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

Computers and notebooks and tablets, oh my!

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

If you're looking for a tablet that's not an iPad 2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 should definitely be on the list of other tablets to consider. From a technical standpoint, it's got many of the same (if not better) features and specifications than the Apple competitor, and there should be enough apps within the Android Marketplace to satisfy your needs to customize the device to your particular needs.

Let's review, quickly, on the specs: a 10.1-inch widescreen (1,280 by 800 LCD), 1GB of RAM (up to 32GB of storage capacity), Wi-Fi, 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, two cameras (2 megapixel front-facing, 3 megapixel rear camera for photos and video at 720p resolution), Android Honeycomb OS, and the ability to watch movies (built-in Flash lets you view videos on Web sites that may not play on the iPad), play music, and access Google's services and other apps through the Android Market. It's about the same size and weight of the iPad 2, as well.

Another thing that the Galaxy Tab has over the iPad 2, however, is 4G LTE data access from Verizon Wireless. While most people will likely be fine with Wi-Fi access only, connecting via 4G LTE offers faster data access and speeds for places beyond what Wi-Fi covers (most of the world beyond your office, home or coffee shop). This can be valuable for in-the-field workers, or for out-of-the way spots that you may find yourself in. Having 4G access compared to 3G access is a big difference, too: In our testing, we received more than 20Mbps of download speeds on a regular basis within the 4G coverage area.

Choosing between the Apple iOS vs. Google Android can come down to a personal preference, such as Pepsi vs. Coke. A lot depends on what you (or your gift recipient) is already used to. For example, if they own an Android phone and you want to get them a tablet, than sticking to Android makes sense.

Cool Yule rating: 5 stars
Price: Starts at $530, plus data service costs.
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

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