Tech the halls: Great Christmas gifts for gadget lovers

From speakers to drones, educational games for children, we have you covered

Christmas is fast approaching, and circumstances this year mean we all have to be a little more organised. If you have some gaps on your gift list, we have compiled a list for all budgets, all ages and all interests. Where possible, we’ve listed Irish-based stockists of products too.


JBL Clip 3 €40
Bluetooth speakers have a broad spectrum when it comes to quality and price. The JBL Clip 3 is not only reasonably priced, it has surprisingly big sound for its size. The speaker is portable and rugged, with an IPX7 waterproof rating. The battery life is decent, too, with a 1,000mAh rechargeable battery offering up to 10 hours of listening time. This speaker is designed to be taken on the move, and even comes with a carabiner clip to hook on to your clothes or bag. It can act as a hands-free speaker for your calls, with built-in noise and echo cancelling.

Tile Mate €20
A very practical present that will make the recipient's life a lot easier. The Tile Mate can be attached to almost any item you want to keep track of – keys, bag, dog – and linked to an app on your phone. If your item goes missing, you can use the app to "ring" the Bluetooth tag, directing you to wherever it is hiding. If it is out of range, you can use the Tile community to help locate it; simply mark the item as lost, and when someone using the Tile app comes within range of the device, it will ping its location to you.

Amazon Echo Dot €40
Amazon's miniature smart speaker is into its fourth generation, and comes a whole new design. The hockey puck shape of the previous Dot is gone, replaced by a more spherical design. But other than that, the new Dot is very similar to the old one. It will help take control of your smart home devices, allowing you to order everything around with a few voice commands. The microphones will pick up your voice reasonably well from across the room and, even though it's not the biggest speaker in the world, it offers decent sound. It also comes in a new blue option.



Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit €60
Educational games should also be engaging, and that is something Osmo has excelled in. The Little Genius starter kit is aimed at the 3-5 age group, and turns the iPad from a passive device into something kids can interact with, and has real-world game pieces that children can touch and feel. It works on core skills, such as fine motor skills, creativity and problem solving The package includes the stand you'll need for the iPad, the reflector and the play pieces. Not included? The iPad you'll need to run it on.

Homedics UV-Clean Portable Sanitizer Bag €80
The past nine months have been a crash course in hygiene. We all know how long we need to spend washing our hands to really kill germs, and should have bought shares in hand sanitiser companies. But what about the things that can't get regularly dunked under the tap or wiped down with 70 per cent alcohol solutions? The HoMedics UV-Clean Portable Sanitizer Bag could be the answer. The bag uses UV-C light to kill up to 99.9 per cent of bacteria, germs, and viruses. It takes one minute and involves no chemicals at all. The bag will take a mobile phone, keys or any other similar-sized device that you feel could benefit.

Chromecast with Google TV €70
Google's Chromecast is usually a staple in gift guides for two reasons: it's very flexible and it's inexpensive. But the latest version of the streaming device has a major update – the Google TV platform – so you no longer need to rely solely on your smartphone to control the Chromecast, and a remote control that makes navigating your way through the apps as easy as possible. You can add your favourite streaming apps to your Chromecast, hook it up to your TV and you are ready to go. It still supports the cast function from your phone too.

Fujifilm Instax SQ1 €109
The Fujifilm Instax SQ1 is the latest in the company's line of instant cameras, and with it comes a heavy dose of nostalgia. As the name suggests, it uses the square format film that makes your shots look more like old Polaroid photos, and the company has improved the camera to add autoexposure and a dedicated selfie mode. You have to be careful with your snapping, as there is no digital element to the camera to give you a preview of your shot; it's simply point, shoot, hope for the best and wait as your print materialises.


