What do you buy the gadget guru who already has everything? The iPhone 4.0? Already got it. The iPad? Already bought it?
Are they looking for a Christmas gift, or just an excuse to escape from the family festivities with the latest game or application?
This year has witnessed a revolution in the electronic gadget market, with the influx of smartphones (read my guide), media players, the invasion of the tablet and nothing short of a revolution in the way we communicate with computers.
Choosing a gift for gadget boy or girl is going to be fun this Christmas.
Take a tablet
Apple’s new iPad Wi-Fi + 3G - or just iPad 3G - is the current hot pick of tablets. With analysts’ claims that the iPad has outsold the launch of other devices and gadgets (including the first ever DVD player), the power of the tablet as an interactive medium is vastly becoming evident.
Apple has only been selling its iPad since April 2010, but US analyst Strategy Analytics Inc now says Apple’s wonder device accounted for 95% of all tablet computers shipped in the third quarter of 2010 worldwide.
The iPad 3G’s basic 16GB costs £529 and then you’ll need to budget for a data tariff (from Three, O2, Vodafone and Orange). There are lots of options to choose from. The 3G uses a new type of SIM card called a microSIM that fits into a slot on the left-hand side of the device.
The main advantage of the 3G of course is that it’s a true roaming device. Instead of relying entirely on Wi-Fi hotspots to stay connected, you’re linked up to the 3G phone networks, so you remain online wherever you’ve got a decent reception.
…or e-Booky Wook, as Russell might say
iPad and the Amazon Kindle dominate the high-end e-book reader market. However, at around £200 the latter is half the price.
Kindle has been available since 1 November 2010. John Lewis was the first of the high street retailers to offer the Kindle and Kindle 3G, which lets you wirelessly download books, magazines, newspapers and blogs to a crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display.
Sleek and lightweight, the Amazon Kindle fits comfortably in the hand, has an e-ink screen that is easy on the eyes - even in bright daylight - and has a battery life of up to one month, with the wireless switched off.
The new Kindle 3G comes with free global 3G wireless, letting readers download content in over 100 countries with no monthly fees or annual contracts. You can choose from over 450,000 books, including new releases and 81 of 100 Nielsen UK Bestsellers. Over one million free books are also available to read on Kindle.
For just under £200, the iPod Touch 8GB (4th Generation) packs a personal HD video and camera into one amazing package. Using the FaceTime feature you can make video calls in realtime.
However, the real gee-whizz update is the retina display technology which produces graphics as good as the eye can see. Headlines and weblinks are clearer when zoomed out, as are icons. Games and video playback also look good.
Think of this versatile little device as an all-round gaming, music and video-watching machine. Music playback is astonishingly good, and Apple’s huge library of apps and games tops it off. Just the thing to seal yourself off with after the Xmas turkey lunch.
You’ll know it as Kinect for Xbox 360, Kinect, or by its original code name – Project Natal – which Microsoft has been developing for a decade.
But launched in the US on 4 November 2010, followed by Europe a few days later, Kinect has created a firestorm of interest. Being sold in various bundle options – with the 4GB or 250GB Xbox 360 console and Kinect Adventures game – Kinect has transformed the way we talk to computers. Gamers in the UK and Europe queued all night to get hold of this new £130 hands-free motion control system.
You now don’t need a hand-held controller to communicate with the computer. Kinect uses a camera, motion sensors and a microphone instead. The gadget then uses infrared technology to track 48 points on your body as well as their distance from the Kinect sensor. This helps the Xbox 360 depict with an astonishing degree of accuracy what you’re doing in three-dimensional space, so you’re brought right into the game you’re playing.
Twenty titles being released for Kinect include:
Kinect Adventures, Kinectimals, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 – The Videogame), Game Party, Dane Central, Your Shape, Fitness Evolved, The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout, EA Sports Active 2, Zumba Fitness, Get Fit with Mel B, DanceEvolution, Dance Paradise, Kinect Sports, MotionSports, Sports Island Freedom, Kinect Joy Ride, Fighters Uncaged, Sonic Free Riders and Crossboard 7.
There are also planning to introduce a Star Wars game in time for next Christmas!
Microsoft thinks Kinect will encourage lots of new users into gaming and transform the way we use the games themselves. Kinect Adventures has certainly been designed with the Xbox 360’s core buyers and Microsoft’s new-buyer target audience in mind – with simple gameplay and a more challenging, rewards-based mode.
Nintendo’s Wii console brought motion-controlled gaming to the masses. Its future lies in 3D – and the handheld 3DS is scheduled for early 2011.
But don’t dismiss Sony’s just-released motion-based device, the PlayStation Move – a wireless, handheld controller – that works with the PS3 console. It’s a bit like a Nintendo Wii but more accurate thanks to its use of a motion tracking camera. Move also works on an HD console so games are available in amazing High Definition.
And of course, let’s not forget the latest version – the seventh instalment - of the game which has acquired almost cult status - Call of Duty: Black Ops.
It’s now in 3D and will be available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PCs. It’s expected to be the biggest selling title of 2010.
Set in the Cold War, the game now takes you to Vietnam, Cuba and Russia. There are also extensive online multiplayer and zombie modes. Some technology pundits are predicting it will boost sales of 3D TVs.
So, talking of which (see our 3D TV guide for more info) why not drool over the ultimate in home entertainment gifts - the Samsung UE55C9000 LED HD 1080p 3D Television with built in Freeview HD. You can enjoy full HD 3D imagery, putting you right into the action, as well as browse numerous HD channels on the built-in Freeview tuner.
An exciting internet tv feature means you can access a multitude of entertainment, from video to social networking. This tv also acts as a platform for all your media through the use of Allshare - allowing you to transfer videos, music and photos from your compatible PC or mobile device wirelessly and effortlessly.
The new Essence range of low cost universal remotes from One For All makes digital TV easier to control. It features 'combi-control' enabling you to operate up to four devices - there's no need to use four different remotes.
It's really fast to set up too - the three button SimpleSet system works for all popular brands. Compatible with both traditional and digital tv, there's a 160-degree infrared lens so it works from any angle. £17.99 for the Essence 4 (it controls your TV, satellite/Freeview box, DVD, amplifier/tuner or home cinema unit).
Don’t forget the films…
A must-have stocking filler for both men and women this year is going to be their favourite film on Blu-ray. The British Video Association says the top six Blu-rays for men are:
Get Him To The Greek, The A-Team, Alien Anthology, Inception, Iron Man 2, and Robin Hood.
For women it’s: Sex and the City 2, Salt, Step Up 3D, Glee: Season 1, Knight & Day, and How to Train Your Dragon.
…and those little extras
Audio-Technicaʼs stylish ATH-CKF500 earphones are perfect for todayʼs music-loving geek-ess. Embellished with rhinestone detailing and elegant calligraphy, the ATH-CKF500 comes with a chic, key-shaped cable wrap in a choice of black, ivory and pink/gold finishes.
One For All is launching a PS3 Bluetooth adaptor in December, so the SmartControl universal remote can now operate all your multimedia devices including PlayStation 3 for the first time.
SmartControl already comes pre-programmed to work with HDTV, DVB-T, iPod docks, Blu-ray, PS2, Xbox 360, Full HD LCD, home cinema systems and MP3 players - for seamless control of up to six gadgets. Now, with the new IR bridge, you can control PS3 as well - consolidating multiple remotes into one convenient unit.
For example, you can manage all the controls for watching a Blu-ray movie via your games console without having to switch between different remotes, controllers or even modes.
Xmas gifts for geeks hamper
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