Tom's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008, Part 1

by: Chris Angelini

Alicia may or may not give back these Sennheiser HD515s

Welcome to the first installment of this year’s six-part Tom’s Hardware Holiday Buyer’s Guide, put together by editors from Tom’s Hardware, Tom’s Guide, and Tom’s Games. We’ve all worked together to compile the hottest list of PC components, gadgets, and gaming titles, which we’ll introduce one part at a time throughout the months of November and December.

Each guide is organized to center on a slightly different theme. This first one is aimed right at our hardware audience and includes gifts for enthusiasts who just want to plug and play—no time for building. But don’t think that we’re only including pre-built boxes here. We cover the gamut, from monitors, to security cameras, to power protection, storage, VoIP, and sound.

Here’s the breakdown for what you can expect to see as the series progresses. Each time we publish a new piece, we’ll update those that came before with links to the newest guides. By the time we ring in 2009, we hope you’ll be enjoying at least a couple of gifts from our six stories!

Dell's 3008WFP is so large that it needs to be delivered by *two* elves.

Even as the subject matter of each installment changes, you’ll see the same two models popping up over and over to show off the gifts that we showcase.

VoIP may not be very festive, but this Response Point-powered unit is still very tech-chic.

Before we get into our favorite gear for this year’s holiday season, please allow me to introduce you to our models, who so graciously spent a full day in our Culver City, CA office posing with the massive collection of hardware we amassed for these six guides.

Danielle, the lovely blond with a penchant for Hello Kitty merchandise, is originally from Oklahoma City. She’s an enthusiast in the truest sense of the world—she builds her own PCs and has been reading Tom’s Hardware since high school. She moved out to California for college, where she earned her B.S. in computer science.

Alicia, the beautiful brunette Mrs. Claus, is my wife. She grew up in Bakersfield, CA and went to University of California, Irvine where she majored in dance. She’s a professional ballet dancer now and doesn’t spend much time around PC components, though her interest in technology does spike when boxes of hardware start spilling out of my office into places where they shouldn’t be, at which point they often come back flying at my head.

If you haven’t yet checked out our "behind the scenes" video footage of our photo shoot, you can check that out here.

If you’d like to check out the full photo album for Part 1, you can do that here. There will be others, of course, as this series progresses, so keep checking back!

Now, onto our first piece of hardware!

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  • ravenware
    Dell 3008WFP Ultrasharp 30"

    , we can’t think of any computer user who wouldn’t be thrilled to get one.

    Gamers. The 8ms response time is a little on the slow side.
  • Portall
    Nope. You won't see difference between 8 and 4ms :)
  • V3NOM
    well you can... CRT vs LCD is quite clear.
  • cangelini
    I play on the prior year's model (3007) all the time without any problems. Don't pass up gaming on a 30" display without at least trying it for yourself!
  • Anonymous
    Dual-link DVI does NOT need two seperate cables. HDMI's video component IS DVI. I'm amazed this slipped through and into the article:
  • radnor
    Well, you will actually. If you ever seen them side by side you will notice the difference. 5ms seems to be the sweet spot.
  • LazyGarfield
    Interesting article! I´m still looking for the two beautiful women but cant find them :P
  • Anonymous
    Just a word of warning to anyone purchasing this monitor and wanting to watch Blu-Ray titles on it. If you use DVI as your input it can not display Blu-Ray titles above 1920 x 1080. Now I know this is the native res on the monitor. But HDCP will fail if the monitor's resolution is set any higher than this. This is due to a design flaw in the monitor's chipset. This wouldn't be a problem if all it meant was you had to reset the resolution when you want to watch a movie, but the problem is, 1920 x 1080 is not the same aspect ratio as 2560 x 1600. So your picture is vertically stretched. I know this because I bought one and spent hours in forums and on the phone with Dell before finding this out. I returned the monitor, because at $2000, there's no excuse for buggy HDCP support over DVI.
  • Anonymous
    what happened to the really cute girl you guys had last year ?
  • xsamitt
    I think I'd take the 30 inch dell if it was free......Guess I won't be having one now for
    8 mills is just to slow.And Leigon thanks for the heads up.

    I do hope the new items to come are more interesting than this first round.
  • Anonymous
    What happened to the great girl from last year? The blond on here looks strung out and or too gothy for a Christmas ad.
  • Anonymous
    Ugly girls...
  • zak_mckraken
    Ugly girls...

    Oh really? Come on pal, let's see some pictures of your wife/girlfriend so we can compare. Well, assuming you have one of course.
  • jameshan2k
    I usually don't go for blondes, but the blonde is quite nice....
  • zak_mckraken
    About the response time, 8ms does seem a tad high but we have to be careful here. Most manufacturers will advertise their monitors as having a 2ms or 5ms response time. However, when you look at the charts, most of the time this response time is the maximum the monitor can reach during a dark scene or a low action gaming sequence. This is often not representative of an average use and the so-called 5ms monitor will most likely be around 6ms-7ms in everyday situations. Same thing applies for contrast since every manufacturer uses their own chart for measuring it. The best way to know how your monitor will perform in real life is to look at comparative charts made by neutral parties, like Tom's, who uses the same methods to compare response time, contrast and color fidelity with all monitors.

    As for this particular Dell 3008WFP Ultrasharp 30", I have really no idea if it's suitable for movies and gaming or not. However, is Chris says it is, it's usually enough for me! Unfortunately, I just bought a Samsung T220 and it pleases me enough. Anyway, I do not have 2 grand to put on a monitor... yet.
  • crockdaddy
    Both ladies are quite lovely. If I recall correctly wasn't it Tamara whom graced the last two years as the xmas model?
  • xsamitt
    How do you find The Samsung T220 picture wise and lag?
  • zak_mckraken
    How do you find The Samsung T220 picture wise and lag?

    While not the "perfect" monitor, it's definitely one of the best (if not the best) 22 inches monitor around. The colors are rich and true, the contrast is sharp and I haven't notice any lag at all, although I only play World of Warcraft and watch some Divx. Still, the difference was amazing when I switched my old Philips 19" with it! I'm pretty sure the same quality would apply on a fast-paced FPS or a Blu-Ray HD movie. However, I would recommend the T240 if you intend to use your monitor to watch full HD content. Samsung also offer the same models with HD at the end (T220HD) which has a integrated tuner, if you're into that stuff.
  • cruiseoveride

    Santa Baby, a 30" Samsung TFT too, dark grey with a blond elf. I've been an awfully good girl.
  • KITH
    I recently purchased the samsung t260hd it along with the t240hd are a couple of the only ways to get an hdtv with that small of a screen still with 1080p support.