5 affordable technology and science gifts for Christmas

12 Dec 2016

Image: Carol Owens/Shutterstock

Christmas is nearing and shopping is getting a little more frantic so, for those looking for something a little geeky, here are five fine options.

Our latest Christmas gift guide looks at the more creative science and technology options out there, with something for everyone at pretty acceptable prices.

Christmas presents

1. Space art

Seasonal Beast is a company we’ve looked at before and the art available is something perhaps worth considering. For example, the ‘Full of stars’ print is 28cm by 43cm, “inspired by the diversity of the heavens”. There are 24 bodies from space featured, including black holes, solar flares and, of course, planets. It costs €20.

Christmas Gift guide Image: Seasonal Beast

Image: Seasonal Beast

There are other space-themed artworks, too, such as pictures with all the phases of the moon for next year.

2. Dinosaurs

Occasionally, a new product appears that you know, deep down, will be dated in a matter of weeks. However, sometimes it’s too cool to ignore. Pretty much everything in augmented reality is very limited at the moment, with Pokémon Go surprisingly popular for such a standard game. Still, once we got a look at these Dinosaur 4D+ flashcards, we were hooked.

Simply download the app, hold your smartphone up to your favourite card and see a Triceratops come to life. Basic, but cool.

Christmas Gift guide. Image: Luke Maxwell

Image: Luke Maxwell

There are other version of the cards, such as planets, animals and animal food, the latter of which engages with the former. They’re available in Dunnes Stores for around €10.

3. Rubik’s still got it

It’s tough to look beyond the tried and tested Rubik’s Cube, one of the greatest games ever created. But, trust smart technology to try and find a way. Rubik’s Spark is very OTT, with specific squares lighting up and users forced to respond accordingly. It may seem complicated but it could well prove a decent way to learn the basics of a Rubik’s Cube, especially for those of us who could never master one.

It’s €27 in Smyths.

4. Fractal jigsaw

At €50, this is the second-most expensive gift on the list, and perhaps the oddest. The Fractal Jigsaw is an 11-piece puzzle, in which all pieces appear identical. When placed in the correct position, they give the illusion of disappearing in together.

Designed by Oskar van Deventer, there’s a bit of a delay on the product so, if buying them in from LaserExact in the Netherlands, order ASAP.

5. Ecosphere

Essentially miniature worlds, ecospheres are pretty little ecosystems trapped in orbs. Each ball holds different types of bacteria and algae, and they don’t require feeding or anything like that.

It seems they were developed by accident but, having proved quite popular, they are now prominent online, with various options available on Etsy.

For example, this miniature version costs €22.20, this one costs €19 and these three excellent-looking options cost €72 (all plus shipping, below from left to right).

Images: Etsy

Images: MyZen/eGardenStudio/Etsy

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Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic