I’ve seen the future….

Don’t know your iPhones from your headphones or simply looking to check out the next piece of kit on your to-buy list? Either way, please allow STEPHEN BUTCHARD to guide you through the minefield of gadgets in your quest  for the top tech…

a) This bad boy’s still the One for you:
Xbox One   Price: £329.99  Out: Now

Christmas for many, means consoles, and with many impressive looking systems competing with each other, it’s hard to decide which one to splash your cash on.

Thanks to its recent price drop in the UK, the Xbox One could be a frontrunner (it’s a whole £100 cheaper than when it launched).

This means it’s slightly more affordable than the PS4, and the console is struggling in sales compared to its arch enemy.

But the slew of exciting games slated for release in the near future makes the console very enticing indeed, with Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection coming exclusively to the system this
winter – just don’t tell your parents that you blew your SAAS on Halo!

b) Watch this space (sorry) for top gifts pressie:
Pebble Smartwatch   Price: £99.99
Red/White Plastic  Steel   Out Now

Thanks to the announcement of the Apple iWatch, hype over wearable tech is intense.

But for those looking for a Smartwatch that’s both intuitive, inexpensive, and available right now, Pebble’s offering might make the perfect Christmas present.

The original Pebble watch launched last year, backed by a kickstarter campaign that managed to raise over $10 million for the company.

The watch has been praised for its intelligent design, which utilises both Android and iOS operating systems.

Its E-paper screen is comparable to the screen used on Kindles, and although that makes for an unimpressive looking colour pallet, it does give superb battery life.

The app standard of Pebble devices is constantly improving with fitness apps such as Misfit turning the device into an exercise tracker at no extra cost.

While the app store may be modest in comparison to smartphone app stores, its focused approach means that the device works to its strengths well. The store is growing by the day, so watch this space (Ha.)

The device links to your handset’s Bluetooth, making reading texts, emails and even controlling your phone’s music a breeze.

The recently launched Pebble Steel is sturdy and sleek, but its plastic counterpart, identical in functionality, is retailing for half the price, making it the best smartwatch for those on a budget.

c) Relax – it’s all in hand
Nintendo’s new 3DS and 3DS XL
Price: New 3DS not yet announced; 2DS – £99;
Release date for new versions: Exp. Q1 2015

Handheld fans rejoice! In the first quarter of 2015, Nintendo are rumoured to be releasing revamped versions of both the Nintendo 3DS and XL, with a gauntlet of improvements that are sure to convince many to hop on to the system.

It has been selling incredibly well in its native Japan, and will be heading to Austrailia in November.

The new finely tuned models feature additional controls such as a second thumb stick and a home button, an improved screen and CPU, better battery life, and built-in support for Nintendo’s amiibo range.

Those who have tested the system thus far such as IGN’s Brian Altano have been blown away by the revisions.

The new systems come in a gorgeous range of pastel colours. I’m not kidding. These systems look delicious.

If you can’t handle the wait, a more affordable version of the current system is available now at a bargain price of £99, and given the impressive list of games available, including the soon to be released Super Smash Bros, it could be the perfect time to purchase.

d) A sound investment:
Betron B750s Earphones
Price: £10 now on Amazon
Available now in red

These bass heavy earphones were released at the start of the year, but they still hold up as the best budget pair of running headphones around.

Betron take a no frills approach with the B750s and their simple design, which focuses on sound quality and ease of use over complicating the design with gimmicks. The Betrons are surprisingly comfortable to use and won’t fall out during a long run. Sound quality is equally surprising given the low cost.

Of course, it doesn’t sound perfect, but the quality surpasses many other budget pairs out there and as a pair of fitness headphones, they work very well. I have particularly huge lobes, and the Betrons fit in snuggly.

Admittedly, they look rather cheap, but that’s because they are, and the secure, sturdy feel to them is enough to forgive the tacky aesthetic.

If you’re looking for a cheap, simple pair of in-ear headphones with a nice amount of oomf, the Betrons are a worthy contender.

e) Did you say Lego?
LEGO Builder Case for iPad mini
Price: £44.95
Available now in: Red, Green, Yellow

There are countless iPad cases out there and admittedly, it’s not hard to find ones cheaper and more practical than this one.

But come on. You can build things out of Lego on your iPad.

There’s not much more to say to be honest.

F) Let’s juice this puppy up
Lumsing 10400mAh Power Bank
Price: £17.99 on Amazon Out: Now
Available in: Black, White

There are so many external battery packs available, but none quite as impressive as the Lumsing Power Bank.

