Online Holiday Shopping? Read Dennis' Top 10 Recommendations | www.infopackets.com

Online Holiday Shopping? Read Dennis' Top 10 Recommendations

Dennis Faas's picture

With over 30 years in computing experience, I'm often asked my opinion about computer hardware. Questions like, "What can I do to speed up my computer?", or "What type of laptop should I buy?" and things of that nature.

Like anyone else, I love a good deal. In order to find the best deal possible, sometimes I spend an entire day shopping online to compare prices and features of similar components. Unfortunately, many of the "recommendations" I've read recently appear to be forged for the sake of making a sale, which means there's an awful lot of time wasted wading through pages trying to figure out what information is useful and what's not.

Lucky for you, that's where my expertise comes in.

Online Holiday Shopping = Mega Deals, Huge Savings ... If You Can Make Sense Of It

November 25th marks the official start of the Holiday shopping season not only because it's known as "Black Friday" in the United States -- but also because it's officially 1 month away from Christmas Day.

There will be lots of you shopping online and looking for really good deals: whether it pertains to yourself or a loved one.

Over at Amazon.com, online holiday shopping is big business. I personally receive occasional emails from Amazon.com, promoting the holiday bargains, with great deals to be had. Unfortunately, many of the deals I've clicked on either promote very few items that interested me, or are already out of stock.

Needless to say, it's a disappointing experience and doesn't help me much in terms of where to go next. For the same reasons, I believe most of you reading this are going to be in the same boat, especially when it comes to buying gifts for others.

Online Holiday Shopping: Information Overload

Today I spent around 5 hours putting together a list of products that I believe are the most practical / sought-after / best brand / offer the best deal at this time, and which I believe will provide our users with the best computing experience possible -- all of which is based on my 30 years of experience.

In short, you can call it Dennis' Top 10 List of Online Holiday Shopping Deals at Amazon.com, and I'm sure you'll enjoy looking through all the goodies I've stumbled upon.

Shop At Amazon, and Support Our Website

Before I get into my list of deals, let me briefly explain that Infopackets.com is an Amazon affiliate. That means approximately 4-6% of an item's price being listed at Amazon.com is set aside for "advertising fees," which are paid to affiliates like myself. Even if there is no affiliate attached to the purchasing experience, the "advertising fee" is still included in the price.

To put it succinctly:

If you plan to go online shopping at Amazon.com during the Holidays -- even if the item is not listed below -- I kindly ask that you please click here to surf over to Amazon using our affiliate link. That way, we'll receive a small commission (which is already and automatically included in the price), and we'll use that money to fund our website and staff of writers. You can think of it as a tip jar for all the hard work and effort we put into this website. Please note that any purchases must be completed within 24 hours of clicking any of our links (below or using the one above), otherwise it won't count towards our credit. Thanks very much for your support.

Without further adieu, here are my top 10 picks of computer-based items for the 2010 Holiday Season, with a brief explanation as to why I believe these are great products:

#1: The #1 Item to Make Your PC / Laptop *Stupid Fast*

OCZ 60 GB Vertex 2 Series SSD hard drive

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $151.99
  • Price now: $119.99 + Free Standard Shipping (3-5 days)
  • You Save: $32.00 (21%)
  • Post-purchase rebate: $10.00
  • Total: $109.99
  • 4.5/5 stars, 20 customer reviews

Dennis' comments: If you are looking to double, triple, or even quadruple the speed of your current PC or laptop without having to upgrade the entire unit, this is what you want.

This is a solid state hard drive (SSD HD), which means it uses memory chips instead of a rotating media platter to store your data. There is virtually no wait time when loading / saving / booting into Windows with SSD. Did I mention this drive is incredibly fast? It also uses very little energy, which means longer battery life for laptop users (if that's what you wanted to use it for).

This drive offers 60 GB of space, which is plenty room for installing Windows XP / Vista / 7 onto, plus a good number of utilities, documents, pictures, and more. This SSD drive would (for example) be used primarily to store and operate your MS Windows installation. You could then use your old hard drive for storing everything else, or as a backup unit.

I have researched many of the SSDs on the market, and this unit (for its size in gigabytes) / cost ratio is one of the best deals you can get. Just to give you an idea how fast this little sucker is, most standard hard drives (non-SSD) do about 20-40MB per second when reading / writing data to your computer. This SSD drive does 275 / 250 MB per second sustained data transfer! You do the math.

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on the OCZ 60 GB Vertex 2 Series SSD HD, or

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on other OCZ SSD drives (50-250GB in size).

#2: Big Storage Hard Drives (Internal / External)

Western Digital 2 TB Caviar Green SATA WD20EARS

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $159.99
  • Price: $99.99 + Free Standard Shipping (3-5 days)
  • You Save: $60.00 (38%)
  • 4/5 stars, 124 reviews

Details:

  • Big 2TB (or 2000 GB) capacity
  • Holds an obscene amount of data: up to 400,000 digital photos, 500,000 MP3 files, and 240 hours of HD video
  • 3 year limited warranty
  • Most excellent for backup or secondary storage, or both!

