By John Shmuel
For the gamer:
Price: $49.99 (PC), $59.99 (Xbox)
Hordes of marauding zombies. Dark creepy alleys. Lots of gore. Left4Dead is the kind of game where you pick up a controller, get three friends and go to town. In a season where games like Fallout 3, Call of Duty: World at War and Wrath of the Lich King came out, it takes a really good game to make it to the top. Left4Dead is that game. But be warned: this is the ultimate party game meant to be played with other people. If you’re buying it for someone who likes to play solo, check out one of the aforementioned games instead.
It’s been two years since it came out, but the Wii continues to disappear off store shelves every time a new shipment arrives. The reason? It’s pretty damn fun. And you don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to appreciate it either. Sure, the selection of games might not be as good as the Xbox 360, and it doesn’t double as a blu-ray player the way the PS3 does. But you probably won’t care much when you’re playing games like Wii Fit or Wii Sports and ditching your expensive gym membership. It’s video gaming without the weight gain.
For the parents:
TomTom ONE s130
Your cell phone GPS might be nice, but it just won’t cut it when you’re heading up north camping. Luckily, TomTom makes a pretty decent entry level GPS device for under $200. Sure the speaker might not be as loud as some of the more high end GPS systems out there. But it works great and has all the functionality you’ll need to get you where you want to go. Its one stand-out feature? The s130 will let you download any celebrity voice you want to act as your guide. Few things compare to having Mr. T verbally abuse you for going the wrong way.
This is the latest contender in “iPhone killers” hitting the market in time for the holiday season. It comes with the Blackberry’s famous easy-to-use email system, a plus for moms and dads who want to stay in touch on the go. As good as the Storm is, it lacks one thing that puts it at a big disadvantage however: Wi-Fi. What it does bring to the table however is one of the highest resolution screens in the industry, and a nifty feature that forces you to press down and “click” the screen when selecting something, like a button for example.
For the student:
The ubiquitous MP3 player that everyone wants in their stocking. And with its new redesign, it’s better than ever. The new shake-and-shuffle feature is pretty neat, and the screen switches between vertical and horizontal depending on which angle you face it at. The new models also come with a price drop over the old ones, which is nice for those who might be on a budget. If you’re looking to save even more, look for refurbished models online at www.apple.com/ca. Oh, and there’s nine different colour choices available.
Lenovo Thinkpad SL400
Price: Starting at $649.99
If you’re broke, you should probably move on to the next gadget. If not, this is a great notebook for students needing a fast computer without spending thousands of dollars for good performance. Considering these run for under $700 and work their way up when you upgrade, they’re a nice alternative to those frustratingly expensive Macbooks. The only downfall of these machines is they came out before Nvidia developed the new 9400 series GeForce graphics card, which the new Macbook now boasts. Still, a winner all around and a great holiday purchase.
Price: $199.99 (three-year term)
The iPhone continues to be the talk of the town. Getting one of these means you can pretty much throw out your old MP3 player, cell phone and PDA. If you’re picking this up as a gift, make sure the recipient doesn’t mind being locked into a three year contract, because you’re not going to get one any other way. Still, this is a hot ticket item, and will be well past this holiday season.
For all the photo junkies out there, the Nikon D60 is one of the hottest D-SLR cameras on the market right now. The price will probably be enough to drive away more prudent holiday shoppers, but the features this camera has makes the price tag worth it. The Nikon D60 shoots video, and takes advantage of Eye-fi memory cards, letting you connect to a Wi-Fi network and download your pictures straight to your computer without connecting to it. That alone will save you money on investing in new memory cards. Oh, and it takes pretty sweet photos too.
Price: $199.99 (student discount)
The newest version of Photoshop is here — image-manipulation junkies rejoice! Without going into complicated detail about OpenGL support and improved functionality, the bottom-line is there’s enough new stuff here to make this a worthwhile purchase. With all the tools available, it can pretty much appeal to anyone these days. If you have a previous version, you’ll save nearly $800 buying Photoshop CS4. Students are eligible for the same discount if you’re currently enrolled, which is roughly 80 per cent.