Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Computer, notebook and tablet tech treasures

Computers and notebooks and tablets, oh my!

We've always had a category covering the world of computers in our Cool Yule Tools holiday gift guide. But then computers gave way to notebooks (so we combined the category), and then tablets have entered the scene. With the arrival and success of the iPad and other tablets, many have said that "the PC is dead", and we'll admit, our choices of cool computers are fewer than in years past. But there are still some nice systems out there, here are a bunch of desktops, notebooks, and yes, tablets, that we think would make for some good gifts:

Watch a slideshow version of some of these products.

Products reviewed in this category:

MacBook Air (Model MC965LL/A), by Apple

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, with Verizon Wireless 4G LTE data service

LifeBook TH700 Tablet PC, by Fujitsu

Aspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 13.3-Inch Laptop, by Acer

ThinkPad X1 notebook, by Lenovo

ViewPad 10pro Dual OS Tablet (32 GB), by ViewSonic

IdeaCentre B520 all-in-one, by Lenovo

Pavilion g6 notebook, by HP

HP Pavilion dv4t series notebooks, by HP

ThinkPad Tablet, by Lenovo

PeeWee Pivot 2.0 Tablet Laptop, by Peewee

PCKiller Wireless-N 1103 wireless network adapter, by Bigfoot Networks

SeeThru cover for MacBook Pro (15-inch version), by Speck

The reviews

MacBook Air (Model MC965LL/A), by Apple

My holiday gift to me this year? A shiny new MacBook Air, of course. I switched to Macs about three years ago, but this is my first Mac notebook - and I couldn't be happier. It's light (less than three pounds - perfect for travel), fast (1.7 GHz. dual-core i5 with 4GB of memory and 128GB of very fast flash storage), and slick. The keyboard is backlit and the 300-Mbps Wi-Fi is dual-band. It has a Thunderbolt port and a multi-touch trackpad. Both battery life and audio quality are great. It boots up in seconds, and is, like all Macs, very easy to use. The 13-inch screen has a 1,440 by 900 native resolution, significantly better than most notebooks, and is bright and clear.

So you think you know Apple?

OK, the person you're buying for may not be a Mac person, and you may be put off by the price (around $1,300 as configured - there are some cheaper and more expensive Air models available), but there's a reason Mac users are so loyal. Anyone receiving this notebook from you will be your best friend forever. Seriously, if you haven't considered a Mac before, the new Air model is an excellent reason to do so. I know you, or someone you really, really like - will be more than happy with this one.

Cool Yule rating: 5 stars
Price: $1,299 as configured
Reviewed by C.J. Mathias

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