Even for online shoppers, the holiday season can spell crippling repetitive strain injury thanks to clicking through endless webpages. Which is why, in addition to our usual tech rundown, we’ve also handpicked some of our favourite Yuletide goodies
There has been a lot of attention paid to devices treading the boundary between tablets and smartphones lately. However, a less frequently addressed gap in the market is that twixt tablet and laptop. The Microsoft Surface boldly roams into this territory and actually does a pretty good job of planting its flag. While it shares no compatibility with Windows 7 software, meaning you’ll be buying apps afresh, it has an impressive design and its Touch Cover keyboard is a rather novel solution to the issue of bulky tablet peripherals.
The product of 17-year-old Londoner Nick D’Aloisio and coded from his bedroom, Summly is an excellent example of British technological entrepreneurialism. It’s a rather pretty news aggregator with a difference: its algorithm summarises the day’s most important news stories and provides beautifully presented précis for your delectation. The number of stories trawled thus far is relatively limited, but support from influential backers such as Ashton Kutcher and Stephen Fry means Summly is an app with a rather bright future.
Managing the leave of your whole team can be something of a headache. Well, think of Timetastic as your dose of aspirin. Enabling your staff to submit leave requests digitally by simply plugging their chosen dates into a calendar, Timetastic simply sends you an email notification when a leave request has been made. You can view the holiday year, see where others have already booked leave and issue responses direct to staff from the comfort of your desk. Who said line management ain’t no holiday?
In theory, using your calendar helps you to better plan the weeks ahead. But, in practice, things fall through the cracks: you know you have a call with someone but don’t have their number. Or your meeting is clearly labelled but you’re completely lacking the figures you’re supposed to discuss. Cue takes some grout to traditional organiser software, trawling your calendars, social networks and file storage to make sure your daily schedule keeps you in touch with everything you need. Take that, Filofax.
For a true audiophile, you can’t go wrong with Sennheiser. Its products are invariably high quality and rarely ever disappoint, giving listeners a clean but rich sound experience. So how do you improve on a great catalogue? Deliver something like Momentum – a set of on-ear headphones, which, as well as sounding great, look absolutely stunning. Due to make quite a few music lovers happy this Christmas.
Sphero may have passed you by. If you’ve been entombed in liquid carbonite. Otherwise, you’ll already be intimately familiar with the smartphone-controlled rolling robot that has to be one of the year’s most desirable gadgets. Whether treating it like an über-serious (albeit cute) espionage-bot with its built-in camera or a spherical augmented-reality pawn in the packaged smartphone games, Sphero is one of the hottest toys available and the only toy in stores this year to be endorsed (sort of) by the President of the United States.
The product of Berlin-based former carpenter Matthias Kothe, the minikomat is an excellent way to present your most treasured memories. Anything can be placed between its plexiglass panels and backlit by the device, whether it be a favourite photograph, a scrap of a song lyric or anything else that takes your fancy. And its minimalist and modern style means it is perfectly at home as a part of the chicest décor.
One of the great things about tablets is that they put creativity back in the hands of the user. But finger painting gets old pretty quick, which is why the Nomad Brush is a great gift for any art lover – and handily comes in both adult and kids versions (pictured). Its conductive bristles make for a realistic painting experience on your tablet, allowing you to get a much wider variety of effects out of your software. Your loved one will be producing like a digital Degas before you know it.