted or needed, because I'm a big kid at heart!

Along with each entry I'll give you a link, some idea of pricing, and a little bit about why I like it.

Have I missed out your favorite tech gadget? If I have drop me a note in the comments below to let me know!

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Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Without a doubt the best notebook I've ever used. Portable thanks to its light weight and long battery life, it is still powerful enough to take on desktop challenges. This is a real workhorse, and I've thrown heavy photo and video editing at it and it has handled it all without breaking a sweat.

And that Retina display. Wow! Once you've used that, there's no going back to a non-Retina display ever again!

Buy it here.

Price: From $1,300

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Microsoft Surface Pro 3

I've been highly critical of Windows 8, but I have to admit that it works very well on tablets, and one of the best tablets available is the Surface Pro 3. Lightweight, portable, yet powerful.

This is the way Windows 8 was meant to be used.

Buy it here.

Price: From $800

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Apple iPad Air 2

The king of tablets. Not only is the hardware top-notch, but the app and third-party accessory ecosystem that has built up around the iOS platform is second to none.

Buy it here.

Price: From $500

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Apple iPhone 6 Plus

This smartphone has revolutionized the way I work. Not only is the 5.5-inch display a pleasure to sue, but the long battery life means I can do more and spend less time worrying about how fast my battery is draining. In many ways the iPhone 6 Plus has replaced my tablets as my go-to device.

Buy it here.

Price: From $299

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Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch

The iPad might be the king of the tablets, but the Kindle Fire HDX is no slouch either, especially when you consider the price difference. A great tablet for home and BYOD, and one that is especially good for kids. Why kids? Because it's a lot less fragile than the iPad!

Buy it here.

Price: From $180

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Google Nexus 9

If you want a tablet that offers a pure Android experience, then the Nexus 9 is for you. 100 percent pure Android 5.0 Lollipop!

Buy it here.

Price: From $400

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Sennheiser RS 180

If people put cucumbers on their eyes to relax, then they should put these over their ears! Pure bliss.

These offer a truly awesome sound experience.

Buy it here.

Price: $200

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DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

It's a drone that carries aloft a camera. What more do you want to know? I can attest from personal experience that this is not only easy to fly, but it is also robust enough to handle those inevitable crashes that you're going to have.

If you're a photographer of videographer, this tool allows you to take some unique shots.

Buy it here.

Price: $1,300

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Pebble Steel

There's a lot of interest around smartwatches as of late, but the Pebble Steel is still the best of the bunch. Works with both Android and iOS devices, this is the way to put the information you need on your wrist.

Buy it here.

Price: $150

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Philips Hue

Lights that you can control from a smartphone might seem gimmicky, but these are a great way to not only create a mood, but to also help simulate daylight if you're stuck indoors during the dreary winter months.

Buy it here.

Price: From $60

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August Smart Lock

Forget keys! Using your smartphone is the modern way to unlock your door. This simple kit is easy to install and offers the owner high levels of security to ensure that only you and the people you trust can gain access to your fortress.

Buy it here.

Price: $250

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Western Digital My Passport Pro

If you own a Mac with a Thunderbolt port then this is quite simply the best portable drive you can buy. Super fast with the added security of being able to mirror your data across two drives.

Buy it here.

Price: $400

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Roku 3

The simplest, cheapest, fastest and best media-streaming device available. Do I need to say more?

Buy it here.

Price: $100

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GoPro Hero4 Black

If you want a camera that you can take with you into the outdoors without fear that you're going to break it, and bring back stunning video, then this is the camera for you. Ultra-portable, fit it anywhere, and immensely robust!

Buy it here.

Price: $500

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Google Chromecast

The simplest way to turn a dumb TV into a smart TV is by plugging in this simple HDMI dongle. Just plug it in and you're ready to rock!

Buy it here.

Price: $35

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Jawbone UP24

Track your steps and other fitness metrics with this band, and have all that data beamed wirelessly to your smartphone. You can also share your data with others, giving you even more of an incentive to go for that New Year's Day walk/jog/run!

Buy it here.

Price: $130

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Anki Drive

Toy cars that you can race with your smartphone. What's not to like?

Buy it here.

Price: $150

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Sony PlayStation 4

Both this and the Xbox One is on the list, so whatever your allegiances there's no need to fight!

Buy it here.

Price: $400

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Microsoft Xbox One

Both this and the PlayStation 4 is on the list, so whatever your allegiances there's no need to fight!

