High-tech holiday gifts require the right digital services

Lee Nelson

There it is - sitting so heavenly under the tree and wrapped with a big red bow. You've dreamt about the day you could watch your beloved sports team on a gigantic HDTV.

There's only one problem: You don't subscribe to high-definition programming.

Don't fret or start blaming Santa. There are ways to upgrade your Internet and cable so you can use your new holiday gadgets.

"People need to understand the features of their new electronics and understand what they need to actually make them run properly," says Laura Hubbard, senior manager of communications for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

And you won't be alone when it comes to figuring out how to the make the most of your new gadgets. In fact, electronics will continue to be high on many people's holiday wish lists this year with a third of people's budget for gifts going toward tech devices, according to an October 2012 study by the CEA.

So, if you're buying or wanting any electronics this holiday season, make sure you know which ones require an upgrade to your digital service subscriptions.

No. 1 - HDTVs

These days, televisions are not just broadcasting your favorite television shows and movies. Some have key boards, apps, and 3D capabilities.

For example, "Most televisions sold these days are HDTV - high definition," Hubbard says. "It just makes the picture more realistic." In fact, when you watch HDTV, you see a lifelike picture because of the high resolution and high pixel content. Pixel is short for picture element, says Hubbard.

ConsumerReports.org says that if you buy a television with 1080 pixels, it is a full HD set. But to actually see the movies, shows, and sports that you crave on HD, "You need to upgrade your cable or satellite subscription to include HDTV," says Hubbard.

Why? Because while your cable or satellite companies offer HD broadcasts, not all programming is offered in HD, yet.

[Want to switch cable providers or upgrade your service? Click to compare rates now.]

No. 2 - Smart TVs

People have been touting the convenience, quickness, and amazing abilities of Smartphones for a while. That "smartness" has now been transported into television sets.

Most of the things you can do on your Smartphone - like have handy apps, quick access to the Internet, or watching YouTube videos - you can now do on a Smart TV.

But what do you need to run it efficiently and enjoy all of its features?

Your Smart TV needs to have an Internet connection, Hubbard says. They are built with Internet-ready components and can be hooked up directly to the Internet through your home network by an ethernet cable or through your Wi-Fi.

Check with your internet provider to make sure you have the fastest speed available to enjoy all the features of your Smart TV.

[Want a faster Internet connection? Click to compare rates from providers now.]

No. 3 - Cable or Streaming-Based Subscriptions

Are you hoping to give or receive the gift of cable or streaming-based subscriptions?

From sports subscriptions like NBA League Pass to premiere cable subscriptions like HBO or Showtime, the gift of premium channels could satisfy TV-fanatics alike.

Unfortunately, cable companies differ in what types of TV packages they offer, so you'll want to check with your current provider to see if this item on your wish list is doable. If not, it may be time to switch cable providers.

What's another popular type of subscription that could make a great gift? Streaming-based subscriptions.

In fact, in 2011, CEA found that consumers are looking to streaming-based companies like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and others (such as Amazon Video on Demand, Vudu and iTunes) to also fulfill their TV needs. Some of these internet subscriptions can cost about $8 a month, Hubbard says.

If this is on your wish list, consider upgrading your internet service to faster speeds so you can fully enjoy your favorite television shows, thousands of movies, and popular music videos. Give your internet provider a call today to see how you can support all your video streaming.

[Looking to upgrade your cable or internet service? Click to compare rates from multiple providers now.]

No. 4 - Tablets

With a tablet, you can basically do most of the same things you used to do with a clunky personal computer or large laptop - and take it anywhere. It's crazy, but now the world is in the palm of your hand.

Perhaps that's why tablets are the most wanted gift on adults' wish list, according to the CEA.

And in order to fully enjoy your new present, Hubbard reminds us of one important detail required for getting the most out of this high-tech toy while at home: "You definitely need a Wi-Fi connection."

So, if you've put a tablet on your holiday wish list, you might want to explore the idea of an upgrade in your internet speed.

Your home internet provider can help you upgrade to a faster internet speed to keep up with all the wireless devices. Many internet providers offer different packages with different internet speeds to help you stream movies quickly, download novels efficiently, and update your social media networks instantly.