HAVE yourself a very, techy Christmas – well, that’s what tens of thousands of Australians are expected to do this year.
Early estimates predict close to a million new devices – smartphones and tablets to be turned on over Christmas.
Here’s a guide to some of the hottest gadgets and techy presents available this year. Reviews by Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
1. GOPRO HERO3
EVEN wearable cameras have grown smarter for Christmas. The latest top-ofthe-line GoPro camera, the Hero3: Black Edition, is 30 per cent smaller and 25 per cent lighter than before, and is able to shoot full highdefinition video at 60 frames per second or 12-megapixel photos at a rate of up to 30 per second. The flagship model and its two little brothers also feature built-in wi-fi for quick uploads, though they only capture 11-and 5-megapixel photos, respectively.
2. CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS II
THE newest Call of Duty title has already broken its own sales record, racking up $500 million in trade in its first 24 hours on sale. The first COD title to be set in the future, this game takes place during a second Cold War in 2025.The first-person shooter title delivers multiteam multi-player mode for the first time.
3. GARMIN FENIX
HIKERS should appreciate Garmin’s new sporty wristwatch that is rugged and packed with sensors. The Garmin Fenix features an altimeter to measure a hiker’s elevation, a compass and GPS chip to keep track of locations, a temperature sensor to monitor current conditions, a barometer and two types of wireless connectivity – Bluetooth and ANT – to exchange information with a heart-rate sensor.
4. NEXUS 4.
GOOGLE has significantly discounted its latest Android reference phone, the Nexus 4. The LG-made smartphone, which sold out in 22 minutes when it first went on sale, offers a 4.7-inch screen, 8-megapixel camera, 8 or 16GB memory, and a 1.5GHz quad-core processor. Its exclusive Jelly Bean 4.2 software also adds extras such as Photo Sphere, a new menu of shortcuts and extra Google Now alerts.
5. PANASONIC VIERA LCD 55-INCH TV.
Panasonic, $2699, panasonic.com.au
THREE-DIMENSIONAL television may have fallen off the radar but it’s still available and can look striking with the right content. Panasonic delivers active 3D viewing in this advanced television, the 55-inch Viera TH-L55WT50A, as well as a LED-backlit LCD screen with In Plane Switching technology for wide-angle viewing, and built-in wi-fi connectivity with access to apps including ABC iView and Skype.
1. SAMSUNG GALAXY CAMERA.
Samsung, $599, samsung.com/au
THIS innovative camera allows special moments to be shared instantly with a 4.8-inch touchscreen, Google Android Jelly Bean software, and 3G and wi-fi connections. The Samsung Galaxy Camera also offers advanced photographic features, such as a 21x optical zoom, f2.8 aperture lens and a 16.3-megapixel backlit sensor.
2. MICHAEL KORS SAFFIANO JET SET TRAVEL TOTE.
Apple, $309.95, store.apple.com/au
THIS Michael Kors-designed leather bag is designed to carry a 15-inch laptop in its central padded and zippable enclosure, while a tablet computer, two smartphones and all of their accessories can be added to the bag’s other pockets and sections. Now available in beetroot, black and maroon, the substantial tote weighs 1.07kg.
3. SONY VAIO DUO 11.
Sony, $1499-$2399, sony.com.au
WINDOWS 8 computers come in many forms but this is one of the most innovative. Sony’s Vaio Duo 11 is a laptop that can also function as a tablet (or is that the other way around?) as its keyboard slides from beneath the screen and a hinged panel props up the display into laptop form. The result is a lightweight (1.3kg) machine with a full-HD touchscreen for the full Windows 8 experience. The entry-level version has an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB storage.
4. iPAD MINI.
Apple, $369-$729, apple.com/au
WITH a size similar to a hardback book and a weight of just 308g, the iPad Mini is Apple’s most handbag-friendly model. This 7.9-inch tablet features similar power to an iPad 2, with a dual-core A5 processor, a 5-megapixel rear camera, another 1.2-megapixel camera up front for FaceTime chats, and a 10-hour battery life. The Mini’s 163 pixels-per-inch display is a step down for anyone used to Retina screens, but its convenience and low price has plenty of appeal.
5. FITBIT ZIP.
FitBit, $69.95, fitbit.com
THE redesigned FitBit Zip comes with a sturdier clip for easy wearing, a battery that will last six months and, importantly, Bluetooth connectivity so progress can be uploaded wirelessly to a computer or Apple iPhone 4S or 5. The Zip doesn’t measure your incline, track sleep or feature a silent alarm like the FitBit One, but that can be bought for an extra $50.
