By J. Sebe Dale IV - email
KENNESAW, GA (RNN) - Strapping on your combat boots, elbow pads and credit cards in preparation for Friday's "it's a war out there" Christmas shopping onslaught? Before you storm the aisles, take a minute to acquaint yourself with what's hot this year in the world of technology.
Major retailers are stocking up and marking down some of the biggest deals in gadgets.
Phil Reid, general manager for Best Buy in Kennesaw, GA, said he is beyond excited about the holidays this year. He is stuffing his 45,000-square-foot store with as much inventory as possible while keeping it "shoppable."[if gte mso 9]>
"I've been with Best Buy for 14 years now, and this year's new gadgets have me more excited than ever before," Reid said.
You don't have to do your own gadget reconnaissance; Reid shared his favorite geek-friendly picks for Christmas 2010:
The iPad is no longer the lone tablet front-runner. The market for the smaller and more portable computers has become more competitive this season with the addition of several new tablets.
The iPad will be challenged by new tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, an Android-based tablet that is smaller and lighter than the Apple option.
"The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the only real competitor for the iPad," said CNET.com Senior Editor Dan Ackerman.
The Samsung tablet 3G connectivity is available from all major wireless carriers, he said, while the iPad is only available from AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Three-dimensional imagery is making the jump from the big screen to consumers' living rooms this year. Reid said that in order to get consumers to adopt this new visual technology, retailers are bundling the new TVs with the required equipment.
The new technology is also showing up in video games.
Reid said there is a lot of excitement surrounding Activision's Call of Duty Black Ops, the first-person shooter game available in 3-D for Sony's PlayStation3 (PS3) and Microsoft's Xbox 360.
Ackerman said he just made the switch to 3-D at home, and was impressed with the quality of a few 3-D movies. However, he cautioned consumers about adopting the new technology too soon.
"For the most part, there are not that many movies and fewer games for 3-D," Ackerman said.
Still, if you're thinking about purchasing a new, high-end TV this year, paying a bit more for 3-D might be the way to go, he said.
Move over Wii, the Xbox 360 has jumped into motion-based gaming.
The newly released Kinect for Xbox 360 is now offering a controller-free, full-bodied gaming experience.
It's not just for "hard-core" gamers, Reid said. He has watched several families trying out the game system in the store's Kinect display.
Ackerman said that aside from the obvious benefit of not being tethered to cords, the real benefit of the Kinect is that users can control media playback with their hands and through vocal commands.
The Xbox 360 add-on retails for approximately $150.
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