This is a must-have for festival goers, campers, or anyone else who requires a few days’ worth of juice whilst they’re away from the mains.

And at £17.99 on Amazon, it’s a bargain. A soft protective case is supplied and its brushed metal effect means that it looks surprisingly good for such a low prize, feeling sturdy and secure.

The company boasts up to 3-4 charges of an iphone, giving impressive longevity on a trip. This number could extend to 6-8 charges for devices of a lower capacity.

The Lumsing has two USB outputs, meaning two devices can be charged simultaneously, so no fight should break out over who’s hogging all the juice. The Power Bank can charge phones, cameras, tablets, and weapons of mass destruction, if you’re into that.

g) Band’s wear it’s at
Razer Nabu
Price: Est. £50.00
Out: Est. Q4 2014
Available in: Black, Green, Orange, White

Razer’s Nabu could be set to change the way people view wearable tech.

Smartbands and smartwatches have often been looked at as clunky, niche pieces of tech, but the Nabu’s simple, streamlined approach aims to be the perfect marriage of elegance and functionality.

The band comes with all the call, text, email and social media functions you would expect, but the discreet design makes for a gadget that’s far more practical than the watches that have come before it.

The band vibrates whenever a notification comes through from a compatible iOS or Android device.

On the underside is a private message screen designed in monochrome, giving the device an unobtrusive feel.

Nabu also uses built-in accelerometer and altimeter to track fitness goals.

The Nabu boasts an impressive battery life of seven days, meaning that its aim of being a life accessory may well be fulfilled.

The band is hoping to release by the end of the year.

h) Image conscious
Polaroid Socialmatic Camera
Price: £196
Out: End of 2014
Available in: Black, White

Thanks to the success of Fujifilm’s INSTAX camera, as well as the retro aesthetic of Instagram, Polaroid cameras have seen a resurgence in popularity over the past few years, and with good reason.

Instant cameras have a sentimental charm that snap happy young people everywhere have been falling in love with.

Now, Polaroid are bringing this retro trend into the digital age with their promising Socialmatic Camera which has a focus on social media and sharability.

The camera runs on Android, and snaps can be shared through Instagram and edited on the fly before printing off a copy to keep for yourself.

The camera houses a Zink Instant Printer, as well as sporting both a 14 megapixal sensor and a rear facing 2 megapixel cam for the selfie-loving masses. It comes in black or white, with adorable customisable covers available from the site.

It’s a hipster’s wet dream.

The Socialmatic may be a bit pricey, but its expansive features could make it a must-buy for those with a shutter bug when it launches at the end of the year.


i) Game on boys

PS4 Price: £349
Available in: Black, White

The PS4 has been marketed as the gamer’s console and there certainly are some terrific games to play on it.

Sadly, as many first year cycles go for consoles, there really aren’t that many must-play titles out just yet.

But there will be.

The Playstation’s core strength has always been its impressive roster of first party exclusives.

The likes of Studio Japan, Team ICO, Studio Santa Monica and Naughty Dog giving gamers some of the downright best games ever made, such as Shadow of the Colossus, Dark Souls, God of War, Uncharted 2, and The Last of Us.

The list is impressive, and will put many gamers at ease that Sony will deliver on its promise into next year.

As well as this, Sony’s PS Plus subscription has been impressing players since day one, with bonuses and complimentary content including full length games more than justifying the admission fee.

For now though, we’d recommend waiting until January, when the rumours of a price drop for the system may come into fruition.

j) A stream come true for your TV
Chromecast
Price: £30
Out Now

Why spend around £100 for streaming services like Apple TV when you could pay £30 for a magic internet stick that could solve all your TV streaming problems?

That’s where Chromecast comes in.

Chromecast acts as a cheap media streaming adapter that turns any HDMI-equipped television into an app-driven smart TV when paired with a device such as a phone, tablet or computer.

The service is Google’s answer to revolutionary services such as Apple TV, or Roku 3 which stream digital content through TV with ease.

Yet, the simplicity of Chromecast could outdo both these services when it comes to streaming.

Chromecast is a small HDMI dongle that plugs directly into your TV and connects to your Wi-Fi network.

By connecting your handheld devices to Chromecast, you can use them as a remote through streaming sites such as Netflix and BBC iplayer.

We have our fingers crossed for services such as Spotify and Amazon Instant Video to become available, but at £30 – less than a third of an Apple TV – Chromecast is a digital streaming bargain.

It’s the perfect stocking filler for the Telly binger.