Tech Shopping

Tricky decision for a smartphone, but the tablet choice is easy.
by Allyson Kazmucha

With the holiday shopping season quickly approaching, smartphones and tablets are sure to be on many people's shopping lists. With so many options, how do you know which to choose?

When it comes to smartphones, the decision can become quite tricky because there are so many to choose from. The first decision you should make is whether the person you're buying for would prefer iOS, Android or Windows. Once you've overcome that hurdle it makes the decision a bit easier.

If you've chosen to go with Apple's iOS, the best options will be either the newly released iPhone 5 or the iPhone 4S. While the iPhone 4 remains on the market for free with contract, the huge increase in camera quality and the addition of Siri should make the iPhone 4S a no-brainer. At an entry level price of $99, you can't beat it.

If you really want to impress your loved one, the iPhone 5 is still decently priced starting at $199. It will offer everything the iPhone 4S offers but on a larger 4-inch screen along with many other improvements and features the 4S doesn't offer. It's the best iPhone Apple's ever made.

When it comes to Android, the Samsung Galaxy S III is one of the best Android phones on the market in terms of specifications and performance. It's got a large 4.8-inch screen and an outstanding camera.

The Galaxy Nexus from Google is a close second for T-Mobile and AT&T users. Buy it straight from Google for $349 unlocked and contract-free. The best part is you get a pure Android experience without any manufacturer or carrier add-ons. It'll be the way Google intended it to be. Other top contenders in the Android arena include the HTC One X and the Motorola Atrix HD.

If you're looking for a Windows phone this holiday season, look no further than the Nokia Lumia 900 and Lumia 920. Nokia has been in the phone industry for many years and knows hardware like Apple knows software. Its camera optics are some of the best in the business. When it comes to Windows Phone, Nokia wins hands-down.

While smartphones are a hard decision, tablets aren't. To date, no company other than Apple has produced a tablet that people love to use more than the iPad. It's hard to recommend anything else. Sure, there are plenty of Android tablets floating around that function, but none of them provide the experience the iPad does. Android may be the top-selling platform when it comes to smartphones but when it comes to tablets, nothing holds a candle to the iPad.

With the 16GB Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad 2 priced at $399, it's extremely hard to beat. If you want the best of the best, the third generation iPad adds an absolutely stunning Retina display to the mix, as well as 4G LTE technology. When it comes to tablets, the iPad is sure to impress and should be the only tablet most people even consider.

If all else fails, let them choose. Apple and many other electronics stores offer gift cards in many denominations, or you can pick up a Visa gift card that can be used at any retailer that accepts Visa. If your loved one prefers shopping online, you can't go wrong with an Amazon gift card. If you can't decide which phone or tablet to buy for someone, a gift card is a great option and the recipient will love you just the same for it.

Allyson Kazmucha is president of PXLFIX in Michigan City and editor of the online technology publication Mobile Nations.

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