CHRISTMAS is nearly upon us, so it’s high time to sort out those gifts.
Should you splash out on that perfect TV? After all, you’ll get the benefit of watching it alongside whoever’s name is on the wrapping paper.
Perhaps it’s time to request new headphones. Your current ones may have had more use than ever before if you’ve been working from home.
The smart home is getting more advanced all the time, and there are now very cool and increasingly affordable smart speakers, cameras and lights.
I’ve found choices for all budgets and every member of the family.
Oh, and next week, I’ll be looking at gadgets you can take with you on the go, plus great stocking fillers.
Philips Hue Go
£69.99 from philips-hue.com
WHEN it comes to smart lighting, you can’t beat Philips Hue. Easy to set up, with useful apps to work them and lights like this handy portable number.
There are so many different colours that it’s perfect for any ambience. Add a Hue Bridge for even more capabilities.
Amazon Echo Show 5
£79.99 from amazon.co.uk
A GREAT speaker for anywhere with decent sound, but it’s ideal for the bedroom – it would work as a great alarm clock, for instance.
You can play the radio or wake to a chosen song. Worried about privacy? There’s a physical lens cover that slides across and cuts the power to the microphone.
Nest Cam indoor
£89.99 from store.google.com
THE latest Nest camera is very good value and looks super-cute. It turns off automatically when you walk into the house, and sets itself on when you leave.
It’ll alert you when it sees something. The cam records three hours of footage but a Nest Aware subscription saves up to 60 days.
Ring Video Doorbell
From £49 at amazon.co.uk
THERE is a range of video doorbells from Ring (part of Amazon) and all offer brilliant convenience.
You need never miss a delivery again, as you can talk to the person at the door though the speaker.
The doorbell is easy to use and it even has decent night vision so you can see who’s outdoors in the dark.
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Victrola Eastwood compact turntable
£99 at Amazon or Currys (in store)
WHAT if your music isn’t digital? All those beautiful vinyl discs in the attic can be played again on this compact, affordable turntable from Victrola, a name that has been with us since 1906.
It has built-in speakers but you can Bluetooth the audio to a separate speaker.
Apple HomePod mini
£99 from apple.com/uk
THE tiny smart speaker from Apple sounds fantastic, and like its rivals it can tell you the weather or a joke as well as play music.
It streams music from Apple Music. To play tunes from your iPhone, just tap the speaker with the handset.
Now available in five colours, including a very cool yellow.
LIGHTWEIGHT and a pleasure to wear, these wireless over-ears have incredible battery life: 60 hours.
The sound is tremendous and they are also very good for phone calls thanks to a quality microphone.
Nothing ear (1)
£99 from nothing.tech
THESE attractive earbuds have been updated with a new black version. But it’s the sound quality you’ll buy them for.
There’s great noise-cancelling for far less money than you might expect.
Ruark Audio R1 Mk 4 radio
£239 from John Lewis
RUARK’S radios sound stunning, and this latest model looks the business too, with an elegant wooden grille on the front and amazing build quality.
Choose from light cream and espresso colour finishes.
£169 from apple.com/uk
THE latest AirPods have taken a big step up from the previous version, including spatial audio compatibility which creates a surround-sound effect.
Battery life is even better than the pricier AirPods Pro, too.
Samsung The Frame TV
From £379 at samsung.com
THIS is a really special TV, designed so it convincingly looks like a painting hung on your wall.
That’s because a special mode kicks in when it’s turned off, with gentle backlight and a huge range of photos and paintings. Custom frames add to the impression.
£179 from sonos.com
AT last, Sonos has made a completely portable speaker.
This has Bluetooth so you can play from any phone, anywhere, but when you walk indoors, it automatically connects to any other Sonos speakers you might have.
It’s tiny but the sound is anything but.
Panasonic DMP-BDT180EB Blu-ray player
£79, John Lewis
STREAMING video is all very well, but what about all those DVDs and Blu-ray discs you have collected over the years?
This highly affordable player is smart enough to upscale whatever it plays to 4K resolution or something close. And it’s small and slim enough to slide under your TV with ease.
Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max
£54.99 from amazon.co.uk
TV streaming boxes don’t come any cleverer than this.
It can control your TV, including volume, and has access to Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and more if you have the right subscription. Alexa is built in, too.
There are also non-4K versions for the likes of your bedroom TV.
Grado Prestige SR80x open-back headphones
£129 from Richer Sounds
IF you don’t like to feel cut off from the world, open-back headphones like these are the answer – and nobody does open headphones better than Grado.
They are comfy and light and have a rich, warm sound.
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