Wireless Technologies

Secret Santa: Festive gadgetry ideas

It’s that time of year again. If you make your own Christmas cake, you’ve probably done so; you might’ve picked up a few presents for close friends and immediate family and maybe have a vague idea of what to get Great Aunt Maud; maybe you’ve bought your Christmas cards, even if you haven’t written them yet (if you have, well done); you might even have sorted out your outfit for the Christmas party, but then someone in the office says, “Are we doing Secret Santa this year?” Names are written on slips of paper, a dusty Santa hat is pulled from the back of a cupboard, you reach your hand in, pull out a folded scrap of paper, open it… and your heart sinks: What on earth do you buy?

Well, we’ve done the research for you this year. Here’s ten things you could buy your Secret Santa this Christmas, ranging in price from £10 to £100+ depending on your budget…

 

Thermos Hydration Bottle with Meter

RRP: £12.95 (or £9.99 on Amazon) / $8

thermos

  • Made from BPA free, impact resistant & dishwasher safe Eastman Tritan™ copolyester
  • Lid with one-handed push button operation
  • Rotating meter lets you monitor your daily water consumption
  • Flip up carrying loop

What did we think?
This is a nice idea for the colleague who obsesses over drinking their prescribed two litres of water a day. Comes in a range of colours and is BPS free. The push-button lid can indeed be operated one-handed and the loop is handy to attach to a bag/belt (you’ll need a clip though). The ‘rotating meter’ is essentially a twisting section on the lid that allows you to check off how many bottles you’ve drunk. Most importantly, it doesn’t leak.

 

Wraps wearable earphones

RRP: £14.99-£50 / $28-42

wraps

  • Earphones you can wear in your ears or on your wrist!
  • Lightweight alloy heads
  • Unique patented slider system keeps heads, slider and jack plug all connected together
  • Cables remain tangle free
  • New ‘Talk’ range feature a universal one button microphone: you can answer a call, play or pause your music and skip tracks
  • Compatible with all smartphones and tablets

What did we think?
For the colleague who is always losing their earphones, these are great. They come in a variety of colours and designs – we tested the premium wood beads which looks great as either earphones or worn on the wrist. The Wraps have a ‘patented locking system’ which does actually keep the earphones where they’re supposed to be, and they’re actually a really comfortable set with decent sound. There is also a range that come with a microphone should your budget allow, which are compatible with all smartphones and tablets.

 

X-LOLI (Personalised mobile phone power bank)

RRP: £16.99 / $12-15

xloli

  • Personalisable
  • 2800mAh li-polymer battery
  • Built-in USB charging plug means no cables required to charge it
  • Charges any smartphone


What did we think?
Power banks are really a must-have these days given the limited battery life of smartphones, making it a suitable (and actually useful) gift for anyone. The X-LOLI is fairly standard, but with the added benefits of no cable needed to charge it – it has a little flip up USB plug built in – and you can personalise it with your own photos/images. Time to get out the embarrassing photos from last year’s Christmas party…

 

Rubik’s Spark

RRP: 19.99 / $35

rubiks

  • New twist on classic Rubik’s Cube
  • Solo or multiplayer play
  • 6 game modes
  • Multiple difficulty levels


What did we think?
The Rubik’s Spark is really quite far removed from its predecessor – for a start, you don’t twist the squares, they light up individually with LEDs. It’s the same size as the original, but the Rubik’s Spark has six different games, including solo or multiplayer, and is played by rotating the cube using ‘bubble control’. Games include, lighting up certain squares (nice and simple), and following a path (trickier). Ultimately it’s good fun, though it’s not a Rubik’s Cube as we know and ‘love’ it. Still, it’s an interesting take on a classic and would suit even the most difficult of colleagues.

 

Jamoji Bluetooth speaker

RRP: £19.99 / $20

jamoji

  • Bluetooth - wireless up to 10 m
  • Rechargeable - up to 6 hours of play time from single charge
  • Speakerphone for answering calls directly from speaker
  • Integrated stand
  • Aux-in for connecting non-Bluetooth devices

What did we think?
Available in a variety of emoji designs, the Jamoji Bluetooth speaker is a bit of fun. The Bluetooth works up to 10m, which is reasonable, and the battery lasts for around five to six hours before needing to be charged. Also, if a call should come in while you’re listening to the Fairytale of New York, then there’s speakerphone for answering the call direct from the speaker. Also, should you happen to have a crush on your Secret Santa, there is a Heart Eyes Emoji version available. (There’s also a ‘Chocolate Swirl’, as Amazon describes it, for anyone you’re less enamoured with.)

