The Best Gadgets For Christmas
Ryan Tubridy has already donned his Christmas jumpers and hosted the annual Christmas Toy Show. It’s the night when kids all over the country mentally draft their first letter to Santa, filled with the names of toys that somehow didn’t fall apart during the two minutes where Ryan put them to the test. Meanwhile, us adults will shake our heads and say things like “kids these days”. But what would it look like if the Toy Show was to cater only to adults. What if it were grown men up there explaining their favorite toy to Ryan. Well, I imagine that they would be fumbling around with some of the gear in the following list. This is the best gadgets of 2015.
Maybe it’s because of the Back to the Future Day last October, but for whatever reason, hoverboards (also known as Air Wheels, swegways, and self-balancing boards) have become one of the hottest gadgets on the market this Christmas. Technically speaking, they don’t actually hover, but standing on one you wouldn’t know it. These boards feature smart autostabilising technology to help you keep balance. They also react to how you distribute your weight. All you have to do to get it moving is lean forward. The price range for hoverboards can vary depending on smart features, speed, battery life and design, but they tend to fall between €300 – €850.
2015 has truly been the year of the drone. These four-rotor aircrafts have been involved in everything from wars in the Middle East to the stylish wedding videos of your friends. A drone is the type of gift than nobody could be disappointed by, and there is one for every considerable budget range. The cheaper models such as the Cheerson CX 10 don’t have built in cameras and can go for as little as €20. If you want a drone with a camera they can also be gotten inexpensively, but the quality won’t be very good until you pay upward of €300. This winter drones are set to face the toughest challenge yet as families all over the country release them into turbulent Irish skies.
This year Apple released its smart watch to fairly tepid reviews. Compared to the iphone, the watch seemed counter intuative. Apple are known for simple interface and functionality, but the watch tried to squeeze too much functionality into too small a space, making the thing quite difficult to use.
Nonetheless, this shouldn’t turn you off the idea of a smart watch entirely. There are some great models out there that have come close to fulfilling the promise of what a smart watch could be.
Many models such as the Sony Smartwatch have built in GBS and a heart monitor (for you fitness fans), and some, such as the Motorola Moto 360 and the Huawei Watch, have a stylish handface instead of what might look like a tiny phone on your wrist.
Smart watches aren’t for everyone, and if you don’t think that reaching into your pocket and pulling out your phone is a waste of time, then you might want to leave this one on the shelf. If you are only into the fitness perks of the smart watch, you would do better to consider a dedicated activity tracker instead.
The bluetooth speaker is one of those items that’s been around for a number of years but remains worth reconsidering because the quality continues to improve and the price continues to drop. Something you will need to consider if you are thinking about getting a portable speaker as a gift or for yourself is what will it be used for and where? Will it be for outdoors (sand-proof, waterproof), will it simply be a way to turn up the volume on your phone, or will be the primary audio source for your home entertainment system?
Models like the iClever IC-BTS02 go for as little as €35, look good, and have sound quality that most of us would be pleased with. One feature you might want to keep an eye out for is ‘360 degree audio’; this means that the speaker projects sound in every direction and is sure to fill a room.
High-tech Household Items
These days it’s becoming harder and harder to find items that can’t be equipped with a wireless technology. This holds true throughout your house. Even the most mundane items can now have extraordinary – if not somewhat needless – functionality. Rather than give each their own section, I’ve decided to list a few here. If they’re not the kind of items you’d think of buying as a gift, they should at least amuse you. If the Jetsons were real, these are the items they would have in their house.
First we have the Ring. The Ring is a wearable device that can perform a variety of tasks with nothing more than a swipe of your finger. It can open your curtains (presumably you also need corresponding smart-curtains), turn on your tv, or even hail an Uber. The device will set you back about €150. If this seems a bit steep, your hand can perform all the same tasks.
Don’t get enough of your pets in the evening? Now you can bring them to work with you. Well, not exactly. Petcube is a video-camera system that allows you to tune in and watch whatever your pet is up to. It also has a built in mic so you can talk to your cat or dog from a distance, and it even has a laser pointer you can enable to keep them entertained. All for €200.
This one is a little more practicle. The Netatmo Welcome is a smart home security camera that uses facial recognition technology to alert you as to who is in your house. It will give you a ping if the person is unknown. It can also give you a livestream from your home, while recording video to you a local SD card. No need for subscription, just a one off €200.
For anyone who has ever turned a perfectly white t-shirt into a substandard red t-shirt this next one might be of interest. The LG TWIN Wash System is what you might guess it is – two washing machines in one, with a second washer beneath the main one. This means that there is no need for a separate white wash! It will also notify you phone when it is time to put your clothes in the dryer. Sadly, you still have to separate the whites from the colours by hand. Maybe next year…
This one is admittedly very useful. Nest is a smart thermostat that reacts to your routine in order to give you a more efficient heating system. The accompanying app allows you to change the temperature remotely, meaning that you can save on heating bills while you are away and have your house nice and warm for when you get home. If used correctly, Nest can will pay for itself over time.