Dennis' comments: use this drive in addition to an SSD and you've got yourself a stupid fast computer with oodles of space. Note that this drive uses advanced formatting, which is native to Windows Vista and Windows 7. It can be used with XP, but you need software from Western Digital. I personally own 2 of these drives for my server and they run quiet and are barely warm. These are excellent drives for the price and also a very good, solid brand name. For the internal PC unit, use the link below:

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on: the Western Digital 2 TB (internal) HD.

For an external unit (for a laptop, or for portability):

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $189.99
  • Price: $129.99 + FREE Super Saver Shipping
  • You Save: $60.00 (32%)

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on: the Western Digital 2 TB (external) HD.

#3: Netbooks

Gateway LT3119u 11.6-Inch Netbook (NightSky Black)

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $399.99
  • Price: $387.33 + FREE Super Saver Shipping
  • You Save: $12.66 (3%)
  • 4.5/5 stars rated, 11 customers

Details:

  • 4 hours battery life
  • *DUAL CORE* AMD 64-bit processor @ 1.2GHZ
  • 2 GB memory
  • 11.6-inch Ultrabright LED-backlit display
  • Enhanced ATI Radeon X1270 Graphics
  • Windows 7 Home Premium

Dennis' comments: If you're going to get a netbook, get one that has a dual core processor, as using a win7 netbook with a single core can be a very disappointing experience. Dual core means it essentially has two processors on 1 CPU die, which means it's got twice the processing horsepower of any single-core netbook. This netbook is on the high-end scale, but worth it in my opinion: you get Windows 7 Home Premium (NOT the stripped-down "starter" edition)! This one also has a 11.6" inch LED display, which is a bonus. LED = considerably more vibrant than standard LCD monitors. This truly is a beauty of a netbook. There aren't very many dual core netbooks on the market, so this one is very special, indeed!

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on the Gateway LT3119u 11.6-Inch Netbook, or

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view other netbooks (note: most aren't dual core).

#4: Laptops

HP G62-340us 15.6-Inch Laptop PC

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $524.99
  • Price: $449.99 + FREE Super Saver Shipping
  • You Save: $75.00 (14%)
  • 4/5 stars, 8 customer reviews

Details:

  • AMD Athlon II Dual-Core Processor for Notebook PCs @ 2.20GHz
  • 3GB DDR3 SDRAM memory (1 x 2GB & 1 x 1GB) (expandable to 8GB)
  • 320GB (5400 RPM) Serial ATA hard drive
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 15.6 Inch diagonal High-Definition HP BrightView LED Display (1366 x 768)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250 Graphics
  • Up to 4 Hours of Battery Life

Dennis' comments: I've owned 2 HP laptops and they are very solid. This particular model has the best price / feature ratio, and wasn't out of stock. It seems laptops are hot items, and many of them are expected to be sold out this holiday season.

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on HP's G62-340us 15.6-Inch Laptop PC, or

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on other laptops.

#5: Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) - Basic

APC Model # ES 8

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $70.99
  • Price: $54.95
  • Savings: $16.04 (23%) + FREE Super Saver Shipping
  • 4.5/5 rated, 119 reviews

Details:

  • 8 Outlet 550VA, 120V (approx 330 watts)
  • Good for most basic PCs that have 300 watt power supplies or less
  • Four battery backup/surge protected outlets
  • Approx 330 watts, 3.3 full load / 13.5 half load
  • Saves files and shuts down system when battery is low
  • 3 year warranty

Dennis' comments: If you dread power failures, or want peace of mind knowing that your PC is safe from a surge or brown outs, you need a UPS. I've tested UPS units from APC (American Power Company), Cyber Power, Tripp Lite, and OPTI-UPS, and APC is by far the best in terms of quality and load handling. Tripp Lite would be my second choice in terms of brand. I use UPS units on *all* my PCs.

Secondary Note: DO NOT plug a laser printer into the battery / surge port of a UPS, or it will fry / damage the UPS battery and void your warranty. Laser printers suck a lot of juice and 99.99% of all UPS's can't handle that. Only plug the laser printer into the "surge-only" outlets on this unit.

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on the APC UPS model #ES8.

