If you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet then you probably should. There’s less than 20 sleeps until the big day and you don’t want to disappoint your friends and family with a pair of socks and a box of Celebrations you bought from a petrol station on Christmas Eve.
Whatever your nearest and dearest are into, there’s a great gift waiting to be found. We’re here to help you narrow the search and we’ve picked six pieces of must-have tech that will keep you in good graces this Christmas.
2nd generation Amazon Echo – £79
With so many features, the latest Echo makes an excellent gift. It can play music, control smart tech, and act as a personal assistant by arranging taxis, setting alarms and even ordering pizza.
All these features are triggered by voice-commands and there aren’t many requests that Alexa, the name of the built-in assistant, can’t respond to.
Alexa’s capabilities are always expanding. Since the launch of the original in 2014, Alexa and the Echo have learned to control certain TVs and recognise different voices to give contextual responses.
Then there’s the skills, which act like apps for the Echo. By enabling them from the Alexa smartphone app, you can have Alexa tell you your fortune, add items to your Ocado basket and more. There are thousands of skills to try and they are all free.
Find out if the 2nd generation Echo has better sound quality than the £149 original in our 2nd generation Amazon Echo hands-on review. If you already have speakers and you just want Alexa’s smarts, then you can buy the cheaper Amazon Echo Dot for £50 and connect that to your existing system using a 3.5mm cable or Bluetooth.
Garmin Vivofit 3 – £55
Whether the recipient is into fitness already, or you reckon they’ll be gym-bound come the new year, a fitness tracker makes a great gift.
The Vivofit 3 isn’t the most advanced tracker out there, but it won’t cost the Earth either. It’s got a cracking battery life and it’s comfy to wear.
It tracks steps, distance, how many calories you’ve burned and it’s waterproof, so you can take it swimming.
The key thing with any tracker is accuracy. To find out how good the Vivofit is at keeping tabs on your workout, head to our Garmin Vivofit 3 review.
Amazon Fire HD 8 – £80
For every £550 iPad Pro, there’s a low-cost tablet. While the screen resolution won’t be as high and it won’t load apps in the blink of an eye, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth picking one up.
The Fire HD looks the part and its 8-inch screen is 1,280×800, which is a crisp enough resolution for a small display. It has stereo speakers, too, so it’s a good device for watching Netflix, YouTube and, of course, Amazon Video.
If want to add your own media to the HD 8, then the good news is you can expand the storage up to 256GB with a micro-SD card. That’s more than enough space for scores of HD movies and hundreds of albums.
It’s all coming up roses for the Fire HD 8, but have any concessions been made to get the tablet under £100? Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 review to find out.
Google Chromecast Ultra – £69
If you’ve got that one family member who won’t stop banging on about how there’s nothing on TV, then an internet TV box – or in this case an internet TV disc – is the perfect pressie.
The Ultra connects to wi-fi and a spare HDMI port on your TV, and opens up a whole world of streaming. Apps, including YouTube, Amazon Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and most other catch-up TV apps all come pre-installed.
As it’s the Ultra, the lucky recipient can also watch content in 4K, which is currently the highest resolution offered by any of the streaming apps on the device. If they don’t have a 4K TV yet, they can still watch HD shows and movies and you get to spend less, too. Get a standard Chromecast, which costs around £30, or a £40 Fire TV stick.
To see if the Ultra aced our tests and sits top of the heap in a competitive area, head to our Chromecast Ultra review.
Sennheiser Urbanite – £88
They may be a few years old, but that just means you can get these Sennheiser headphones for less. These on-ear Urbanite headphones look stylish enough to hold their own in a world of glossy Beats and chunky, over-sized headphones from Skullcandy and Monster.
While not as portable as an in-ear pair, they do fold flat and fit neatly into the supplied travel case. There’s an inline remote, too, so you can take calls and adjust the volume of your music without reaching for your phone.
There are two versions: one that works with iPhones and one that works with Android handsets. So make sure you choose the right model if you want the remote to work with the recipient’s phone.
Click through to our Sennheiser Urbanite review to see how these on-ear headphones sound.
Sony SRS-X11 – £30
At just £30, this little cube from Sony is one of the bargains of the century – if the sound is up to scratch.
It’s Bluetooth and portable and our tests found it to be surprisingly loud considering it’s pocket-friendly size.
It has more features that belie its low price. There’s near-field communication, or NFC, which makes it easier to connect your phone to the speaker, and there’s a microphone built-in, so you don’t need to disconnect your phone to take calls.
Ultimately, it’s sound quality that will secure a Best Buy for this little speaker, does it have what it takes? Here’s our full Sony SRS-X11 review.