Not too many questions yet, feel free to pump them in now!
Look, people. I'd rather not have to plant questions with all my sockpuppet accounts.
Thanks for joining us Matt, for those of you who unfamiliar with our tech Gift Guide Matt Braga wrote several reviews this week.
Hey folks. It's nice to be here.
We've spent some time this week looking at tablets, eReaders, laptops and smartphones in the Tech Gift Guide, so we'll address your questions on those topics (maybe not in that order). Also, Chad Sapieha will be joining us, to answer any of your video gamer questions.
Also, I am now going to moderate your comments, so we can have a reasonably organized flow to the conversation... thanks for participating!
Howdy, all. Ready to answer some questions, offer some opinions. :)
Hannah, what kind of gamer is he/she? Young or old? Nerdy or sporty? Gun lover or sword slasher?
The category is basically split between your standard e-ink readers—so, the cheaper, monochrome models—and more fully-fledged tablets.
So it really depends on if you're just looking for a solid reading experience, or extra features like web browsing, gaming or apps.
One commenter wondered about the viability of any eReader:
"Personally, I think that the eReader is going to go the way of the VCR. "
Shane, I think that commenter is right. Dedicated eReaders, anyway. Unless they go down in price to $40 or $50, there's no use buying a device the functionality of which is duplicated on so many more versatile machines.
I don't know if I'd go quite that far. You'd be surprised at the sheer number of people who simply want a cheap, reading-focused device that's incredibly good on battery life. Tablets are nice, but for a lot of people, it's not worth the huge price increase, limited battery or harsh, unfriendly LCD if all you want is to read a few books.
I think Chad and I are going to have a Star Trek-style "fight to the death" over this.
I have to say, for my wife, a middling technology user who just wants things to work when she turns them on, the e-ink readers really appeal to her.
But what about the Kindle Fire question, I know almost no one in Canada has had their hands on one yet, but should we all just wait until whenever Amazon let's Canada have them to make a decision on an eReader+?
Same with my mum. But I totally see where Chad's coming from. The problem is that tablets need to come down in price too, while still offering a reasonable user experience. I'm not convinced the current batch of $200 tablets are good for that just yet.
Hannah, we're never too old to play games! If he(?) digs shooters, your top choices this fall are Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and the testosterone-charged Gears of War 3. Make sure you find out which of these he may already have before buying.
OK, let's switch gears a little and talk smartphones...
Shane, my wife swore by her Sony Reader for nearly two years. Read scores of books on it. But it began collecting dust the day she got an iPad. She doesn't want to carry two devices around in her purse.
Ender: Do you know what your teenager wants to use it for? Is he/she more interested in talking or texting? And how much are you willing to spend? At a certain point you start moving out of feature phone territory into smartphones, so that's important to consider.
Matt, is there a teenager anywhere who doesn't want to do EVERYTHING with their phone?
The CBC ran an interesting story a few months back on how phone envy and bullying among teens. It's tempting to just get them something cheap and functional, but they could end up being ridiculed for it. Complicating matters, some high schools are providing course materials via smartphones, making it difficult to simply go with anything less. I recommend cheap smartphones (perhaps an older iPhone) on longterm affordable plans. They'll be your cheapest bet in the long run (assuming they don't get broken in the first year).
I know! I know. I remember how quickly my own teenage brother grew tired of his old feature phone, and sprung for a BlackBerry instead, much to the chagrin of my parents.
There's also contract life to consider in your smartphones... a number of the hottest devices we looked at only become reasonable when you lock in for a number of years to the telecom provider.
For instance: iPhone 4S, Starting at $649.99, or $159.99 with contracts through Rogers, Bell, or Telus;
Pretty much the same for the Galaxy Nexus: Starting at $649.95, or $159.95 with a three-year contract through Bell
Shane, exactly. And when they break after one or two years, you're still on the hook for the contract, which pretty much means you need to shell out full price for a new handset.
Great point Chad. As far as plans are concerned, it might not be a bad idea to look at carriers such as Wind and Mobilicity. I assume your daughters won't be travelling outside of the coverage zones all that much, since they are still in school, which makes the near-unlimited talk and text plans quite enticing.
Chad you raise a great point, the same one a reader made with a little more grumpiness earlier:
Tom Z wrote "Hey, if these phones are so smart, so useful, how come half of their last year models are now in the junkyard?"
I'd be interested to discover how many people buy phones without a plan, though. When I go handset shopping, I want the latest and greatest, but I don't want to shell out $700 up front. I always end up on a long-term plan.
But just in terms of features, guys, if you're stuck with a phone for a long time which one do you think would age well?
I've always maintained that the official Google Nexus phones are your best bet on the Android side, since you'll be ensured software updates for at least a year and a half. Same goes for Apple on the iPhone side. They're pretty good about supporting older handsets.
I'd go with the Nexus, I think. I love the notion of getting a pristine, unmodified version of Ice Cream Sandwich. It's a great operating system. And it can be upgraded to newer versions the day they're released.
I might suggest a BlackBerry for Ender's younger child. It may not be the sexy pick, but the old beat up one's we get in the office still perform remarkably well.