Christmas is all about togetherness. Which is slightly trickier this year. So we’ve picked the top 12 tech gifts to keep you and your family connected to the magic of Christmas – and fill your festive season with pixel-perfect sparkle.
1. Sing-song merrily on high: Sharp PS-929 High Power Portable Party Speaker
This year’s might not be the biggest family gathering, but you can still make it feel like a party with this powerful all-in-one speaker. Decked out with flashing disco lights, it has a whole range of modes to match your mood (we don’t advise syncing it with Carol of The Bells, though. Yikes). For extra festive revelry, the PS-929 includes a microphone and karaoke function – you’ll be wishing for a silent night in no time.
2. Bring treasured memories to life: KiiPix Smartphone Photo Printer
Every family has a trove of precious memories stored away in their smartphones. This little gadget turns them into physical photos, but don’t worry: it doesn’t need an app, wifi or even batteries – just film in the form of the Fujifilm Instax Mini print pack. What happens is that this gadget takes a shot of the photo on your phone, then prints it out. And it’s simple – bring up the photo you want to print on your phone screen, pop it on top of KiiPix, press a button and turn a dial. Ta-daa: a mini copy to give to relatives, put in your wallet, or keep forever.
3. Never lose anything again: Vodafone Curve The Smart GPS Tracker
Avoid arguments over where the big suitcase / your car keys / the dog has disappeared to with this powerful tracking gizmo. Unlike most Bluetooth trackers, it has a smart SIM card inside, so you can see where the lost item is on a map even if it’s miles away. Curve comes with a keyring, lasts up to seven days on a charge, and is available in a choice of dove or slate. You’ll need a subscription, but it’s only £2-3 a month – well worth it to skip the stress of losing things.
4. The gift that keeps on giving: All-New Amazon Echo (4th generation)
Strange to think that just a few years ago we could get through a whole festive season without ever saying: “Alexa, play Christmas music.” The newest edition of the voice-activated Echo speaker looks rather like a snow globe in glacier white. As well as superb sound quality, plus the ability to summon radio stations, podcasts, Mariah Carey bangers and audiobooks (A Christmas Carol, anyone?), it can even answer the kids’ questions about how long Santa takes to get down all those chimneys.
5. Parents’ winter warmer: Ember Mug – Metallic Collection
Keep your mulled wine at the perfect temperature with the festive edition of this ingenious app-controlled mug: in gold or silver, it charges wirelessly via its coaster. Pick your preferred temperature and your drink will stay that way until you’ve actually had a chance to enjoy it – no easy feat during the busy holidays.
6. To share the best family photos: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Festive lights and cosy candles can be tricky for phone cameras, which is why you need a handset with exceptional low-light abilities. The newly-released iPhone 12 Pro Max will make short work of perfectly-lit family shots, plus with unlimited superfast 5G data at no extra cost on Vodafone’s Unlimited Max plan you can enjoy your new iPhone without limits.
From £66 a month with £29 upfront on Unlimited Max, vodafone.co.uk
7. For better family video calls: Facebook Portal Plus
Setting up your less tech-savvy relatives with video calling is much easier when you use apps they already understand. This gadget from Facebook connects to Messenger and WhatsApp so you can digitally hang out with loved ones who can’t be there in person. The 15.6in screen can be portrait or landscape, and the camera automatically tracks faces so everyone’s visible without having to jostle around the screen.
8. The first-rate family photo album: Nixplay Smart Wi-Fi Frame
The ideal way to show off photos, this 13.3in smart frame is a world away from the ones you might remember from the early 2000s. With wifi and 8GB storage, it works in portrait or landscape, freestanding or wall-mounted, has motion activation and can even play videos with sound. It’s easy for family and friends to add more from the app, too.
9. Step into another world: Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality Headset
If someone in the 1990s had created an image of what we’d be buying in 2020, this would be it. This futuristic virtual reality headset is an all-in-one, meaning you don’t need a computer or phone to run it. The display, graphics and slick hardware are built-in, so you just add a wifi connection and the Oculus app, and you’re away. It’s not all games, either (although there are a lot of pretty cool ones), there are gigs and movies to immerse yourself in, and you can even meet up with Facebook friends with Oculus headsets in the virtual world.
From £299, game.co.uk
10. School by stealth: Rubik’s Connected Cube
This app-connected version of the family favourite is a fun way to get the kids to learn simple algorithms and to battle for speed-solving supremacy. As well as providing boast-worthy stats and data, it can also teach those who’ve never used one how to solve the cube, step by step. If we’d had this in the 1980s, we’d never have needed to rearrange the stickers.
11. The game to gather around: Mario Kart Live Home Circuit
Challenging the family to a game of Mario Kart has been a Boxing Day staple for years, but this real-world reimagining brings a fresh twist to the madcap race. Set up a physical course throughout the house, then use the Nintendo Switch to drive and dodge your way to victory. The winner gets the first slice of Chocolate Orange.
From £99.99 (requires a Nintendo Switch), SmythsToys.com
12. Make Christmas more beautiful: Nanoleaf Shapes
A new take on putting up the Christmas lights, this set of smart lighting panels can be arranged into any shape, including a postmodern wall-mounted Christmas tree (harder for the cat to knock over). Using the app, you can cycle between festive colour schemes, or sync with music or the TV.
From £89.99, nanoleaf.me
The tech gifts that connect us to the ones we love at Christmas are more important than ever.
At Vodafone, we’ve built a strong mobile and broadband network that keeps you close to your family and friends … so that we’re still together, even if we are apart.
Find out more about how we’re helping you keep connecting to the magic this Christmas.
Vodafone pay monthly price: RPI increase, minimum term agreement & terms apply. 5G: subject to coverage. Details vodafone.co.uk/terms
Third party products mentioned in this article are not Vodafone products and are not associated with Vodafone or endorsed by Vodafone in any way. All prices accurate as of publication on 3 December 2020