IT’S NOT too late to fill someone’s stocking next weekend with a piece of covetable Christmas kit, even if you want to buy it online.
A free month’s trial of Amazon Prime will get you not only next-day delivery but also access to Jeremy Clarkson’s new TV show and a raft of others in ultra high definition, if your set can handle it. Just be sure to cancel within 30 days if you don’t want ongoing subscription charges.
So, with delivery wrapped up, here’s this year’s pick of gadget gifts guaranteed to drag even the most technophobic members of your family kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Fitness trackers: Smartwatches have yet to fully take off in Britain, but activity-tracking wristbands are another story: they look like watches but they don’t necessarily tell you the time. The Moov Now, currently £50 at John Lewis, straps to your wrist or ankle and stays there while you run, walk, cycle, swim or go to the gym. It then monitors your vital signs and progress via a companion app on your phone and provides audible coaching and encouragement in real-time. If you choose to leave it on, it will monitor your sleep, too.
Phone-friendly gloves: Winter commuting and smartphones don’t mix. Today’s touch-screens require electrical conductivity, not pressure, to register a tap or swipe - which means they won’t respond to your fingers if you’re wearing gloves. Unless, that is, you have a pair of capacitive touchscreen ones. They’re like regular gloves but are sewn, in part, with a conductive thread, and can be had in many styles for less than £10. You can also buy the thread itself by the spool if you fancy stitching it into a pair of old gloves, but make sure it’s the real McCoy - regular sparkly cotton won’t work.
Instant smartphone printers: Unless you need one for work, you’re better off without a printer in your home. They’re generally just vessels for overpriced ink cartridges - and in an age of cloud sharing, committing a document or picture to paper is pretty much a last resort. However, a new generation of photo printers lets you bypass your PC and produce Polaroid-style snaps directly from your phone, even if they’re on Facebook. The £100 Zip Instant Photoprinter from Polaroid itself fits in your pocket and pairs wirelessly with any phone or tablet, using a companion app to edit and print 2x3-inch pictures. It needs no ink but 50 sheets of pre-impregnated photo paper will set you back £25. Most will find it unnecessary, but for the right person it’s an innovative gift.
Portable hard drive: If you know someone who is forever juggling USB sticks between computers, one of these high-capacity storage units will be a lifesaver. A memory stick gives you a cupboard full of extra storage but a hard disk is a warehouse in comparison, and takes only a bit more room in your pocket. One terabyte drives hold around 500 hours of video or 200,000 songs and can be had everywhere for less than £40.
DVD box sets: They may be yesterday’s technology, but compendiums of favourite movies and TV shows are still big sellers. Among the new releases this month is the complete run of black-and-white ITV shows with which Morecambe and Wise made their name in the Sixties. Most have remained unreleased until now, so this limited-edition eight-disc set at £60 from Network DVD will make a refreshing change from EastEnders in your Christmas viewing schedule.