Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012: gaming

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.

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 gaming

Nothing quite says "holidays" like snuggling up with your favorite gaming device and putting some serious time into the backlog of games piling up next to the TV. But 2012 is a year of change when it comes to gaming devices -- PC graphics cards are dropping in price and easily outclassing console competition, and new entrants like the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Wii U offer novel ways to interact with classic characters. So, what should you get for the gaming-inclined people in your life? Read on to find out what will fit best into your budget this year.

On the cheap

Nintendo DSi XL

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 gaming

Sure, the Nintendo 3DS is the new hotness, but there's an enormous breadth of excellent (and inexpensive) content on Nintendo's final DSi iteration, the XL. With games ranging in price from $1 to $30, the DSi XL is a great choice for kids (and parents), essentially guaranteeing to keep the long-term financial investment low. Also good for kids and parents? It's nigh indestructible. The DSi XL may be hard to find brand-new in stores, but a pre-owned one will cost even less than the $130 (and up) going rate.

Key specs: Dual 4.2-inch LCD screens (256 x 192), SD card slot, rated for three to 12 hours of battery life, weighs 314g (0.7 pound).

Price: From $154 on Amazon

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Neo Geo X

Give the gift of handheld nostalgia this year with SNK Playmore's Neo Geo X handheld. The gorgeous little machine carries a $130 price tag by itself, or you can pony up another $70 for the special edition (which includes a bevy of sweet peripherals).

Price: $130 from GameStop


Skylanders: Giants Starter Pack

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure took the game industry by surprise and became a breakout hit. This year, Activision and Toys For Bob are upping the ante with Skylanders: Giants and it (thankfully) works with all those toys you bought last year.

Price: $75 on Amazon


Sony PlayStation Vita

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 gaming

The PlayStation Vita may not be in the best place sales-wise, but there's a wealth of content available for Sony's second entry in the portable console market. The 5-inch OLED touchscreen is bright and responsive, the controls and button layout are comfortable and graphics outclass the Nintendo 3DS' performance. Yes, at $250, it's still too expensive, but at this point there are more than enough good reasons to pick one up (Gravity Rush, LittleBigPlanet and Sound Shapes come to mind).

Key specs: 5-inch multi-touch display (960 x 544), ARM Cortex A9 processor, WiFi support, weighs 260g (0.6 pound).

Price: $250 on Amazon

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Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo's Wii U may still have work to do in convincing gamers of its worth, but the early adopters among us will assuredly want to snag a first-run system when it launches this November. A huge list of launch games certainly doesn't hurt, either.

Price: From $300 starting on November 18th from Nintendo


iPad mini

Yup, seriously. Here we are, suggesting you get yourself an iPad mini for gaming. There are simply too many good iOS games to overlook Apple's new, smaller tablet. (Have you played Super Hexagon?!) Bonus: it does a bunch of other stuff too.

Price: $329 from Apple

Money's no object

Alienware X51 Mini Gaming Desktop

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 gaming

The Alienware X51 is just a touch larger than your average gaming console, but it's considerably more powerful. After all, it packs NVIDIA's GTX 660 graphics chip and an Intel Core i7 processor with 1TB of HDD memory. The X51 can be easily connected to a living room TV for use as a media center and Steam Big Picture Mode game box. Kitting it out all the way comes with a hefty price, of course.

Key specs: Core i7-3770 processor with 16GB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 graphics with 1.5GB of dedicated RAM, weighs 12.1 pounds.

Price: $1,200 from Dell

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Second-gen Razer Blade gaming laptop

The Razer Blade laptop is a beautiful, thin, powerful gaming laptop -- with a prohibitively high price. But if the sky's the limit when it comes to your holiday budget, we can't suggest a better way to spend a huge wad of cash on a hardcore gamer.

Price: $2,500 from Razer


Digital Storm Bolt

Next-gen gaming is already here; you just have to pay a premium for it. The Bolt Gaming PC from Digital Storm is no exception, especially if you shell out for the high-end model equipped with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680.

Price: $1,949 from Digital Storm


Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 digital cameras
LG Optimus G

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.

The rules:

  • 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!