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Christmas gift ideas 2014 – tech and gadgets for all

What to buy friends and family this Christmas - the best tech and gadget ideas for 2014 from our gift guide

Christmas is approaching fast; John Lewis has flooded our TVs with adorable penguins, tacky festive jumpers are beginning to appear around the office and people are already panicking about what to buy their friends and family. We want to take some of the stress out of shopping, so have put together a comprehensive gift guide to help you pick the right tech-related gift that will make you more popular than Santa on Christmas morning.

We’ve split our suggestions into price categories, and suggested who each one would be best suited for, to help make it easier to find the right gift for the right person. We’ll be adding more gifts in the run-up to the big day, so check back if you get really stuck. Hope your shopping goes smoothly, and you have a very happy (and techy) Christmas!

£30 and under

Bluetooth Selfie Stick, £20. For the socially-minded social media fan – Depending on your point-of-view the selfie is either a scourge on society, the epitomy of our tech-driven, self-obsession, or it’s simply a bit of fun and an essential way to brag to your friends. The only problem is that most smartphones have fairly narrow front cameras, so it’s hard to squeeze in your big bunch of beautiful mates, or all that scintillating vista, which you’re trying to show off about. And that’s where the Selfie Stick comes in, it’s an extendable arm, a bit like an old radio antenna, which you afix your phone to so you can get a lot more into your selfies. it comes with an app and the button on the handle uses Bluetooth to fire the shutter. Not only is it good for group shots, you can also get some interesting angles with it too, making it a brilliant gift for anyone who’s snap happy with their smartphone.

Sky Now TV box

Sky NowTV box, £10. For sports fans, Movie buffs and BBC loyalists – The Now TV Box is the cheapest way to turn any HDMI-equipped TV into a Smart TV. The tiny box connects wirelessly to your router and lets you access pay-per-view content from Sky’s huge TV and movie library, plus live sport. Best of all though it has iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5, so you can stream free-to-air TV and catch-up with your favourite shows.

If you’re not a Sky subscriber it’s the only way to watch the occasional football match or Formula One race  – although at £7 a time you’ll quickly spend more on watching than on the hardware itself. There’s also an Entertainment package on offer, giving you access to all those exciting HBO shows on Sky Atlantic for just £7 a month, plus there’s no contract so you can cancel and resume as you want. Once signed up you can also access your Sky content on other devices, such as games consoles, smartphones and tablets.

Raspberry Pi Model B

Raspberry Pi Model B+, £27For future computer coders and engineers – There’s never been a better time to learn the basics of computer engineering and coding, thanks to the Raspberry Pi foundation’s Model B+ starter kit. You’ll likely have everything you need to get started at home (SD card, USB power adapter and HDMI-equipped display) and there are hundreds of tutorials online to help you code it – all you need is the board.

The Raspberry Pi makes a multitude of electronics and coding projects possible, and the B+ has more GPIO pin-outs for even greater customisation. Powerful enough to run Quake III (just about) and ideal for home automation, time-lapse photography or hosting a home phone SIP server, you’re only limited by the software and your ability to connect wires. Even if you aren’t a coding expert already, there are classes and instructional guides designed to teach you the basics, then expand out to cover more advanced features.

Soundmagic E10

SoundMagic E10 in-ear headpones, £30. For anyone still using Apple’s atrocious EarPods – There’s no excuse for using the rubbish pair of bundled headphones that came with your smartphone, tablet or handheld games console. They are cheap, nasty and sound atrocious – fact. Luckily you don’t have to break the bank to get significantly better sound; SoundMagic’s E10 is a fantastic pair of in-ears that will only set you back £30.

Available in several colours, so you can pick the pair that best match your style, and bundled with several silicone tips to get the best possible fit whatever the size of your ear canals, the SoundMagic E10 is a classy pair of headphones considering the bargain price. Each bullet-shaped earbud is made from metal and despite using dynamic drivers, the bass, treble and mid-range all sound far better than anything else in this price range.


