Despite the chip shortage, there are plenty of tech gadgets to get family or friends for Christmas. Here are our considered picks...
This is the slimmest, most discreet full-feature fitness watch you can buy. It may not have GPS and its tiny screen is sometimes a bit tricky to control compared to larger fitness smartwatches but it is fairly packed with advanced fitness and relatively advanced health sensors, including blood-oxygen measurement, skin temperature and stress management. It also has good battery life. So you get a digital fitness device that lasts a week and is almost invisible to friends.
The Venu 2 has the best colour touchscreen of any dedicated fitness smartwatch. It also has relatively good battery life, as well as new training features and advanced abilities for the display to show you how to exercise properly.
There are also different sized models and – unlike many fitness watches – you can download Spotify music or podcasts for offline listening on a run when you want to leave the phone at home.
The result is a top-notch tool, rather than a smartwatch, that includes additional fitness and health features.
The only drawbacks are that there’s no ECG sensor, speaker or microphone.
If you’re an iPhone user, this is the best overall smartwatch you can buy. There are more precise, longer-lasting fitness specialist watches but for a do-it-all device that also packs some excellent fitness and health features, this is really hard to beat.
The only real advantage to this year’s Series 7 model over last year’s Series 6 (or the cheaper Series 3 and SE models) is the new bigger screen. Apple has increased the display by 20pc (1mm) without noticeably making the overall watch any bigger on your wrist. So everything seems a little bigger and easier to read or tap. That’s a boon to older people and those with less-than-perfect eyesight.
It also has faster charging, with a USB-C cable included in the box, and a dust-resistant IPX6 rating as well as a tougher, more scratch and crack-resistant screen.
In terms of bang for your buck, this is probably the best new smartphone to come on the market this year. It’s priced lower than most iPhones or flagship Samsungs, yet has almost all of the features of those higher-end phones.
Great cameras complement a new super-fast engine, decent storage and much improved battery life. And it still has that bleeding-edge latest Android version, too.
If you’re feeling really generous, you could shell out €250 more for the ‘Pro’ version (€899), but aside from the extra zoom camera, I think the lower-priced model is actually the better deal, especially as a gift.
This has the best sound you can get from a mini speaker, even if it’s twice the price of some of them. It’s also easy to add a second for whole-room or multi-room sound.
And there’s great integration with iPhones, iPads, Macs and accessories like AirTags.
On the other hand, it’s relatively useless with Android smartphones. It really does pack an oversized audio punch for its three-inch circular size, though, offering a distinctly better sound than Amazon’s similarly-sized Echo Dot or Google’s Nest mini.
It also integrates really well for smart controls with any iPhone, iPad or Mac that you have (including a useful role as quality external speakers for an Apple TV).
On the other hand, it costs between two to three times as much as its ‘mini’ rivals; you’ll get a larger Echo or Nest for the same price, both of which have more smart home functionality.
If you want bargain noise-cancelling headphones, look no further than Sony’s XM3. While these are almost three years old, they have almost the same quality in active noise cancellation as all of this year’s flagship models, including Sony’s own XM4 headphones.
They’re also very light and comfortable to wear over long periods. And they fold up neatly for easy transportation. Battery life is about six hours’ listening per charge (via USB-C).
Apple’s latest AirPods, at €199, sit in between Apple’s AirPods Pro (€279) and its still-available basic AirPods (€149). The new AirPods (3rd Generation) now come with spatial audio and are sweat and water resistant.
They also support wireless charging and are compatible with MagSafe chargers. Overall, they have excellent sound quality.
If you have a coffee lover in your life and you really, really want to treat them, this is one of the very best bean-to-cup coffee makers you can get.
You pour in whatever roasted coffee beans you’ve bought into either of the topside compartments and it grinds them into what will become your cup of coffee, taking water from the tilt-out tank to the side and milk, if you choose something like a cappuccino, from the slotted jug on the other side. You can also use ground coffee if you like, but why would you?
The S700 is a large-ish device: you’ll need counter space of about 2ft by 2ft to accommodate it.
It has a sharp, colourful display and a number of laterally arranged buttons which, together with a pressable wheel, control most of what you do on the device.
Coffee quality aside, this is something of a control freak’s paradise. If you’re the type who regards setting up your smart home so that when you arrive back in the door you can bark out a command to turn on the lights, defrost the fridge and start heating up your electric blanket, this will be a delight.
There are 12 different bespoke coffee types you can choose, some of which are supported by the built-in milk frother (the milk is drawn from a side jug that slots in neatly).
There are 13 different levels of coffee strength you can choose, too, as well as the ‘intensity’ – meaning how fast or slow the water is allowed to trickle through the coffee grinds.
You can even adjust the coarseness of the grind itself.