With Christmas day fast approaching – it can be hard to work out what to get those hard to buy for relatives! Here’s some hints of some Christmas tech what we’d like.
Pixel 4 XL
The latest offering from Google’s phone department hasn’t failed to impress when it comes to style, functionality, and timely updates. The Pixel 4 XL is an ideal device for any Android user looking to upgrade their device. With a 3700 mAh battery you’re going to easily get a full day’s use out of it and still have power leftover into the night. The innovative ‘active edge’ allows you to squeeze the phone and activate Google Assistant which is considerably less annoying than Samsung’s Bixby button and gestures on the fingerprint scanner lets you easily manipulate the 6.3” screen without stretching your hand.
The whole Pixel family comes with Pixel feature drops as Google aims to ensure that your phone gets better with use. You can go back to old photos and ‘portrait mode’ them, automatically screen spam calls, and blur backgrounds during video calls.
Pixel 4 XL starts at £829 and is available in three colours (black, white, and orange). It’s also available in either a 64Gb or 128Gb.
Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch HR
Fossil are no stranger to smartwatches with their line of WearOS watches but this year they’ve brought something very special in their sleigh. The Hybrid Smartwatch HR combines the smarts of a smartwatch with the long battery life of a normal watch. The watches are compatible with both Android and iOS phones via Bluetooth low energy 5.0 and have a battery life of around 3 weeks (based on usage obviously).
These watches are stunning, combining the classy look of a traditional round watch without the obvious ‘tech’ look of other watches. You’re not going to find Google Assistant or Siri embedded in this watch but you are getting an activity tracker (including heart rate), control over music, three customisable buttons, and notifications from your apps. Helpfully – the watch hands move to point at 3 and 9 when you get a notification on the screen to keep them out of the way while you read the notification.
With our work in Digital Health we’re interested in watching the success of these devices beyond some of the other market leaders. The Hybrid is an excellent stepping stone into the wearables sphere while looking classy.
The Hybrid comes in multiple variants and has interchangeable straps (18mm) and is priced at around £189.
Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assistant
Ideal for the bedroom, this smart clock combines the smarts of Google Assistant with the functionality of a clock. While not exactly groundbreaking in terms of features, it is a nice addition to the Google Assistant hardware line. There’s also no camera which is ideal for a device designed to be used in the bedroom. The screen is only 4” so its petite presence won’t take up your whole bedside table. It’s even got a handy USB port on the back so you can charge your phone from it and not take up another socket.
There are endless ways to interact with Google Assistant and if you’re looking to expand your app’s interactions and usage, developing voice interactions is a sure-fire way to take your app form occasional usage to a daily necessity to your users.
The Lenovo smart clock will set you back £79.99 which is on the pricey side for a clock but is a worthy addition to the Google Assistant range.
TP Link Kasa Smart Plugs
Smart plugs help you bring smarts to your dumb appliances, be they lamps or slow cookers. The Kasa plugs by TP Link works with Alexa and Google Assistant and don’t require a hub to connect to in order to work. Setup is simple through the Kasa app and once you’ve set them up, you never need to open the Kasa app again.
There’s not a lot to say about smart plugs – these ones work well, seem to continue to get firmware updates even when they’re a few years old, and play well with other smart devices.
The Kasa Smart Plugs are available as a 2 pack from Amazon for £27.99. There are also variants which come with energy monitoring.
With Google having killed off the Chromecast Audio – it felt like the end for your older non-smart speakers. However, Amazon have come to the rescue with the Echo Input. The Input is essentially an Echo Dot without the built-in speaker. Instead, it’s designed to be connected via a 3.5mm jack to your existing audio setup, taking them from dumb to smart in an instant.
Amazon also allows you to build your own skills so if there’s something you’re not able to do out of the box, you can build your own skill or get in touch with an Alexa partner, such as Waracle, to develop the voice interaction for you.
The inputs are a bit hard to get a hold of but they’re available on Amazon as refurbished models just now for £30.99.
Sony Playstation Classic
Relive your 9-year-old self’s fantasy Christmas with the Playstation Classic. With all the stylings of the original Playstation, this small device brings you 20 of the best Playstation games (including GTA and Resident Evil Director’s Cut) and two wired controllers in the box. You won’t be needing to dig out your old memory cards as the Playstation Classic lets you save your game progress straight onto the device. And you won’t have to worry about finding the right cable from your cable box as the Classic comes with HDMI.
The Playstation Classic is available from Amazon for £42.16
Oculus Quest VR Headset
No wires, no PC, just pure VR greatness. The Oculus Quest brings VR down to a much more affordable (and practical) price of £399. You also get Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series included with your headset which means you can start playing from the moment you unwrap. You can dodge spells and slash your way through enemy hordes in any environment too, the Quest adapts to your surroundings so you can play sitting or standing in places great and small.
VR isn’t going anywhere and more games and app developers are embracing this new technology to bring new experiences to their users.
The Oculus Quest VR is Headset is available from Argos for £399.
We may well have missed sending this list through to Santa but for anyone out there still looking this might be a good place to start. As has been the case for the last few years the toy and gift market is heavily tech-laden and we love every moment of it all. Merry Christmas from us all at Waracle and let us know if you get something off the list!