10 best gifts for Christmas 2017

Wish-lists at the ready... It's T3's round-up of the 10 best tech pressies you should ask Santa for this year

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No, honestly, this is a tough job. Think about all the amazing tech that surrounds us now. Drones, epic TVs, high-powered smartphones, stylish cameras and, um, fridges with built-in touchscreen displays… Technology in 2017 is beyond impressive, which makes our annual ‘10 best gifts for Christmas 2017’ way harder to compile than usual. 

We hope there’s at least one gift here that ticks all of your festive boxes. If not, between our many 2017 Christmas gift guides you should hopefully find something to add to your wish-list for Santa, or gain ample inspiration for your gadget gift-buying for friends and loved ones. 

All good? Great. So here we go with T3’s pick of the 10 best gifts for Christmas 2017... “Alexa, turn the kettle on.”

Amazon Echo Plus

Take control of your smart home this Christmas

Reasons to buy
+Integrated Smart Home Hub+Alexa Voice Service+Dolby-powered audio+Free Philips Hue bulb

By now, everyone and their nan either owns an Amazon Echo speaker or is at least aware of what it is, what it does, and how it can order you a pizza while dimming your smart lights for movie night. 

And now, just in time for Christmas, Amazon has released the Echo Plus. It looks fairly similar to the original Echo, but this time it’s designed to sound better and take greater control of your smart home. 

The Echo Plus achieves this via an integrated ZigBee-friendly smart home hub, compatible with Philips, Belkin, Honeywell and other connected home brands. Dolby has done some righteous tweaking on the audio front, and there’s an upward firing 0.8-inch tweeter and enhanced 360-degree sound to bring out the bass in your ‘Barry White Does Christmas’ playlist. 

As with all Echo speakers, the Echo Plus is powered by Alexa Voice Service so you can spend most of the holidays sat on your backside while Alexa does all the smart home housework and festive soiree-scheduling for you.

Sphero R2-D2

Team up with the world’s most famous astromech droid

Reasons to buy
+App-controlled R2-D2+Holographic simulations+Authentic movements+Integrated lights and speaker

BB-8 is cute, sure, but if we’re talking long-term Star Wars droid crushes then you should know that our heart truly belongs to R2-D2. 

Sphero has made some epic moves to dominate your Christmas shopping this year and the company’s new R2-D2 app-controlled droid is one of our favourites from the 2017 line-up. 

Download the Sphero app (iOS, Android) and you can control this beloved astromech droid’s many movements and sounds, including all those little beeps you know and love. 

Switch between bipod and tripod stances, trigger R2’s trademark happy waddle, or program the droid to create captivating holographic simulations so that you can explore the Star Wars galaxy together. Want more? Sit him down to watch any of the Star Wars films and he’ll react in real-time to the movie. Aw!

Google Pixel 2 XL

Capture Christmas with Google’s best phone camera

Reasons to buy
+QHD+ pOLED display+Stunning Portrait Mode+EdgeSense tech+Free Google Home Mini

If your social feeds are peppered with artfully framed and beautifully shot snaps, you might consider asking Santa to elevate your mobile photography further by gifting you a Google Pixel 2 XL; now sporting what many consider to be the world’s best smartphone camera. 

It might be a single-lens affair, but that doesn’t stop the Pixel 2’s camera from capturing glorious photos. At the rear is a 12.2MP lens with f/1.8 aperture, which will bring more light into your dark winter photos, while at the front sits a selfie-ready 8MP camera set to f/2.4. 

The phone’s widened aperture and faster autofocus work together to make this a real treat for mobile photographers. Especially when you start tinkering with the uber-glorious, machine-learning Portrait mode, which simultaneously utilises front and rear cameras to produce the best possible image. Your boxing day turkey buffet shots will look the bomb! Bonus? It’s currently shipping with a free Google Home Mini. 

Apple HomePod

The smart speaker for musos

Reasons to buy
+Seven beam-forming tweeters+True 360-degree audio+Siri ‘musicologist’ feature+Room-sensing tech

If you couldn’t care less about Alexa and instead crave a smart home speaker that’s as mad about music as you are, the in-coming Apple HomePod should have your name scrawled on its glittering gift tag.

Shipping in December, Apple’s new toy is rammed with seven beam-forming tweeters and an upward-firing woofer, designed to project a sound tailored to the size of room it’s placed in. The HomePod utilises room-sensing tech to analyse acoustics in that space, intelligently tuning its output to sound great whether it’s plonked on a bookshelf or sat in the middle of your bedroom.

The HomePod also provides access to Apple Music, with Siri on hand to dig up tracks and riff similar artists at your command, further bolstering your reputation as a true muso. 

Naturally there’s multi-room support (via AirPlay 2), and for an immersive sound experience you can place two HomePod’s in the same room where they’ll automatically detect and balance one another. Ready to rock? Hold your iPhone next to the HomePod to begin the simple set-up. “Siri, play Fairytale of New York.”

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Boost your productivity with Samsung’s fabulous phablet

Reasons to buy
+Big screen, big power+Gorgeous infinity display+Impressive camera+Fast with 6GB of RAM

If your unofficial smartphone motto is ‘go big or go home’, you’ll hit a homerun this Christmas with the Galaxy Note 8. It’s Samsung’s big Note comeback, and it’s stylish as hell with a 6.3-inch Infinity Display boasting a whopping 83 per cent screen-to-body ratio. You did say big, right?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 proves that size really does matter, giving you oodles of screen size upon which to watch videos, play games, work (boring!) and write emails and texts. There’s even an S Pen bundled in to help you tap, flip and scrawl your way through the day.

