A couple of weeks ago, editors and testers on Consumer Reports' electronics team shared their personal holiday wish lists with the world. It's great fun to dream about your ideal techie gift—but not all gadgets are equally wonderful, wished for, and wanted. Not to sound ungrateful or &Scrooge-like, but here's what our experts DON'T want this year!
Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor: Don't give me an off-brand tablet!
Tablets from major brands have come down in price this year; our Ratings have recommended 7-inch models for $200 to $250, and some fine larger models start at only a little more. That makes models that cost less but deliver a lot less in performance, like the Coby Kyros and Pandigital SuperNova, even more dubious buys. If you want to buy me a bargain gadget, think about a high-rated e-book reader with a crisp, non-backlighted black-and-white e-ink screen; such models cost as little as $70.
Mike Gikas, Senior Editor, Electronics: Don't give me a smart-phone screen protector!
Today's smart-phone touch screens already come with a protective layer of Gorilla Glass or other hardened material that make scratching them nearly impossible. Some screen protectors reduce glare, but they can also make your display less responsive and harder to see in other ways. And screen protectors, even when properly installed, often develop unsightly air bubbles and annoying scratches of their own.
Terry Sullivan, Associate Editor, Electronics: Don't give me a designer camera!
Although many high-end cameras are used to photograph fashion models and stylish products, I'm wary of camera manufacturers that hire special designers to "craft" a new look for a camera. Some, like the Pentax K-01 SLR-like model, may be somewhat intriguing in appearance. But I like to focus on quality, performance and features rather than high-end fashion.
Eileen McCooey, Deputy Editor, Electronics: Don't give me humongous devices!
Take smart phones, for one: The jumbo 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Note II and others with 5-plus-inch screens may be tremendous products, but I would never want to lug one around. They're simply too big for me. Another would be a speaker system with gigantic front speakers. Some of those look as big as me! Oh, and here's one more thing you shouldn't bother to pick up for me: a DVD player. If you love me, you'll spring for Blu-ray.
Jeff Fox, Technology Editor: Don't give me a Windows 8 computer without a touch screen!
That's like buying me a car with three wheels. If I have to use the two UIs in Microsoft's new OS, one of which is a touch-centric interface that looks like a tablet, I want to be able to use it the way it's designed. You wouldn't want a tablet without touch capability, would you?
Dean Gallea, Senior Program Leader, Electronics: Don't give me a universal remote!
They either lack some essential button I need the original remote for anyway, are really time-consuming to program button-by-button for the products I want to control, or require connecting to a computer and the Internet to set up.
Jim Willcox, Senior Editor, Electronics: Don't give me celebrity headphones!
I just want good sound, not to make a fashion statement or identify with Dr. Dre or Lady Gaga. I own two great sets of headphones (Sennheisers and Grados), plus probably a half-dozen others that are decent (including a set of Monoprice over-ear cans that at $20, might be my bargain buy of the year). And almost all are about as stylish as an Adam Sandler line of sleepwear. Celebrities, if you want me to part with some green, make and release some great new music, and I'll buy it.
Now that we have that straightened out, here's what the experts at Consumer Reports DO want for the holidays!