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 LG Optimus G.
Ideally, all the gifts you'll give and receive will fall under the "fun" category, but sometimes this description is especially applicable. Welcome to the lighter side of tech, where you'll find gadgets meant to make life merrier rather than to impress with mile-long spec lists. That's not to say that these gizmos aren't productivity-friendly -- the picks below enable everything from learning to play the guitar to keeping New Year's resolutions on track.
On the cheap
Sure, there are plenty of blasters out there, but the Hex3 AppTag stands out for its ultra-easy setup -- it communicates with your smartphone via high-frequency sound so no pairing is required. Plus, a removable pistol grip allows the unit to be attached to Nerf guns (and even real firearms, though that combo doesn't mix well with eggnog). As its name suggests, the blaster is pre-loaded with several apps / games, and it includes multi-player and single-player modes for embarking on some first-person shooter action.
Key specs: Compatible with iPhones / iPods / Android devices, free AppTag apps, infrared beam and sensor for targeting, included pistol grip.
Price: $60 from Hex3
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Mario Kart Racers Q Steer R/C
Searching for a stocking stuffer, or roped into your office's Secret Santa gift exchange? Mini-sized Nintendo racers fit the bill in either case. The included remote control moves Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Donkey Kong across the surface of your choice, and each car comes with spare tires, a banana peel and a turtle shell.
Price: $26 from ThinkGeek
An activity tracker qualifying as "fun?" Not everyone will think so, but for those with a known case of the fitness bug, the Fitbit One will provide the juicy stats they crave. Steps, flights of stairs, calories burned and miles walked are all logged and uploaded to the Fitbit website, and the device doubles as a vibrating alarm clock.
Price: $100 from Fitbit
Who needs another piece of stainless steel cookware, really? Originally a project on Kickstarter, the PowerPot V puts the rest of the kitchen to shame with its five watts of power for charging any gadget with a standard USB port. Of course, it also functions like any old pot -- it converts the heat into electrical power, after all -- but the 3-foot flame-resistant cord adds a serving of battery life along with boiled water for tonight's spaghetti.
Key specs: 5W maximum output, USB 2.0 port, 1.4-liter capacity.
Price: $129 from ThePowerPot
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Ion's All-Star Guitar
Hey, everybody has to start somewhere. With an iPad docked into its body, the simulator displays guitar strings and teaches aspiring musicians notes and chords via an included app. The fret board sports 84 LEDs that light up to show correct fingering.
Price: $150 from Hammacher Schlemmer
Money is no object
The latest 3D printer from MakerBot is every bit as lust-worthy as the previous-generation machine. A 410-cubic-inch build volume gives creative minds ample space to get started on that career in vinyl toys, and the new powder-coated steel frame looks classier and promises greater ruggedness. The included one-pound spool of Natural PLA filament should be more than enough to crank out a few winning designs with the aid of the MakerWare software tool.
Key specs: Build volume of 410 cubic inches, 100-micron resolution, MakerWare software bundle, connectivity via USB and SD card (included).
Price: $2,199 from MakerBot
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The bad news: the 2013 Zero S isn't actually available until January, so gift recipients will have to make due with an IOU. The good news: you'll be forgiven for the wait when you mention the 68 foot-pounds of torque, 54 horsepower and 95 MPH max speed.
Price: $13,995 from Zero Motorcycles
Gift a friend the Arkeg and you're effectively supplying the party. Games from Midway, Capcom and more are pre-loaded and ready to run on the 24-inch LCD display, and the 5-gallon keg below keeps thirstiness at bay.
Price: $3,999 from DrinkNGame
Ready to take home one of AT&T's hottest smartphones? Today's offering is the LG Optimus G, which packs a beautiful 4.7-inch True HD display and remains one of our top picks on the US carrier's LTE network. 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) LG Optimus G.
- 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, LG 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!