The tech gift guide: top gadgets for a special someone

11 Dec 2013

If there’s someone you want to really impress this Christmas, one of these big ticket items from Apple, Panasonic or Beats by Dre might do the trick – if your bank account can handle it! The recession-minded shopper need not look here.

For the Apple of your eye

Let’s kick things off with the obvious: the all-new, super-slim and incredibly light iPad Air. The latest tablet from Apple is less than half a kilo of a refined aluminium unibody enclosure housing an A7 chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture and expanded LTE connectivity. Not to mention an impossible-sounding 3.1m pixels in its 9.7-inch Retina display – that’s more than your standard HDTV. All of this in a sleek tablet that measures 7.5mm thin and still gives you up to 10 hours battery power. Depending on your storage and connectivity options, this gift will set you back somewhere between €489 and €879.

iPad Air

For the die-hard Apple fanboys, top of the wishlist will be the updated MacBook Pro with Retina display. This luxury number costs from €1,349 to €2,649, depending on specifications. You can go for one of the 13-inch options with Intel Core i5 processors, up to 512GB PCIe-based flash storage and Intel Iris Graphics; or the 15-inch models with i7 processors and Intel Iris Pro Graphics. Decisions, decisions!

MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Picture perfect

Provided I haven’t scared you off with talk of spending over a grand on a Christmas gift (someone might be worth it), let’s move on to something a bit more palatable. For the photographer in your life, a Panasonic Lumix GM1 is likely to go down well. This compact mirrorless camera is in tough competition with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 in ‘camera of the year’ nods, but I favour the Lumix device on price alone.

The GM1 costs €749 and is perfect for either an ambitious amateur or a pro who gets fed up lugging their clunky DSLR around with them for every occasion. The incredibly compact camera somehow packs a Micro Four Thirds sensor inside and is pocket-friendly even with a lens attached (and, as you’d expect with the Lumix G range, there is a wide range of lenses on offer, too).

Panasonic Lumix GM1

The standard kit comes with a 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 ASPH lens, plus your 16MP Digital Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processing team. The GM1 shoots full-HD 1080p video with Dolby Digital sound recording. Its AF Drive works at up to 240fps and burst shooting can capture up to 5fps in full 16MP resolution. It also features extensive auto-focus precision and flexibility, a 3-inch touchscreen, 22 creative filters and Wi-Fi connectivity, all housed in a retro-styled body available in silver, black, white or orange.

Shoot for the stars

If your special someone is a stargazer, you could treat them to a Celestron NexStar 130SLT if you have €579 to spare. This computerised telescope comes with a SkyQlink wireless adapter that lets you control viewing from an iOS device, while a feature called SkyAlign will help you align any thre bright celestial objects quickly and easily so you can find stars, planets, constellations and nebulae simply by calling them up on the SkyQ app.

Celestron NexStar 130SLT

The 5-inch Newtonian reflector telescope includes two eyepieces to give you 26x and 72x magnification, plus a T2 Canon DSLR adaptor should you want to take a photo of your subject.

Hearing aids

Finally, reigning the purse strings in a bit, you could get your special someone a powerful and stylish set of headphones for Christmas. For the trendy types, Beats Solo HDs (€225) from Beats  by Dr Dre are the way to go. Less cumbersome than the full-sized Beats Studio headphones, this foldable set offer the same quality in a less conspicuous package.

Beats and BeoPlay headphones

Beats Solo HD headphones (left) and BeoPlay H6 headphones

Alternatively, there’s the more mature look and feel offered by Bang & Olufsen’s BeoPlay H6 headphones (€399). While both these headsets have style, they also have substance, with high-quality audio and comfort on par with their looks.

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.