Buy it here.

Price: $350

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Sony A7r

I'm a Canon shooter myself (for my sins), but Sony have made huge strides into the mirrorless DSLR arena as of late, and this camera is capable of capturing some truly stunning photographs. If I were getting into high-end digital photography today, this could very well be the direction I would go in.

Buy it here.

Price: $2,300

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Wacom Intuos Pro (medium)

If you want pixel-perfect precision in your workflow, forget about the mouse or trackpad and invest in an input tablet. Perfect for all digital artists, whether they are using a notebook or a desktop system!

Buy it here.

Price: $350

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iFixit Repair Business Toolkit

This is the perfect gift for someone who repairs tech gear, either for a living or as a hobby. The tools in here are all top quality and perfect for PC, smartphone, and tablet repairs.

Buy it here

Price: $250

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Sonos PlayBar

Speakers seem to be out of vogue, instead being replaced by the sound bar. This is probably one of the best sound bars out there, and a perfect addition to any home entertainment system.

Buy it here.

Price: $700

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SanDisk iXpand

Instantly expand the storage of any iPhone or iPad with a Lightning connector with this simple flash drive. An affordable way to add more gigabytes for movies and documents.

Buy it here.

Price: $80

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BioLite CampStove

Keeping your tech gear charged while out and about can be hard, but with this, as long as you can light a fire, you have power for all your USB-chargeable devices.

Buy it here.

Price: $130

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Sherpa 50 solar kit

Keep your notebooks, smartphones and tablets powered up with this handy solar panel and battery pack. Perfect for those who want to be off the grid. Just add sun!

Buy it here.

Price: $600

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LG G3

One of the best, most powerful, most comfortable, nicest large-display Android smartphones currently available. This feel totally perfect in the hand.

Buy it here.

Price: $600

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Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home

Have absolute power from your armchair with this all-purpose, programmable remote control. The oerfect device for controlling everything around you while you chill!

Buy it here.

Price: $350

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Ring video doorbell

See who's at the door before you get up. The perfect high-tech way to keep an eye out for the pizza dude! Also, a great security solution if you're away from home for extended periods.

Buy it here.

Price: $250

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Printrbot Simple Metal 3D printer

3D printers are now all the rage, and now anyone can join in the fun with their very own, fully-assembled printer. Just don't print anything that might get you on Santa's naughty list!

Buy it here.

Price: From $599

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YoYoTech XDNA Aurum PC

A $13,000 gaming PC built around an Intel i7-4960X processor, 64GB of DDR3 RAM, two Asus Nvidia GTX TITAN graphics cards and a custom water-cooling system. Yes, this will run Crysis. Very well indeed!

Buy it here.

Price: Approximately $13,000

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Samsung 64-inch Plasma F8500 series Smart TV

Want a TV so big and so packed with features that it needs a quad-core processor to run it? This is the sort of TV that after looking at it, all other TVs will look rubbish, so be warned.

Buy it here.

Price: $4,400

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Apple iMac with Retina 5K display

A quad-core iMac crammed into an a 5K display which features 14.7 million pixels — four times as many as the standard 27-inch iMac. I warn you that looking at this will make your existing display feel old and tired!

Buy it here.

Price: From $2,500

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Philips Wake-Up light

Wake yourself up naturally with this sunrise simulator. If you don't have a window that allows natural sunlight to pour in, this is a great alternative.

Buy it here.

Price: $70

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NomadKey

Free yourself from the hassles of carrying around long charging cables by popping this tiny key-sized cable on your keyring. Available for microUSB (Android) and Lightning (iOS).

So utterly handy!

Buy it here.

Price: $30

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Space Pen

I've carried a Space Pen around with me for years, and they've never let me down. I've never had one leak all over my stuff, they last for ages, and the pen itself is durable and comfortable. It's telling that many of the expensive pen brands have moved to using Space Pen refills over the years.

Buy it here.

Price: From $25

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Automatic

Drive safer and smarter with this little dongle that plugs into the car's diagnostic port. Not only can it help you save on gas, but it can also be used to summon help in the even of an accident.

Buy it here.

Price: $80

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Sense

Introducing a sleep tracker that not only watches your slumber, but logs noise, light, temperature, humidity, and even air particulates. Anything that can disturb sleep, Sense can detect and log it.

Buy it here.

Price: $130

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