How to Spend Your Xmas Cash 2010 - Gadgets
If he who dies with the most toys wins, then we're heading for at least a podium position. Of course, not every new gadget and gizmo designed to improve our lives is worthwhile, but these are some of our favourites.
Amazon Kindle 3GUK Price (as reviewed): £149.99 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $189.00 (exc Tax)
While the Kindle is an extremely capable ebook reader in its own right, boasting a gorgeous e-ink display, the possibilities for the device really open up when you consider its 3G variant.
£149 for a go-anywhere web browser is, as Joe pointed out in his Chritsmas Wishlist
, a tantalising proposition. Of course, it's no good for viewing rich content such as YouTube videos or Flash games, but it's ideal for text and image-based services such as Wikipedia, news websites or IMDB.
While you can arguably do all of this on your fancy new smart phone, we all know that most of the Web is really designed for displays with more than a 4in viewable diagonal. The Kindle is a device with a huge amount of potential, and at a penny less than £150 for the 3G version, we're certainly ready to jump on board.
Western Digital WD-TV LiveUK Price (as reviewed): £82.03 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $99.99 (exc Tax)
Originally arriving just in time for last Christmas, a year later the WD-TV Live is still the best media streamer on the market. As one of only a few such devices based on the Sigma 8655 chipset, it offers fantastic playback capabilities.
We've yet to find a non-DRM video that won't play on it; H.264, AVI and MKV files are all supported. It can even handle Blu-ray ISOs; the only player we've seen that's capable of this mighty media feat. It's also able to down-mix multi-channel audio such as DTS and convert it to standard stereo output, so those without surround sound won't miss out on file support.
The user interface is also clear and concise, and the setup procedure is simple. While media centre PCs are undoubtedly more capable, it's tough to match the WD-TV Live in terms of simplicity and low maintenance.
Powerball UK Price (as reviewed): £8.49 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $14.24 (exc Tax)
The Powerball is a brilliantly simple little device,which uses the mighty power of an internal gyroscope to strengthen wrists and hands (stop giggling at the back!). It's also particularly good at relieving pains caused by repetitive strain injuries, such as those resulting from pwning n00bs in Black Ops for eight hours straight.
You start the gryo moving with either a flick of the thumb, or by wrapping the string around the central gyroscope, and then moving the Powerball in a roughly circular fashion. The faster you spin, the more gyroscopic force is exerted into your hand, forcing you to exert more force in turn to hold onto the Powerball.
Simple, cheap and surprisingly effective, if you suffer from occasional wrist pains following extended PC use, or if you just want to crush a raw apple with your bare hand, the Powerball is well worth a look.