TechCentral.ie’s Christmas Gift Guide 2015
27 November 2015 | 0
Seeing as it’s the season to be merry and stressed about getting indulging your inner geek or saving Christmas morning from being a disaster TechCentral.ie has compiled a list of things we wouldn’t mind seeing under the tree come 25 December.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft features a few times in our Christmas roundup this year, which is testament to Redmond’s changed fortunes. The Surface is the poster child for Satya Nadella’s time in charge and the fourth generation of the Pro model is the step up many were hoping for. Slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, the Pro 4 offers the same connectivity, a better screen and a completely new stylus.
Unfortunately, as with previous generations the shiny comes at a premium.
Price: From €1,029
The ease of a console and the freedom of a PC. We’ve been looking forward to seeing the first generation of PCs using the SteamOS and Dell/Alienware’s first Steam Machine has enough firepower to get make our Christmas list.
Enjoy access to more than 1,500 SteamOS games plus thousands more via in home streaming and over 100 million users to play with.
It comes in four flavours with Intel Core i3 with 4Gb memory (€599.00), Core i3 with 8Gb memory (€669.00), Intel Core i5 (€779.00) and Intel Core i7 (€939.00) processors.
Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480
Many iPad owners will tell you their favourite peripheral is a full keyboard. This little number from Logitech manages to provide that for your tablet of choice and your smartphone and PC.
The K480 is portable enough to fit in any bag that can carry a laptop or tablet, but big enough that your fingers feel comfortable and uncramped. Running the length of the keyboard above the function keys is a rubberized tray where you slot your smartphone or tablet (up to 10″). Once your mobile multi-tasker gets a taste of this QWERTY keyboard’s excellent travel and tactile feedback.
It’s hard to imagine Google could have improved on the original Chromecast streaming device, but it did – and it still costs just €40. The most significant upgrade is practical: The new version’s design, a flat disc on a flexible HDMI cable, makes it a lot easier to squeeze into tight TV setups than the previous USB-stick style. Dual-band (2.4GHz/5GHz) Wi-Fi support and a tri-antenna system makes for noticeably stronger connections and faster speeds. Finally, a revamped Chromecast app makes it a lot easier to find things to watch.
Panasonic has been forging itw own path with Bluetooth home entertainment speakers that may not be as pleasing as the competition from Logitech’s Ultimate Ears but are priced high enough to put into the real audiophile market, closer to the likes of Sonos.
The SC-ALL2 speaker (pictured), and SC-ALL5CD use the proprietary ALL-connected Audio System to deliver sound through out the home.
Price SC-ALL2 €199, SC-ALL5 €369
Kingston Hyper X Cloud
Fantastic and budget rarely coincide, but Kingston’s $80 Hyper X Cloud headset is one such product. Combining excellent audio quality and great build quality (except for the mic), this is one headset that won’t disappoint when unwrapped. You can read our review for the full details, but to sum up, it’s just one hell of a bargain for what you get.
Moto 360 Collection
We could have picked the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Gear S2 or any of LG’s entries to the smartwatch space. Instead we’re giving Motorola’s Moto 360 collection a look if only for their aesthetic value. Coming in men’s, women’s and sports models, specs incllude a heart rate sensor, ambient light sensor, Wi-Fi connectivity and up to 1.5 days battery life. And seeing as it’s based on Android Wear you have free run of Google Play store. Bonus feature, if you have the time you can build your own on the Motorola website with a choice of designs, faces and materials.
Price: From €249
Nest’s third generation learning thermostat promises improved boiler support that now delivers remote hot water control and advanced compatibility with OpenTherm heating systems. New design features include a slimmer profile, a high-resolution screen that’s 40% larger and an updated user interface that makes it easier to read temperatures, alerts and messages. Finally there is Farsight, a new software feature that automatically displays the target temperature or time when movement is sensed across the room.
Price: €249 (Stand €35 extra)
Air Hogs Millennium Falcon Quad
You’re either a Han Solo kind of person or a Luke Skywalker kind of person. As we’re more of the former we’ll be looking for one of this Millennium Falcon Quad. It can fly up to 200ft away and takes off vertically, the body is styrofoam and survived dozens of terrible crashes around our office.
In case you go mad looking for it, we found this one on eBay.
Our choice of iOS devices this year, we’re temped on the basis of a faster processor, better screen and 4G connectivity.
Price: Varies by operator
The first non-Neus smartphone to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the HTC One A9 gets our vote due to the excellent build quality. We like the silver finish but there should be more colours in the shops in the run up to Christmas.
Price: Varies by operator
Sony won the battle of the consoles comprehensively last year but this year might see Redmond make a comeback. We know you can’t rely on the Halo franchise to carry an entire gaming ecosystem but even as a portal to the actually pretty good Xbox Live rental store it’s worth a punt.
Price: From €349
With the Oculus Rift not on the shelves we’re going with the here and now option. Plug your Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+, Edge 6 or S6 edge in to this headset for an instant Virtual Reality experience with games an apps like Netflix. Alternatively you could buy a Google Cardboard setup for a fraction of the price – but that’s more of a view finder than an all-in entertainment solution.
The e-reader market is becoming something of a two-horse race between Amazon’s Kindle and the Kobo alternative. For this year we’re going with the Kobo Aura. Available in a basic e-reader model and a HD video-friendly version, we’re a fan of the e-ink screen, a healthy book store with 3.5 million titles and 4Gb internal memory expandable to 32Gb with a microSD card.
Price: €120 (HD €150)
This fitness tracker offers most of the same features as JawBone’s upper-tier models, tracking steps, sleep, calories burned, and dietary data. About the size of a quarter, it snaps into a silicone clip that fastens securely on your belt or pocket. You switch between activity and sleep modes by pushing the device face – actually a big button.
Jawbone’s excellent Up app syncs the users’ inputs to their mobile device and analyzes them to guide them toward their fitness, nutrition, and recovery goals. Unlike most other trackers, which need to be recharged every few days, the UpMove runs on one coin-cell battery that promises months-long life.
Joby GripTight GorillaPod
As more and more phone manufacturers add in manual camera controls, you’re going to want to invest in a tripod. The Joby Griptight GorillaPod is an outstanding choices for novice and professional smartphone photographers alike.
The GripTight GorillaPod stand starts at €24.99 and comes in a number of different sizes with different mounts.
The tripod itself is extremely flexible and features legs that you can wrap around almost anything. It’s particularly useful outdoors where you can situate the legs so that the phone stands up straight on uneven ground.
Price: From €24.99
IDG News Service & TechCentral Reporters
For more gift ideas listen in to the TechRadio Toy Show next Friday where you can win a Google Chromecast.