Welcome to the Engadget holiday gift guide! Picking presents for friends and loved ones is never a simple task, and with thousands of options for each category, buying technology can be an especially frustrating experience. We're here to help. Below you'll find today's bevy of curated picks, and you can head back to our hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the holiday season. And don't forget to enter our giveaway -- leave a comment for a chance to nab AT&T's Samsung Galaxy Express.
Those predicting the death of the e-reader in 2012 at the hands of cheap 7-inch tablets have gotten quite the surprise this year. The space is quite alive, thanks to heated competition between industry leaders such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble and some solid choices from the likes of Kobo and Sony. There are still plenty of options for those who like a little multimedia with their books -- and don't mind doing their reading on an LCD.
On the cheap
Sure, it's last year's model, but Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch is still one of the top devoted e-ink readers out there. For the recently reduced price of $99, you get a touchscreen product built specifically for the human hand, complete with physical page-turn buttons -- an increasing rarity in the space. Of course, $20 more will get you the device's newer, more illuminated successor, but it's hard to argue with a solid reader for under $100.
Key specs: 6-inch E Ink display with infrared touch, microSD slot, rated for two months of battery life.
Price: $99 from Barnes & Noble
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For a cool $69, you get a 6-inch e-reader with built-in WiFi. There are sacrifices to be made here, however. If you want to strip the device of ads, you're going to have to pony up another $20, and the product lacks both a touchscreen and a keyboard.
Price: $69 on Amazon
Amazon may not be the first major manufacturer to offer up a nighttime reading solution, but darn if it didn't perfect the experience. Supposedly in development for four years, the Paperwhite's front-light solution is more evenly distributed, offering up a truer white experience than the competition. Add capacitive touch, sharper text, eight weeks of battery life, the Kindle Store and Amazon's continued dedication to 3G book downloads, and you've got just about the best devoted e-reader money can buy.
Key Specs: 6-inch capacitive front-illuminated E Ink display, 2GB of storage, optional 3G, rated for eight weeks of battery life with light on.
Price: $139 (WiFi, no Special Offers) on Amazon
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Amazon may have taken some of the wind out of Barnes & Noble's sails with the launch of the Paperwhite, but the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is still a terrific choice -- especially now, with that well-timed $20 price drop. Here you get all the features that made the Nook Simple Touch a top reader, plus a lighter body and proprietary glowing technology.
Price: $119 from Barnes & Noble
Sony didn't make too many changes to last year's model, retaining pinch-to-zoom and note-taking abilities courtesy of the dual-touch E Ink display. Noticeably missing is the front lighting that defined this year's competition, but this reader's still a solid choice -- and buyers get a free Harry Potter book.
Price: $130 from Sony
More than just a reader
Last year's Kindle Fire felt more like an OEM-ed content delivery device than a solid 7-inch tablet. This year, however, the mega e-retailer went for broke, offering up a focus on hardware design that its previous model lacked. As the name implies, you've got a new HD IPS display. Amazon has also improved WiFi performance, and sound quality is stronger thanks to a pair of speakers on the rear of the device. All that plus a great content selection from Amazon adds up to a great $199 tablet -- including Special Offers, naturally.
Key specs: 7-inch (1,280 x 800) IPS display, 16/32GB of storage, micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, rated for about 11 hours of battery life.
Price: $199 on Amazon
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B & N continues its long history with 7-inch tablets that began with the Nook Color. This time out, it's taken some design cues from its own Simple Touch reader, with a stubby, comfortable design. The tablet offers a high-res (1,440 x 900 pixels) display for its price, along with profiles for family members, access to B & N-approved apps and 10.5 hours of use on a charge.
Price: $199 from Barnes & Noble
Kobo has done its part to improve on the Vox, its first entry into the tablet space -- even giving it a brand-new product name. This 7-incher features a 1,280 x 800, IPS display, a 1.5GHZ processor from TI, Ice Cream Sandwich and -- unlike much of the competition -- access to the Google Play store.
Price: $200 in the coming weeks (available now in Canada, France and the UK)
Ready to take home one of AT&T's hottest smartphones? Today's offering is the Samsung Galaxy Express, which runs a snappy 1.5GHz processor and sports a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen. To enter for your chance to win, be sure to review our full guidelines, then leave a comment below.
- Leave a comment below. Any comment will do. Duplicate entries will be filtered out and discarded, so adding additional comments won't increase your likelihood of winning.
- Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia, 18 or older! Sorry, we don't make this rule (we hate excluding anyone).
- Winners will be chosen randomly. One winner will receive one (1) Samsung Galaxy Express.
- If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes a contact email. Social media contact details are not carried over into our system.
- This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. AT&T, Samsung and Engadget/AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
- The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
- Entries can be submitted until December 31st, 2012 at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!