We like a scarf and socks as much as the next man, but they’re not the same as opening your own drone aircraft on a Christmas morning, are they? Things you can plug in always make for more exciting gifts, so we’ve trawled through this year’s finest gadgetry to hand-pick the gizmos we’d most like to ignore the instruction manuals of.
Google Home Mini
If the kids don’t listen at Christmas (or ever), at least the electronics will. As the world goes voice-activated, Google’s entry level talkbox lets you control the playlist, the lights or any other connected home products with a whisper. Unlike some on the market, it doesn’t look half bad on the shelf, either.
Beats Studio3 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Yeah, some people wear Beats more for their looks than their circuitry and sonics, but these good-looking cans have brains to match. Active noise-cancelling pinpoints external sounds to block (such as screaming children on Boxing Day, say), while Apple’s W1 chip gives them up to 40 hours’ battery life. You can even get an emergency three hours’ playback from just 10 minutes’ juice.
Ted Baker Finistr DAB Radio
With a globe’s worth of radio stations available on DAB channels, any self-respecting music fan should have a device to access them. Ted Baker’s sleekly designed hub will also tune into FM stations and play music from your phone via Bluetooth. And the acoustics are as good as its looks.
Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch
For any man wishfully plotting a January shred, this is a good way to save him the hassle of cancelling his neglected gym membership come March. Fitbit’s latest watch includes workout instructions barked from the device itself, meaning the wearer doesn’t have to suffer the indignity of a PT who rolls his eyes for £60 an hour.
For runners, the Ionic tracks heart-rate, distance and pace, and also stores up to 300 songs without the need of a phone.
Google Pixel 2
The second generation of the world’s highest-rated smartphone has a best-in-class camera, two front facing speakers and is rated for water resistance if you’re the type to drop it mid-pee. This being a Google product, it also has a nifty live search function – point the camera at a landmark and you can quickly get information about it, whether that’s Big Ben or the poster for Fast & Furious 27.
Riva Audio Arena Speaker
The world is full of wireless speakers these days, so you must seek out the right company to guarantee sound quality that will do Bob Dylan’s Christmas album justice. Riva Audio was set up by music industry veterans with a background in sound production – in other words, they know what they’re doing.
The Arena speaker can be paired with others or used alone, streaming music from Spotify, YouTube and other platforms.
Nespresso Virtuo Plus
A perfect gift for the time-short caffeine snob in your family, Nespresso’s latest table top barista dispenses your daily wake-up potion in seconds and in up to four sizes. Better yet, it recognises the capsules you put in and automatically tweaks its settings to get the best flavour for that style of coffee. It’ll make a morning person out of anyone.
ACER Chromebook R13
For the commuter who flits between their inbox, Netflix and the morning news, this laptop serves all your needs in one. At 13 inches, it’s small enough to stow in a bag and a 360-degree hinge on the high-definition touchscreen means you can use it like a traditional laptop or a tablet. The only thing it won’t do is get the guy sitting next to you to move his elbow.
The photography snob’s snapper of choice, Leica has (for decades) produced some of the world’s greatest cameras. Its latest digital snapper is no different, offering the kind of quality from its 24MP sensor that no smartphone in the world could touch.
Wifi-enabled with a faster touchscreen and storable settings that you can flick between depending on what you’re shooting, this is what you need to be a Testino in training.
Lifeprint Photo And Video Printer
It’s estimated there are 3,934,500,000,000 photos tucked away on hard drives in phones and computers around the world right now. This portable printer is designed to set some of them free.
It works like Polaroid, so you have to buy film rather than ink, and each photo takes 30 seconds to print. You can send social media posts and video stills to it, too, then reanimate them with a augmented reality app on your phone. Ideal for the cheesy Christmas jumper shot on the 25th.
Noke Bluetooth Padlock
This smart padlock automatically unlocks when its owner’s phone is held close, so don’t worry about keys or forgotten combination locks. Whether you’re securing your bike, your gym locker or just want to keep your housemates out of the food that was clearly labelled yours, this has you covered with up to a year’s battery life.
Apple’s decision to cut the wires on its headphones didn’t get everyone’s approval, but the company’s new in-ear standard is still a seriously impressive bit of kit. Take them out of the case and they’ll automatically sync with your nearest iProduct. Pop them in your ears and they’ll automatically play. Take them out and they’ll pause. You can also adjust controls via Siri, making them wearable tech that listens to you as much as you listen to it.
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Some drones are little more than electronic mosquitos, buzzing around dodging swats from increasingly irate passers-by. Then there are some, like this flying behemoth, that genuinely make us marvel.
Boasting a 7km range, the RC aircraft is equipped with a film-quality 4K camera that beams footage straight back to your phone. Easy to fly and small enough to fold into a backpack, it lets you turn your next dog walk into an epic BBC nature documentary. Attenborough voiceover not supplied.