December 12, 2016
12 Days of Christmas Gadget Gifts
It is finally December and Christmas is around the corner! Our Christmas tree is up but is missing a crucial component: the gifts. To help with the daunting task of Christmas shopping this year, we’ve compiled a list of twelve technology themed gift ideas. For the next twelve days, we will share one item from the list in this blog post. The list was curated by our team members, and is filled with a number of gadgets, including 3D printers, smart home devices and wearable technology. Whether you’re looking for new items to add to your own wishlist or Christmas gift ideas for someone else, be sure to keep up-to-date with this blog post. Follow us on Twitter and we’ll let you know when a new item is added!
Apple Watch Series 2
The Apple Watch Series 2 is Apple’s second generation of their smartwatch wearable. It features several improvements, including a brand new dual-core processor, built-in GPS and a brighter OLED Retina display with Force Touch. The Apple Watch fully integrates with other iOS devices and Apple products. Furthermore, it provides a number of apps and features that help you stay active, healthy and fit, including the Heart Rate and Workout apps. As with previous models, the Apple Watch has a heart rate sensor that continuously measures your heart rate and can be used together with the Workout app to generate more information about your exercise performance. This is perfect for those who wish to exercise more in the new year. The watch has a built-in GPS with a quick-on feature. Furthermore, the watch is water resistant (up to 50 meters), which is an improvement on the previous models’ splash resistance.
By connecting your mobile device with the watch, you can use gentle taps on your watch to quickly accept a call or send quick reply to a message. Furthermore, you can quickly get things done with the help of Siri, right from your wrist, such as adding important dates to calendars and even sending emails. To learn more, visit Apple’s official website.
Our next gift idea is a wearable from Huawei. The Huawei Watch is a stylish smartwatch powered by Android Wear, Android’s wearable operating system. This watch features a premium design with a 400×400 1.4 inch AMOLED screen, delivering a great experience and rivaling other competing smartwatches on the market. The watch comes integrated with fitness trackers and a whole variety of apps that can either be run on the watch itself, or communicate with other mobile devices. Unlike a few current Android Wear watches, the Huawei Watch is compatible with iOS devices, as well as Android devices.
This watch runs an Android OS developed for wearable devices, Android Wear. The watch includes the Android Wear 2.0 update, meaning that it will be up to date longer compared to other wearable devices currently on the market. Popular apps such as Spotify, Messaging and Google Keep all offer integration for Android Wear and are available on the watch.(Photo: Huawei)
A downside to the watch is that the battery life isn’t as good as it could be. This could be due to the watch’s “always-on screen” feature. Additionally, as with other new devices on the market, the price of this watch is quite high at the moment. As more devices with Android Wear 2.0 come into the market, this price is expected to drop. We are also expecting the price to drop during Christmas, so with Christmas sales coming up, there’s no better time to buy this watch.
This watch comes in a variety of different styles with different watch faces to suit different styles, making it a perfect Christmas gift.
ZENTA Health Tracker
We’re adding another wearable to our gift list with the latest health and wellbeing tracker from VINAYA. The ZENTA is a wristband that keeps track of your daily activities and provides useful tips on how to improve happiness, productivity and overall physical and metal health. It is marketed as a personalised coach for both the body and the mind. As with other wearables, an app is used on a mobile device to pair and interact with the wristband. The ZENTA wearable can be paired to both iOS and Android mobile devices. This app will seamlessly receive and process data throughout the day while the ZENTA is in use.
VINAYA is no stranger to the field of wearable technology. VINAYA is a company based in London, UK, specialising in wearable technology products for health and modern wellbeing. With designers, developers and scientists working together, the company launched their first line of wearable products in 2015 called ALTRUIS. After their success with ALTRUIS, they started a crowdfunding campaign on the website Indiegogo for the ZENTA, their next generation wearable. One of the goals defined in this crowdfunding campaign is to design a product that helps achieve a digital balance. With this in mind, the wrist tracker has been designed to be minimalist and non-obtrusive. The mobile app used to interact with the wrist tracker will alert and send notifications to the user only when needed, remaining fairly unobtrusive.
Unfortunately, the ZENTA wrist tracker will not be available until next year. The main production shipment is due to begin in April 2017. However, it is worth keeping a note of this gift idea for the future. In the meantime, the ALTRUIS is available from VINAYA’s store.
