16 Great Gadget Gift Ideas for Christmas 2015

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!


December Gadget Roundup – the best new tech available today

Wow – what a year it has been in tech. In 2014 the Gadget Guy reviewed over a hundred cool toys and essential gadgets. We’ve covered everything from baby monitors to $100,000 cars and more smartphones, tablets and laptops than you can shake a stick at.

But don’t think that because it’s late December we are done.  Oh no, before we put the “On Holiday” sign on the door we’ve got the last great gadgets of the year for you to have a look at.

Read on to find out more about smart cars, a smart Teddy (really) and many more smart products…

Face Value

Washing your face by hand is so last century. People who know about skin care are lining up to get their hands on the Clarisonic Mia 2 facial sonic cleansing device, $225. Developed by scientists in Seattle a decade ago, the patented technology is used in beauty spas and dermatologists clinics. Rather than scrub the skin, Mia 2 oscillates back and forth at 300 movements per second, gently extracting impurities from the skin and freeing up your pores.



Standing Start

If you are tied to your desk for a large part of the working week, you had better look out. Studies have shown that staying seated for long stretches of time may increase health risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

The Varidesk was developed to address the negative side-effects of being seated for too long. By using this standing desk for part of the work day, workers can increase their calorie burn and energy levels while at the same time increase their productivity.

The adjustable platform sits on top of a normal working desk. When you feel the need to stand, simply raise the Varidesk up using the convenient handles on either side. Simply reverse the process to return to a seated position.  It is an effective, affordable, easy-to-use height adjustable desk for both home and office.

Price: from $495



Beaming Beemer

You’ve heard of find my iPhone? Well how about find my car? Vodafone and BMW have teamed up to fit most new 2015 models with a special Global SIM, allowing BMW to offer smart connected services and apps to drivers.

The Connected Drive smartphone app offers remote vehicle functionality, including features such as remote locking and unlocking, remote ventilation control and vehicle locator. The large range of smart services means your car can communicate directly with BMW so their technicians can remotely diagnose issues in the event of a vehicle malfunction.



Eye on the road

As a driver you just don’t know when you may have to dispute an incident. That’s where the Navman MiVue Drive, $349, comes in. The MiVue Drive is a dual purpose navigation system and dashcam drive recorder. It gives drivers turn by turn instructions, while the front facing camera records events occurring on the road. The recorder will capture accidents, road rage incidents, or even just scenic drives in 720p HD footage that can later be downloaded to a computer.


MiVue Drive_Display

Teddy Calling

Stay in touch with family and friends with this Bluetooth enabled teddy. That’s right, a Bluetooth enabled teddy! Simply record your voice message on your smart device (iOS or Android) using the free Toy-Fi app. Then whether it’s in the next room or the next continent, the teddy will receive the message and signal its owner with a steady flashing of its illuminated heart. Squeeze the teddy’s paw to hear the message and once a message has been heard, children can record their own message and send it right back.

Price: $89.99

Website: https://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/Toy-Fi-Teddy



A New Dimension

Who would have thought that 3D printers would have entered the mainstream so quickly? The XYZ Printing da Vinci 1.0 carries an $899 price tag and is practically as easy to use as a ‘standard’ printer. Once the printer is set up, you choose a design from an online database and press print; no technical knowledge or 3D software expertise is required. Despite its budget price, the printer creates smooth to touch products and models that don’t need sanding or any post-production work.



Let There Be Light

Imagine having 5,000 hours of quality television content on tap that you can watch over broadband whenever you want. That’s the promise of Lightbox, Spark’s streaming video on demand service. For only $15 a month subscribers can watch the latest hit shows such as Orange is the New Black or settle in with old favourites like 30 Rock or Boston Legal. There is also a large range of children’s shows that will keep the young ones occupied and out of your hair.


Lightbox Homepage_sml

Snap Happy

Photo enthusiasts can rejoice in the news that the new Fujifilm X30, $939.99, has reached our shores. This premium digital pocket camera has one of the largest and fastest real time viewfinders in its class so you can see your subject with amazing clarity before you take each shot. It also has wireless smarts which allow you to remotely shoot images from a smartphone or tablet, using the FUJIFILM Camera Remote application. Just don’t forget to say cheese!


 Fujifilm X30_Color_Variation

King of the Swing

This could be the secret weapon that takes your golf game to the next level. The Golfsense Pro, $119.99, is a gadget that sits unobtrusively on your glove and sends rich data about your swing to the phone in your pocket. The motion engine uses data from sensors to accurately calculate club speed, club position, swing tempo and swing path so you can adjust and improve your technique. It’s even smart enough to know the difference between a practice swing and one with actual ball contact.


Mighty Ape GolfSense for iPod iPhone iPad and Android_RRP$199

Pull an Ollie

What does Ollie do? Well according to the internet, Ollie, $179.95, could be a concept “that inspires young inventors’ imaginations through a robot that is completely programmable.” Alternatively it could be seen as a “rad, new phenomenon in gaming, programmed for serious speed and big tricks that mirror those you’d see on a half-pipe or ramp.” So, in short, it’s a toy! But a slightly futuristic, quasi educational one that you can control through a smartphone app.