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Added by: Rich Goodman
Added on: 10/12/2010 16:23
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    A brief Christmas gift guide

    Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, and if you've not had a chance to go out and buy your Xmas presents, here's a quick last minute guide of some of the best things that I've looked at this year. Full reviews for most items can be found elsewhere on the site.

    Let's start with shiny gadgets.

    And we'll start with the obivous iPad. All the Apple fanboys out there will already have one of these by now, but what are they like?

    I've had once since April (and no I'm not a fanboy, I'm a lucky man who won one at a conference). Yes that's pretty lucky, but the last time I won something was a DVD from a Reviewer competition in the days before I wrote for the site!

    I could probably have sold it to some slavering nutter for loads of money on eBay but I decided to keep it and see how useful it would be. It's great as a garden web surfing gadget, useful on the train, or if you just want access to a browser/e-mail when you're away somewhere (provided there's WiFi - unless you go for the more expensive 3G model).

    And it makes a great little video player. We've spent many weekends in a camper van this summer, and it's been great for watching films on.

    There are plenty of good free apps out there too, so there's a lot of stuff to keep you entertained. And it's a head turner too - lots of people will come up to you and want to have a play or ask you about it. There are alternatives out there, but I've not played with any of them at the moment, so I can only report back on a positive iPad experience. If you need to run certain applications, it won't replace a laptop or netbook, but as a "browsing tablet/video/audio player" it's great. Just a shame it's so expensive. That's Apple for you!

    If you know someone with an iPad, then they'll need something to protect it. The Proporta Recycled Leather Case is one such thing, and like its sibling the Proporta Smart Hessian Pouch (for iPhones), it has very strong green credentials - so as well as protecting your shiny, you're protecting the environment.

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    If you want something else to protect your iPhone, how about the Cygnett Splash, which clips round your iPhone to protect the case. And when people look at it they think that the false plastic water droplets are real, and express concern for your phone.

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    Staying with gadgets, how about something to help with navigation? The TomTom XL IQ Routes edition 2 (successor to last year's XL IQ Routes) will help you to drive from A to B without a diversion to C. It's not a replacement for having a bit of an idea about where you're going, some basic map reading skills, and a vague sense of where places are. But it's pretty close. If you often find yourself going off to different places that you're not familiar with, you'll really benefit from one of these, particularly if you travel alone. It should get you there on time with a minimum amount of stress. It's easy to use. And you can customise it as much or as little as you like.

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    For those of you who want navigation help when on foot, how about the Memory Map Adventurer 2800, its larger cousin the Memory Map Adventurer 3500 or the Garmin GPSMAP 62?

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    If you (or your gift recipient) already has Memory Map mapping, then the Memory Map GPS is the way to go as you can use your existing mapping. If you don't have any existing mapping, then the Garmin is well worth considering as you can get some good mapping bundles thrown in with it.

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    And to keep your gadgets charged up when on the move, how about the FreeLoader Pro Solar Charger? I always keep one in my rucksack. The most obvious application is for outdoors/camping types who spend time out in fields away from electricity, or who go on long walks and want to recharge their GPS/phone/MP3 player/whatever whilst out. And providing the weather is ok, you can then recharge your charger whilst you're out and about. It would also be great for foreign travel if you're concerned about access to the right kinds of power source when you're away.

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    It's not all that heavy so it won't weigh down your rucksack or hand luggage, and it's pretty easy to attach it to a rucksack or similar in order to charge it whilst you're on the move.

    The Varta V-Man Powerpack is a similar gadget, but can only be charged up from the mains supply.

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    If you want to make some noise, how about the Edifier Prisma speakers or the Edifier E-3350 speakers? Some of the best computer speakers around right now, and reasonably priced too.

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    Speaking of noise, how about some new headphones? The Noise Abatement Society have launched a range of safe, interactive stereo earphones, called AirDrives as part of its 'Love Your Ears' campaign. The AirDrives earphones are designed to help people listen safely to their MP3 players (and other audio devices) by protecting the eardrum from harmful levels of music as they sit outside of the ear. The earphones also allow wearers to hear ambient noise, enabling them to hear potentially important noises such as approaching cars or people.

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    What about those of you with an artistic eye? What about a digital camera? The Ricoh CX4 is the very latest in the Ricoh CX series, and the best one yet. Building on features from the previous three cameras in the range, it has new features such as a new "subject-tracking AF" autofocus system that automatically tracks your subject, a "night landscape multi-shot mode" that combines four exposures into a single photograph for reduced image noise, and a "creative shooting mode" that brings out the artist in everyone with soft focus, cross process, and toy camera effects.

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    It has 10 megapixels and a 10.7x optical zoom (28-300 mm).

    Moving on to DVDs, and a few of my favourites this year. One Night in Turin tells the story of England at the 1990 World Cup. Great for anyone who lived it, and it brings back so many memories.

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    Not Going Out Series 3 is another of my favourites - an old fashioned sitcom that's just plain funny.

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    Stewart Lee's If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One captures his stand up show from earlier this year, which was one of my live highlights of the year.

    And finally, Richard Herring's Hitler Moustache is another one of the best stand up comedy DVDs this year.
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    PS Looking for something a bit different? How about some iMinds MP3s?

    iMinds launched one year ago to consumer and industry acclaim producing short-form digital content across non-fiction categories. The reality of having a broad base of general knowledge is all but lost in our modern lifestyles, but the advantage of knowing a little about everything is can make us more competent at applying specialised knowledge and in becoming more satisfied with our lives outside work.

    iMinds offers a "short learning experience" presenting engaging and factually accurate 8 minute information snippets for the consumer. The perfect solution for the tech-savvy and time-poor, iMinds offers clean and concise knowledge grabs with engaging background music across a range of 12 main categories such as History, Mystery & Conspiracy, Politics Law & Business, The Arts and Science & Nature.

    iMinds audio has secured over 130 chart positions in iTunes Music Stores globally including Top 10 results in countries such as the USA, UK, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and Australia. Named as one of the 25 Best Travel Gadgets of 2009 by Time Magazine and receiving features in the Financial Times, US Vogue, LA Times, Wired, Mashable and TechCrunch to name but a few.

    Available through the Kindle Store, iTunes, Audible, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble and now available on the iPad, the iMinds catalogue has been met with industry wide enthusiasm.

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