Check out some of the hottest gadgets this holiday season

By Brian Mellen

With Thanksgiving gone and more holidays coming up, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for the season. And what better way to kick off the shopping season than asking Ma and Pop for the most expensive gadgets available this winter. Pricey gifts are always impressive for that someone special. Here are a few suggestions to decide which tech toy is worth the money.

For those looking at mp3 players, Apple’s newest iPod is still a solid choice. Although the current generation of iPods are not that different from last year’s models, the most notable differences are the increase in storage capacity with an 80GB model available. Apple has also improved the battery life on video playback as well as overall screen brightness.

Two unique features to the latest generation of iPods include the search function, which allows users to search for specific songs or artists, and the ability to download and play video games from the iTunes Music Store. The 30GB iPod goes for $249.00 and the 80GB for $349.00 on the Apple Web site.

Apple’s iPod will face arguably its first serious challenge on the digital music market this shopping season. Microsoft’s portable mp3 player, the Zune, is now available for purchase. Like Apple’s features for the iPod, Microsoft will also be providing users an online music store called Zune Marketplace and the music program Zune, linking the player with the store.

Currently, there is only one version of the Zune that holds 30GB of music, videos and photos priced at $249.00. But it features a larger screen than the iPod and a built-in FM radio. The Zune also has a wireless feature that gives users a way to exchange songs with each other and keep those songs for a limited number of plays.

For video gamers, the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii were released the weekend before Thanksgiving. The PS3 has some of the best graphics money can buy with one of the most advanced processors available on the market. It can also play movies using the new Blu-ray Disc technology, allowing owners to watch movies in true High Definition, and includes Wi-Fi capabilities for the internet. Gamers can also play all their old PlayStation games from earlier consoles on the PS3. There are two models for the PS3 priced at $499.00 and $599.00.

The Nintendo Wii sells for quite a bit less than the PS3, coming in at $249.00. Nintendo has brought gamers a new experience with the Wii, providing users with a more interactive experience with its motion sensitive controller.

For example, when players swing their tennis rackets in “Wii Sports,” they actually have to make a swinging motion with the controller in order to hit the ball. When Link strikes with his sword in “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,” users must cut through the air with the controller in order for him to attack.

The PS3’s controller also has this feature, but it is more limited than the Nintendo Wii’s motion sensitive controller. The Wii also has internet capabilities like the PS3 and can play older GameCube games.

So there you have it; some of the hottest items out there in the tech world this holiday season. And if for some reason you aren’t lucky enough to get any of these items as gifts, you can always take matters into your own hands and resort to that little piece of plastic you call your credit card to compensate for all that money you don’t actually have.