#6: Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) - Advanced

APC BR1500LCD 1500va/865w UPS System

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $209.79 + $23.55 shipping
  • 4.5/5 stars, 113 customers

Details:

  • Similar to above, but considerably larger; rated for 865 watts
  • LCD panel that provides status information
  • Can easily handle most advanced computer setups
  • Six battery backup / surge protection + 2 surge only outlets
  • Provides continuous power for 3.1 minutes at full load (865W) and 11.7 minutes at half (432.5W)
  • 3 year warranty

Dennis' comments: If you want to ensure you have enough power for your PC + monitor and maybe a few other things, I highly recommend this product. It's not on sale but the price is very reasonable for cost to benefit / performance ratio, plus it's an APC unit. This sucker is 32 pounds, so shipping is a bit pricey. But that's the way it is, sometimes.

Secondary Note: DO NOT plug a laser printer into the battery / surge port of a UPS, or it will fry / damage the UPS battery and void your warranty. Laser printers suck a lot of juice and 99.99% of all UPS's can't handle that. Only plug the laser printer into the "surge-only" outlets on this unit.

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on the APC UPS model #BR1500LCD.

#7: Desktop PC

Compaq Presario CQ5320F

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $399.99 + Free Shipping
  • You Save: $115.01 (22%)
  • 4.5/5 stars, 36 customers rated

Details:

  • AMD Athlon II X2 240 Dual-Core Processor (2.8 GHz)
  • 3GB PC3-10600 DDR3 SDRAM memory (expandable to 4GB)
  • 500GB Serial ATA hard drive
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6150 SE Graphics

Dennis' comments: This was the best price / performance / ratio PC I could find, with plenty of RAM, storage, and CPU processing speed, dual core, and a decent graphics card to boot. This is also a very slick looking PC. I have personally owned 4 Compaq PCs in my day and they are very solid units.

SPECIAL NOTE: even though Amazon reports that there is a "newer model" of this PC, the newer model offers much less in terms of hardware and performance. The newer model is only 2.0 GHz and only has 2GB of RAM compared to 2.8GHz and 3GB of RAM of the "older" model. Don't ask me why this is, but it's definitely true that newer isn't always better!

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on the Compaq Presario CQ5320F, or

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on other dual core, Windows 7 desktops.

#8: Monitors

Samsung PX2370 23-Inch Widescreen LCD Monitor with LED Backlight

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $494.85
  • Price: $278.99 + FREE Super Saver Shipping
  • You Save: $215.86 (44%)
  • 4.5/5 stars, 23 customer rated

Details:

  • Widescreen Full 23" LED backlight monitor
  • 1080p Full HD resolution with 16:9 aspect ratio for perfect image reproduction
  • Thin panel, stylish, beautiful display
  • Exceedingly excellent image quality

Dennis' comments: Samsung is one of the best-of-the-best monitor companies. This unit uses LED (light emitting diode) technology, which means you get an extremely vibrant display, with dark, deep black levels. LEDs are also considerably more power efficient than typical LCD backlight displays. The monitor itself is a beautiful looking unit. I own and still use my Samsung 17" that I bought 7 years ago, and it's still going strong!

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on the Samsung PX2370 23-Inch, or

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on other LED monitors.

#9: Computer Stereo (2.0) Speakers

Logitech X-140

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $29.99
  • Price now: $14.99 + $4.99 shipping
  • You Save: $15.00 (50%)
  • 4/5 stars, 273 customer rated

Details:

  • Product Type: 2.0 Speaker System
  • System Power: 5W (RMS) / 10W (PMPO)
  • Controls: Tone, Volume
  • Dimensions: 9.5" Height x 3.9" Width x 4.9" Depth
  • 2 Year Limited Warranty

Dennis' comments: I ordered these speakers for my mother just this summer because her laptop speakers weren't loud enough. They are excellent speakers that are amplified (they plug into the wall). If you're looking a good pair of speakers for your PC and laptop, these will definitely fit the bill. Logitech makes great computer mice and speakers.

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on the Logitech X-140 speaker system.

#10: Computer Stereo (2.1) Speakers

Logitech Z-2300 THX-Certified 2.1 Speaker System with Subwoofer

  • List price (as of Nov 28 - it fluctuates daily): $169.99
  • Price: $79.99 + FREE Super Saver Shipping
  • You Save: $90.00 (53%)
  • 4.5/5, 1,114 customer reviews

Details:

  • Product Type: 2.1 Speaker System
  • 2 x stereo speakers + 1 subwoofer (powered)
  • 200 Watts RMS of bold, beautiful sound
  • 2 year warranty

Dennis' comments: These speakers are wickedly powerful and clear, and so is the subwoofer. I personally have this setup on my main PC and don't regret the purchase, even though I paid full price a few years ago. If you are looking for the most bang for your buck for a 2.1 speaker setup, this is it. Currently this unit is on sale, too. Super duper great deal!

Click here to redirect to Amazon and view more info on the Logitech Z-2300 speaker system.

Happy shopping!

Don't forget: if you purchase anything through Amazon using our link, it has to be in 24 hours of clicking the link or we won't receive credit. This is per Amazon policy. Thanks for filling the tip jar!

- Dennis

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