Galaxy Buds Live €180
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live have a lot to live up to. The earlier versions of the Galaxy Buds have not only been great on sound, they've been reasonably priced too. This year's release is the Buds Live, which mixes it up a little. Not only do they come with active noise cancelling to filter out the background chat, but the buds have been redesigned into something a little more interesting. The kidney-shaped buds are tipless but still manage to fit well into your ear. They also comes with AKG's sound expertise, and have three microphones to help you make crystal clear calls. The design means the active noise cancelling isn't as pronounced as other buds, but you would miss it if it wasn't there.

Symfonisk table lamp €170
Ikea's Symfonisk table lamp is a collaboration between the Swedish furniture maker and speaker company Sonos. The lamp has built-in wifi and an integrated speaker, so you can save a bit of space on your bedside table. Not only will it fill your room with light, it will also pump out decent sound. Because it's a Sonos product, it integrates with the company's other speakers. The Symfonisk will also stream music, radio and podcasts for you, supporting the major subscription music services, and it is compatible with AirPlay 2, so you can stream directly to it from Apple devices.

Withings Scanwatch €280
There are plenty of smartwatches available on the market these days, But how many can claim to have their functions clinically validated? Withings certainly can. The watch looks like a traditional analogue watch, with an analogue face, but with some smart functions built in, including tracking activity, heart rate and blood oxygen levels, and an ECG function. It also monitors for sleep apnoea. It includes a small digital display on the watch face, so you can cycle through the options for workouts, track your steps and so on. While you can't add your own apps, the watch covers all the necessary ones, and has excellent battery life, with a full charge lasting for up to 30 days.

Cycliq Fly 6 €195
If you are a regular cyclist, you've probably had more than one close call on the roads, despite wearing all the necessary safety gear and being lit up like a Christmas tree. Unfortunately for some people, it's more than a close call. Having evidence of these incidents can help if you want to take it further with the authorities, which is why so many commuters now have some sort of camera on their bike. The Cycliq Fly6 CE is an integrated bike camera and rear safety light that shoots high-definition video as soon as you turn on the light. If there is an incident, the camera will automatically detect it and lock the footage to the integrated card. To view it, simply plug the camera in to your computer. You can use the mobile app to change the settings on the camera and activate a bike alarm, which will alert you if your bike is moved.


Garmin Approach S40 €269
A gift for the golfer in your life. This packs a lot into one watch. Not only does it have GPS enabled, it has a shot tracker that automatically records shot locations and distances so you can review them later, and it has 41,000 courses preloaded. It shows distances to the front, middle and back of the green as well as hazards, with the necessary information displayed on the 1.2in colour touchscreen. Team it with the Approach CT10 club tracking sensors (an optional extra) and you'll get even more data sent straight to your wrist, such as club tracking and scoring. And on top of all that, it does all the regular tracking you would expect of a smartwatch, monitoring your steps and sleep, with the option to track multiple sports. The battery life is great, with up to 10 days when you are using it as a normal smartwatch, and 15 hours in GPS mode.

Xiaomi Mi 1S Electric Scooter €495
E-scooters are still in legal limbo. There have been moves to regularise their position, but it has been a slow process. Still, with public transport capacity limited and people needing to get around, there is an increasing number of e-scooters on Irish roads. Xiaomi's Mi 1S electric scooter has some updated safety features – reflectors on the front and back, plus skid-resistant pneumatic tyres with an LED display for data on speed, battery, distance and driving mode. It has a maximum speed of 25km per hour, and has a range of 21km-30km. There's even a cruise control mode on it, so drivers don't need to put constant pressure on the accelerator.

Kokoon headphones €350
We all know someone who could do with a bit of relaxation in their life. These headphones are designed to be worn while relaxing and sleeping, pairing smart technology with an app that offers guided meditation, programmes to help get you to sleep and soundscapes to mask background noise. Whenever you want to get a bit of relaxation or meditation in, you simply pop on the headphones, fire up the app and pick your programme. Kokoon customises itself to your individual needs. It learns what relaxes you and, using built-in sensors, it monitors your sleep to see how well the different programmes have relaxed you.The headphones are the overhead-band style, with flatter than standard headphone ear cups to make it easier to sleep, and are noise cancelling.

