Christmas tech: the last minute gifts - plus where to find them
Making your Christmas shopping easier, one gift at a time
Panic purchasing: the Christmas countdown is on.
Left it until the last minute to get shopping? Here are a few tech gift suggestions - along with where you can find them today.
Lenovo Smart Display Clock Radio With Google Assistant
Are you still using an old radio alarm clock to get you up every morning? Or - even worse, for many reasons - do you depend solely on your smartphone? Lenovo is offering an alternative, in the form of a clock radio with a display and Google Assistant built in. You can run your entire smart home set up from the device, or manage your schedule, simply by saying “Hey Google”. Not one for people with privacy concerns about smart speakers though.
Where to get it: Harvey Norman in Dublin Cork, Limerick, Mayo, Kerry.
Fujifilm Instax Mini Link
We take lots of photos but few make it into the real world. Fujifilm is trying to redress that balance with its Instax line of printers and hybrid cameras. Instead of leaving your digital photos trapped in the cloud, you can print them in seconds, and they come with. Retro flavour too, mimicking the old style Polaroid prints. At its most basic, the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link does the same as any other bluetooth enabled printer: spits out retro style prints from your phone or other bluetooth enabled device. It’s small enough to take with you, and uses the Mini film format rather than the square prints, hence the name.
The app adds quite a bit to the printer’s functions. It has a simple print mode, a video print mode and a fun mode that allows you to do everything from print your photos as is, adding some filters and a few minor corrections, to collages and “match” tests to see how compatible you are.
The video print function allows you to snip a bit from your video files and print it as a still image, which is handy if you have a fast moving subject.
There is also an Instax camera option so you can take a photo in the app inside the Instax frame, so you can line it up specifically for the format.
Where to get it: The premium bundle is still in stock at Conn’s Cameras at a discount.
Fitbit Charge 3
Is there ever an acceptable time to buy someone a fitness tracker? If you feel confident it won’t be taken as a hint to up the activity levels, the Fitbit Charge 3 is a good all-rounder.
It tracks heart rate, links with your phone for smart notifications and automatically tracks your exercise throughout the day. There is a decently sized touch screen, and there are no buttons to mess about with, with the watch using touch controls instead. Battery life is good too.
Where to get it: Plenty of places have it in stock, including Curry’s stores throughout the country.
Apple Watch Series 3
The Series 5 Apple Watch may have some added extras - ECG anyone? - but the Series 3 is definitely worth a second look. It’s far cheaper for a start, and it comes in the 38mm size for those who prefer something a little neater. You still get all the apps you need, plus heart rate tracking and exercise monitoring. Contactless payments are available, depending on your bank, and the watch is water resistant so you can take it swimming. Battery life is the same too - 18 hours for an Apple Watch - so you don’t lose out on anything there by going for an earlier version.
Where to get it: Powercity currently has stock in its Dublin stores, as does Currys.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless headphones
Noise cancelling headphones could save your sanity this Christmas. Imagine being able to tune out the family chaos while listening to a podcast, probably about someone else’s family chaos. The Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones are excellent at performing that particular task. They last for about 20 hours of use, plus they work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
They also come in a few different finishes so you get to show a bit of your personal preference too.
Where to get it: Check out Arnotts in Dublin, or Currys.
Games consoles don’t have to take up space in the living room. Nor do they always have to be handheld. The nintendo Switch combines the best of both worlds, giving you the option to play on the big screen or transform it into a handheld device, thus freeing up the TV and neatly sidestepping any potential arguments.
Where to get it: Curry’s has stock in Dublin, Navan, Letterkenny, Cork and Sligo.
If you don’t have a smart TV, a Chromecast will help solve that particular problem. While it’s not as handy (for some people) as the Roku streaming stick or Amazon’s Fire stick, the Chromecast is easy to add on, very flexible, and above all, inexpensive. At least it is when you compare it to the cost of a new TV. You can cast Netflix and other video streaming services directly from within their aps, mirror the screen on your phone, or cast from a Chrome browser tab on your laptop. If you have a nest video doorbell, you can use the Chromecast to turn your TV into a sentry, showing you who is at your front door before you open it. It’s multifunctional.
Where to get it: Harvey Norman has stock.
Nextbase 322GW dashcam
Dashcams are everywhere these days. From security for parked cars to footage of the road ahead - and driver behaviour - the dashcam is becoming an increasingly common sight. Nextbase has a number of them available to Irish customers. The 322GW comes with a 140 degree wide angle lens, built in wifi and GPS to keep track of location and transfer footage,. And a G sensor that measures impact. If your car is involved in an incident and the camera detects a collision, it can lock the footage so you don’t accidentally record over it. There is also a parking mode that will keep a watchful eye over your car while you are away from it.
Where to get it: There are a number of nextbase stockists but this weekend, you’ll find them in Currys and Harvey Norman stores around the country.
Vtech Kiddiezoom Selfie cam
You can resist the selfie culture all you like, but there’s a good chance at some point you’ll open your phone’s photo gallery to find numerous pictures of your child gurning at the camera. And you know for a fact that you didn’t take them. One solution? Get them their own camera, one that is meant for children and as such won’t break if they drop it once or twice. Or 10 times. The Vtech Kiddiezoom Selfie Cam is one such camera. It is, as the name suggests, designed for taking selfies. It has a rotating camera lens so your child can take photos of themselves or other people. It comes with its own selfie stick too, so they can really practice their skills. The camera also has some fun elements, with a couple of games to keep your child occupied, along with creative elements such as frames, hairstyles and so on.
Where to find it: Smyths Toys have the camera in stock in a handful of stores - Jervis St in Dublin, Tralee, Dundalk, Letterkenny, Blanchardstown, Sligo and Galway - but stock is low.
A greener phone with a conscience, or one that will last you a few years. Whatever way you want to look at it, the Fairphone 3 is not your average smartphone. The phone is designed to be repaired, coming with its own mini screwdriver in the box, and you can pick up spare parts relatively cheaply. You can do it all yourself too. It’s an end to expensive phone repairs and a two-year replacement cycle for your phone.
Where to find it: It’s too late to get one directly from Fairphone, but Vodafone has started to stock the smartphone on prepay for €429, and free on bill-pay.
I’m usually dead against practical presents for the home masquerading as gifts for Christmas or birthdays. But I would make an exception for the Nest Hello. The video doorbell is your ticket to peace and quiet. Not only can you see who is at your door - no more hiding from sales calls or family members you don’t want to see. You can also set up alerts for motion in the camera’s field of view, and if you have a smart home set up with Google devices, you can watch the camera feed on your TV or have the speakers announce visitors. One caveat: you may need to get a professional in to fit it.
Where to get it: Harvey Norman has stock in most of its stores - Cork excluded - although some stores are running low.