Top 5 holiday tech gifts coming to the workplace

All your end users want for Christmas is the latest smartphones and tablets. Now's the time to prepare for the post-holiday onslaught of tech gifts.

Back in the old days, nobody ever asked for holiday gifts they could use at work. "Dear Santa, I'd like a new headset for my desk phone" was not a common letter received at the North Pole.

In today's era of bring your own device and the consumerization of IT, however, the line between our work and personal lives has blurred. As such, the tech gifts we get for personal use may very well make their way into the workplace.

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest time of the year for retailers, and the weeks after the holidays are when things get busy for IT professionals, who face an influx of new smartphones and tablets. Learn what you're up against by checking out the most popular tech gifts that will be making their way into the enterprise:

5. Apple iPad mini

Apple's long-awaited iPad mini finally hit stores in November, just in time for the holiday shopping season. It can do pretty much everything its big brother can do, and it carries a smaller price tag, which should entice consumers who've wanted an iPad but couldn't bring themselves to pull the trigger. Because it's so similar to the full-sized iPad, IT pros familiar with that device should have no problem adjusting to this one.

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 isn't the flashiest or most powerful Android tablet on the market, but its low price of $249.99 -- discounted even more in several holiday sales -- made it one of this year's more popular holiday tech gifts. The tablet runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which offers several enterprise-friendly features, including on-device data encryption and VPN APIs.

More on holiday tech gifts

Tablet shopping tips for the holidays

Best smartphone picks of the season

Black Friday online sales spike

3. Samsung Chromebook

The hottest non-tablet computing device on Amazon.com this holiday season wasn't a Mac or a PC or even a Microsoft Surface. It was the Samsung Chromebook, a super-lightweight laptop running Google's Chrome OS. With little local processing power and even less storage space, the Chromebook relies on the power of the cloud, which is great for connected end users but may leave IT in the dark when it comes to data security.

2. Apple iPhone 5

A lot of your end users probably own iPhones already. But they may not have the bigger and better iPhone 5 -- at least not until they open their stockings. Apple reported 5 million sales of the iPhone 5 in its first three days on the market back in September, and the device got another boost as the holidays approached. Highlights for IT pros include new networking features, including 5 GHz wireless support, but watch out for iOS 6 iCloud improvements, which could make corporate data more portable.

1. Amazon Kindle Fire

Apple's entry into the media consumption device market hasn't hurt Amazon. The Kindle Fire and its souped-up successor, the Kindle Fire HD, were Black Friday's best-selling tech gifts and continued to fly off the shelves throughout the shopping season. These tablets are designed for watching movies, listening to music and surfing the Web, but with access to Android apps, business-minded buyers can use them for work too. Expect lots of "how do I get my email on here?" questions the first week of January.

This was first published in December 2012

Dig deeper on Tablet comparisons and mobile phone comparisons

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