It’s been a great year for tech but that may be both a blessing and a curse; with a plethora of products to choose from, finding the perfect gift for a friend or family member gets even trickier. To give you a hand, I’ve found a selection of gift ideas. Some may be right on the money for someone you have in mind – others, not so much.
Not to be a grinch, but some things on the market seem more like stocking stinkers than stocking stuffers. Bear in mind that this list is just my personal opinion. Who knows; where I see a flop, you might see a fantastic gift idea. Different strokes for different folks.
Here are my picks for the hits and misses of Christmas gifts this year.
Hit: Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo
You can’t just give this gift by itself. Don’t worry; I’m not talking about the dreaded “sold separately” accessories, just planks, crates and other junk to make the greatest obstacle race course of all time. This little guy can jump up to 80cm high and it always lands on its feet. You have complete control through a companion app on your smartphone and the built-in wide-angle camera will capture all of the action, streaming right to your screen.
If you’ve got a bigger budget (and maybe a grown-up geek in mind) then you can get airborne with the ShotBox AP10 Drone for all your aerial photography needs.
You might also like: Desk Pets BattleTanks. Say it with me: Tiny Laser Tag Robot Wars.
I’m a big fan of using tech to learn new things and get into good habits, but a Bluetooth motion-sensing toothbrush is pushing it. While I can appreciate the ingenuity of engaging kids with a companion game app to get them brushing in the right places, it seems superfluous. If junior needs this much coddling to embrace elementary hygiene, how are they going to handle the other facts of life? Besides: a toothbrush for Christmas? You might as well wrap it in socks and make them mow the lawn first.
Try instead: Buy a cool-looking toothpaste, download the free Disney Magic Timer™ app and then get your kid a proper present that can’t be classified as “chores or toiletries”.
Hit: UE Roll
“Unapologetically Awesome Sound” is plastered across the Ultimate Ears website and you have to admit, it’s a pretty cool product. Available in a range of colours and designs, you can clip this Bluetooth speaker to your bag, belt loop or anywhere else you fancy and play sharp, 360-degree sound streamed straight from your smartphone.
UE are serious about the ROLL’s waterproof certification too (IPX7 – that means immersion up to 1 metre) – each purchase through the website includes a little inflatable raft so you can take your tunes to the pool surface, not just poolside. It’s a speaker designed to see some action.
You might also like: The Fugoo Sport – more like a conventional Bluetooth speaker but with a whopping 40 hour battery life and changeable jackets.
CUFF is a little doohickey that fits neatly into stylish accessories such as cuff bracelets and necklace pendants. Using Bluetooth to communicate with a companion app on your smartphone, CUFF will give you a buzz when you get a new notification and you can even use it to flick out an emergency message to assigned contacts if you ever feel unsafe. A fitness tracking ability is on the cards for 2016.
It’s functional and fashionable, so what makes it a miss? No recharge ability. That’s right; after 6-12 months, the built-in battery will go flat and you’ll probably need to shell out for a replacement. I’m sure that spells “kaching” for the folks over in San Francisco but it gets a flippant farty noise from me.
Try instead: Take a look at the Ringly range – they’re fully rechargeable.
Hit: Polaroid Instant Digital Cameras
Any other 2000s teens remember Polaroid iZone? Well it’s back in the form of the Polaroid Snap. Much more streamlined than its predecessor, the camera’s integrated Zero Ink printer lets your print out your favourite pics as 2×3 inch miniatures and yes; they do still have adhesive backs so you can turn them into stickers.
For the hardcore digital socialite, there’s also the Polaroid Socialmatic, which you can use to post your pics straight to your social media feeds. We’ve gone full circle; the Instagram app button was based on an old Polaroid camera, and now Polaroid have essentially made an Instagram camera. Hipsters rejoice.
You might also like: With the Polaroid ZIP Mobil Instant Printer you can leave the snapping to your smartphone but still print on the go.
Miss: Xbox One Chatpad
Gamers love peripherals, right? Microsoft designed this one with good intentions – the full QWERTY keyboard plugs seamlessly into the base of an Xbox One controller and it’s backlit so you can still see the keys in a dark room. However, a quick sweep round the office yields the same general opinions: “Neat, but I wouldn’t use it much.”
The Xbox SmartGlass companion app already exists so you can tap away using your smartphone or tablet if you really like sending messages or using the web browser. If not, punching in the occasional game code with the on-screen keyboard and your controller probably isn’t ruining your life.
Try instead: Instead of physical peripherals, why not peripheral content? A Crunchyroll Premium Membership makes a nice surprise for any anime and manga fan.
What’s on your wishlist? Tell us in the comments.