Amherst Bytes: A Gift List: Five Tech Tips for the Holidays
By Dylan Herts ’13, Staff Writer
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, the holiday gift season is in full swing. Stocking-stuffers aside, a lot of those gifts will be tech of some kind: laptops, phones, tablets, etc. As a college student, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of the digital market. Phones become outdated, laptops get upgraded and that iPod you bought only has a few months left in its little blue existence.

So, there are gadgets to buy this holiday season and products to ignore or wait for. Whether you’re cashing in a gift card, purchasing to give or making requests, it helps to know a few pointers. And thus, five pieces of purchasing advice for the holidays:

1. Wait for the Ver-iPhone

Industry sources from John Gruber to The New York Times have all declared that Apple’s iPhone will be released to Verizon some time in January 2011. Verizon’s new license to sell (WiFi) iPads is a strong indicator that Apple’s exclusivity agreement with AT&T is just about up. If you’re considering a Blackberry or Android handset because you’re on Verizon, wait. Chances are you’ll have an additional option come January. And, if you’re really committed, you could even wait until June for the iPhone 5.

2. Performance People: Don’t Buy A Computer Yet

The holidays are the perfect time for vendors to unload stock of older models and outdated components. If you’re not a gamer or power user, it’s a great time to buy discounted machines. For the crazy computer kids, Intel will be releasing its new Sandy Bridge architecture (think more cores, more performance, similar prices) in January and ATI still has half a new product line to sell. Gamers and performance users alike will want to wait for those announcements. You’ll get faster computers if you buy the new stuff, and still get discounts on the older models as they’re replaced.

3. RockMelt: Facebook Marries Your Browser

Facebook and your browser have decided that they see enough of each other, and it’s time to tie the knot. Well, more accurately, the people behind a program named RockMelt have made that decision. RockMelt combines Google Chrome with Facebook, allowing you to view your chats notifications, newsfeed and friends in pop-out windows on the side of your window. You’re free to surf the web as you please, and access Facebook without leaving a page. RockMelt’s free, but is only offered in a limited beta right now. So sign up and wait or ask a geeky friend if they have a spare invite.

4. Angry Birds

Just buy it. Seriously, it’s that addictive.

5. Netflix is New

Netflix recently revised its subscription models and it’s now perfect for college students. Online subscriptions for video streaming have dropped to eight dollars per month while mail service now costs an additional two dollars. For college students, that digital option is terrific. If you can persuade the rents to drop $96 for the next year, you’ll get an increasingly large library of movies and TV at your fingertips. That massive archive can stream to your laptop or, provided you have a game console, straight to your television.

Issue 10, Submitted 2010-12-01 00:42:34