Despite the continuing disappointment that personal jetpacks still haven’t made it into the shops, Lara Lewington has picked a host of technology to distract you and your loved ones come Christmas Day.
With festive cheer comes that nagging feeling that you can’t think of what to buy your loved ones. Luckily, 2014 has been an amazing year for gadgets. Waterproof e-readers, bras with built in sensors to attach to heart rate monitors, devices to track and improve your sleep, posture and even mood have all hit the market. Promotional hype aside, which would you actually want to wake up to on Christmas morning? Here are a few of my highlights.
The stuff dreams are made of…
Mighty Purse (£80, www.wowthem.com)
This phone-charging wallet has possibly been my most used piece of tech (aside from my phone and laptop themselves) this year. With all the strain we put on our smartphones, often the battery just isn’t up to the job. Well as long as you’ve fully charged the charger (yeah, it’s not idiot-proof), then your wallet will recharge your phone up to three times, anywhere, anytime. If you’re using an iPhone you’ll need its adapter too, but don’t leave it plugged in when not in use as it appears to drain the power. The really exciting bit is that, with its many designs (there are makeup purses, luggage tags and a men’s version too), it’s actually stylish as well as purposeful.
Misfit Flash (£49.95 Amazon)
As a fitness tracker obsessive, my love of the Flash’s pricier predecessor, the Misfit Shine, was largely because it’s a good activity tracker that can be totally concealed underneath clothes. So seeing as it’s hidden anyway, the cheaper, erm… less flash looking model, the Flash, seems like a no brainer. It lets you set yourself targets, see how far you’ve walked/run, add other exercise activity, see how many calories you’ve burnt, and monitors your hours of shut eye. It doesn’t even need charging; just a change of battery around every four months.
Google Chromecast (£30, Tesco)
Streaming a video through your phone or tablet and want to watch it on your full-size telly? This is an easy and affordable, wireless, way of doing it. Plug the small USB stick in to any HDTV and it allows you to simulcast from another device.
Emjoi Micro Pedi (Amazon (£19.99)
Let’s be honest, filing hard skin off your feet is neither glamorous nor pleasurable. So for those who wish to save the time and/or expense of going for pedicures, this battery operated device gently smoothes away the rough bits in seconds. See it to believe it.
Tory Burch for Fitbit (£155, fitbit.com)
Even as a die hard fan of the fitness tracker, I get the dilemma: to get the most out of it you need to wear it all the time, but it doesn’t really go with a cocktail dress, or a suit, or, well most things that aren’t a gym kit. Here’s a solution. Designer Tory Burch has created a range of silver, gold and (the oh-so-trendy) rose gold coloured pendants and bracelets to house a Fitbit Flex. Not that they come cheap.
The stuff you’d never have dreamt up (but is actually quite cool)…
Lumo Lift Posture Coach (£79.99, Amazon)
An activity tracker that doesn’t just track your movement, but also your posture. It has a training setting which, when activated, vibrates each time you slouch to make you sit up straight. Can be discretely attached to your bra strap so no one needs to know it’s there; they can just admire your great posture.
iKettle (£99.99 Firebox)
Yes, this really is happening. The smart kettle is here, allowing you to boil water from anywhere in your home via your smartphone. The app can even wake you with an offer of a drink, and asks if you’d like to put the kettle on as soon as you walk through your door. You’ll still have to remember to put water in the kettle though. And buy tea bags.
Belkin Chef Stand and Wand (£29.99 Belkin)
Love using online recipes, but hate food all over your keyboard/iPad/phone? A solution is at hand: perch your tablet on this handy stand and then use the included wand to browse the touchscreen – without splashing ingredients all over it.
Lara Lewington is a reporter on the BBC's technology programme, Click (BBC1, BBC2, BBC News Channel, BBC World). @laralewington