1. OLYMPUS TOUGH TG-1.
Olympus, $499, olympus.com.au
The Olympus Tough TG-1 boasts the most rugged credentials on the market, promising to withstand falls from 2m, pressure of up to 100kg and temperatures as low as -10C. It can even be used in 12m of water, making it a perfect beach or poolside snapper. The 12-megapixel camera’s photographic abilities are designed to impress, with a 4x optical zoom, wide f2.0 lens and full-HD video capture, though its colours are sometimes too bright.
2. SPHERO ROBOTIC BALL.
iWorld Australia, $159.95, iworldonline.com.au
THE Sphero is no standard ball, even though it looks like one, as its innards are packed with robotics that let players guide it around the room using a smartphone as a remote control. The Sphero can be directed with surprising accuracy using a Google or Apple-based phone and extra apps let users play advanced games.
3. Wii U.
Nintendo, $349.95-$429.95, nintendo.com.au
NINTENDO’S thoroughly redesigned console now comes with an extra controller – the Wii U GamePad – that hosts motion controls, a camera, microphone and a 6.2-inch touchscreen that changes the way games are played. The extra screen can be used to see more of the game, beyond the TV screen, or to take gameplay into another room when the TV is in use. Wi-fi is also built-in to the new console.
4. SKYLANDERS GIANTS STARTER PACK. Activision, $99.95,
THE sequel to last year’s popular augmented reality title brings 16 new characters to the fold, plus eight giant characters to lead them into battle. Skylanders asks players to collect character figurines, which can then be registered in the game, and three figures come with this starter pack. Figures from the older game can also be used in Giants, available for Xbox, PlayStation and Wii.
5. SILVERLIT INTERACTIVE BLUETOOTH RC PORSCHE 911 CARRERA.
Silverlit, $89.95, dicksmith.com.au
THIS remote-controlled car can be guided by an Apple gadget. The Silverlit Interactive toy car is a highly accurate Porsche 911 copy and is powered by four AA batteries. Connect its Bluetooth signal to an iPhone, iPod or iPad, and you can drive it around using touchscreen controls or by moving the gadget back and forth.
1. ANGRY BIRDS MINI SPEAKER.
Gear4, $39, gear4.com.au
ANGRY Birds don’t merely squawk. These miniature speaker versions of the famous fowl deliver music from any device. The portable speakers feature a built-in battery that, when charged for two hours, will deliver eight hours of play. Their bodies can also be twisted upwards to deliver extra bass performance, and they connect to any smartphone or MP3 player.
2. WONDERBOOK: BOOK OF SPELLS.
PlayStation, $98, au.playstation.com
THIS picture book might not look like much, with pages of coloured squares, but it comes to life when placed in front of a PlayStation camera. Wonderbook: Book of Spells is the first in a series of augmented reality games using the picture book format and this title is written by JK Rowling. The PlayStation 3 uses an EyeToy camera to recognise each page and a PlayStation Move controller to register the player’s gestures.
3. KOOSH STYLUS.
iWorld Online, $19.95, iworldonline.com.au
WHETHER sketching an important clue in Draw Something or adding shades to a masterpiece in My Coloring Book, fingers do not always make the best pens. For this purpose, Koosh has created its own stylus that looks like a felt pen and registers on the capactive screen of an Apple iPad.
4. iPOD TOUCH.
Apple, $329-$439, apple.com/au
THE iPod Touch has become a go-to portable games machine (helped by a raft of ambitious 99c titles), a reasonable digital camera (a 5-megapixel shooter lies on its back panel), and an easy way to surf the web for those yet to invest in a smartphone. This new generation iPod Touch also offers a 4-inch Retina Display, a coloured aluminium body, a looping hand-strap for easy carriage, and up to eight hours of video playback. The 88g device takes about four hours to recharge and uses the smaller Lightning cable, which might require an adaptor if you have old audio docks.
Hasbro, $99.99, furby.com
THE furry, animatronic toy that sparked worldwide sell-outs in 1998 has been redesigned to feature animated LED eyes, ears that move, and a personality that develops based on how it’s treated. Poke and prod the new Furby and it will act out. Tickle its head and play music to it, and the Furby will giggle and say pleasant things about you.