IT’S too late now for ordering online in time for Monday, but the shops are still full of last-minute tech with which you can stuff someone’s stocking and which no-one will ever suspect was only an afterthought.
Here is a handful of small items you can carry home today…
Touch-sensitive gloves. Now available at department stores and market stalls alike, these gloves have the properties you would expect from haberdashery, minus the requirement to take them off while using a phone. The fingers are reinforced with a grid of electrical conductors woven into the yarn - a much more satisfactory arrangement than mittens with the tips cut off. Lots of styles and sizes are out there, for men and women.
Bluetooth speakers. Anyone who uses a phone or tablet to play music, even if just occasionally, can make use of one of these devices, whose purpose is to replace the tiny and tinny built-in speaker with a louder and beefier one. The shelves are littered with these, and there are models in all sizes, shapes and colours. Most are rechargeable via a USB socket, and virtually any phone or laptop will be compatible.
Virtual assistants. A year ago, hardly anyone had heard of devices like the Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot, but now they’re in all the shops. They will work in any home with wifi and a smartphone and can be made to control other smart devices - central heating thermostats, light switches, and so on - that you may want to add in the future. They are activated by voice commands, so you will, if nothing else, be giving a present that’s literally a talking point this Christmas.
USB hubs. Almost everyone these days has a slew of devices in the home that need charging daily, and there never seem to be enough cables in the right places. USB hubs, which you will find in all the big electrical stores and larger supermarkets, don’t add functionality but they do offer the convenience of a central charging point into which you can plug half a dozen or so phones, tablets, cameras and whatnot, all at the same time.
Portable chargers. A boon for any teenager or anyone else who spends their day with a handset glued to their ear, these pocket-size units will bring a flat phone back to life when there is no mains socket nearby. You charge them up in advance and they will, depending on capacity, top up a phone up to three times. They’re particularly good to take on camping trips.
Streaming boxes. Christmas is a time for watching TV, and one of these devices increases your choice many times over. Roku boxes are readily available on the high street and add Netflix, the BBC iPlayer and much else to any TV that doesn’t already have them. Netflix needs a subscription, but the iPlayer doesn’t. Now TV boxes, a cut-down version of Sky TV, are also in big supermarkets and include a trial subscription.
Gift vouchers. It’s code for “I couldn’t think of what to get you”, but many people do appreciate these tokens, which can be exchanged these days for everything from apps and games to purchases on Amazon. You will find dozens near the checkouts at many supermarkets - but find out first whether your intended recipient is an Apple or Google Play user.
Enjoy your Christmas. I hope you can spend it in the now traditional manner of eating, drinking and setting up everyone else’s new gadgets.