Top tech gifts for Christmas
Livewire's Katie Cincotta previews the coolest tech toys that made her Christmas wishlist.
Slay the technocrats of the family with these high-tech, up-to-the-minute gift ideas.
Oprah Winfrey is not the only one with a few ''favourite things''. Livewire's Christmas wish list showcases some of the hottest, coolest and newest tech toys to covet this festive season - perfect for last-minute gift ideas.
The hi-fi might just be dead. It's definitely looking antiquated next to wireless music players such as the Libratone Zipp. The name may be a mouthful, but you won't forget the wine-cooler styling and amazing clarity of the Danish design winner, which comes with interchangeable felt covers for yarn-bomb cool. All you need is an Apple device to get the party started, or an app such as Twonky Beam for Android. Sync up with your wi-fi and you can move around the house, backyard or the beach. Just be aware you need solid broadband if you're streaming from services such as MOG.
Yes, people will snigger like Beavis and Butthead, but it's a definite conversation starter.
Sad to admit, but I've never had a pair of ear buds fit my pygmy ears properly. On first trial, the Yurbuds seemed hopeless too, but after several wears they moulded perfectly and I was able to exercise with them firmly in place. Designed by a marathon runner, they're the buds you want if you're on the move, and the tangle-free woven cord ups the klutz-proof protection.
Magellan Switch Up
It's ridiculously huge, which might put off some, but how else could you fit so much technology into this crossover sports watch? Magellan's Switch Up packs in a GPS, heart-rate monitor and a choice of nine activity profiles, including running, cycling and swimming, to customise your workout stats. The top flips off completely to load your data via a USB port. Indoors, the watch will prompt you to turn off the GPS signal, then set it to your own custom profile to track your workout at the gym.
Dyson Digital Slim
Inventor James Dyson says his greatest achievement is a product that makes men want to vacuum. Both males in our household declared the digital wand a ''Star Wars weapon'' and took to the floors with gusto, impressed by the powerful suction on the hand-held stick and its rotating ball head. You can balance the shiny violet rod from floor to ceiling, with 20 minutes of full-force suction.
On the case
The Shuky Par Avion in Harris Tweed, designed in Melbourne, is a zip-free design that fits all iPads. STM has caught the pop-art craze with a digital cargo range made from easy-grip hard shell with a kickstand. Pong Research has been on the case with a cover that houses a unique coupled antenna system to reduce electromagnetic radiation exposure. For those who like a lager, the Opena beer bottle phone case offers the pick-up line: ''Can I pop that top for you?''
This bathroom clock-radio shaped like a shampoo bottle is bursting with kitsch charm. The AM/FM shower buddy is splash proof, but not waterproof, so don't hold it like a microphone under the running water for your morning karaoke session.
Shoot and run
Adventure cameras are becoming a must-have tech tool for fitness freaks. Whether you ride, surf, run or climb mountains, the footage you can now shoot from your helmet, wrist or vehicle or bike mount lets you relive the adrenalin high. Go Pro Hero 3 has a worthy nemesis in the ContourRoam2. High-definition footage is in stunning 1080p and makes for action at any angle. The chest-mountable Go Pro Hero 3 might have the edge for flexibility, but for the average punter the ContourRoam2 is cheaper, easier to set up and use, and has the Get Smart gadget factor.
The Nescafe Dolce Gusto Circolo looks like a spaceship, but its real claim to fame is it makes both hot and cold beverages such as peach iced tea. ''Dolce'' means ''sweet'' in Italian and these flavours are American-style, which might annoy the purists. The Dolce Gusto uses ready-mix capsules rather than a milk frother for lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolate. For more traditional home brews, there's the Electrolux A Modo Mio, the Volvo of coffee machines - a minimalist design with capsules from Lavazza, and an easy flip action to insert the pod.
Tardis Smart Safe
Not just any smartphone-operated safe, this is a Doctor Who Tardis that opens its door to your secret possessions with a dramatic whirring of sound and light effects. Search Dr181 to download the free app, then set a four-digit code and place the smartphone in the top of the police box to unlock the safe. Fast fact: 11 actors played the time lord doctor (but I vote Tom Baker as the best).
The more I think about the crudely named Fanny Wang headphones, the more I think it is pure marketing genius. Yes, people will snigger like Beavis and Butthead, but it's a definite conversation starter and that's what brand buzz is all about. The slick design and sound on these Californian cans is nothing to be ashamed of. Even at full bore, there's little noise leakage on the top-range noise-cancelling model, which means you can get your Wang out on the train without being a nuisance.
It looks like a pirate's spyglass, a torch or a laser, but it's actually the world's first truly 3D camera to create living images online. Ren Ng spent eight years designing this remarkable camera that lets in every light source. The 8X optical zoom with a constant f2 aperture isn't revolutionary, but the light field engine, which processes 11 million light rays, allows you to tap anywhere on the image to refocus, which is extraordinary. It might be counter-intuitive, but shots don't need to be in focus; once you download your image and start changing the point of view, your perspective shifts - literally.
A sturdy holder for your iPhone, which also doubles as a phone cover and wall mount, this invention by Melbourne's Rob Ward and Chris Peters was funded through Kickstarter.com to help cyclists navigate and communicate without having to ferret the phone out of the backpack. Quad Lock lets you track your stats and route with turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone 5, tilting the map as you ride. Just clip it out for calls or photographs, and click back in again.
The hottest kids' game of the season features these illuminated little sky dwellers who activate on the screen once you place them on the Portal of Power. The creative adventure game, which is the sequel to 2011's hit Skylanders Spyro's Adventures, has plenty of puzzles, reading and strategy to make players think, but the downside is the up-sell to keep collecting more characters as you progress through the levels.
If you don't turn off global roaming on your smartphone when you travel overseas, you're in for a nasty surprise. Some bills can rack up into the thousands of dollars. The alternative is using a travel SIM card, which you set up before you leave. It's a practical gift idea for travel-happy parents relying on Gen X and Y tech savvy to guide them into the digital age.
Which one will make it to your Christmas gift list?