Okay, so it’s hard to get in the Christmas spirit when energy prices are nearing the point where it might be more efficient just to set the cash on fire, and the economy looks like it’s been shoved down the stairs in some grisly act of mercy.
But that doesn’t stop us daydreaming does it? Below you can our wishlist of gifts that have driven us to distraction as we near the festive period. And if you’re needing more yet tech-based gift ideas, be sure to check out our ever-expanding list of cool gadgets too.
Nothing Ear (stick)
Headphones that are all about style
In-ear headphones have never worked for me. For whatever reason, any squishy earbuds that are meant to fit snugly in my ear canals instantly fall out, leaving me chasing them down the road.
The brand Nothing has released a pair of earbuds that I’m eyeing up this Christmas. Known as the Nothing Ear (stick), they have a feather-light, ergonomic design that I’m hoping will comfortably fit my odd-shaped ears.
They come in a thin, stylish case that you rotate to open. They cost a fairly reasonable £99, have up to 29 hours of listening time, and come with an impressive audio performance that will be perfect for runs and my commute. – Alex Hughes, staff writer
A Futuristic VR experience
The reaction to the metaverse and the world of VR has been lukewarm to say the least, but that doesn’t stop my curiosity getting the better of me. With Facebook, now rebranded as Meta, determined to create a virtual world that we’ll all apparently be obsessed with, I am ready to dive in headfirst.
To do this, I need a VR headset, and the Meta Quest Pro seems like the best choice. Yes, it’s an eye-watering price, but the company is promising the latest and greatest specs. Maybe this will allow me to live out the ultimate virtual Christmas, complete with trees, decorations and glitchy avatars. – Alex Hughes, staff writer
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Arlo Go 2 and Arlo Essential Wire-free Doorbell
Renter-friendly smart home tech
Smart home tech is becoming increasingly renter-friendly. Take this camera which requires no wiring, or even Wi-Fi to work. You can stick the Arlo Go 2 anywhere and then connect to it via the camera’s own 4G connection (which you’ll have to pay for separately).
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This makes it perfect if you want it to keep watch over a garage, caravan or shed that’s set away from your home’s Wi-Fi network. Arlo’s also got some similarly smart wireless doorbells to deal with visitors at the front of the house. You may need to buy a subscription for the best features. – Daniel Bennett, editor
Xiaomi Portable Electric Air Compressor 1S
A tyre saviour
As I approach my ‘middle years’, I have decided to reacquaint myself with bicycles in an effort to stave off the cruel passage of time. But, to be completely honest, things haven’t gone to plan. I seem to get a puncture every time I ride, so a device like this handy portable air compressor would be incredibly useful for me to keep moving and might even help me resist the temptation to throw my bike into the nearest ditch.
At only 124mm in length and 545g in weight, you can keep it in your bag wherever you go. It will also pump up car tyres, so it’s perfect for keeping in the glovebox for emergencies. – James Cutmore, picture editor
XGIMI AURA projector
A cinema in a box
This projector has been living rent-free in my head all year.
I have a mortgage to pay, a leaky boiler to fix and an energy bill close to the GDP of Micronesia, but these trivial demands are all that stand between me and my one desire: this home cinema in a box. The Aura is an ultra-short-throw 4K device. That means it can sit snugly against a wall and beam its image upwards – there’s no need to place the projector on the other side of the room and clear everything out of its way.
There’s a suite of Harman Kardon tweeters and woofers inside, providing Dolby surround sound, while an Android OS onboard gives me access to all those TV apps holding me back from financial freedom. – Daniel Bennett, editor
Garmin Edge Explore 2
A computer for your bike
Whether you are serious about cycling and want to optimise your performance, or are more of a hobbyist looking for something to keep you motivated on your Sunday ride, chances are you’ve eyed up a dedicated bike computer at some point.
As with a lot of bike-related kit, the price can lean into “how much?!” territory, but for a couple of hundred quid, you could do a lot worse than the Garmin Edge Explore 2. It’s easy to set up and use, gives excellent navigation and has a reliable touchscreen and a battery that is unlikely to let you down mid-ride. – Jason Goodyer, commissioning editor
A techy hairdryer
Rather than blasting your hair with hot air which can damage the structure of each strand, the Zuvi Halo hairdryer combines infrared light with a warm breeze, making the drying process a gentler and more energy-efficient experience.
