Gifting the gadget lovers
Published 27/11/2015 | 07:00
Ronan Price recommends the latest hi-tech products
Owners of iPhones and iPads will possibly be familiar with the vexing issue of USB cables fraying at one end or another if you don't treat them with care. Rather than risking the €25 replacement cost, try the preventative measure of these neat cable protectors that shield the most vulnerable parts. They slip easily onto most versions of the connectors and extend the life of cables considerably.
You could opt for those budget-replacement cables in euro stores instead, but their own frailty and Apple's hardware-lockout design mean they soon fail anyway.
The Klips aren't themselves cheap for what is a small bit of plastic, but they'll save you money. You do the maths.
Apple has been threatening to reinvent television since before Steve Jobs' passing but we're still holding our breath. However, the newly revamped Apple TV set-top box goes some way to kickstarting the revolution with voice recognition, a touch/motion-sensitive remote control and - of course - apps.
Siri voice search works simultaneously across several services such as iTunes and Netflix - e.g. "show me all movies with Michael Fassbender" or "find new animated TV series" - while the potential for Wii-style gaming must have Sony and Nintendo worried.
Egg on toast: it's the breakfast of champions. Reasonably healthy and devilishly simple to prepare - unless you don't have time in the mornings to boil water for the eggs and avoid burning the bread.
The Breakfast Master proves that two into one will go, combining a conventional toaster with an egg cooker. It'll take care of up to six eggs at once, steaming them in the compartment beside the bread slots.
When you're savouring your perfectly boiled (or poached) eggs on hot buttered toast, you'll realise civilisation has peaked and life can't get any better.
(from approx €1,499, www.microsoftstore.com/surface)
Microsoft tired of waiting for hardware makers to produce something as attractive as the MacBook Air so now it's gunning for Apple with its own shiny 2-in-1 laptop, the Surface Book.
This slim package runs the full might of Windows 10 in an enclosure not much bigger than a tablet. But when you don't need the keyboard, it detaches from the 13.5-inch screen, leaving you with a light-ish touchscreen tablet.
As if the oodles of horsepower under the bonnet weren't enough of a clue, the Surface Book also comes with a stylus, marking this laptop down as a serious business player as well as a fun companion.
(approx €290, www.qwerkywriter.com)
Maybe it's the unfulfilled writer in me, but there's something entrancing about a vintage typewriter. Nobody misses the pain of the one-shot nature of typing on paper but those clacky sounds and tactile finger motions tickle the nostalgia glands.
Hence the success of the Qwerkywriter, a Bluetooth keyboard for tablets but built like an old-school Olivetti or Remington. The satisfyingly mechanical keys sit atop a solidly weighted aluminium base, which can hold your tablet upright as you type.
Yes, it's an extravagance and not terribly portable but a well-preserved version of real thing would probably cost almost as much.
Coming from the people who brought us the smart thermostat and the motion-sensing security cam, Nest Protect puts another dumb device on notice: the smoke detector.
Via calm, spoken instructions, lights and the traditional beeper sound, the Protect alerts you to potential dangers from smoke and carbon monoxide.
But it also connects to your wi-fi and smartphone, letting you know if there's a problem while you're away. Silencing a false alarm requires no more than a tap on the phone instead of teetering on a chair while poking at the ceiling.
(approx €240, www.smarter.am/coffee)
Never do yourself what you can get a machine to do via your smartphone - that's my motto. Why leap out of bed of a cold morning to brew up the caffeine heart-starter when you can tell the Smarter Coffee machine to switch on from the comfort of your bed?
Naturally, it can be scheduled to percolate every morning for you - or just to start when you walk in the front door. It will remind you to fill up when the water reservoir is low and adjust the strength of the brew according to taste.
About the only thing it doesn't do is drink it for you.
(approx €120, www.getampy.com)
People who never venture far from an electrical socket still worry about running out of phone battery. Now imagine the panic if you're the outdoorsy type (a jogger, hiker or cyclist).
Banish those battery blues with Ampy Move, a simple battery pack about the size of a deck of cards that charges via your body motion. An hour of exercise will generate enough power for five hours of phone standby.
Too bad it doesn't include an armband (that's €30 extra - ouch!) but you can always buy a cheap one or stash the Ampy in a pocket.