Roku Streaming Stick

Roku Streaming Stick, £50. For telly addicts and Netflix binge watchers – If you or your loved ones want to watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad in one sitting, you’re no longer confined to the small screen and tinny speakers on your laptop. The Roku Streaming Stick is one of the cheapest and well-stocked media streamers on the market, with an impressive roster of content providers including BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Netflix and NowTV. Google Play Movies has just been added to the service, and there are hundreds of other channels available to download so you shouldn’t ever run out of things to watch. Just make sure to stand up and go for a walk every once in a while so you don’t get stuck to your sofa.

Nintendo 2DS

Nintendo 2DS, £90. For young gamers with a penchant for Pokemon – It may lack the stereoscopic 3D that made the 3DS so unique, but this budget version of Nintendo’s latest handheld games console is the perfect gift for younger players who were warned off using the 3D initially due to health concerns. Its wedge shape is extremely comfortable to hold and its sturdy plastic chassis is much more suited to be chucked in a backpack than its 3D cousin. With so many great games at your finger tips (including the entire DS library as well), there’s never been a better time to jump onto the Nintendo bandwagon. If you shop around, you can pick up excellent bundle deals with games and accessories too, so you’ll be good to go out of the box.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle PaperWhite, £99. For night owls that just can’t put a book down – The Kindle Paperwhite is still our eReader of choice. Currently reduced in price by £10, this excellent bit of kit produces sharp text with plenty of contrast. This is partly thanks to its built-in backlight, which also lets you read in any lighting conditions – including reading in bed at night without disturbing others. Add to that Amazon’s huge range of competitively priced books and this is a great gift for those owning an older Kindle or any keen reader. Yes, the Voyage has an adaptive backlight and a higher resolution screen, and the vanilla Kindle is significantly cheaper, but the PaperWhite is the ideal middle ground for anyone looking to digitise their book collection.

Nook Glowlight alternative colour bands

Nook Glowlight, £69. For bookworms who don’t want to be tied to Amazon – The Nook Glowlight normally costs £89, but between 19th – 28th December, Nook’s lowered the price of its front-lit eReader to just £69, making it an attractive bargain if you’re in the market for a new eReader and don’t want to have your entire library tied to a Kindle. Weighing just 175g, the Nook Glowlight is 31g lighter than a Paperwhite, making it more comfortable to hold during longer reading stints. The screen is beautiful, too, as it has the same resolution and pixel density as the Paperwhite, and the titular Glowlight feature means you can read at night without disturbing those around you. Nook’s bookstore is a bit more expensive than Amazon, but if you want the freedom to shop around for your next novel and want a cheaper, lighter eReader than the Paperwhite, the Nook Glowlight is a very worthy alternative.


Tesco Hudl2 front

Tesco Hudl 2, £129. For tablet newcomers, experts and everyone in between- Tablets are swiftly going the way of smartphones; everyone will eventually have one, it’s just a matter of time. If there’s someone in your life that has yet to make the jump, Tesco’s Hudl 2 is the ideal starting point. Powerful, with a great screen for the price and colourful design. Better yet, you can knock that price down with Clubcard points too, making it even more of a bargain. Amazingly, Tesco hasn’t added a radical custom skin to Android, so it feels a lot like a Nexus device, and the few Tesco-specific apps the company has added are genuinely useful – Blinkbox Movies with offline downloads for watching on the move, anyone?

Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen), £145. For anyone sick of flagship phones getting all the best features – Whether you’re buying your very first smartphone or upgrading from an old one, Motorola’s 2nd Generation Moto G is by far the best smartphone you can buy for under £150. With its large 5in screen, powerful specs and excellent battery life, it puts several higher end smartphones to shame and it’s useful suite of Motorola apps help make the phone much easier to use, such as going into silent mode at night and sending out location updates so your friends and family know where you are. It’s also set to get Android Lolipop sooner than most smartphones from other manufacturers, so you’ll be safe in the knowledge you’re running the latest version of Google’s mobile OS.

Sennheiser Urbanite colour choices

Sennheiser Urbanite, £150. For fashionistas that want ‘street’ cans but balk at Beats – If you like your music with a bit of ‘street’ style and an emphasis towards the bass (but not TOO much), the Sennheiser Urbanite sound great and come with the usual microphone and remote to control your iPhone. The denim headband is also something a bit different if you want to stand out from the crowd and there are plenty of colours to choose from. More finely balanced than Beats but still colourful, chunky and standout enough to turn heads when you wear them out and about, these cans also cost less than the competition and have the benefits of Sennheiser’s years of audio expertise.

