By Meredith Popolo, PCMag.comBy: Meredith Popolo

As you're scrolling down your holiday shopping list, you stop at a name that likely has got you stumped. Maybe he's your son, your nephew, your grandson, or your younger brother. What could you possibly get him? Who knew a little boy could cause so much angst? (Answer: Mom did.)

You recollect your days as a youngster, trying to think back to what you would have loved to unwrap. Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Legos, Viewmasters, walkie talkies, and Erector sets. Ah, the good old days. Remember that Christmas when your uncle surprised you with a—hey, snap out of it!

Those toys won't fly with most kids today. In fact, they would only prove that you were born "like, a million years ago." Instead, you're desperate to find the perfect purchase that says, "See kids, I'm still hip!"

There's a fine line between gifting the hottest holiday toy and the dated device that will collect dust in the back of the junk closet, likely still in its packaging.

Well, unlike your skeptical punk of a nephew, PCMag won't leave you hanging. Even if you still don't understand why those dang birds are so angry, you'll have no trouble picking out a show-and-tell worthy gadget. We've rounded up some of the best tech toys of the year at a range of price points. We've included gaming systems, ereaders, phones, and music players that any little guy would be thrilled to unbox. Just remember, save yourself the embarrassment and don't ask where the "eject" button is.


TOP PICKS FOR BOYS:

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Desktop:

Gateway DX4860-UB33P

Rating:

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Price:

$599.99

Bottom Line:

The Gateway DX4860-UB33P is a basic but well-equipped general-purpose desktop. Other systems may be flashier, but if you need a fast PC with a bunch of the upgrades already included, then this is your desktop.

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Phone:

HTC Thunderbolt

Rating:

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Price:

$149.99 with contract plus data plan

Bottom Line:

The HTC Thunderbolt, the first 4G LTE smartphone for Verizon Wireless, has the fast Web speeds, but be prepared to carry an extra battery.

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Ereader:

Kindle (2011)

Rating:

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Price:

$79 with special offers

Bottom Line:

The new Amazon Kindle rings in at a bargain $79 price, establishes the new class standard for affordable ebook readers, and still features the best ebook store on the market.

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Music Player:

Apple iPod nano (2011)

Rating:

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Price:

$103.97 - $149.99

Bottom Line:

This year's minor refresh adds larger icons and some goofy-but-fun watch-face widgets, but the most welcome change is the price drop.

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Camera/Camcorder:

Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS

Rating:

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Price:

$239.88 - $285.99

Bottom Line:

Canon's compact PowerShot Elph 310 HS packs an 8X zoom lens into a body that can slide into your shirt pocket with ease. When you consider its high-res LCD, excellent image quality, and 1080p HD video capture capability you have a camera that earns our Editors' Choice.

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Gaming:

Nintendo 3DS

Rating:

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Price:

$169.88 - $193.04

Bottom Line:

A time-tested game system design coupled with innovative, convincing 3D technology, makes the Nintendo 3DS a force to be reckoned with. It's not only the most advanced Nintendo DS yet, but a solid first in a new generation of handheld game systems.

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Find more great high-tech holiday gift buying ideas, advice, prices and products at PCMag.com's Holiday Gift Guide!

Copyright 2011 Ziff Davis, Inc.