Christmas gift guide: Great presents from £15 to £150
Too caught up in pre-Christmas socialising to have time to hit the mean streets in search of cool presents? Fear not, here's 20 brilliant gift ideas, all just a few clicks away...
The curse of Christmas is traipsing around the shops on Christmas Eve, wasting your money on naff slippers, rubbish scented candles and useless bath sets. But you can avoid Christmas calamity and get your present buying done early -- and without even leaving the house -- by taking a gander at our super-duper online Christmas gift guide.
Here you'll find everything from funny gadgets like the Tardis USB hub, cool toys for kids -- such as the amazing EyeClops microscope -- and useful gizmos like the Kensington iPod FM transmitter. We even feature environmentally friendly kit such as the Wattson monitor, which helps you keep tabs on exactly how much 'leccy your gadgets are burning up.
We've split the guide into handy price brackets, so no matter your budget, you'll find something suitable for all your family and friends. Well, the dorky ones anyway. So avoid the high street rush and last-minute panic buying and instead stay calm, grab your mouse and credit card and prepare to buy the best gifts the world has to offer, all from the comfort of your PC.
1. Xbox 360 Messenger Kit, £25 from HMV
Trying to use Windows Live Messenger on Xbox 360 with the onscreen keyboard feels about as natural as nylon. That's where the Messenger Kit comes in. It slots on to the bottom of your 360's gamepad and gives you a full Qwerty thumb pad that makes tapping out messages a breeze.
2. Stylophone Original, £15 from Firebox
This is a re-creation of the classic Stylophone, as used by artists such as David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Pulp and, oh go on then, Rolf Harris. Grab the electronic pen and tap it on the keyboard to create weird and wonderful noises. This updated version also has a socket on the back so you can plug in your music player and give your MP3s the Stylophone makeover.
3. Tardis four way USB hub, £20 from Firebox
There'll barely be a geek in the country not salivating over Kylie's appearance in the Dr Who Christmas special, so what better way to commemorate the occasion than with a life-sized Kylie doll? Too icky? How about a Tardis USB hub instead? Plug it into a spare USB port on your PC and you'll be rewarded with a further four ports through the wonders of some rococo Timelord technology. What's more, every time you connect a USB device, the little blue light on the top flashes.
4. Standby Buster,
from Standby Buster
We all know we should really be switching off all our AV kit at night to save the planet (and our wallets), but the behind-the-telly-zone is often a bird's nest of wires, making it a hassle to do the right thing. With the Standby Buster you just plug all your kit into the handy smart socket and you can flick it all off by pressing a single button on its remote control.
1. Binary Clock,
£20 from I Want One of Those
This has to be the geekiest clock in the world. Forget analogue and digital, this ticker displays the time in binary, thus ensuring only true propellerheads will have any hope of reading its clock face. The rest of us can merely stare and contemplate how profound and pretty it looks.
2. Knight Rider R/C Car, £30 from Firebox
Put that image of the Hoff drunkenly crawling on the floor out of your head and instead re-create the great man's glory days with this remote-control KITT. It has a turbo boost button and it talks. What more could you want? A chest wig? Not included, sadly.
3. Digital Photo Frame Keyring, £20 from Paramount Zone
Forget about keeping pictures in your wallet -- with this tiny photo frame you can keep them on your keyring instead. It comes with compression software that lets you squeeze up to 190 of your photos into its 8MB memory and you can set it to show a single photo or to cycle through a slideshow of your favourite snaps. When it runs out of juice, just hook it up to your PC's USB port to top it up again.
4. Star Wars Mimobots,
£30 from Firebox
Luke, I know what you're getting for Christmas. I felt your presents. Aha! These Star Wars USB memory keys make for ideal stocking fillers. They've got 1GB of storage and come pre-loaded with various Star Wars nuggets like wallpapers, soundbites and videos. Four characters are available: Chewie, R2D2, Darth Vader or a Storm Trooper.
1. Kensington RDS FM Transmitter for iPod,
£44 from eXpansys
Okay, we know there are more iPod FM transmitters on the market than there are foulmouthed teens on Xbox Live, but this one is different. It picks up the artist and track title information on your iPod and transmits them as an RDS signal, so they appear on your car's FM radio display. Cool, huh?
2. Vivid Imaginations EyeClops Magnifier,
£35 from Amazon
Teach your kids that there are more fun things to do with insects than just pulling their wings off by buying them the EyeClops. They just point it at their chosen prey to see it on the telly, magnified up to 200 times! Simple, but effective, and who knows, it might even be educational.
3. iKaraoke for iPod, £30 from Firebox
If you can't resist singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody, My Way or I Will Survive when they pop up on your playlist, the iKaraoke might be just the tonic you need. It's a microphone that connects to your iPod's expansion port and lets you sing along to your music, complete with authentic Karaoke reverb. It even includes basic vocal-removal technology. Now stop hogging the mic...
4. Ixos Disco Cube Speakers, £49 from John Lewis
There are a million iPod speaker docks around at the moment, but this one, like James Brown, has got the funk. Pop your pod in the dock and this Disco Cube will flash in time to the music and transport you back to a time when trousers were so tight they made your voice rise by an octave.
£60 from Argos
This robo-snake can follow you around and show its mood via flashing lights and various sounds. You can even use it as an alarm clock. Why not go crazy, buy loads of them, create a robotic version of Snakes On A Plane and become a YouTube superstar?
2. Beatmix Bumblebee,
£50 from Amazon
The Beatmix Bumblebee is a collectable that actually does something useful. Ram the lead from your MP3 player up its jacksie and your tunes will be blasted out its speaker. What's more it'll even flash its lights in time to your music and do a little dance. Much more exciting than the Transformers movie.
3. Alcosense Breathalyser,
£60 from Drinkstuff
If you're driving this Christmas, don't drink, full stop. But if you're having a party and fancy testing everyone to see just how sozzled they really are, this digital breathalyser will do the trick. Blow into it and it'll give a read-out on how much alcohol is in your system, complete with an alarm for when you're over the legal limit.
4. Tux Droid, £90
This Wi-Fi enabled robo-penguin comes with open-source software that lets you program him to grab info from the Net and notify you of it via various quirky movements. He can alert you to incoming emails in the kitchen, RSS feeds in the front room, weather reports in the bathroom or breaking news in the bedroom. And to top it all off, the Linux-loving little chap can even function as a wireless VoIP phone.
1. Laser Stars/Cosmos Projector, £130 from Paramount Zone Light pollution means that when you gaze up at the sky in one of our godforsaken cities the most you're likely to see is a street lamp above your head. If you bag yourself this laser star projector, however, you can beam the wonder of the night sky on to the ceiling of your humble abode.
2. Scalextric Digital Ignition,
£125 from Scalextric
Let's face it, Scalextrics is a classic Christmas toy and this kit, which includes twin Nissan 350z race cars, is one the best in the company's catalogue. What's more, the digital technology used in the controllers mean that up to six cars can now race on the same lane, so you can change lanes at will to create nifty car chases. Top notch.
3. USB Drum Kit,
£130 from Firebox
Tapping your fingers along to your favourite tunes is not going to turn you into John Bonham, but equally splashing out on a full drum kit is not going to go down too well with the neighbours. Hit a happy medium with this USB kit, which lets you bash away on while wearing headphones.
£150 from Firebox
With all those gadgets your friends have accrued over the years they've probably got a carbon footprint bigger than a charcoal elephant. The Wattson can help them keep tabs on exactly how much power they're using at any one time. It retrieves electricity usage wirelessly from a sensor mounted on their meter and then glows aggressively if they're using so much juice they're about to annihilate another endangered species.