Christmas 2015: gadget guide

Published by Tom Wilson on 20 November 2015.
Last updated on 20 November 2015


Canary home security device – £159

This stylish, but expensive, security camera sits on any flat surface in the home and – using its motion sensor – records movement on digital high-definition video, as well as air quality, temperature and humidity. You can set it up so that your mobile phone receives alerts when the Canary detects motion, and then instantly view the video.

When set up to record video across a living room and into a dining room beyond, it was highly effective, although our Canary was triggered by passing car headlights giving us one or two anxious moments while we were away from home.

After six days, a white light at the base of our Canary started flashing, meaning we had to go through the entire set-up process once again, which was frustrating. Nevertheless, this remains a home security device offering piece of mind when out and about. It’s also interesting to see what your babysitter or pet gets up to while you’re away!

Olloclip 4-in-1 pocket-sized lens kit – £59.99

Most modern phones come with a decent camera (or two), but they’re often let down by a basic fixed lens. Olloclip brings a range of options for iPhone 6 users, including close-up (macro), wide-angle and fish-eye lenses.

The double-ended ‘lens module’ clips easily into place over the phone’s existing lens and makes the fish-eye and wide-angle options easy, but you’ll need to fiddle a bit to fit the macro lenses.

Olloclip is a quick and easy way to improve on your standard phone camera images, but it’s worth noting the lens caps are slightly loose and the glass can be easily smudged.

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Urban Wheel – £395

Segways, floboards, hoverboards, or self-balancing scooters – whatever you want to call them, they’re great fun. This has easily been the most popular gadget at Moneywise towers this year, with people queuing up to have a go around the office.

We tested Urban Wheel’s FloBoard and, while it’s not the cheapest, it’s a solid, well-built device. It carries a weight of up to 120kg, has a top speed of 16kmph, and enough battery life to travel 19km after two to three hours’ charging (beware the batteries on inferior models as they can reportedly blow up if over-charged).

At first, it can be a little unnerving as you find your balance, and I never quite mastered getting on or off. But once you’re away, you’ll find yourself zipping around effortlessly, and both adults and children can enjoy it. That said, our editor managed to take a tumble in the office but emerged unscathed!

Ultimately, it’s very expensive for what is essentially just a high-tech toy. You’re not allowed to use them on the roads or pathways, so they’re not practical for travelling around.

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Emma Bridgewater View Quest mini DAB radio – £72

Emma Bridgewater has created three stylish designs for this compact digital radio. It’s small but packed with features such as a USB charger for phones, a Bluetooth connection, and timer/radio alarm functionality. Bluetooth also lets you use your phone as a remote control with the VQ control app, available on both Android and iOS.The compact size and 15-hour battery life (it takes AA batteries) means you can also take it on the move.

Best price: John Lewis

Cobra Electronics JumPack 700A – £79.99

This battery pack is a lot more powerful than most, holding enough charge to power an iPhone 6 four times, or even jump-start a car battery. It’s perfect for keeping in a vehicle, and also has a bright LED torch if you have a breakdown at night. It comes with two jump leads, a wall charger and a 12v charger.

Best price: Argos


Standeazy – £2.99

Sometimes the simple ideas are the best. This is a foldable stand for phones, tablets and e-readers. It slots into your wallet and is perfect for propping up your phone to watch a film on a train. We tested it using an iPhone 4 and a Motorola G and it worked fine, but it may struggle to support larger devices.

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BPay: Fob £19.99, sticker £14.99, wristband £24.99, set £39.99

BPay lets you make contactless payments without directly using a debit or credit card. Load money on to your account, as you would an Oyster card, and you’re ready to go. The sticker gives older phones ApplePay-like functionality and the key fob is perfect if you want to travel light. The wristband works fine too but it generates a few funny looks while you’re out and about.

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Gear4 ShowerParty Speaker – £29.99

The ShowerParty is a waterproof speaker for the bathroom. You can attach the device to a tiled wall or glass door with the built-in suction pad. It’s charged with a standard USB port, and connects to phones or other sound systems via Bluetooth. The speaker pumps out a surprising amount of volume and while the sound quality isn’t spectacular, it’s fit for purpose.

There’s even a built-in microphone, so you can receive calls while you’re in the shower –if you want to.

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