Holiday Helper: Last Minute Gifts
So Christmas is drawing ever closer, and you still have some shopping to do. Not to worry, though, alaTest has a few last minute gift ideas that could easily save the holidays, and when we say “last minute,” we mean you can buy these gifts on Christmas day and still get them in time.
Downloadable Video Games
Any avid PC gamers knows of the wonderful world that is Cloud-based gaming. Traditionally, when you buy a PC game, you’d go to the store (or order online) and come home with a disc and CD-key. Cloud-based game purchases are a bit different. You buy the game online, and instead of a physical copy, the game is associated with a user account and available for download any time you like. It’s all handled electronically, so you could purchase a game, even on Christmas, and download it instantly.
There are a handful of online stores that allow instant downloads for many titles, including www.Newegg.com and www.Amazon.com, but none do it quite as well as Steam. With a Steam account, you can purchase games from the massive Steam library either for yourself or as a gift which you can send to any other Steam users (or e-mail address, though the recipient will need to create a Steam account before activating the gift). What’s better is that Steam is having a giant holiday sale that will be going on through the New Year. Here are a few popular Steam titles:
Batman: Arkham City – For those who prefer action packed story-based game play, Arkham City definitely hits the spot.
Modern Warfare 3 – The Call of Duty series is one of the most popular online FPS out there, and Modern Warfare 3 is its latest installment.
Portal 2 – Somewhat of a casual puzzle game, Portal 2 is an FPS that thinks outside of the box. Be prepared for some quick witted humor and addictive game play in both single and multi player modes.
Not shopping for a PC gamer? The Xbox, PS3, and Wii all have online stores, though they are a bit more limited. The Xbox Marketplace has a decent game library, but transferring gifts can be difficult, and you will need a Windows Live account. The PlayStation Network has an equally impressive library, but many of its games cannot be downloaded. The Wii Shopping Channel (accessed on the Wii itself) is actually the most limited of the three. It generally only has indie titles and previous console classics available for download, not that there’s anything wrong with the classics.
Games aren’t the only thing you can download. Apple iTunes, Amazon MP3 (complete with the Music Gift Store), and Google Music all have just about every song/album you can imagine, all for sale, and all available instantly.
Movie purchases, unfortunately, haven’t really moved into the realm of instantly downloadable purchases; however, online rental subscriptions can be purchased in the blink of an eye. Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Blockbuster Total Access offer movies delivered to your mailbox or streaming over the internet.
Yes, gift cards start getting into the realm of impersonal gifts, but they still work well in a pinch. Not only do many stores, restaurants, and establishments offer gift card purchases online, you can also run down to the local supermarket (most of them anyway) and select from a handful of popular choices, like Best Buy, Starbucks, iTunes, and nearby restaurants.