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Well, it's that time again, folks. The holiday shopping season kick-starts in just a few more days. Not before we fill our stomachs with a little too much turkey and stuffing and pass out on the couch watching football, of course. Nonetheless, great holiday deals are popping up left and right, and hot ticket items will be disappearing from shelves before you know it. That's why you better snag a few of the hottest gifts before they're gone.

Not sure what the hottest gifts are this year? Unsure of what to buy for your kids or that tech-loving husband? Maybe you're the man of the house and you're not sure what to get the wife. In hopes of cutting through the muck, I've made a list. Here are my top five gifts this holiday season:

 

1. Amazon Kindle Fire

Released just last month, the Amazon Kindle Fire is one of the most common items topping Christmas wish lists this season. It's a cross between a tablet and an eReader. Packing a 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core processor, 7-inch IPS LCD display and all the content you could ever want for mobile consumption, the Fire packs one serious punch. Best of all, it's relatively inexpensive. AT $199.99, you could buy two of these bad boys and have another $100 to spend for the price of one iPad 2.

There is a hitch, however. To access a good portion of the content provided on the Kindle, you must be an Amazon Prime member, which comes at a cost. Kindle Fire owners will be given a month for Prime service for free, but after that will have to purchase a membership of their own if they want to continue service – a $79 per year subscription. I pre-ordered a Kindle Fire the minute pre-orders opened and received mine in the mail just last week. I'm fairly impressed and have to say it's a nice little device for people of all ages, especially for the price.

 

2. A $0.01 smartphone from the AmazonWireless.com Penny-Pincher Sale

One thing there will be no shortage of this shopping season is deals on smartphones. Just yesterday, AmazonWireless.com kick-started their Penny-Pincher sale, which allows new customers to sign a contract with Verizon, Sprint or AT&T and receive a smartphone of their choosing for only a penny. As you can see in the screen shot above, not just any phones are included in the sale; even the newest of phones like the DROID RAZR, HTC Rezound and all of the Galaxy S II devices are included on the deal. That said, no iPhones are eligible for the Penny-Pincher sale.

The catch? You must also sign an agreement with Amazon. If you do not keep your line in good standing or that particular phone on your line for 181 consecutive days, you are subject to a $250 fee from Amazon. If you can agree to that, this is a great way to get your loved ones some of the hottest phones on the market for, literally, next to nothing.

 

3. ASUS Transformer Prime + keyboard dock

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, which released in May earlier this year, is easily one of the most popular Android tablets to date. Pre-orders on Amazon sold out in mere minutes and it was impossible for retailers to keep them in stock for months following release. Well, that was six months ago, and as things go in Androidland, we're due for a successor in the very near future.

Enter the ASUS Transformer Prime.

Much like its successor, the Transformer Prime is shaping up to be one heck of a tablet. Packing an extremely powerful Tegra 3 processor, presumably, it will be the first quad-core tablet to hit shelves. It will ship with Ice Cream Sandwich and also like its successor and the name suggests, a separate keyboard dock will be available for purchase, giving the user the ability to transform the device from tablet to "Android netbook" on the fly. It isn't quite available yet, but you can still claim yours with a pre-order on Amazon and all fingers are pointing to an early December launch. The smaller 32GB model will set you back $499.99, the 64GB model will run for $599 and the keyboard dock will cost $149.99. It isn't cheap, but it's seriously one hot piece of hardware – one that I've got my eye on.

 

4. Apple iPad 2

The Apple iPad 2 has been around for quite some time in terms of mobile years. It was released on March 11, 2011. Back then it was a nice upgrade to the original iPad, and it still holds its own now. It's a thin and very sleek device with tons of applications and games to kill hours upon hours with.

The worst thing about it is price. They are available in Wi-Fi or 3G and Wi-Fi versions in 16, 32 and 64GB capacities and prices range from $499 to $829. Since March, the idea of tablet pricing has vastly changed, due to fire sales and much cheaper alternative. Apple has yet to fire back with a more budget-friendly tablet. Still, the iPad 2 is a great piece of hardware with software to go along. If it fits the bill, the iPad 2 is yet another device topping wish lists this season.

 

5. iPhone 4/4S

The iPhone 4S may not have been the iPhone 5 were we drooling over for months on end. But it was a nice step up from last year's model. Introducing an improved, advanced lens camera, dual-core A5 processor and updated antenna design, the 4S builds on the strong points of the iPhone 4 and mends the outlying issues with design.

With the release of the iPhone 4S, the older models received a price reduction, as per usual. The iPhone 3GS is now free and the iPhone 4 is $99 with two-year agreements. Both come in 8GB flavors. The iPhone 4S is available in 16, 32 and 64GB models for $199, $299 and $399, respectively, with two-year agreements. It is also available on the AT&T, Sprint and Verizon networks. The iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S may not be selling for a penny, but they're clearly still some of the hottest devices on the market and high up on those wish lists. Here's to hoping Apple has some plans for holiday specials of their own for iPhones and iPads.


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