Tech treats for the hard working home this Christmas
From air purifiers to ultra-HD TVs, the best gadgets to improve our living experience
This year’s Santa letters are likely to include lots of tech items for our home. Photograph: iStock
We’ re out of lockdown (again), and it’s like Christmas has come early. After six weeks under Level 5 restrictions, we’ve been freed from our bubbles, and can plan the festivities.
There’s a palpable sense of relief all round – but also a niggling suspicion that we’re only on temporary release, and that if we’re not good little boys and girls over Christmas, then the Chief Health Elf, Tony Holohan, will be putting us all on the naughty step in January.
For many, lockdown provided an opportunity to fully utilise our living space, and for some this exposed just how unprepared our homes were for all that extra use. Suddenly we noticed the tinniness of our stereo speakers, the substandard picture on our hardworking TVs, and the not-so-great connectivity of our wifi. Covid-19 also highlighted other concerns, such as indoor air quality and who might be knocking on the door out of the blue – delivery person or randomer.
This year’s Santa letters are likely to include lots of items that will improve our living experience now that we’re spending so much more time at home.
Dyson Pure Hot+Cool purifying fan heater
Air quality has become an obsession, and if we have to spend more time in the house, we want to ensure the air isn’t stale and musty. Getting air feeling nice and fresh – while also warm and toasty – is not the easiest, but with the Dyson Pure, well... it’s a breeze.
Ordinary heaters tend to suck the air and moisture out of a room, but the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool uses its trademark Air Multiplier technology to pump purified and heated air back into the room. The fan heater automatically detects airborne particles and gases and uses activated carbon filters and sealed HEPA filters to catch 99.95 per cent of allergens and pollutants.
With all that time in front of the TV this year it might be time to invest in a surround sound system, just to get the full cinematic effect we’ve been missing since our local multiplex shut its doors. But in the meantime, you could do an instant, dramatic upgrade job by snapping up the Sonos Arc, which is currently topping Christmas lists as the best soundbar around. The Arc is made to handle the whole spectrum of sonic requirements – TV, film, music, gaming – with hyperreal sound quality, boosted by Dolby Atmos, and packing 11 Class D digital amplifiers, eight elliptical woofers, and three silk dome tweeters, precisely angled to give crisp, clear dialogue over all the big explosions and rumbling spacecraft. For the full surround sound cinematic bundle, pair it with a Sonos Sub wireless sub-woofer (€799) and a couple of Sonos One Gen 2 speakers (€229 each).
iRobot Roomba S9 & S9+
€1,199.99 and €1,499.99, irobot.ie
Admit it, you’ve never done as much housework as you have done in 2020. You’ve worn out the brush and the mop, gone through dozens of dustcloths, and worked your way through gallons of cleaning products. And you’ve done your back in from all that vacuuming.
The iRobot Roomba S9 will at least take the vacuuming off your hands. It will go about its business while you go about your other business. It might look unobtrusive, but it can suck up dirt, debris and even pet hair like a, well, like a vacuum cleaner. The Roomba obeys the sound of your voice, and can go into difficult to reach nooks and crannies, including under the table and under the Christmas tree, and it will target any specific areas where the kids have spilt crisps or trailed dirt in.
Upgrade to the S9+, and you won’t even have to empty your Roomba – it’ll clean up after itself using its Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal unit with AllergenLock bags to trap 99 per cent of pollen and mould. Now if only there was a machine that could automatically wash dishes...
Ring Video Doorbell
from €99, did.ie
We’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon during the last two lockdowns – an intolerance to any sudden disruption to our splendid isolation. At the sound of the doorbell, we’d immediately become like Bilbo Baggins when the dwarves arrived unannounced – confounded and confusticated. Twitching the curtains to see who had dared darken our doorstep, it would usually only be An Post delivery of yet another online purchase and not some randomer trying to invade our sacred space.
Maybe it’s time to put a Ring on it. The Ring Video Doorbell allows you to check who’s at the door from your mobile, ask them what their business is, and tell them no, we don’t want to sign up, switch or buy. It allows you to “answer” the door even when you’re not there, so you can feel safe while out walking within your 5km. Don’t just stop at the doorbell – get a bundle that includes a range of security cameras, motion detectors, chimes and a full alarm security set-up.
Magimix Gelato ice-cream maker
Sounds we think we’ll never hear soon enough: cheering crowds at music festivals and sports events; early-evening pub chatter, and the tinkly pied piper tune of the ice-cream van tootling up our cul-de-sac. We may have to wait a little longer, so how to get our gelato fix now? It might be a good idea to have a back-up, and the Magimix Gelato, a professional-standard ice-cream machine that can run off two litres of delicious ice-cream in just an hour might be just the job.
This stylish, stainless steel gadget has a built-in freezer, and three automated settings – ice-cream, gelato or granita. It comes with a downloadable recipe book to try any number of sorbet, frozen yogurt and gelati recipes. It doesn’t come cheap though, but it will definitely see you through a lifetime of lockdowns.
LG GX ultra HD smart TV
So, you’ve had your arm twisted by the teenagers, and Santa is winging his way with a brand new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Great. Only problem now is that your clunky old TV can’t handle the added turbo power from these latest game systems. In fact, it’s positively lagging behind the advanced tech packed into your new console. It’s like Pink Floyd staging The Wall in the local bingo hall – not quite the full effect.
What you need is a TV that can seriously showcase the advanced features of the PS5 and Xbox, and the one for that is the LG GX 65-inch OLED TV. A big, flat slab of Ultra HD brilliance that can handle anything your gaming kids can throw at it.
The LG GX boasts the four Ss: sharp picture, swift response, smooth motion and slim design. But where’s the stand? That’s an option you don’t need. The LG GX is super-thin and made to mount direct on to the wall, like a work of art. When not in use it can double discretely as a pixelated version of your favourite artwork.
Harman Kardon Citation 300
One thing about spending lots of time at home is that you need to move around the house a bit more, just to stretch those stiff muscles after hours of home working, or simply for a change of scenery. One minute you’re in your home office, next you’re in the kitchen making a sandwich, then you’re in the shed pumping up bikes for the next family outing.
In a time of constant room-hopping, your music needs to be portable too, so pick up the new Harmon Kardon 300 and you’ll have brilliant hi-fi sound at your side all day no matter where in the house you go. The next-generation smart speaker looks sophisticated, is easy to use, with a full-colour LCD touchscreen, and pumps out big, bassy music via wifi, with access to more than 300 music services, or via Bluetooth.
It also has Chromecast built in, so you can stream from your own collection, and Google Assistant, so you’ve got all the answers you need to keep the household running smoothly. The icing on the cake is the fabric covering, made by Kvadrat, which is dirt-repellant and flame-resistant.