2015 Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide
Are you shopping for a gadget-obsessed friend or family member? Find unique tech gifts from our 2015 gift guide. We have rounded up the best of tech gifts to give (and get) this holiday season.
Amazon Fire Kids Edition : Perfect Christmas gift for your kids
The Amazon Fire Kids Edition consists of the Fire tablet, a protective case, one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited and a two-year guarantee. Also the additional perks in the Kids Edition add an extra level of value and security that you will find anywhere else.
This tablet comes with a rubberised case for extra protection against being dropped or flung across the room by an angry child, with a two-year guarantee to replace the device if it does break.
Amazon’s existing parental controls help you set limits on your children’s screen time on the tablet, while a built-in subscription plan gives them unlimited access to a catalogue of child-friendly apps, games, ebooks and videos.
Samsung Galaxy View: Bridges the gap between a tablet and TV
Bigger than a laptop, but smaller than a TV, the Samsung Galaxy View is a new type of tablet hybrid – part TV, part tablet – that suits anyone who watches a lot of video and either lives in a small place, or would like a supplementary screen for using around the house.
This huge 18.4-incher fits into TV territory with a main screen dedicated to popular streaming sites such as Netflix. It is not exactly a mini-smart TV, since there is no ethernet or HDMI port, and it does not come with a remote or a keyboard, but it has full Android capabilities and access to all of the apps in the Google Play Store.
Samsung behemoth’s design features a useful built-in kickstand with a handle, to easily move it from room to room, a micro-SD card slot and a SIM card slot for Internet on the go. The downside is the flimsy and cheap plastic construction of its built-in kickstand, the lack of an HDMI port and the weak speakers.
Why use a tablet instead of a TV? For the same reason one would choose a tablet over a laptop; it is simply a conveniently portable option. So, if you are low on space, but not on cash, the Samsung Galaxy View is a unique option that might fit your needs.
HP 14-inch Chromebook: Online access in a shiny 1080p screen
The new 14-inch HP Chromebook 14 slim laptop adds a handful of higher-end features and extras to stand out in a crowded field. It combines a soft blue interior and accents with a white lid (the system will also be available in a silver design).
The 14-inch display has a full 1,920×1,080 resolution, and uses an IPS panel (in-plane switching) to prevent the image from looking faded at side angles. The system also includes some potentially valuable extras, including a two-year 100GB Google Drive account and three Google Play movie rentals.
Internally, the 14-inch Chromebook comes with a 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2840 processor, 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. Users will also get up to 9 hours and 15 minutes of battery life.
Blackberry Priv: Slick Android slider
The BlackBerry Priv is an attractive device, thicker than the competition on Android, but sporting a backlit QWERTY keyboard that slides out from behind the 5.4-inch quad HD display. If you are a lapsed BlackBerry acolyte, come for the uncompromising physical keyboard and security pedigree, but stay for the access to the full Android app store.
Widgets When You Want Them
Turn on pop up widgets, and an ellipsis will show up under the icons of any apps with widgets. Swipe up on the icon, and the widget will show up in a temporary overlay on your screen. It will behave like a normal widget, and then disappear when you are done with it. You are still free to use normal widgets, of course.
Battery at a Glance
Plug the phone in and you will see a little line darting along the border of the screen. It is the Battery Edge, and it will glow red, yellow, or green, depending on the Priv’s power level. You will also see a little percentage readout, as well as an estimate of the remaining charging time, so you can keep tabs on your phone while it is charging. It runs along the curve, which keeps it out of the way, so you can use your phone while it is plugged in without obscuring the screen.
Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7: Combines performance and value
Every music fan can now experience Hi-Res audio in total comfort with the new Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 headphones. Combining pro-grade sonic skills with the latest in premium design, these headphones model a discreet but stylish profile while boasting new audio technology.
Designed for listening at home and on-the-go, the MSR7 headphones are the ultimate in comfort. Soft memory-foam ear pads fit securely and snugly around the ears, maximising comfort during long listening sessions. The housing has also been specially shaped with ear-profiled grills to ‘mirror’ the whole ear and enhance the rich, lower end sounds, while the highly flexible swivel design helps to find the most comfortable fit instantly.
To extend the mid to low frequency sounds, Dual-layer Air-Control Technology has been specially developed: housings made from an exclusive mixture of aluminium and magnesium are layered to provide a lightweight but rigid structure, reducing unwanted vibration that can taint the sound. Within this layered construction, a Triple-venting Acoustic Airflow design features three precisely placed ‘vents’ that control the air flow to give a much more dynamic sound.
Whether listening to your favourite tracks on a home hi-fi, laptop or listening while on-the-go, the MSR7 comes with cables to suit any situation: in addition to a standard 1.2 metre cable, Android and Apple fans listening on their mobile devices can connect a 1.2 metre iS cable, featuring in-line controls and a microphone.
LG 55EG9100: Experience a new dimension of 3D
The LG EG9100 curved OLED TV is a marvel of design and performance. The gracefully curved Full HD 1080p screen offers “Perfect Black” for infinite contrast. While LG’s 4 Colour Pixel technology enables a broader range of more accurate colours.
Its wide viewing angle assures a consistently beautiful picture across the entire screen with virtually no variance. Its remarkably thin OLED TV provides new possibility in style and design with a depth as thin as a pencil at its thinnest point.
Featuring the LG Smart TV with webOS 2.0, the EG9100 makes it easy to enjoy movies and more from a host of premium content providers such as Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, YouTube and Hulu Plus.
Contrast Ratio is considered the key indicator of picture quality. LG OLED TV has self-lighting pixels that can switch off completely to achieve perfect black for infinite contrast, so images come alive with breathtaking detail.
Microsoft Xbox One: Luxury gaming and customisation
A lot has been fine-tuned under the Xbox One’s hood – particularly the firmware’s functionality. A massive interface update dubbed the “New Xbox One Experience” has improved some of the dashboard’s logistics and aesthetics.
Overall, Xbox One is home to the best exclusives of the 2015 holiday season as it offers a growing library of third-party games – mainstays such as the Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and Madden series, as well as newer titles such as Fallout 4 and Rainbow Six Siege.
The system also double as full-service entertainment systems, with built-in Blu-ray players and streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube and Hulu.
TomTom Bandit: Takes you from shoot to share in a shake
TomTom’s Bandit action camera uses built-in sensors to tag all the potential highlights in your clips to make editing easier. Its mobile app lets you quickly create a highlight reel just by shaking your smartphone. Charging and video/photo transfers can be done without a cable. Unique rotating mounting system makes getting the camera horizontal simple.
The Bandit is relatively weighty as far as bullet cameras go, but this makes it feel reassuringly robust. An LCD screen sits on the top and shows only status information, not an image of what the lens is seeing. The button on the rear turns on the device and toggles the record function too. A novel feature is that pressing the record button a second time marks a highlight, with a separate button actually turning off the recording; the device is turned off with an additional press.
The battery pack offers three hours of use when recording 1080p at 30fps. This does drop if features such as Wi-Fi are in use, but it is still very respectable. Power is supplied through the Batt-Stick, a unit that slots into the back of the camera. This features a USB connector and MicroSD card slot, so there is no need for additional cables or a card reader – this unit does it all and is a really nice touch.