1. Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player – $29.99
The basic idea of Chromecast is that you can play any video, any media, anything at all, that you can open in a Chrome browser window. While it’s not quite as feature packed or all-around simple as a Roku or APple TV, for a mere $29.99, this thing is impossible to beat and is therefore one of the hottest items around this year.
2. Roku 3, Streaming Media Player – $98.00
The latest and greatest version of the Roku streaming media player, the Roku 3 boasts 1080p, a MicroSD slot, and a versatile set of features and applications. While it’s not as cheap as Chromecast, it provides nearly as much value considering it’s price tag of 3x as much. Very cool.
3. Xbox One – $499.99
There are basically two bad things that can be said about the Xbox One and neither is much of a big deal at all. For one, the console is not backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games, and for two, the launch line-up is pretty drab. Otherwise, this console is next-gen to the core. Built-in recording, Blu-ray playing, games that you can play anywhere (as long as you have Xbox Live Gold), and a graphic performance that’s comparable to PS4 (though slightly less good) will leave the vast majority of gamers very pleased.
4. Kindle Fire HD – $229
For $229, this tablet just offers an absurd amount of bang for the buck. Boasting an iPad comparable display of 8.9″, amazing color with great backlighting, and the best speakers for any tablet on the market, you just can’t argue with it on a hardware level — at least when it comes to media consumption. The HD camera ain’t bad, and if you have Amazon Prime, you’ll reap the benefits of a huge library of movies and like content. It’s a knock-out for the money.
5. Playstation 4 – $399.99
While I put it slightly behind the Xbox One, the PS4 is still an amazing console for the dinero. While it doesn’t boast some of the new snazzy features of the Xbox (and even has some annoying similarities such as a lack of backwards compatibility!), the thing boasts the best graphics of any Next Gen console on the market. Further, if you’re into the kind of software Sony consoles tend to attract, it’s an obvious choice. Shared gameplay, and Playstation Plus are two awesome new features to look forward to.
6. Canon EOS t3i (w/ 18-55mm lens), D-SLR – $469.99
The T3i may have seen like only an incremental increase from its predecessors, but the reality is that this camera is the perfect beginner/pro cam in a way that no other camera prior is. Boasting 1080P and a reasonably versatile kit lens, this cam is a must-have for the budding photograph, or someone looking to get seriously into videography. Very cool.
7. GoPro HERO3+: Black Edition – $399.99
While it’s not quite the pro-cam that the t3i is, the HERO3+ is awesome for some specific uses. Put it on a helmet, dashboard, or other fast-moving thing, and this is the right camera. GoPros have a unique ability to get gold despite shake, dust, and other things that would render a conventional D-SLR as either having extremely poor footage, or downright broken.
8. Nest Learning Thermostat – $249.99
Of course, you don’t need an intelligent thermostat, but then again, no one really NEEDS air conditioning. Naturally, most AC thermostates are pretty dumb and invariablym the various residents of the house will fight over where exactly the temperature goes, no matter what. Still, if you have reached relative equilibrium regarding temperature in your household, this product is amazing. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns how to fight against the temperature you don’t want, with the right air temperature, so you can get your house to be the right temp ASAP. Moreover, it’s dead sexy.
9. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones – $299.00
Pretty much the gold standard of headphones since Thomas Edison invented the telephone, the Bose Noise cancelling headphones take the SSSS out of airplane’s engine sound, and other repetitive noises no big deal. Further, these things boast some serious acoustical fidelity and are one of very few headphones that aren’t merely loud and crisp, they give a real sense of space to the listener. Great engineering on the acoustic and acoustic reduction end, there’s a reason this model just keeps on sellin’.
10. Samsung 240GB SSD – $160.99
OK, a new hard drive isn’t sexy or exciting sounding, but here’s the truth: this thing is like getting a new computer. If your old PC is starting to run like it’s powered by hamsters, back up whatever data you think you need, and install this thing. All of a sudden, your Intel VIIV won’t seem like it’s from the Reagan-era. Seriously, SSDs make your computer feel brand new and lightning fast. Not hard to install, but if you need a professional, installation should be cheap, around $100.