2016 may have been a mixed bag for many reasons. But a mixed stocking is no bad thing–especially when it’s chocked full of the latest gadgets and gizmos across the spectrum of tech. Whether you’re a bona fide nerd or technophobic luddite there’s something for you this year, which has seen the Internet of Things (IoT) market explode, and a number of the world’s tech giants release chart-topping consumer products.
Here’s Red Herring‘s top ten of the year’s offerings, that draw on almost all corners of the tech world. From drones to daydreams and pretty much everything between, there’s enough here to fill most, if not all, of your stubborn-to-clear Christmas lists. Merry shopping and a tecchy new year from us!
The home has never been more connected. So why make do with cumbersome remotes that are so 2015? Maker eyeSight’s first consumer product adds the power of gesture control to your home entertainment system in one, sleek box. Fulfill your own Minority Report/CSI fantasies by changing channel with a mere flick of the finger. Never before have superpowers been so affordable.
2. Olympus PEN-F
A camera without compromise in features, looks or ease of use. Olympus’ flagship has been cooed over in all quarters of the photography world. Little wonder when you look at a spec sheet that includes a 20 megapixel MOS sensor; interactive OLED viewfinder; full-HD 1080p video and a 1/8000 high-speed shutter. The PEN-F also features a screwless, classic design and precision controls to entertain pro and amateur snappers alike.
3. Samsung Family Hub Refridgerator
A fridge as a Christmas present? You bet. Especially when Samsung’s connected cooler comes with a WiFi-enabled touchscreen that allows you to keep tabs on groceries, catch up on family calendar events and even stream music–making for what must be the world’s oddest choice of DJs. Of course, it’s pretty good at being a fridge too. But don’t pretend you bought it for the five customizable temperatures or fridge-freezer switch options.
4. Amazon Echo Dot
The latest incarnation of Amazon’s connected device broke Black Friday sales records on its mother store. If your loved ones still haven’t picked one up it’s a good bet for festive delight this Christmas. Among other things the hockey puck-shaped pod can play music, set alarms and control just about any enabled device laying around the house. Lights, for example–or thermostats; doors; sprinklers; fans and a multitude of others.
5. Google Daydream
Virtual reality has become all the rage in homes worldwide. Google’s Daydream platform, and its accompanying Daydream View hardware, allows high quality VR fun that’s compatible with an array of Android devices, for a price far lower than Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. And because it’s Google, you can expect a huge number of mouthwatering titles to become available very soon.
6. BioLite BaseLantern
Calling all nature-lovers: tech is your friend. And when it’s the BioLite BaseLantern, it’s probably your new BFF. The New York City startup’s BaseCamp stove was a huge hit on Kickstarter. Its latest offering has been no less lauded by the adventuring community. And its fans won’t stop there. The BaseLantern is a flatpack LED light, smartphone-controlled, that’s far smaller, easier and safer than grandpa’s old paraffin burner. Its colors and brightness can also be altered, which takes those late night fireside drinks to another, hallucinogenic level.
7. Packed Pixels
Another crowdfund-born product, Packed Pixels is a great, affordable way to get more screens for your laptop. Essentially portable high-resolution screens, the units are so light they can be easily mounted and transform your portable computer into a fully-functioning workstation. They’re also powered by USB, so you can get working on that train commute without searching for an outlet. Your fellow travelers might not appreciate it. But you won’t care, surrounded on all sides by high-def beauty.
8. Vantage Robotics Snap Drone
Drones. A bit last year, you say? Not Vantage’s Snap, which combines versatility and safety with the ability to make mindblowing videos. The small drone fits easily into a backpack, has smart tracking and its four blades are well-covered so there’s almost zero chance of an unfortunate festive drone-related injury. Vantage, founded in 2013, has focused on little else since the company’s inception. And it shows. A great stocking-filler for thrill-seeking videographers.
9. Google Chromecast Ultra
Google’s well-priced streamer now streams 4k video straight from your television’s HDMI port. The tiny device is less a full overhaul of the previous edition that a half-upgrade. But it’s still a worthy addition to any living room, enabling a number of smart devices to empower your viewing to another level. It comes without a remote, and relies on someone with a good knowledge of smart devices–so perhaps the Chromecast Ultra isn’t best for your grandparent who thinks Val Doonican is a bit rock and roll. But for all others, Google has nailed it.
10. Nintendo NES Classic Edition
One for the oldies, perhaps. Or millennials–or any gamer with a passing interest in the GREATEST console ever made (sorry PS1). Nintendo’s NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) has had a modern revamp, and for just $60 comes miniaturized–it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand–and with 30 famous games pre-loaded. They include classics such as Metroid; Donkey Kong; The Legend of Zelda and, of course, Super Mario Brothers and Super Mario Bros 3.
Simplistic compared to today’s titles, to say the least. But the nostalgia needle’ll be hitting 11 comfortably should you be able to find one this Christmas: it has sold out and some are already taking to desperate measures to get one in time for Santa’s visit in a few weeks.