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It's that time of year again! You know, the one when you have to hand over your hard-earned cash or dole out the credit card digits to get the loved ones in your life a little something celebratory. Lucky you, we've got a slew of great recommendations in our easy-on-the-eyes Holiday Gift Guide.

Need something for that video gaming fanatic in the fam? Then consider this: Sony's PlayStation 4 has plenty of next-gen horsepower under the hood and all of the streaming apps you'll ever need. It also doesn't hurt that it's home to some of the best exclusive first-party and indie titles out there.

And that's just a taste of what our gift guide has to offer. Dive in here for the full monty!

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Amazon's India Country Manager plays with a OnePlus One

Poor OnePlus just can't take a break. Just as the company's busy taking care of its Black Friday promotion, its store opening in Beijing and its India launch with Amazon next week, a close partner decided to drop a hurtful bomb. Cyanogen Inc., the maker of OnePlus One's Android ROM, announced that it's now inked a deal with Micromax to exclusively support the latter's upcoming online brand Yu -- a direct competitor of Xiaomi -- in India. And by "exclusive" we do mean no love for OnePlus, who implies in its latest blog post that Cyanogen knew about its India plan all along, yet it was suddenly shunned to make way for a new partner over there. If true, this is a surprisingly childish move from an up-and-coming company that has no doubt benefitted much from its partnership with OnePlus thus far.

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You know those cartoons where the culprit was revealed to be Old Mr. Jones, the Caretaker, all along? It turns out that Sony's been pulling the same trick concerning Fashion Entertainments' e-paper watch. The story goes that the company wanted to create innovative new products, but without the weight of expectation (or, possibly, dread) that goes with the Sony name. According to the Wall Street Journal, FES' plan is to combine the company's e-paper know-how with fashionable accessories, including the watch and customizable bow ties. Admittedly, the idea of an e-paper bow tie that you can somehow alter with a digital device sounds like the sort of thing you'd buy from Brookstone, so we hope Kaz Hirai knows how to make it cool.

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Which compact cameras are worth buying?

Plenty of people have switched to smartphones for their photography needs, but that doesn't mean standalone cameras are dead just yet. Companies like Fuji, Canon and Olympus continue to make great DSLRs and interchangeable lens cameras for photographers who are serious about their picture-taking. But what about users who aren't that advanced, but still want something that packs a little more oomph than the average smartphone? There's a sub-category of cameras just for that, known as compacts. They're easy enough for a novice to use, but still offer plenty of options for experienced users. We've taken a look at a few of the more outstanding models on the market to help you decide whether it's worth carrying a separate camera for those precious photogenic moments.

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When Jolla launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the development of its tablet, the company was only aiming to make $380,000. Somewhere along the way -- say the moment it reached $1 million in pledges -- the people behind Jolla probably realized that the public are into the idea. So, they've now added some nice stretch goal promises, the most ambitious of which being the addition of 3.5G or cellular connectivity -- but only if they get more than $2.5 million. While that's a lofty goal, the other two are a bit more realistic: they're promising to add microSDHC support for cards up to 128GB in capacity if they raise $1.5 million (at time of writing, the project is just $200,000 shy of that), and to introduce split screen capability for $1.75 million. Jolla has also introduced a $3,499 micro-distributor starter kit tier for 20 tablets. The plucky startup is clearly pulling out all the stops in order to double the current pledge total within the last 12 days of the campaign.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It's no secret that people like Chromebooks. That can't be good news for Microsoft, which used to own the market for cheap computers. Not one to take this sort of encroachment lying down, Microsoft came out with a lower-cost version of Windows 8.1 that PC makers could use to build small, lightweight devices inexpensive enough to take on Chromebooks. The HP Stream 11 is among the first of these so-called Chromebook killers: an 11.6-inch laptop running full Windows and priced at just $200. For the money, it looks and performs like a netbook, with a colorful plastic shell and an Intel Celeron processor chugging away under the hood. Then again, though, you also have the option of installing traditional desktop apps, which you can't do on a Chromebook, and Microsoft is further sweetening the deal by throwing in a terabyte of OneDrive storage and a yearlong subscription to Office 365. So is this just netbooks, redux? Or does an aggressive price make all the difference?

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I'm tired of walking into musty pubs and ordering pints that are bland, poured incorrectly, or twice the price of the nearest off-licence. If I weren't meeting friends, I'd be out the door faster than Road Runner. Of course, more than a few social drinkers share my apathy, so a surge of public houses are starting to change tack. They're embracing top-notch craft beers and employ bartenders that put genuine care into your order. You feel like they want your business, and what you're getting in return would be difficult to replicate at home.

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OnePlus has just let it be known that you'll finally be able to buy its $299 One phone sans invitation for Black Friday. The "deal" starts today and lasts all weekend, with the 16GB white model up for $299 (€269 in Europe, £229 in the UK) or $349/€299/£269 for the 64GB black model. There are also discounts on other accessories. That marks the first time (other than an hour last month) that folks will be able to buy the now-slightly-dated model without an RSVP. Despite the ridiculous waiting period, though, the 5.5-inch, 1080p device still has plenty of power and charm for its petite price. Hopefully it'll come off invitations for good before the next model comes out.

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circa may 2014   berlin  the...

The home of Las Vegas is meant to be a paradise of unhinged abandon, where consequences don't matter and everyone has a great time. Unfortunately, no-one at the Washoe County District Court got that memo, since it's just slammed Uber with a preliminary injunction preventing it from operating in the state. It was the usual roll of objections that have stopped the service, since Uber vehicles aren't subject to the same safety, insurance and licensing rules that taxis are. The company, for its part, has pledged not to abandon the state, saying that it'll work with Nevada's leadership to come to a useful solution. Maybe at the same time it'll try to clean up its reputation after a series of blunders, gaffes and PR disasters.

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CD DVD DB Bluray disc

On paper, collecting the sun's energy is a pretty great idea -- but most solar panels suffer from relatively low photovoltaic efficiency. On average, most panels will collect less than 20-percent of the light that hits it. Can we do better? Absolutely: but we'll need more Blu-ray discs. According to researchers at the Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, the microscopic hills an valleys found on a Blu-ray disc are surprisingly adept at trapping light. On a video disc this talent is wasted, but when the pattern is cast, molded and transferred to a polymer solar cell, it becomes a series of quasi-random nanostructures that increase photovoltaic efficiency by about 22-percent. The research, which was published in Nature Communications earlier this month, is just a proof of concept -- but if further research proves fruitful the "Blu-ray trick" could serve as a shortcut to creating more efficient solar cells.

[Image credit: C-laudiodivizia]

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