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Editor's Choice – Z's Holiday Gift List

Entertainment Gift Guide Videogames

Whether you’re looking for the inexpensive or the extravagant, the fun or the functional, GeekDad has all the ideas you could possibly want for your holiday gift buying. Yes, we’ve been working overtime, playing with all the toys and noodling with all the gadgets, trying our best to weed out the ordinary from the extraordinary. It’s a dirty job, but some dad has to do it. Here are my ten quick picks for this year’s holiday season. Some I’ve mention before, but some are brand new. Some I’ve been enjoying months, while others I’ve just discovered. So take a look, and see what’s hot in the House of Z! For the Home Krups XP5620 Precise Tamp Espresso Machine As several of my friends have been happy to point out, I don’t know anything about coffee. Because of this I simply assumed I’d never be capable of anything more than dropping a K-Cup into my Keurig, but then I found the XP5620. Not only does this Williams-Sonoma-exclusive espresso machine offer a 15 bar pump and a holder that accepts (and easily ejects) ground coffee as well as prefilled pods, Krups’ own Precise Tamp System made it easy for me to properly, consistently tamp each one or two cup brew – moreover, it actually helped me understand what tamping is and why it’s important. With speedy preheating and a flexible frothing nozzle, I can now crank out coffee shop-quality cappuccinos in no time flat. Take that, snooty baristas! (Review materials provided by: Krups)

Honeywell MYEnergySmart Infrared Heater
I live in an old southern millhouse, so winter heating is always a struggle. I’ve recently come to rely on infrared heaters to make my domicile more comfortable, and none have performed more admirably than Honeywell’s MyEnergySmart. Clear digital displays and a minimalist but no less responsive touch interface (supplemented by a mini remote) make controlling this heater a breeze, but its programmable thermostat, timer function and variable heat settings go even further to regulate the environment without sacrificing your power bill… or your home’s comfortable level of humidity. An extra-long cord and smooth-rolling casters make for easy setup and transfer, and safety features like a four-way tip-over switch help keep your family safe as well as warm. (Review materials provided by: Honeywell)

Cambridge Audio Minx Go
The Minx Go from Cambridge Audio as a portable Bluetooth speaker solution, but to me it’s become much more like a home stereo system. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery, retractable kickstand and effortless Bluetooth syncing combined with its minimal footprint make the Minx Go a cinch to pick up and setup on the go, but its big room-filling sound – complete with booming bass and gorgeous clarity – also help make it a Hi-Fi for the 21st century. Best of all, at $150 you get all this Cambridge Audio quality without the sticker shock of many of their larger speaker solutions. (Review materials provided by: Cambridge Audio)

Kids and Collectors

Transformers Generations
The Transformers Generation collection scratches the transformable robot itch for old school collectors as well as new school fans. From the massive(ly awesome) Titan Class Metroplex to Voyager Class triple-changer Blitzwing to the Deluxe Class line – which come packaged with relevant IDW comics – and even the smaller Legends Class, Generations is a series dripping with Cybertronian style. They also clearly display the difficulty level of each figure’s transformation on the packaging, so you know what you’re getting into before you open them up. (Review materials provided by: Hasbro)

Frozen Musical Magic Dolls
Disney obviously knows on which side their bread is buttered, and their newest animated feature, Frozen, features not one but two new Disney princesses. If your kids loved the movie, then they’ll likely also adore the new Musical Magic Anna and Elsa dolls. The figures are delicately sculpted and extravagantly dressed in the traditional Disney princess style, but the big selling point is the light and sound feature. Hold hands with Anna or Elsa (or simply have them hold hands), and the doll’s torso will glow brightly while a playing a clip of enchanting music from the film. (Review material provided by: Mattel)

Gamers of All Ages

2DS Pokémon bundle
When both products dropped on the same day earlier this year, I suggested that the new Nintendo 2DS system was a great way to experience the latest chapters in the Pokémon saga, X and Y. Nintendo obviously agrees, and they recently made bundles available: Pokémon Y with the blue/black 2DS and Pokémon X with the red/black 2DS. Despite the fact that the titles in question clearly coordinate better with the other colored 2DS models, I’m still on board. If someone on your gift list is looking to enter to wonderful world of contemporary Nintendo handheld gaming, these bundles certainly deliver the most bang for your buck. (Review materials provided by: Nintendo)

Moshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed
My kids never got into Moshi Monsters-proper, but my daughter simply adores the bright colors and undeniable personality of the property’s characters and licensed toys. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Katsuma Unleashed, but what I discovered was a fun-filled platformer for the whole family. As Katsuma fights (and bounces) through level after level, rescuing allies kidnapped by the evil Dr. Strangeglove and unlocking new abilities along the way, it’s easy to get drawn into the frenetic world of Moshi Monsters. Uneven difficulty sometimes means mom or dad has to help with some of the level navigation, but the boss battles are generally straight-forward and the title always stays fun enough to keep this assistance from feeling like a chore. (Review materials provide by: Activision)

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix
While most of my peers have dived headfirst into the next console generation with their PS4s and Xbox Ones, I’ve instead been revisiting classic titles of yore. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix collects three Kingdom Hearts games and gives each a high-definition makeover. Containing the first official North American release of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix alongside Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories and a (fun to watch, but sadly unplayable) cinematic retelling of DS exclusive Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, it’s quite possibly the last must-play release before you shelve your PS3 for its newer counterpart. (Review materials provided by: Square Enix)

Good ol' Gadgets

X-Doria Dash Folio for iPad Mini
I agonized for weeks while trying to find a proper case for my iPad Mini. Thankfully, X-Doria’s Dash Folio offered the perfect blend of style and simplicity I was looking for. Its durable rubberized frame enclosure provides great bump protection for the sides of the device, while the front cover keeps my screen safe from scratches. An elastic band secures the case during travel, and the hidden Smart Cover-like magnets provide the necessary wake/sleep functionality. Comfortable to hold and offering multiple stand positions, the Dash Folio is a minimalist case with maximum eye appeal thanks to its subtle embossing and contrasting-colored accents. (Review materials provided by: X-Doria)

Wicked Audio Jaw Breakers Earbuds
I never expect much from budget-priced headphones, but the Jaw Breakers from Wicked Audio definitely impressed. With three different sets of sized ear cushions, they isolate the sounds you want and block the ones you don’t, making them perfect for use in a noisy gym or while performing your regular yard work. The solid overall sound and superlative bass response is actually enough for me to give these earbuds a pass on what is otherwise an unpardonable sin – no inline controls. (Review materials provided by: Wicked Audio)

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