Bowers & Wilkins’ P9 Signature Edition are an iconic pair of headphones that celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. These headphones were designed to offer an impeccable sound quality, along with great comfort even when used for long periods of time. Despite looking slightly clunky at first sight, the P9s are very portable, folding neatly to fit in its included case. As expected from Bowers & Wilkins, the sound quality is excellent and of a high-standard.
Another highlight of these headphones is the ability to change the audio cable in use. The P9 supports a number of different 3.5mm stereo jack cables, including Apple cables. To change cables, simply detach one of the ears to access the audio input jack and swap for any desired audio cable. From 2017, a free lightning cable will be included with the headphones. These iconic 50th anniversary edition headphones are priced at £700 with a premium, high-quality design to accompany its sound quality.
Naim Uniti Core
This is a gift idea for music lovers and collectors of CDs and vinyls. The Uniti Core is a dedicated music server system that offers storage, streaming and management of digital music. It offers the capability to rip an entire CD collection and supports a wide range of music formats, including MP3, WAV and FLAC. For storage, the Uniti Core can be fitted with HDDs (Hard Disk Drive) and SSDs (Solid State Drive) allowing up to 8TB of storage, which is enough for approximately 100,000 music tracks. Its design is very minimalistic and compact, with the whole unit weighing 7kg. It has been engineered to deliver consistent, reliable performance and highest sound quality. Out of the box, you will have everything you need to set-up the unit, except the actual storage hardware (i.e. HDD or SSD) which must be bought separately.
The Naim Uniti Core can be connected to an external NAS (Network-Attached Storage) and even a USB-connected storage device, both of which can be used as backup locations. Users can stream music to other devices via UPnP (Universal Plug ‘n’ Play) or digital output (using Digital-to-Analogue converter). The Naim app can be used to manage music and control playback.
Naim Uniti Core will be made available this month just in time for Christmas and is expected to be priced at around £1,650. It is not a cheap gift under the tree, but certainly an investment that may be worth it for many music lovers.
2016 has seen a number of exciting developments in smart home solutions. Amazon Echo was one such development, a smart speaker system that features Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. With Alexa you can control other smart home devices, play music, get current weather and traffic information, set alarms and much more. The Echo comes in either a black or white model and is available for purchase on Amazon. Alternatively, you can opt for the much cheaper and smaller Echo Dot, a tiny device which plugs directly into any existing speaker and provides the same functionality as the Echo. So far there are a number of apps and integrations that work with Alexa, but we expect many more to come in the new year.
Following the ZENTA health tracker, this is another gift idea for those who wish to improve their health and habits in the new year. The Pryme Vessyl is a smart drinking cup that tracks and displays your hydration needs. Developed by Mark One, Pryme was developed with the help of healthcare professionals, using years worth of research material. As such, the Pryme’s information offers great insight on how to reach the ideal state of hydration for your body and mind. Your personal hydration metric is based on unique and dynamic factors and Pryme uses these to provide an estimate of your unique hydration needs.
Pryme reacts to changes in factors and conditions. For example, if you exercise during particular days, your hydration needs throughout the day will be different than when you do not exercise. Pryme works to understand your personal needs and helps you keep hydrated throughout the day. The Vessyl app, available from the App Store, allows you to view this information after connecting your Pryme to your mobile device. There is a vast amount of documentation about the product on the official website and the booklet that is included in the product’s package, making set up easy.
For all those who are considering a healthier lifestyle as part of their new years’ resolutions, this is a must have gift.
Our next item in this list is a Virtual Reality (VR) kit for the Playstation 4. VR has risen in popularity over the past 18 months. Major companies such as Facebook, Google and Sony have invested a significant amount of money into VR technology, and as a result, 2016 saw a number of exciting developments in the field. One example of this is Sony’s Playstation VR headset. This VR kit uses the Playstation camera and 9 LEDs positioned on the headset to track the position of the headset. A number of VR games are already available, including RIGS Mechanized Combat League, Rez Infinite and EVE: Valkyrie. The headset has a 120Hz refresh rate and offers great comfort. Players can use either the standard PS4 controller or the Playstation Move controllers. As with every other VR headset, players must be mindful of the potential for motion sickness and epilepsy.
The PS4 VR is cheaper than other VR products on the market at the moment, which is why we decided to include it on this list. It is currently on the market for £349, which does not include the camera and Playstation Move controllers – these must, unfortunately, be purchased separately.
