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A Christmas gadget guide

Kevin Courtney takes a look at some under-the-tree and on-the-desk gadgets for the Christmas season and beyond

First, the glad tidings: Christmas is back, and we can all plan our festivities in the knowledge that, barring some horrible new variant of Covid suddenly appearing, there will be no lockdowns or other restrictions to dampen our festive cheer. The bad news, though, is now we’ve got no excuse for not exchanging gifts.

When we couldn’t meet up, that got us off the hook for present-buying, but now people will be expecting the gift-giving to return to normal, and as the Christmas gatherings crank up again, you don’t want to be caught empty-handed, so you’re just going to have to bite the bullet, make a list, and start shopping.

More good news is that there’s no shortage of new techie stuff to stuff into the Christmas stocking. Whether it’s the latest upgrade of your favourite gadget or a device with boffo new features, there’s plenty of tech for under the tree. Just remember, everyone else is having to get out there and buy too, so get your order in early to avoid your loved ones’ disappointment. Here’s our Christmas gadget guide to help you make the right click.

Apple AirPods Pro 2

Apple’s latest upgrade to their game-changing earbuds has been unanimously hailed as the best yoke of 2022, so you can be certain that whoever you buy these for will be so delighted they’ll immediately plug them in their ears and disappear off into their own audio world, which, believe me, is better than everyone else’s. Apple has re-engineered the AirPods with next-level Active Noise Cancellation and Adaptive Transparency, which apparently reduces external noise even more. Then you’ve got Spatial Audio, which will really personalise your sonic experience. Its new H2 chip combined with a custom-built driver and amp delivers stunning, immersive sound, and the boosted battery life means you can pretty much spend most of Christmas day in your happy sonic place.

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GoPro Hero11Black

If you’ve booked a post-Christmas skiing trip for you and your friends, make sure you’ve got the latest edition of the GoPro Hero11 before you go on the piste, just to be sure to capture all the action in super-smooth high-res. Outdoors lovers will generally give the GoPro 10 out of 10, but now it’s gone all the way up to 11, and the stratosphere’s the limit. The GoPro Hero11 has a larger image sensor to capture more of the action, and lets you share vertical shots to social media, so you can leave TikTok breathless with your gravity-defying tricks. Other features include HyperSmooth 5.0, AutoBoost, Horizon Lock and Night Effects, so you’ll get dazzling footage day or night. The GoPro Hero11 Black won’t turn you into a world-class daredevil, but it will take world-beating footage of your best efforts.

Anker Nebula Capsule II

€639 musiker.ie

Imagine being able to set up a home cinema wherever you are, using a device that’s no bigger than a can of beer. That device is the Capsule II, and it can project onto a wall, partition, screen or other flat surface for instant cinema ambience. It’s got Android TV and wifi built in, so you can stream the latest Netflix or Prime Video series, or watch your favourite YouTube videos, projected up to 100in screen dimensions. So, you could be sitting around on the patio, watching your holiday videos projected on to the wall of the house. Or turn the children’s playroom into a home cinema by throwing in a few beanbags, handing out the tub of homemade popcorn, and projecting the latest Minions movie in large-scale format. Because the Capsule is so portable, you can bring it with you to the campsite or beach and get the party going. The Capsule is also a Bluetooth speaker, so puts out good sound, and if you have the patience, wait for the arrival of the new Capsule 3 Laser, which promises even sharper projection even when there’s a lot of ambient light about.

Backbone One gaming controller

€119.99 https://playbackbone.com/ie/

You know that feeling. You want to kick back and play a game of Sea of Thieves or God of War, but the children have commandeered all the Nintendo Switches in the house. No problem — just turn your mobile phone into a portable gaming console with the Backbone One, and you won’t have to wait your turn to get gaming. Simply snap your phone into the Backbone One and the left and right-hand controllers take over the job. You can choose either an Android or iOS compatible console, and you have the range of XBox and PlayStation games to choose from — all you need is a game pass and a decent internet connection to play your favourite games with low latency and very responsive gaming.

Meta Quest 2 VR headset

€449 smythstoys.com

Mark Zuckerberg has been put through the wringer over Facebook’s use of users’ personal data, but now he’s hoping we’ll all jump headlong into his metaverse, and the Meta Quest 2 might just be the springboard he needs. Meta has bought Oculus, a pioneer of VR exploration, and the Oculus Quest, now the Meta Quest, is the flagship headset that the Zuck hopes will attract more people to dip their toes in the world of VR. The Quest offers a smooth and seamless VR experience, and look, Ma, no wires. The 3D positional audio gives you total immersive experience, so whether you’re gaming, watching virtual rock concerts or simply exploring the many VR business worlds out there, the Meta Quest 2 could be the ideal launchpad for the rest of your virtual life. For a limited time, if you order from Smyth’s Toys, you’ll get the special discounted price, down from €499, and also a free Beat Saber virtual rhythm game. Welcome to Zuck’s new world — are you ready to live in it?

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist