Cracking kit to help fill your stocking...
You don’t have to spend thousands to treat the tech fan in your life this Christmas
GREAT tech is the gift that keeps on giving all year round – here are some ideas for the tech-savvy special people in your life.
All these are priced around £100 and upwards.
1. AMAZON ECHO SHOW 8
NEW Echo devices with screens
– and much lower prices – hit the Amazon store this year, and the Show 8 is no doubt the pick of the bunch.
The screen is big enough to be useful from a distance for video calling, and also works close up if you’re following a recipe in your kitchen.
Obviously, Alexa is built in, so you can control your smart home devices and gain access to the wealth of knowledge online just by using your voice. There’s a physical sliding cover to hide the camera when not in use, too. ■ Price: £119.99 from amazon.
2. SMARTER COFFEE
COFFEE is great, obviously. But smart coffee is even better – and that’s what you get with this machine.
It’s controlled using an app on your phone, which links it up to Amazon Alexa and voice control. It’s a bean-to-cup machine, so all you have to do is add the roasted beans of your choice and water, and the machine will do the rest. Set your strength and grind remotely, from literally anywhere. ■ Price: £179.99 from amazon.co.uk
3. V-KIDS SMARTWATCH
THE always-connected smartwatch for children keeps you up to date on where your kids are all the time, and allows you to contact them easily via direct voice messages from the app on your phone.
You can set a location reminder and be informed if the wearer has left a certain location, and the watch also has a SOS button if you are needed urgently.
£99.99 (plus £4 per month service) from vodafone.co.uk
4. PLAYSTATION VR STARTER PACK
PLAYSTATION’S VR set-up might be a bit long in the tooth, but still offers excellent value for those wishing to get into the virtual world.
This pack contains everything you need (apart from the PS4 itself) to get started. Remember, it’s not just about games – there are a growing number of ‘experiences’ on offer in the PlayStation store. I climbed Everest the other day... ■ Price: £259.99 from game.co.uk
5. APPLE WATCH SERIES 3
THE Series 5 might be the top of the pile at the moment, but the Series 3 offers most of the same features at a much lower price – the bargain of the bunch if you will.
You don’t get the larger, always-on screen, the ECG feature, or the compass, but the Series 3 can monitor your health and activity, and keep you connected when away from your phone with mobile connectivity.
It’s waterproof and includes GPS, too – so perfect for those on an adventure.
■ Price: From £199 for GPS version (From £299 for GPS plus cellular version) from apple.com/uk
6. VODAPHONE SMART V10
LOOKING for a great value phone with all the features at a fraction of the cost of the main players in the game?
Look no further than the V10 from Vodafone. It has great cameras (12MP on the back, 5MP on the front), a 5.9in screen with edge-to-edge display, and comes with 32GB of storage that can be expanded up to 128GB with a SD card. It’s not the fastest, but it could be the best value for money at the price. ■ Price: £105 (pay-as-you-go) from vodafone.co.uk
7. AUDIO-TECHNICA AT-LP60XBT WIRELESS BLUETOOTH TURNTABLE
THE vinyl revival shows no sign of slowing with sales of actual physical records still thriving in the digital age.
This turntable from one of the most respected makers on the planet offers the best of both worlds.
It’s small, so can fit into spaces other turntables cannot, but also offers Bluetooth connectivity, so you can stream your analogue sounds to compatible speakers and headphones without wires. Perfect for those who already have the speakers, but want to gain entry to the wonderful world of vinyl. ■ Price: £169 from johnlewis.com
8. PHILIPS HUE WHITE AMBIANCE STARTER KIT
PHILIPS Hue is probably the leading brand in the world of smart lighting, offering a wide range of solutions across the board, and rock-solid reliability. Like most smart-lighting brands, though, you need a wireless hub to connect everything up. Then you’ll need bulbs and a controller would be nice, too.
This starter pack has all that – three bulbs, a wireless dimmer switch, and the hub. Once you have the hub, adding more devices to the system later is a simple process. You can control it with your phone, or with a voice assistant – it works with Alexa, Siri, and the Google Assistant.
■ Price: £119.99 from 2.meethue.com/en-gb
9. APPLE TV 4K
APPLE TV 4K got a lot more useful this year with the launch of Apple Arcade and Apple TV+.
The TV streaming service offers some great shows and films already, but will continue to grow over the coming 12 months – and if you buy a new Apple TV you’ll get access to it all for free for the first year.
The gaming side of the coin is Apple Arcade, which brings some superb games from the top developers to all your Apple devices, including the TV 4K, for £4.99 a month. Team it up with a wireless controller (there is compatibility for both the PlayStation’s DualShock 4 controller, and the Xbox Wireless controller) and you’ve got a games console as well as everything else the Apple TV 4K can do.
■ Price: From £179 from apple.com/uk
10. MARSHALL KILBURN II BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
NOW in a burgundy finish, this wireless portable speaker echoes the legacy of the rock ’n’ roll history of the brand, featuring a microphone-inspired metal grille, a guitar-style strap, and the iconic Marshall logo.
It boasts 20 hours of wireless listening and delivers a bold, powerful sound that is synonymous with the Marshall name.
■ Price: £269 from marshall headphones.com
■ Next week, we’ll have some budget tech as we make recommendations that cost less than triple digits.
The Amazon Echo Show 8, left, is the pick of the bunch from the retail giant’s tech offering this year PlaystationVR starter pack
Apple Watch Series 3
Philips Hue White Ambiance starter kit