 

Winch transporter helicopter

RRP: £24.99 / $30

heli

  • Winch raises and lowers (with or without basket) via controller
  • Can carry up to 10g of cargo
  • Charges via controller
  • 45-minute charge for 12 minutes of flight
  • Tri-Band shifting frequencies

What did we think?
We had great fun with this. Although sadly we still haven’t been able to safely transport anything from A to B due to the *very* sensitive controls. Still, much fun was had in the office on a Friday afternoon crashing a helicopter into the floor, ceiling, desk, window etc. You don’t get a lot of flying time for your charge, but then, you are supposed to be working, so 12 minutes is probably sufficient break time. Really you could buy this for anyone – from the paper-clip counting intern (the basket can carry up to 10g of them) to the President (it’ll remind them of their carefree days).

 

DIY Thirsty Plant Kit

£25-£35 / $30-38

thirsty-plant-kit

 

  • Build your own solar-powered moisture sensor
  • Powered with solar energy
  • Works with Arduinos - online resources offer further customisation options


What did we think?
Office plants keep dying? Got a colleague who’s really not green-fingered? Secret Santa sorted. This ‘Thirsty Plant Kit’ is one of many DIY techie kits available, and was good fun to put together. Took just under an hour to complete and resulted in a handy solar-powered sensor to let us know the moisture level of the plant in question. The nice thing about this is the additional options available online – resources include using an Arduino to get your plant to tweet you when it is thirsty and making an automatic watering device - water bomb - for your Thirsty Plant.

 

Tile Slim

RRP: £30 / $25

slim

  • Locate lost items by sound (when close) or see location on map
  • Runs for a full year with no charging or battery replacement
  • ‘Find your phone’ feature
  • Compatible with iOS and Android
  • Customise your ring with four preset tunes
  • Bluetooth range up to 100 ft.
  • Water resistant up to IP5 standards

What did we think?
The Tile Slim is the modern take on the keyring that responds to a whistle. Only better. Very slim design (only slightly thicker than a credit card but smaller), you can attach a Tile to any item and locate it using your phone – tap the button in the app and your Tile will ring with one of four tunes. And it works the other way too – if you can’t find your phone, press Tile and your phone rings (even if it’s on silent). Perfect for your more forgetful colleagues.

 

Handpresso Pump

RRP: £88 / $95

handpresso

  • Portable premium quality espresso machine
  • Compatible with either ground coffee or ESE pods
  • Eco-friendly, manual, simple, lightweight, stylish & compact
  • 50ml reservoir
  • Size: 22 x 10 x 7 cm

What did we think?
Probably our favourite on the list, but at the higher end of the budget, the Handpresso Pump is perfect for all the coffee-lovers out there as it’s literally coffee on the go, anywhere. It works with ESE pods or ground coffee, all you need to do is add hot water, press the release button, and you have instant espresso. Probably out of the usual Secret Santa price range, this would be good if you needed to suck up to your coffee-loving boss, or if you do a group Secret Santa. There’s various options available, including some that come with carry cases, espresso glasses, coffee grinders, and even a car version powered by your vehicle’s 12V cigarette lighter – meaning you don’t need hot water.

 

datAshur Pro

RRP: £69.00–£134.00 / $70+

datashur

  • USB 3.0 Flash Drive with capacities up to 64GB
  • FIPS 140-2 Level3 validated – Cert. No. 2688
  • CESG CPA / NLNCSA – certifications pending
  • FIPS PUB 197 certified
  • IP57 certified – water/dust resistant
  • Bootable drive
  • AES 256- bit hardware encryption – no software required
  • OS & Platform independent

What did we think?
Again, outside of the usual Secret Santa budget, but perfect for the security-conscious CEO, the datAshur Pro claims to be “the world’s most secure, easy to use and affordable USB 3.0 flash drive”. It has PIN code access with military grade XTS-AES 256-bit hardware encryption, and a rechargeable battery. Data in encrypted in real-time with the built-in hardware encryption engine, and you’re even protected if it’s lost or stolen as it automatically locks when it’s unplugged from the host, when power is turned off, or after a predetermined amount of time. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Android, Thin Clients and embedded systems, and the aluminium housing is certified to IP57 rating, making it dust and water resistant. Oh, and you can get it engraved ☺

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Kate Hoy

Kate Hoy is Associate Editor at IDG Connect

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