When it comes to the holidays, gadgets perennially top people's wish lists — and retailers are happy to oblige.
Shoppers will spend an average of $252 on consumer electronics this year, according to a Consumer Electronics Association forecast, with 76 percent of gift-giving adults planning to give a gadget as a present. Sorting out the hot items from the ones destined to end up in the clearance bin — or at a garage sale — isn't easy, though.
If you're looking for a perfect tech gift for a friend or loved one, click ahead for suggestions that can't miss.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 7 Nov. 2012
Suggested Price: $119 to $139
Amazon has a well-established foothold in the e-reader space, but its latest effort is miles beyond anything it has done before.
It offers an incredibly sharp screen, a built-in light for nighttime reading, and for Amazon Prime members, a huge collection of free "loaner" books.
The battery life is equally impressive, with the company claiming a life of eight weeks, assuming a half hour of use per day.
Suggested Price: $999 to $1,299
Ultrabooks are going to be hot this year, but with Windows 8, forward-looking gadget hounds are focusing on hybrid models.
Lenovo's Yoga can morph itself into four different forms: a standard laptop clamshell, a tablet, a tent-style (standing on its ends) and an easel (showing the screen to onlookers across the table).
It's flexible and simple to use, and it works just as well as a touchscreen device as it does as a laptop. While pricier than other Ultrabooks, it's one that will turn heads — and future-proof you for a few years.
Suggested Price: $2,500 to $4,500
Plasma TVs might seem passé in an era of LED and LCD screens, but they still are the best displays around.
Samsung's flagship plasma line features not only amazing picture quality, but also an integrated voice-and-motion-activated control system. (You can turn it on by simply saying "Hi TV. Power On.")
Combine that with Samsung's industry-leading "Smart TV" applications, which extend much further than the usual Skype and Netflix choices, and it's an easy decision.
Suggested Price: $199 to $399
Apple's smartphone is always a hot gift during the holidays, but this year's model could be especially hard-to-find.
With a faster processor, improved camera and a longer screen, it offers a lot of the features people were hoping to see with last year's iPhone 4S.
The problems with Apple Maps are well documented — and valid — but overall, this is a solid smartphone that shows off Apple's ingenuity.
Suggested Price: $300 to $350
Nintendo's next generation videogame system hasn't yet garnered quite as much buzz as the Wii did in 2006 (perhaps because of the confusing similarities of the systems' names), but it's still a big leap forward for the company.
Adding a tablet controller to the Wii's motion controls opens up new areas of gameplay, especially for large groups. And the inclusion of high-definition graphics for the first time lets the company's games shine.
Suggested Price: $74
Mohu's original Leaf HDTV antenna was top of class for its unobtrusive design and quality. This upgrade features an amplifier that increases your signal range and improves the quality of over-the-air HDTV signals.
It is, once again, the best alternative for people who are thinking about cutting the cord in an effort to keep their bills at a manageable price.
Suggested Price: $300
A data storage backup may not be the sexiest gift you give this year, but it could wind up being the most useful.
The G3 not only protects your Mac or PC's data against system crashes, it can withstand temperatures of more than 1,500 degrees Farenheit for 30 minutes and you can leave it underwater — as much as 10 feet — for three days and still recover your data.
And if there's a problem, ioSafe will pay up to $2,500 to recover the documents, photos and other backed-up material.
Suggested Price: $399 to $499
There is nothing more frustrating than taking a picture at the perfect moment — only to find out you were out of focus. Lytro cameras solve that problem with a new technology called lightfield capture, letting you shoot first, then focus afterward.
It might sound complicated, but it couldn't be easier: Take your pictures and then import them to your PC, where a click of the mouse lets you choose your focal point.
Suggested Price: $100
When a dog runs away, it's stressful for the owners. The Tagg pet tracker is a small system that fits onto your pet's collar and acts as a GPS beacon of sorts when they escape.
All you have to do is press "locate" on your computer or mobile device and the system will show you where Fido is exploring, allowing you to go and fetch him. The system can also be set up to send you — and up to four other people — an alert when your pet escapes.
Suggested Price: $60
There are plenty of ways to stream things like Netflix and Hulu to your television set these days, but the Roku HD box is both affordable and offers a much wider variety of streaming options, letting you stream hundreds of video and audio channels to your TV.
You'll need a good WiFi connection in your house — and you won't be able to watch YouTube on the system — but it's still one of the best streaming devices on the market.