Toshiba Camileo X-Sports

Toshiba Camileo X-Sports, £199. For adrenaline junkies that like to show off their skills – If you’re looking for an action camera without splashing out too much cash, the Camileo X-Sports has great performance and specs for the money, making it great value. It’ll be a great holiday companion if you’re jetting off on holiday over Christmas, perhaps to hit the slopes or maybe escaping the cold for a beach holiday. It could also be a great Christmas addition for capturing footage of your kids on their shiny new skateboards or scooters with plenty of mounting options right out of the box, plus with a waterproof housing it’s ideally equipped to taking out in in the rain, on the beach or even under water. You even get a remote control included and the Camileo will play nicely with iOS and Android apps as well. You can then use the Camileo’s LCD or the companion apps to watch your footage if you can’t wait to get home.

£200 and over

Thrustmaster T300 RS PS4 racing wheel, £299. For the next Lewis Hamilton – The PS4 isn’t exactly overflowing with racing games right now, but DriveClub is undeniably the best. When it works it’s a stunning simulation, but it’s even more realistic when you take the wheel with Thrustmaster’s T300 RS. 1080 degrees of movement, a brutally powerful force feedback motor and a responsive set of pedals make you feel like you’re actually inside the car completely transform how driving games feel – it’ll take a lot of practice to master, but once you’ve found the very edge of grip and power your lap times will tumble. Buy it now and you’ll be prepared when Gran Turismo inevitably arrives on PS4 too.

Apple iPad Mini 2, £239. For kids hopped up on Christmas chocolate who won’t stop borrowing your iPad – Forget the iPad Mini 3 – it’s exactly the same as the iPad Mini 2 with the exception of TouchID, which lets you open your iPad with a touch of your finger. In our eyes, this isn’t worth the extra £80 Apple are currently charging for its latest iPad Mini, so you’re much better off getting an iPad Mini 2 instead. Its Retina screen looks stunning and last year’s processor still feels incredibly zippy and responsive. It’s the best value iPad you can buy right now, especially as the upgrade to iOS 8 has added Continuity – if you’re a Mac or iPhone user having all of your apps shared between devices automatically is a brilliant reason to make the switch.


Spaced360, £250 For Music lovers with a taste for the minimal – You don’t need multiple speakers, massive drivers or a subwoofer to fill a room with sound if you pick up one of these compact Bluetooth beauties. Spaced360 creates omnidirectional audio that sounds great wherever you sit. There’s some seriously smart tech inside, but all you’ll need to know is that it punches well above its weight in terms of sound quality and looks gorgeous too. It’s at the top end of Bluetooth speaker prices, but for good reason – with three driver units and bass radiators carefully arranged in a triangle shape, every type of music sounds crisp and clear, and it doubles as a smartphone speakerphone too. With a stylish recharging docking station you could leave it plugged in permanently, or use the built-in battery for listening on the move.

Sony PS4 OR Microsoft Xbox One, from £350. For anyone looking for some temporary sanctuary at Christmas with some video game-based escapism – It’s time for a new console, but which one? The PS4 has the edge in raw horsepower, with slightly slicker visuals in the big blockbuster titles which are available on both. The Xbox One, though, has a better range of exclusive titles to date, plus we love its ability to go into standby and resume straight back where you left off. It’s a close run thing but the PS4 looks to be the choice of serious gamers, while the Xbox One is more convenient to use.

Read our full Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One reviews, or find the best PS4 deals and best Xbox One deals to get the best price.

Optoma GT1080, £600. For gamers looking to level up their console setup – Short-throw projectors are a great way of getting a huge image in a very small space, and the Optoma GT1080 is our current favourite. This gaming projector can give you a 100in image from just a metre away from the projection surface. It’s small and light, too, so it can be moved around if your setup is only temporary. The best thing, of course, is image quality: it’s bright, vibrant and will do justice to your games and movies. £600 isn’t an inconsiderable sum, though, so perhaps this is a Christmas and birthday gift combined.