Christmas Gift Guide 2015

christmas gift guide

I always like to do a Christmas Gift Guide, based on what I’ve enjoyed/envied in the recent months. Here’s a quick breakdown of 5 things that are still available to order online for delivery before Christmas that any gadget lover would love. Always assuming they don’t have one already which is the perpetual problem with us gadget lovers!

6. One For All Smart Control – URC 7980

Remote Controls are still something waiting to be perfected. Universal ones particularly so, mainly down to the complicated set-up they usually require to get them working with your devices. One of the biggest names One For All is looking to change that though with their Bluetooth connected model the URC7980.

Its a good looking remote that feels good in the hand, and has all the features you’d need from the many device remotes that are out there.

one for all URC7980 universal remote

All of the nasty setup work is done with the simple iOS or Android (4.3 or higher) app, which makes configuring it really easy. Simply follow the easy instructions to narrow the device down and then it will send a few test commands to confirm everything is working and you’re all set. The URC7980 can control up to 8 devices at once, and can setup ‘macros’ (a sequence of commands) to perform actions with a single click such as turning on the TV, the satellite box, and switching to BBC1 – all with a single press. Great for common activities.

The App checks for new device codes on start-up, so even brand new devices can be added to their database and be available to setup on the remote, its a great system.

one for all - URC 7980 - ios app

It even has a neat ability to find the remote when you lose it by triggering it to make a sound from the App. Another example of why connected devices, whatever form, are so more useful. The only detraction is the lack of a back-light, which makes picking out the right buttons in a darkened room more difficult.

For such a full featured device its very affordable at only £29.99 from one For All online or via Amazon.co.uk.

5. Smart Glider (Hover Board)

smart glider from futurewheels

I tried out this Smart Glider (sometimes referred to as hover board, although I don’t know why since they don’t ‘hover’!) from futurewheels.com and have to say I loved it!! It takes a while to get the hang of it, but as soon as you’re able to balance and move back, forwards and turn around, the rest is pure entertainment.

I spent a while practising on carpet before venturing out into the real world (pavement) where the speed and sensation of ‘gliding’ along controlling everything with your feet is simply incredible. It is simply so much fun to use, but you need to treat it as an outdoor activity, not a toy, so a bicycle helmet is strongly advised when using outside.

It charges in 1-2 hours and you get around 15-20 minutes use, depending on how fast you travel. I’ve started to see more and more people using these to commute around London and even browsing around craft fairs!

smart glider from futurewheels - outdoor use

 

They’re not cheap, but as I mentioned they are far more than just toys. You can pick one up from Future Wheels from £349.00

4. Apple Watch

apple watch with siri integration

Much has been made about smartwatches, and there are a huge range of them as now from practically every major phone manufacturer, and even companies like Garmin and TomTom. Apple aimed to disrupt as they always do when unveiling their Apple Watch last year, and although they haven’t released sales figures so far, since its availability in April this year, it has almost certainly outsold any other smartwatch.

Its not perfect, its a little chunky and the battery can comfortably make a day, but 2 is stretching it. However if you’re an iPhone user, its tight integration makes it the only logical choice as a smartwatch.

I’ve used mine for about 3 months now, and while the App support and functionality is improving dramatically, the greatest use I have found is how much more it has integrated Siri into my life. I now use it religiously to set timed reminders, Calendar events and initiate phone calls. Raising the wrist to active the display turns on Siri ‘listening’. Say the familiar “Hey Siri” and you’re good to start issuing commands. The more you use Siri the more ingrained it becomes, and I’m more on top of things I need to do as I can set reminders easily as soon as I think of them – particularly while driving as I can do the whole process without ever taking my eyes off the road, or touching anything.

Prices range dramatically depending on the model and band you select, but start from £299.00 to £339.00 for the Sport, £479.00 to £519.00 for the Stainless Steel and from £8000.00(!) for the Edition versions.

3. Lat 56 Red-Eye Garment Bag

LAT56 - Red-Eye Carry-On Garment Bag Review - Featured

I love Lat 56 bags, they are fantastic quality products and stand out amongst any other bad due to their design and exterior textures. I recently reviewed the Red-Eye Carry-On Garment Bag which is a new take on a suit carrier, using an ingenious wrapping system to make the whole bag much smaller (just 55cm x 25cm x 20cm) yes still carry a full suit, shirt etc. without creases, plus any other essentials you would need for a weekend away.

This is one of those great gifts for that hard to buy person – its unusual, stands out, and is genuinely useful. Its expensive at £199 from Lat 56 UK, but its worth the price for frequent travellers as it will give many years service. You can check out my full review of it here.

2. Kindle Fire 8  HD

Vying for the top two spots are small ‘personal’ style tablets that everyone should have to carry about in their bag for entertainment and even productivity purposes.

kindle fire hd 8

The Kindle Fire 8 HD is a wonderfully thin and light tablet / media device with an 8″ HD display. It connects to Amazons ecosystem for Apps and media, much of which is free if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, making them a compelling combination. Amazons investment in its own shows is right up there with Netflix, and their external catalogue is good too so you will get a ton of use from it.

Not forgetting Kindle Books, Music, and Photo storage the range of services offered by Amazon are vast. Its build quality is plastic not aluminium, but this is reflected in the price at only £129.99

1. iPad Mini 4

Pipping the Kindle Fire 8 HD to the number one spot, mainly thanks to the amazing Apple ecosystem, is the iPad Mini 4. Price wise, any of the Mini’s have this eco system too, so you can always pick up a cheaper Mini 2 at £219 but the Mini 4 has the best internals and also the Touch ID which is it is more and more integrated within iOS reduces the number of times you need to put a password in which I find incredibly handy.

apple ipad mini 4 with touchid

The range of Apps and games is what sets the iPad Mini above the Kindle Fire HD8 above. Movies and music wise they are pretty comperable, Amazon offering more content bundled with a Prime subscription, but Apple offering unlimited music streaming from £9.99/month and free Apple Music stations which play great music from guest DJs. It should be noted that there is an Apple Music Android app if you want this on Android.

Official iPad Mini 4 from Apple, or alternatively from Amazon.co.uk

This post was written by Rob Gordon, an IT geek, gadget lover and blogger. Rob has been using the internets since 1994 when the only streaming video was that coffee pot in Cambridge (rip).... Follow Rob on Twitter - @robgordon - about.me/robgordonuk