The 2011 New Rising Media Christmas Gift Guide
We took a look around and noticed one particular constant: people already know what they want. These gift guides are, essentially, pointless re-hashes of old reviews that website has already done to give an air of assistance in a technological impairment that is buying for someone for Christmas.
Take a look at the consumer end also, these products are marketed to such an extent with the layer of 'newness' that the likes of a Galaxy nexus, Gears of War 3 or a Playstation 3 (£249 for console and 4 games, pretty good value). So what we have are two voices recommending exactly the same product, which is all good and well, as it fuels this festive season of praying to the Capitalist Gods.
But what about alternatives? What about those ideas that the person you're gifting to didn't realise they needed up until the point they open your present? Those small jewel-encrusted moments where you are genuinely surprised by a gift come few and far between, and we'd very much like to help with that. With this in mind, here's our Gift Guide.
Lightspeed i-Helicopter (Around £31.99)
As anyone who has had a remote-controlled helicopter can tell you, flying one about the home is more entertaining than it has any right to be. Whether earning the respect of your imaginary co-pilot in navigating harsh winds (read, your sister's hair-dryer), overcoming the odds against a larger-than-life beast (your dog) or simply landing where no man has landed before (your nan's Christmas dinner), what you get from a 10-minute odd charge is amazing fun. Invariably though, you'll lose the controls, never to be seen again.
Which is why it's easy to recommend ThinkGizmos.com' i-Helicopter, a remote-controlled helicopter that you can pilot with any iDevice or supported Android smartphone through a free App. What's more, it comes packed with a built-in gyro for even steadier flights, working LED lights, spare parts for any unwarranted repairs and with the promise from its maker that new features will be added through future patches – such as a flight recorder that stores all your button presses so the flight can be re-played with one touch. And fear not about battery shortages, all charges are done through USB.
Amazon Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi (£149.00)
We're going to avoid the newer, cheaper Kindle that suffers at the hands of fiddly directional controls and instead go for the model which comes packed with 3G connectivity that is free in over 100 countries, 4Gb of storage (capable of holding around 3,500 books) and a full QWERTY keyboard. £149 may sound expensive for a replacement to traditional paperbacks but we've heard no end of stories of people finding that they're reading more than they ever have with a Kindle by their side, and in more comfort – the device is lighter than the average book.
Plus, further emphasis on the fact that this has completely free 3G in 100 countries...as in you can browse the internet across the globe without being welcomed back into your country of residence with a giant phone data bill. With book distribution costs taken out of the equation, e-book downloads are not only more cost-effective than the physical equivalent (only slightly but we'll let it off), but Amazon's store has a much bigger selection of titles than your high-street store, with over 900,000 titles accounted for.
OnLive Game System (£66.99)
This year marked the UK debut for cloud gaming services such as OnLive and Gaikai. Launching in July, OnLive has gone from strength to strength with mouth-watering deals reminiscent of Steam and inviting ISP offers (BT's partnership with OnLive sees the provider offering three free months of PlayPass). To cap it off, while not brilliant (see our thoughts here), cloud gaming is at least a worthwhile platform to experience some of the latest games with a catalogue that is being added to all the time. What's more, the service is now available on tablet PCs and smartphones.
Which is why it's probably worth investing in the OnLive Game System that allows you to play your cloud-stored games on your main high-def TV through HDMI. The system comes boxed with the brand-spanking-new OnLive Wireless Controller that is £39.99 on its own. For those of you who like gaming in your spare time and don't possess a current-generation console but do have access to an adequate broadband connection, OnLive is a no-brainer.
Sex Panther Cologne (£29.99)
Illegal in nine countries and “made from real panther, so you know it's good”, Sex Panther is an ideal gift for men this Christmas that, with its pure smell of desire, will have women falling at the wearer's feet – in a good way, of course. Be warned though, this product may induce nausea and consequent vomiting for anyone not accustomed to its pungent aroma, and is also known to “sting the nostrils” of innocent bystanders. Still, who wouldn't want to be the proud owner of Brian Fantana's favoured cologne.
iCade For iPad (£79.99)
For those of you who've grown tired of touch-screens, fancy graphics and complex control schemes and long for the days of old where your gaming retreat was a dark, dusty arcade, the iCade for iPad might well be what you're after. Designed to replicate the authentic look and feel of a wooden arcade cabinet, the iCade is built for use around the iPad and features a sturdy joystick and eight full-sized buttons that sync wirelessly to the device. Just download Atari's Greatest Hits from the App Store and be on your way to re-living your childhood in an instant with 8-bit classics like Asteroids, Pac-Man and Lunar Lander costing just 69p each. Marvellous!
ION Anyroom Speaker For iPod (£141.99)
Perfect for a Christmas or New Year's party, the ION Anyroom Speaker streams music wirelessly from your iPod/iPhone to the sound system; delivering crisp, clean, uncompressed audio from up to 270 metres away. Have multiple speakers set up around the house and they'll all pick up on the same wireless signal, meaning whichever room you're in, there's now no excuse for missing cheesy disco-classics YMCA or Whigfield's 'Saturday Night'. In addition, Anyroom works with any music app on your device, including Spotify, Napster and Soundcloud. Just plug the wireless dongle into the bottom of your iDevice and play. “Young man, there's no need to feel down”...
All prices are approximate