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Review: Digital Journal Gift Guide — Hot tech, cool gadgets (Includes first-hand account)

It can be difficult to wade through the deluge of gadgets lining store shelves this holiday season. That’s where we come in – Digital Journal has picked several intriguing products that caught our eye this month, and these are our recommended products for your gift list.

In no particular order, below is Digital Journal’s tech gift guide:

Sony NEX-6 digital camera w/ 16-50mm Zoom Lens ($1000 CAN)

We were impressed by the performance of this compact size mirrorless camera with a big bite. Its large Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor offers 16.1 effective megapixels for true DSLR-quality images and detail-heavy full HD video. The camera has the same high-resolution XGA OLED viewfinder as its predecessor NEX-7 model. Our favorite feature is the camera’s new well-positioned mode dial, similar to those found on traditional DSLR cameras, giving easy access to commonly used shooting modes including P/A/S/M and Sweep Panorama mode. We loved how the NEX-6 performed very well in low-light situations thanks to the auto slow shutter feature that adds extra detail to those murky clips. The camera detects dim interiors and night scenes and automatically selects a slower shutter speed to brighten footage. The powerful BIONZ image processor gives nice, low-noise images at high sensitivity settings up to ISO 25600.

You can see for yourself the output quality of the NEX-6 because we covered the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto using this remarkable camera.

To view a sample of an uncompressed photo taken with the NEX-6 camera, click here.

Microsoft Surface RT ($520 CAN)

Microsoft’s entry in the crowded tablet market is a true stunner. We marveled at the attached Touch Cover acting as a sleek keyboard, for those who don’t like typing long emails on a tablet screen. Through its OS, the Surface offers a true desktop Office experience, so you can easily tap the Word icon and be taken to a blank doc.

The unit is sleek and light, definitely advisable for road warriors. Also worth highlighting is the standard USB 2.0 port allowing you to hook up all sorts of devices to the Surface RT. The main drawback, though, is the app store, which is quite paltry compared to iPad’s equivalent, but we hope that disparity will change in the coming months.

Using the Microsoft Surface tablet

Using the Microsoft Surface tablet

Dyson Digital Slim DC45 vacuum cleaner ($350 CAN)

A lightweight cordless vacuum could be the perfect gift for the clean freak in your household. Very easy to suck up dirt from drapes or high walls, the Digital Slim is unlike any vacuum you’ve ever owned, thanks to Dyson’s funky design. Beyond its stylish look, its digital motors spin at up to 104,000rpm, making the Slim the most powerful cordless vacuum ever created.

At $350, it’s not an inexpensive gift, but it could be well worth it for consumers frustrated with clunky vacuums or poorly functioning Dustbusters. We also like how the aluminium wand can be detached for up-close tasks like cleaning your car.

The Dyson Digital Slim vacuum cleaner

The Dyson Digital Slim vacuum cleaner
Courtesy Dyson

Adobe Creative Suite 6 ($1,299 to $2,599)

The definitive software package for designers, publishers and photographers has been updated with several tweaks and add-ons. The CS6 toolkit can now handle HTML5 projects, and more powerful tools that take advantage of the new rendering engine, which Adobe calls Mercury Graphics, as Digital Journalist Jack Kapica explained in his review. We also really liked how CS6 has also boosted Photoshop’s ability to edit video, with more film-editing tools.

If the package’s price seems daunting, note CS6 is the first suite that Adobe is offering as part of a subscription package something called Adobe Creative Cloud, so you can pay in installments.

Adobe s Photoshop  the flagship program of its Creative Suite

Adobe’s Photoshop, the flagship program of its Creative Suite
Adobe Systems (handout)

Halo 4 for Xbox 360 ($60 CAN)

For the gamers on your Christmas list, you can’t go wrong with Halo 4, a first-person shooter you won’t want to stop playing. Returning to the story of Master Chief facing hordes of Covenant enemies, Halo 4 introduces several new weapons (we love the concussion rifle) and gorgeous landscapes to battle those vicious monsters. The gameplay is as smooth as the other games in the Halo series, but a bit more difficult. We’re big fans of the multiplayer value of Halo 4, too, so this game is especially recommended for those who go head-to-head with other gamers.

The Halo 4 video game

The Halo 4 video game

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