Nintendo NES Classic Mini
The great 8-bit game list includes Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. More details can be found on the official website.
For those interested in getting started with 3D printing, this printer is ideal. It is a basic 3D printer at a fairly low price, pre-built and calibrated, unlike most 3D printers available at this price range. It uses PLA filament, which is a biodegradable material. The printer has a couple of drawbacks to it, namely the usage of proprietary filament rolls (PLA) and the lack of a heated bed. However, using a proprietary filament roll lets the printer know how much filament is left, preventing you from running out of filament halfway through a print. The lack of a heated bed means that ABS cannot be used for printing. Despite its drawbacks, the price range and user-friendliness make it an appealing entry-level choice.
3D printing has become increasingly popular since 2010. With the cost of 3D printers dramatically decreasing over the years, they are becoming more accessible and common in households, especially with DIY enthusiasts. The use of 3D printing for education and research purposes use has also been rising steadily. Aside from being a hobby, 3D printing has a number of benefits. Homemade 3D printed products can help reduce the environmental impacts by reducing material use and distribution impacts. 3D printed items can be designed to your own specification and specific needs. It is also an excellent way to prototype objects.
If you are someone interested in 3D printing, or know someone who is, this is definitely a good investment for Christmas. It can even be used to 3D print Christmas ornaments or creative gifts for your friends and family. There is nothing more personal than your own 3D printed creation!
Sense 3D Scanner
(Photo: 3D Systems)
We’ve talked about the Da Vinci Junior 3D printer above. Some people would say that 3D printers are a strong contender for this years must have Christmas presents. The fact that they’ve become an increasingly popular hobby item means that you can easily find 3D models available freely online to download and ready to print. Despite this, sooner or later the time comes when your try and design your own. Sadly, 3D modelling can be difficult and may take a considerable amount of time to learn for people who are new to it. This is particularly true when trying to replicate real world objects. Luckily, 3D scanners allow you to create digital representations of physical objects, which lessens the need for 3D modelling skills. There are a number of different 3D scanners available on the market. Each of these is able to capture varying levels of detail suitable for miniature or other figures, from smaller desktop models with high resolutions to handheld models build to be taken out into the world and capture much larger objects such as statues or other structures. In some ways, this is similar to projects such as Google’s project Tango.
(Photo: 3D Systems)
There are a number of different 3D scanners available on the market. The Sense 3D scanner is handheld and, unlike some models, does not require a platform or a rotating turn table. This 3D scanner is highly accurate and provides high resolution 3D scans for a wide range of objects. The scanner is quite efficient and comes with software that allows you to rapidly edit 3D scan data, solidify it and save the data to four industry-standard file formats for ready 3D printing. A downside of this 3D scanner is that it may not work optimally when scanning small objects. While the price and shipping costs can be a bit overwhelming, for 3D printing enthusiasts who can justify spending money on it, this is a worthy investment.
Fat Shark Dominator V3 FPV Drone Goggles
(Photo: Fat Shark)
Drones are quickly becoming more popular among hobbyists and professionals alike. We expect them to be on several Christmas shopping lists this year.
There are two main ways of flying drones: Line Of Sight (LOS) and First Person View (FPV). Line of Sight flying involves keeping your drone within your sight as you fly it, to see its current position and where it is heading. In contrast, First Person View involves using some sort of video camera attached to the drone, and watching its video feed as you fly. FPV is a great and fun way to fly drones, as it can be very immersive to watch the camera footage as you fly. Many different FPV receiver modules and goggles are available on the market, with varying price ranges. When deciding on which one to purchase, it is important to consider what purpose the drone will fulfil (e.g. hobby vs professional flying for cinematography).
The Fat Shark Dominator v3 FPV Goggles are one of the most popular choice when it comes to FPV flying, as they offer a good video resolution and are highly customisable. These goggles are better suited to flyers who have a medium to high budget, as the performance to price ratio is not the greatest. For lower budget and cheaper alternatives, one could also consider the Quanum V2 goggles. Drone flying is a fun and exciting activity, especially when exploring new places and taking pictures. Some of our team members have been practising flying their drones during their lunch time. Here’s a picture of one of our developer’s drones:
For all drone enthusiasts, this is a great gift!
That concludes our gift idea list for this year! We hope this has helped you in choosing a gift this Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Have more Christmas gift ideas? Let us know via Twitter or on our Facebook page!