Ho, ho, ho gadget fiends, can you believe it is only two and a bit weeks to Christmas?
Hopefully you’ve been really good all year and Santa brings you all of the tech toys you truly deserve.
What’s that you say?  You still haven’t sent Santa your Christmas letter?  Well you better get onto it. But first, feel free to draw inspiration from this random list of cool tech toys for Christmas that suit just about any budget.

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Starting at the top of the price range we’ve got two terrific televisions followed by a couple of top tablets.
1. The standout TV of the year might just have been the Samsung Curved SUHDTV.  It’s packed with all of the tech you could ever want, from a massive curved screen and nano crystal colour technology all the way through to Tizen powered smart TV apps including the popular Netflix and Youtube apps.  The top of the range curved 65″ TV is in the market for $6,599.
2. The LG UHD TV may be more understated in design but it hits a sweet spot between superb picture quality, price and features.  The LG 49UF770V also has built in Freeview Plus, meaning you can watch OnDemand TV from TVNZ, Mediaworks and Maori Television straight from the programme guide. Price: $1694.00
3. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 from $1599, is powered by Windows 10 and turns from a tablet into a full powered laptop while running all of your desktop software.  Fans of the Surface Pro 3 are going to love the better specced Pro 4 (12.3 inch pixelsense display making it beautiful looking as well as very fast).
4. Next up we have the Apple iPad Pro which ranges in price from $1399 to $1899 depending on memory options. Described by the 9to5Mac website as a “giant expensive tablet with a couple of pricey accessories”, this is the brand new 12.9″ ipad.  Screen as big as a laptop, optional Apple Pencil $189, and Apple Smart Keyboard $319. The components are so powerful it can virtually replace your laptop.
These are both great devices but they do different things.  The iPad pro is my favourite iPad, but if it came to doing work on the go, I’d plump for the Surface Pro 4.
5. Christmas in New Zealand also means summer. And summer means BBQ’s.  This year we were pleased to welcome Green Mountain Grills to the grilling landscape.  The $1399 Daniel Boone grill is a perfect heated smoker that also has the advantage of being wi-fi enabled so you can control all of the settings remotely from your smartphone or tablet.
Two gadgets that really stood out this year were the ubiquitous Hoverboard (6.) and the Star Wars related toy BB8 (7.).  Hoverboards seemed to show up out of nowhere and appear all over megastars social media accounts, from Justin Bieber to Kendall Jenner.  However with the latest concerns in the media being around the potential for some boards to catch fire while on charge, I have removed them from this list. Please see my explanation here.
Sphero partnered with Disney to bring the BB8 Droid from Star Wars to life – even if the toy version is relatively small compared to the movie version.  Controlled by a smartphone app, there is plenty to keep kids entertained from voice controls to hologram video simulations. Price $279.99
8.  What do you give the person who has everything?  Perhaps a remote control that can link all of their devices together.  At $599 The Logitech Harmony Elite Plus Remote Control commands a high price, but not only will this single remote replace all of those other remotes littering your coffee table, you can also use it to control your smart home devices (smart light bulbs etc.)
9. The Apple TV has had a makeover.  With the Apple TV Remote with Touch surface, a new interface and the App Store, where you’ll find games and apps that changes what you expect from your big screen.Apple TV $299 32GB and $399 64GB.
10. Parrot Minidrones give you plenty of options as they range in in price from $179 to $329.  Great as gifts for teenagers (or for never-quite-grew-up-dads) plunge into the era of connected toys with the second generation of Parrot Minidrones. These  advanced, miniaturized robots are piloted with a smartphone or a tablet via the free piloting app, FreeFlight 3.
The 13 different drones fall into 3 categories, the wheeled ones that can jump, mini flying drones and a new range – the Hydrofoil, which allow you to attach a flying drone to a boat so you can speed boat around a pond.
11. Meccanoid G15 Kid Size Programmable Robot $229 ages 10 and Up.
The small version of the amazing educational toy we had on Breakfast earlier this year when the prototype visited Motat.The Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS Personal Robot comes with over one thousand phrases and voice recognition to make your personal robot more like your best friend. Build, program and play with this fully operational, 4-foot-tall robot, with life-like articulated limbs powered by 10 motors for realistic movement. As with any Meccano product, you can take the pieces apart and re-create. Rebuild Meccanoid as a dinosaur, or anything else you can dream up.
12. Hottest game of the season: Fallout 4 Video Game, 99.99 for PC, $119.99 for PS4 and XBoxOne (R18)

Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, welcome you to the world of Fallout 4 – their most ambitious game ever, and the next generation of open-world gaming.

As the sole survivor of Vault 111, you enter a world destroyed by nuclear war. Every second is a fight for survival, and every choice is yours. Only you can rebuild and determine the fate of the Wasteland.

The teenager in our house has been lost in this game (figuratively) for the last two weeks.  I’ve just dipped my toe in and can’t wait to experience the rest as it is visually stunning.

 

13. UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker $299, Available from Noel Leeming etc.

What more can we say about these cool speakers? Building from the award-winning UE BOOM 360-degree speaker that Ultimate Ears introduced in 2013, UE BOOM 2 is 25 percent louder with a longer wireless range of 100-feet and a completely waterproof design, so music can be shared on the beach, at the snow, and everywhere in between.
It has a 15-hour all-day, all-night battery life, plus, new and innovative tap controls that allows users to skip songs, without needing to have a phone in-hand.
Finally, a few cheap but fun gadget suggestions:
14. Satzuma Gadgets USB Fridge, 34.99 and 15. Robot USB Hub, $25 from Playtech.

The Robot Hub has 4 USB ports where you can plug in your mouse, keyboard or any other USB device without having to use up all your USB ports on your computer.

This fun little desktop hub has movable arms and glowing blue LED eyes when transferring data. It comes with an extension cable and is great for getting the most out your hardware

The USB Cooler is the envy of any office worker who likes a cold drink. The cooler has a slick retro appearance and will keep any can nice and cool ensuring you can stay at your station for longer.

And 16. Iluv LED Bluetooth Speaker $35.00 from Playtech

Get ready to have a great time with Aud Mini Party!  This portable rubberized Bluetooth speaker is integrated with multicoloured LEDs that bring your party to life by providing a fun visual and aural experience. The LEDs flash and strobe in multiple dazzling colors, and can be cycled through six preset lighting themes.

Phew well that’s quite a list, and I could have added dozens more.  Hopefully it gives you some idea as to what’s available and you end up with the perfect present under the tree.

All up, you could spend a lot of money on these toys, but if you want to spend money on something more meaningful, I highly recommend putting a bit aside and donating to a couple of charities that really need your help (at this time of year especially).  Top of my list, the Auckland City Mission and Women’s Refuge.  Your money will certainly be put to good use.

That’s it from me this year, I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!

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