holidays

Online holiday spending up, but not as much as expected

Shoppers who made purchases via their desktop computers spent 10 percent more this holiday season than last, according to ComScore, but that was less than the 14 percent increase the market research firm had expected.

ComScore had predicted that US shoppers using desktop computers to make purchases would spend $48.1 billion in e-commerce between November 1 and December 22. Instead, the actual tally for the season came in at $42.8 million.

"Our expectations for the online holiday shopping season anticipated that consumers would spend heavily later into the season out of necessity to make up for the … Read more

Prime was prime, as Amazon reports another record holiday

It's become a sort of holiday tradition for CNET to offer a snapshot of just how merry Amazon's holiday sales have been, with a little help from the company's PR department. So here we go.

Amazon's annual post-Christmas press release boasts yet another record season, with more than 36.8 million items ordered worldwide on Cyber Monday -- that's 426 items per second. And more than half of Amazon customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday season.

But while Amazon noted, vaguely, that "millions of customers unwrapped Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets … Read more

Internet cat Lil BUB about to make your holiday purrfect

Sure Grumpy Cat gets to hang out with other cat celebrities like Colonel Meow, Oskar the Blind Cat, Nala Cat, and Hamilton the Hipster Cat to make a cool Christmas music video, but wouldn't you rather spend the holidays with a cat who enjoys the simpler things, like a soft carpet and a cozy fireplace to sleep in front of?

Lil BUB, the cute cat with the tongue sticking out, has her own festive video of her relaxing in front of a roaring fireplace. The soothing sounds of Lil BUB purring and the crackling of the burning wood are the perfect backdrop for any Christmas activities. … Read more

Google and Facebook write your end-of-year cards for you

If you're one of the countless people who feels guilty about failing to send end-of-year letters to your friends and family, perhaps it's time to let Google or Facebook do the work for you.

Both companies have released tools that compile what they judge to be your top moments of the year for easy sharing with your social contacts. Of the two, the Google+ auto-awesome movie is more interesting -- at least if you actually have some photos and videos uploaded onto Google+ -- since it builds something new rather than just repackaging some highlights from the year'… Read more

In defense of 'The Star Wars Holiday Special'

Say the words "The Star Wars Holiday Special" around a group of geeks, and you'll most likely be met with guttural groans and a lot of glares. The 97-minute TV special debuted on November 17, 1978 (making this its 35th-anniversary year), and never aired again. Many fans, as well as director George Lucas, would prefer to pretend the Wookiee- and disco-saturated show never existed, but I watch it every year as a holiday tradition to amuse myself and horrify my friends.

The infamous TV special aired on CBS, parent company of CNET. It featured not only the iconic "Star Wars" characters Chewbacca, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, C-3PO and R2-D2, but also new characters like Chewie's wife Malla, his son Lumpy, and his father Itchy. If that's not intriguing enough, we get "Golden Girls" actress Bea Arthur playing Ackmena the cantina bartender; "The Carol Burnett Show" veteran Harvey Korman playing a myriad of bizarre characters; and actor Art Carney as electronics salesman Saun Dann and friend to the Wookiees. … Read more

Gingerbread Optimus Prime: Dessert in disguise

Nothing will impress Santa more than replacing his traditional cookie plate with a giant edible Autobot.

Caroline Eriksson crafted this giant gingerbread Optimus Prime and entered it in a Norwegian Gingerbread House Contest, where she was selected as a finalist.

While the Autobot might even make director Michael Bay think twice before blowing it up, it does make us wonder why more Transformers don't change into food instead of vehicles. … Read more

Google Search on Android, iOS helps you go caroling

This is a cool trick courtesy of Google: using the Google Search app on iOS or Android along with a special command leads to an unexpected response.

After launching Google Now on your Android device or Google's Search app on your iOS device, you simply launch a voice search (or you can type in the phrase) by saying, "OK, Google Now, let's go caroling."

In response, Google will provide you with a list of Christmas carols to choose from. Once you select one, you'll have the option to play the song, complete with lyrics and … Read more

Apple's tearjerker holiday ad: Self-absorbed teens care after all

You're familiar with the iPhone.

It's the one that everyone carries around in order to take pictures of everything they see. All the time. Without cessation.

Earlier this year, Apple boasted about this. Now the company would like you to know that, during the holiday season, teens who seem absorbed in iPhone world might not be as self-absorbed as they seem.

A new ad for the holidays shows the Harris family getting together. You know the Harrises. They live somewhere cold and the wife had that fling with the famous fiction writer.

Well, here they are getting together … Read more

12 cool, creative uses for tablets

Tablets trumped other holiday tech gifts in a recent CNET survey, which means some of you might be reading this on a brand new tab -- or have one in your hands very soon.

But what will you do with said portable computer once you've unwrapped it? We're guessing you'll watch some Netflix, play some games, and maybe send a holiday greeting or two via e-email. But there's lots more you can do with your device.… Read more