Dyson Corrale €491
I have a love-hate relationship with my hair straighteners. The end result is welcome, but the process of getting to that lovely sleek hair is a bit more problematic. Even with ceramic plates, the whole process takes far longer than necessary, and usually ends up with some of your hair getting yanked out. The Dyson Corrale aims to end that, with flexible plates that mould around your hair. It works quickly without burning your hair. It's also cordless, which means you can take it with you. The battery lasts only 30 minutes, but it's enough for a touch-up.

Pixel 4a 5G €491
Don't be fooled by Google's latest smartphone sharing an almost identical name with another of its mid-range smartphones; the Pixel 4a 5G has more to offer Pixel fans than just some extra 5G capability bolted on. The screen is bigger for a start, and it has a better camera, with a dual camera taking the place of its sibling's single camera set-up. That gives you more options when it comes to capturing images, and more space to edit them once you are done.

LESS THAN €1,000

iPad Air 2020 from €668
If you want an iPad Pro-like device without the price, the iPad Air is probably the closest you will get. It takes the looks and the Apple Pencil compatibility, but leaves out some of the more expensive features to land somewhere in the middle ground. Camera-wise, the iPad Air is a step up from the regular iPad. It records video in 4K. The front-facing camera is also more advanced, although just short of the iPad Pro. It's a seven-megapixel camera all right, but it lacks the TrueDepth functionality of the iPad Pro. That means you need a fingerprint sensor to log in, which Apple has neatly built into the top button.

DJI Mavic Air 2 Drone €850
Drones may not be essential, but they are fun. The DJI Mavic Air 2 drone offers high-quality video in a small package, so you can take your drone out and capture some sweeping landscapes and panoramic views. It has scene recognition, which optimises the camera settings for sunsets, skies, grass, snow and trees. The latest version of DJI's ActiveTrack technology allows you to lock on a subject and fly while avoiding obstacles, improving the prediction of a subject's position if they move out of sight. The new drone supports Hyperlapse in 8K, so you can create excellent time-lapse videos. Battery life has also been improved, with up to 34 minutes in the air.

MORE THAN €1,000

MacBook Air €1,110.60
The new MacBook Air is one of the best machines Apple has released to date. Powered by its own M1 chip, the MacBook Air is faster and has better battery life than its predecessor, and also boasts improved performance and faster graphics. It has a fanless design, so no more noisy cooling systems to deal with. And you'll get up to 18 hours of web browsing and 15 hours of video playback.

Sage The Oracle Touch Bean to Cup Coffee Machine €1,800
Coffee lovers missing out on the workplace ritual of spending more money than we should on takeaway coffee might appreciate a smarter coffee machine for their own home. The Oracle Touch Bean to Cup Coffee Machine may not be quite the same experience as having your coffee handed to you, but its smart features mean you can create your perfect drink at the touch of a button. It grinds and tamps the perfect amount of coffee, uses digital temperature controls to keep the water temperature at the optimal setting, and monitors water pressure and steam pressure for frothing your milk. If you want to switch from a cappuccino to an Americano, simply swipe and select on the screen.

NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle €2,700
January usually means bumper business for gyms, but 2021 may be a little different. As a category left off the "essential" list, gyms are among those businesses that may have to close if the Government's Covid-19 level is raised again after Christmas. So it's not surprising that some people are choosing to invest in home gym equipment. The NordicTrack S22i studio cycle definitely falls under the heading of "investment", with its fairly hefty price tag. What do you get for that? An exercise bike that not only gives you access to live classes but also virtual cycles around the world. You may be stuck at home in Dublin or Galway, but the NordicTrack bike will bring you to the shores of Lake Geneva or through some beautiful scenery in Norway. That's made possible through the 22in HD monitor – which has built in fans – and the iFit subscription, something you will have to pay for after the first year. It links in with the bike's controls to increase the incline and resistance according to the course or class you are doing, giving the whole thing an extra edge of realism.