LOS ANGELES— From tablet computers to smart cameras, the holiday season is a time when shoppers are on the lookout for the newest and coolest electronic devices on the market.
When it comes to electronic devices, consumers have more choices than ever before.
Brian Tong is Senior Editor of CNET.com, a website that reports tech news and trends and reviews the latest electronic products. He said tablet computers are one of the hottest items this year. With a starting price of $329, the Apple Mini is one of the most popular and more expensive tablets. One of its biggest competitors is the cheaper Google Nexus 7 starting at $199.
“The hardware inside is more powerful than what’s in the iPad Mini, but also it offers you a lot of things like maps that work better than Apple’s maps," he said.
Apple and Google are just two of a number of companies with tablets competing for business.
“Look at the price what’s in your wheelhouse. $199 is really the starting price point for a quality seven-inch tablet, and beyond that you want to look at what you want to do with your tablet," said Tong. "If you just want to read books and surf the Internet, really you don’t need to get an iPad Mini. But if you want the largest robust group of apps, that’s where the iPad and Apple’s ecosystem shines the most.”
Nintendo is jumping on the concept of tablets with its Wii U game device. It comes with a new touch screen GamePad that also has traditional controls for video games, as well as motion control, microphone and a stylus. Players can view the game on the GamePad or on a TV screen. One of the most popular games for the Wii U: Super Mario Bros. U.
Another gadget: smart cameras. Consumers can email or upload photos to a social networking site directly from the camera, says Elman Chacon of the electronics store, Best Buy.
“You can literally take a picture, upload it into your Facebook in a matter of seconds,” said Chacon.
Streaming media boxes also connect to the Internet and allow people to view web content, such as movies and YouTube videos, on their televisions. The two main competitors are Roku and Apple TV.
Now there are even specialized wireless speakers, which work with any device that has Bluetooth technology, including smart phones, laptops and tablets.
With the growing popularity of Internet shopping, many consumers visit a retail store first to look at the actual product, and then go online to find it at a lower price. Retail stores understand that and are trying to stay competitive. Chacon said that includes Best Buy.
“We offer price match comparison. We have something called the 'perfect-match promise,' which means if you buy a certain device and you find it cheaper within 30 days, we’ll go ahead and price-match that for you,” he said.
With so many options in prices and products, consumers will have to do their homework before making a purchase.