10 great gadget accessories
If you’re someone fortunate enough to have a gadget-lover in your life, you’ll dread having to buy them a gift. You want to get them something meaningful that they’ll actually use, but you have no idea what to get – and you don’t want to waste money on something they’ll hate.
Here’s the good news: if they got that ‘big’ piece of tech they really wanted for Christmas then we’ve hand-picked some great ideas for accessories that will make the gift that much more awesome.
Whether you want to supercharge their Apple Watch, improve the audio in their life or trick out their car with tech, we’ve got the top things you should be looking for when the birthday (or, whisper it quietly, next Christmas) rolls around.
1. Henge Dock for Macbook
When you need to edit a video or edit your photos, sometimes a diminutive laptop screen just doesn’t cut it – which is why it is sometimes necessary to plug into a larger screen. To make this process as painless as possible, a Henge Dock is an elegant solution.
Effectively a vertical stand, you slide your Macbook in on its side, and connectors line the bottom of the Henge to plug into the monitor, USB devices and so on.
And when you’re done, all you need to do is slide your Mac out. No faffing about with tangled cables, no fuss.
Vertical docks are available for Macbook Pro, Macbook Pro Retina, Macbook Air and the new Macbook, and the company also makes a range of accessories – such as a combined Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad to use with it. Docks can be picked up for around $69 (£45, $AU95).
2. Sonos Playbar
We’re used to our TVs being massive now, but sometimes we overlook the sound – which is where soundbars come in.
They sit beneath your telly and turn everything from the latest blockbusters to mundane soaps into something that feels like a more cinematic experience.
One such soundbar from Sonos does just that – and connects to existing compatible home speaker systems. This means that not only can you also use the soundbar to play your music when not watching telly (including Spotify and TuneIn radio), but you can also use it to feed the audio from your TV to other rooms in the house.
Want to be able to follow the sport commentary as you wander into the kitchen to pick up another drink? Now you can.
Because it connects through the optical output, it just needs one cable and will play whatever is plugged into the telly. The Sonos Playbar will set you back around £589 (around $900 or $AU1200).
3. Pioneer SPH-DA120 with Apple Carplay
So the car is tricked out with a big subwoofer, fancy lights and some furry dice – but isn’t something missing? Apple’s CarPlay is the company’s attempt at helping your iPhone better interact with your car’s dashboard, and is something we’ll be seeing more of over the next few years as cars roll off the production line with support built in.
If you want to upgrade your current car though, pick up this aftermarket stereo from Pioneer. Simply plug in your iPhone to the SPH-DA120 using a Lightning cable and the dashboard screen will transform into something very iFamiliar.
From here you can then use the same apps as the ones on your phone that have been specially configured for use in the car, meaning you can get turn by turn navigation from Apple Maps or hit up Spotify for your tunes.
Better still, you can even control the unit with voice commands via Siri – and use it to select your tracks or even send and respond to text messages while driving. There’s no better way of making your phone work with your car. You can pick one up for just over £300 (around $435 / $AU625).
4. Parrot AR Flight Recorder
If someone has a Parrot AR drone, this accessory can make it much smarter. Styled like an aircraft’s black box recorder (so bright orange), this USB box plugs on to your drone and will record detailed flight data including GPS positioning on its 4GB of flash memory. You can also use a mobile app to map your flight in 3D while the drone is still in the air.
You can even use it to create pre-planned journeys – using software to tell the drone where to go. Or you can simply plug in some GPS coordinates and the accessory will send the drone zipping off to the waypoint. You can pick one up for $70 (about £50 or $100AUS) on Amazon – but make sure you read the regulations on how to use drones in your country before you start zipping about.
5. Apple Watch Link Bracelet
Let’s face it, if your gadget-fiend LOVES their iPhone, there’s probably a good chance they now have an Apple Watch – and if you didn’t buy it you might feel that you missed out on the opportunity to gift them something they’d really like.
But here’s an idea: go big on the watchstrap to make their Watch a cut above the others being flashed around on the train on the way to work.
The Silver Link Bracelet will make it almost look like they’ve got an “Edition” version of the Apple Watch, but will set you back a cool £379 ($575USD, $795AUS). Alternatively you can go lower cost and get something that offers the same link experience (like this one from Amazon) for a lot cheaper.
6. Enerplex Surfr Amp iPhone case
They’ve probably already got a top-end iPhone kicking about, so if your gadget-lover is packing an iPhone 6S, give them the gift of power.
This case is way more than just a battery pack (a must for any hardcore iPhone user anyway) as while it can charge the iPhone more than one and a half times over, there’s a solar panel stuck on the back to nick some of the sun’s rays when the power is running low.
Not so good if they live in the rainy north, but if you’re anywhere that there’s a smattering of sunshine they’ll love being able to charge up without having to frantically search for a wall outlet.
Pick one up for £30 / $89 / around AU$130
7. Oral B SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush
What do you get the gadget lover who has everything from a smartwatch to a drone already? A bluetooth electric toothbrush with an app, of course – because the bathroom needs some tech loving too.
Oral B’s SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush hooks up with your phone to offer you Fitbit-style analytics and feedback on how well you’re brushing your teeth. Surely this is the future if we’re gamifying dental care nowadays.
This nifty enamel-scrubber can be yours for around £90 / around $136 / $AU190.
8. Beam Projector Light
Beam is a tiny projector built into a slightly-bigger-than-normal lightbulb. Simply screw it into the light socket and it can both illuminate your room, or display photos, videos… if it’s on your phone, you can spew it from your lamp.
It’s actually an Android device on the inside, one that’s controlled using an app on either an iPhone or an Android device. So if you want a subtle projector – this could be the way to go.
The creators are also keen to trumpet how smart it can be; because it ambiently sits watch over your house you can set up “if” and “then” controls. For example, having it automatically load Netflix and resume playback if it detects you switching your Bluetooth speakers on.
It’s super clever – and it can be yours for just $399USD (around £260/$550AUS).
Someone just been bought an iPad and you know they’d love to be able to do some writing with it when the laptop is locked away at home?
BrydgeAir provides a very Macbook-alike typing experience and will hinge to a full 180 degrees. It even has built in stereo Bluetooth speakers to make your music sound great too.
It starts at $150USD (around £100/$207AUS)
10. Gold HDMI Cables
And finally the ultimate in luxury accessories. The one thing which signals above all else “look how wealthy and classy I am” in the home cinema space. We’re talking of course, about gold HDMI cables – around £90 / $130 / $AU190).
The debate about how much improvement you get from such technology rumbles on as people point out that HDMI signal is carried digitally, so theoretically there’s only so much improvement tech can make here.
But you’ve got a gadget fan in your midst, and they’re always going to harbour some small belief somewhere that paying more for gold-plated cables is going to infer some sort of tech boost when they’re watching an SD stream of Netflix.
So even if you’re stuck there wondering what on earth you paid all that extra money for, if your gadget nut has just upgraded their home cinema set up they’ll sit there quietly beaming with pride that they’ve got the ‘best’ out of their set up.