I’ve got curly hair that can be prone to dryness and frizziness when I use a normal hairdryer, but I’d rather not sit around with wet hair for hours in the winter (especially when I can’t afford to put the heating on). I’m hoping that this innovative hairdryer, which comes with a diffuser for curls, as well as a nozzle for styling, will give me the shiny, smooth coils that I crave. – Alice Lipscombe-Southwell, managing editor
Rode NT-USB Microphone
A professional recording device
During lockdown, with conventional recording studios out of bounds, lots of musicians and podcasters turned to home studio setups to satisfy their creative urges – a trend that has continued apace post-pandemic.
Top of the shopping list is a high-quality microphone. But with a dizzying number of options out there, choosing the right one can be a bit of a minefield. A good place to start is the Rode NT-USB. It’s well put together, sounds open and natural and comes with a sturdy stand and detachable pop filter. All you need is a laptop loaded with your favourite recording software and you’re ready to go. – Jason Goodyer, commissioning editor
Roberts Rambler Mini
A retro-looking radio
My old digital radio went to the electronics heaven in the sky, so I am keen to get hold of a new one. This pint-sized radio picks up FM, DAB and DAB+, but can also be used as a wireless Bluetooth device so you can stream your favourite music and podcasts direct from your phone.
Plus, it charges up using a USB-C cable, so it’s completely wireless too, making it a great option for taking on your travels (even if you’re going no further than the end of the garden). The problem is, I don’t know which of the four colours I like best! – Alice Lipscombe-Southwell, managing editor
A way to experience space through photos
December 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the last time humans went to the Moon. In this coffee-table book, science writer and NASA image expert Andy Saunders has raided the archives, and painstakingly restored and polished some rarely seen Apollo mission imagery.
The result is a beautiful photography book, full of crisp and clean images that look like they could have been taken yesterday.
Starting off with the earliest NASA space missions, the book takes you on a journey through every Apollo space mission, sharing interesting insights and commentary along the way.
One of the highlights for me is the amount of pictures of sleeping astronauts during the hazardous Apollo 13 mission. Quite how they managed to snooze so well when they were in such danger amazes me. – James Cutmore, picture editor
TC Electronic Polytune Clip
A clever guitar tuner
Okay, so any experienced guitarist worth their salt can tune their instrument to itself. But nothing beats the ease and convenience of a decent chromatic tuner, especially for beginners or those playing in bands that need to get up to concert pitch as quickly as possible.
This one is about as natty as they come. Simply clip the unit to your headstock, pluck a string and then let the KITT-from-Knight-Rider-style display guide you to perfectly pitched plucking. There are similar tuners on the market, but this one gets my vote due to its clean, minimalist design, along with a bright, easy-to-read display that stands out on even the darkest of stages. – Jason Goodyer, commissioning editor
Apple Watch 8 and SE
A health tracker for loved ones
Luckily my mum doesn’t read this magazine, but as she settles into retirement I worry about her health. With fall detection, a heart rate monitor and temperature sensors, it’s almost irresponsible not to wear the new Apple Watch. There’s the latest 8 model, which adds additional motion sensors and a temperature sensor to the mix.
These mean you get more accurate fitness data, crash detection (your phone will call the police if it believes you’re in an accident) and cycle tracking. The same is true of the more affordable SE, only it doesn’t have the temperature sensor. Ultimately, the watch can’t diagnose health conditions, but it will provide data that you can show your doctor if you have concerns. – Daniel Bennett, editor
Allbirds Tree Dasher 2
Shoes that care for the environment
I’ve been on the hunt for a new pair of running shoes for a while now. While there are plenty of big brands vying for my attention in this domain, it’s the lesser-known Allbirds that have won me over this Christmas.
The fabric of these shoes is made using eucalyptus trees, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. But while their small eco-footprint is the big selling point, they are also optimised to be long-lasting running shoes that are flexible and comfortable to boot. I won’t be running over the Christmas period, as I’ll be weighed down by turkey and stuffing, but these trainers are sure to pay off in the new year. – Alex Hughes, staff writer
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