10 Must-have Gadgets for the 2012 Holiday Season


Apple iPad Mini

An Apple employee uses the iPad mini at the tablet's launch in the UK in November 2012. Oli Scarff/Getty Images News
An Apple employee uses the iPad mini at the tablet's launch in the UK in November 2012. Oli Scarff/Getty Images News

Just in time for the 2012 holidays, Apple released its new, smaller, less expensive tablet computer, the iPad Mini. It has the capabilities of the popular, full-sized iPad packed into a tablet with a 7.9-inch (20-centimeter) screen. Users can take pictures, surf the Web, watch video, read books and listen to music all on this one diminutive device.

With the Mini's smaller size comes maximum portability. It weighs half as much as a regular iPad, a little less than 11 ounces (308 grams), and its tough aluminum and glass case -- barely more than a quarter-inch (.64 centimeters) thick -- gives it a solid feel [source: Tsukayama].

This smaller tablet features 16 GB storage capacity and a 10-hour battery life. It also has front and back cameras that can record HD video and 5-megapixel photos. And the cover, which doubles as a stand, comes in a variety of colors.

Like an iPhone, the Mini includes SIRI voice recognition and synthesis and Apple's FaceTime, which lets users make video calls. It can link to the Internet via an advanced Wi-Fi connection that offers twice the speed of earlier iPads and allows for 4G cellular connectivity. Starting at $329, the Mini is not cheap. But it runs the same 275,000 apps available for full-sized iPads, and for the person who has everything else, just might make the perfect gift.

Author's Note

We all absorb cheer around the holidays -- getting together with friends and family, enjoying traditional celebrations. But for children, it's a truly special time. In fact, much of the enjoyment of the season springs from our nostalgia and memories of our own childhood anticipation and joy.

Researching this piece made me think that the principal quality of a good holiday gift is its ability to evoke that sense of childlike wonder. Not whether it's needed or useful, but whether it fascinates. Something new, something clever, something wonderful.

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