The camera is stunning, too – take advantage of its dual-lens setup to capture memorable telephoto and bokeh-rich photographs of your friends and family this Christmas.

Microsoft Xbox One X

Gaming just hit a new level

Reasons to buy
+Impressive graphics+4K and HDR support+UHD Blu-Ray player+1TB hard disk

Let’s see if we’ve got this straight... You have a stunning, 4K and HDR-supporting home cinema setup and want a gaming console that can step up to the plate, right? We have three words for you: Xbox One X. 

Microsoft has truly thrown down the gaming gauntlet with its latest console, a small yet beastly machine designed to deliver an epic audio-visual experience for HDR gaming and all those Ultra HD Blu-rays you’ve been eyeing up. 

Millions of HDR-equipped pixels make this an eye-popping affair, and if you team the Xbox One X with a Dolby-equipped soundbar you’ll be so immersed in the play you’ll forget all about watching The Queen’s Speech. Oh well. 

Fitbit Ionic

Personal fitness coaching on your wrist

Reasons to buy
+Multi-sport modes+PurePulse HR tech+Stores 300+ songs+Waterproof to 50m

Helping us all to draw a line under Christmas 2017’s inevitable Toblerone binge is the Fitbit Ionic, a stunning fitness smartwatch with more coaching game than a spandex-clad Mr Motivator.

Getting back into the swing of the gym post-Christmas can be tough, but the Ionic dishes out on-screen guidance throughout your workout (various routines are available via Fitbit’s app) to keep you on track. The 300+ songs you can store on the watch should also keep you pumped. Hey, is that Eye of The Tiger?

The Ionic promises 4 days’ battery life, or 10 hours if you’re blitzing the built-in GPS on a trail run or cycle, with PurePulse continuous heart rate tracking letting you know when you’re in peak fat-burning mode. Speaking of modes, the Ionic is a multi-sport tracking watch and therefore built to monitor a range of fitness activities, from running and swimming to hiking and body-strength training.

Dell XPS 13

Take home the leader of the laptop pack

Reasons to buy
+QHD+ InfinityEdge touch display+Powerful 8th gen processors+SD card slot and USB 3.0+Decent battery life

The daddy of Windows 10 laptops is here to make your working life a breeze. In fact, it’s so powerful and stylish it would be rude not to ask Santa to stick a bow on one for you this Christmas. 

The nigh-on borderless InfinityEdge display somehow squeezes a 13-inch touchscreen display into an 11-inch frame, with a slither of a bezel measuring just 5.2mm. Slim and lightweight, the Dell XPS 13 is perfect for throwing in your bag for working on the go, but of course you can also play on it for up to 22 hours (less if you’re streaming or surfing with Microsoft edge).

That gorgeous UltraSharp QHD+ res screen is the perfect canvas upon which to watch films, immerse yourself in gaming or to edit homespun photos and movies. Because it has wide-viewing of up to 170°, you’ll be able to see the action from most angles.

Thinkware F800 Pro Dash Cam

Get Full HD eyes on the road this winter

Reasons to buy
+1080p front-facing camera+Super Night Vision 2.0+Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS+Lane departure warnings

Dash cams are part and parcel of modern-day driving, keeping us safer and aptly forewarned of impending traffic jams and idiot drivers getting too close. 

Thinkware’s F800 Pro Dash Cam, with its ample safety features and 1080p front-facing camera (plus an optional 1080p rear-facing camera), is the ideal gift for anyone who regularly puts in long hours behind the wheel. 

Thanks to built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, the F800 Pro can automatically send location and status data to your emergency contacts if it detects you’ve been involved in a car accident. The cam also connects to your smartphone, enabling you to check your car’s location in the event that it’s been stolen. 

There’s also geo-fencing tech to alert you if your car goes in or out of a pre-selected area – ideal for when you’re letting others drive your pride and joy and you want to keep tabs on where they’re taking your car.

Sony Bravia A1 OLED HDR 4K Ultra HD TV

Treat yourself to an other-worldly TV experience

Reasons to buy
+Stunning 4K OLED HDR TV+Innovative speaker-screen+Incredible images and colours+Unique photo frame stand
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Christmas is a time for making merry with friends and family, sure, but it’s also a time for gathering in front of the telly to enjoy one (or several) festive editions of your favourite shows and movies. And when it comes to TVs, Sony’s A1 is the screen we’d most love to be watching E.T. on this year.

Just like everyone’s favourite extra-terrestrial, the Sony A1 OLED 4K Ultra HD TV has a picture that’s out of this world. Eight million self-illuminating pixels join the party, serving up a dazzling display that’s second-to-none. Enjoy striking contrasts, rich hues and ultra-deep blacks each time you fire up the A1. 

Thanks to the might of Sony’s X1 Extreme 4K HDR Processor, objects on screen are individually remastered for enhanced balance, texture and depth. Anything you watch on the A1 will sound mega, too – the telly uses Sony’s Acoustic Surface tech, which vibrates the screen, transforming it into a giant speaker. Prepare for total sensory indulgence.