A guide to extra-special tech gifts for Christmas

27 Nov 2014

MB Chronowing Smartwatch by HP. Photo via Gilt

There are some people in our lives we really want to spoil at Christmas-time, so here are some extra-special indulgent gift ideas to inspire you.

Smartwatches with style for the fashion conscious

The problem with wearable technology to date is that industrial designers are not fashion designers and there’s an element of style amiss in most smartwatch creations. That’s why HP enlisted menswear designer Michael Bastian for the design of the Chronowing smartwatch, which is available exclusively on Gilt.

For those unfamiliar with the designer watch market, the €365.80 price tag on the MB Chronowing Smartwatch isn’t too far off the mark, though the €680.24 limited-edition MB Chronowing in black is more of a stretch. 

Both are undeniably beautifully crafted, though, providing wearers with a fashionable timepiece that also provides them with email, calendar and text notifications.

HP Michael Bastian Chronowing smartwatches

HP’s MB Chronowing Smartwatch (€365.80) and limited-edition MB Chronowing in black (€680.24), Gilt

For a less-expensive but still-attractive stab at a fashionable smartwatch buy, check out Cogito’s Classic and Pop ranges, which are available here in Ireland from €99 according to PriceSpy.ie.

Coming out of Paris, these smartwatches provide wearers with customisable notifications from their smartphone and have a conventional watch battery that lasts over a year.

Cogito smartwatches

The Cogito Classic smartwatch range

Beautiful headgear for audiophiles

Beats may have the best marketing in the headphones business, but they don’t necessarily have the best headphones. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my Beats Solo HDs when I had them – but the point is there’s a whole world of audio headgear out there, and options that don’t invoke associations with teenagers and rap stars.

I’ve previously highlighted my love for the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 headphones (available from €249), and some new colour combinations and special editions have refreshed this range for Christmas 2014.

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphones

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 headphones’ Special Edition range, B&O Play

While we’re looking at the pricey realm of high-end headphones, attention also must be paid to Bose’s QuietComfort 25 headphones (available from €270). Though there are only two colour options for this pair, the noise-cancelling on these headphones is nothing short of commendable. There’s even an in-ear equivalent (also available from €270) for a more subtle look.

Bose QuietComfort 25 HeadphonesBose QuietComfort 20 earphones

Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones and QuietComfort 20 earphones, Bose.ie

Of course, for half that price, you could get yourself a pair of Harman Kardon Soho headphones. These slim headphones fold up for added portability and their usual price of €199 has been discounted by €50 in a number of outlets.

Harman Kardon Soho headphones

Harman Kardon Soho headphones in black, €149, Thomann.de

Then again if style isn’t your chief concern, you’d do well to know that Sony’s MDR-7506 headphones are quite popular among audio-visual teams for professional use, and they retail quite close to the €100 mark.

Sony MDR-7506 headphones

Sony MDR-7506 headphones

A trip down video-game memory lane

A tricky find, but a gift to guarantee joy for an old-school gamer is a classic console and some games to play with. If you’re up to the challenge, there are plenty of options on offer on eBay.ie and you might even make a discovery in your local charity shop.

Some favourite retro gaming systems include the Commodore 64 (1982), Sega Mega Drive (1988), Game Boy (1989), Super Nintendo (1990), and the original PlayStation (1994). If you are successful in your mission, you might just succeed in giving the gift of Christmas past.

Super Nintendo

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as the SNES

For tea-lovers everywhere: behold, the iKettle

OK, this gift may come out of left field, but we are a nation of tea-lovers after all, and what better way to give someone the gift of a hot drop than with a Wi-Fi-connected kettle?

With the iKettle (available from €119.99), users can start the kettle boiling from their smartphone, as well as programme the appliance to switch on at certain times and keep the contents at a desired temperature for up to 30 minutes.

Essentially, this is the most Irish internet of things invention yet, and every home deserves one. You can even pick from a range of colours.


The iKettle, Firebox

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.