Apple may be the most valuable technology company in the world, but that doesn't mean you're dumb enough to fall into Steve Jobs' distortion field when he announces the next iThing. Not everyone drinks the Apple "Kool-Aid."
For those who absolutely despise Apple, this gift guide is just for you. We scoured the web for the 14 best alternatives to Apple's range of gadgets. (If your face is already turning Apple-red, we also got a guide for all the lovers out there.)
Tablets and e-readers are still selling like hotcakes this holiday season. Why not give a loved one something that can easily be held in one hand and really fit inside of a small purse or briefcase? Look no further than the Nook Color, now with err… color and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Both tablets run on Android and have 7-inch screens. The Nook Color only has Wi-Fi (no 3G), but it makes it all up with its huge array of magazines available for download. Magazines look crisp on this thing — no joke.
The Galaxy Tab is more for the road warrior — it comes with 3G standard (with a data plan of course) and is available on every major U.S. wireless carrier. Single hand typing is a pleasure with its awesome Swype keyboard. We also love the Tab's dual cameras — something the iPad doesn't have. Take that Apple!
Man, eff the iPhone and its closed iOS restrictions. Its modal app management, fragile glass design, faulty antenna and awful AT&T network can shove it. The Windows Phone 7-powered HTC HD7, with its ginormous 4.3-inch screen and Xbox Live integration blow the iPhone's 3.5-inch screen out of the waters any day.
If Windows Phone 7's boxy and textual OS isn't your idea of cool, then Android is the only other way to go. The Google Nexus S is the official heir to the original Nexus One — loaded with a stock version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread (no carrier app crap here), Super AMOLED screen and a fast browser.
The Zune HD is still the best alternative to an iPod Touch. It has a nice brushed aluminum back and a bright screen made from Gorilla Glass — (watch video of someone fail at scratching its screen up). You won't find a ton of apps for it, but it does what portable media players are supposed to do best: play music, videos and surf the web.
Professionals go on and on about how their Mac Pros are work beasts, rendering video in Final Cut Pro with ease. We have news for them, it could be bigger, faster and even better than that. A Maingear Quantum Shift would run circles around a Mac Pro. We're talking a PC with two Intel Xeon 3.3GHz Dual Hexa-core processors, six 512GB SSDs, 96GB of of DDR3 RAM, two Blu-ray burners, Nvidia Quadro 6000 6GB graphics mounted vertically for better heat dissipation and a bunch of USB 3.0 ports all booting Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.
For good measure, we even sprung for the six panel 23-inch LCD monitors option and two 43-inch LCD alternates. I dare any Mac Pro user to tell us that their computer is a monster, because compared to a Maingear, it's just a little guppy.
Spec-wise the Sony VAIO L is a bit old compared to a new iMac. The thing that sets the VAIO L apart from Apple's offering is that it's not only a PC, but it's an HDTV as well. For the student or as a home PC, this is the ultimate space saver. Can your iMac play Blu-ray movies? We think not! A wireless keyboard, mouse and remote also helps keep your desktop clutter free. We love the VAIO L's minimal design — nothing too flashy or sparkly, just classic jet black.
The 13" MacBook Pro is still using Core 2 Duo processors and Nvidia integrated graphics chips. It's quite a "blah" computer spec-wise. If you want a colossus inside of a Lamborghini, then the Alienware M11x is the one to call. It's got an 11-inch screen, surround sound audio, a lightning fast dedicated graphics card and tons of storage and ports. Apply only if you're a serious gamer, because this notebook screams in playing World of Warcraft or Portal. It's one of the best kept bang for buck notebook computer's we've seen.
The HP Envy is like a slab of future-proof goodness. It has a 17.3-inch high-def screen with 3D Blu-ray playback. If you want to game with the best, then it doesn't get better than in 3D. Plenty of RAM and a full size keyboard with a numeric keypad ensures you're getting a full desktop experience crammed inside of notebook.
You can't be the envy of everyone's attention if you're flippin' fat. If you don't mind paying a premium for thin gadgets, then sure why not? Apple's MacBook Air might be thin enough to slice cake, but it's notthe thinnest. That award still goes to the Dell Adamo XPS — a mere 0.3 inches thin overall, compared to the new Airs that are 0.68 inches at its thickest point.
We're not counting where the Air tapers off to 0.11 inchesm because face it, that's not where the majority of its computer guts are stashed. Besides, the Adamo XPS has a one-of-a-kind locking mechanism that activates with the touch of your finger and a keyboard that flips out to allow better air flow.
The second-generation AppleTV is a one trick pony — it's tied exclusively to iTunes. It can't play video encoded in formats other than MP4, doesn't have a web browser and can't support external memory cards, unless you hack it. The Boxee Box can do all of that and then some — all within a box that doesn't even look like a box. It's double the price, but you get double the features. We totally dig non-DRM media support.
A real mouse should have fast tracking, be able to endure rapid-fire clicks and have super comfy ergonomics. Toss that flat-as-a-board Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad out the window and get a Razer Gaming Mouse. If it's good enough for professional Starcraft II gamers, then it'll more than suffice for your Photoshop doodles.
We admit, we like the chiclet-keys on Apple's Macs, but we wish there was a bit more curve to it. Microsoft's Arc Keyboard is the perfect alternative — that little warp really goes a long way to fending off the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
When Apple announced the Magic Trackpad, it also rolled out the "Apple Battery Charger" — nothing more than Apple branded AA batteries. Skip all the marketing crock about it lasting 10 times longer and get a decent four-pack of AA batteries from the battery experts: Duracell. It's half the price of Apple's battery set and charges four bats at a time, instead of two.