Why should the little ‘uns have all the fun? Hugh John muses on what the ‘big kids’ want for Christmas
In no particular chronological order... apples, oranges, Cabbage Patch Dolls, PlayStations, smart phones, chocolate coins, My Little Pony, Action Men, Brazil nuts, Barbie Dolls . . . . .they’ve all had their day in the pale winter sunshine of a Christmas morning. But how about us grown-ups?
Don’t we need some seasonal pampering and retail therapy as well? Here are four suggestions to entice you.
Granted it might be a bit of a squeeze to get into a stocking, but in the spirit of Christmas let’s not be curmudgeonly. The i-Connex Combi from Freedom Input is a well-engineered iPad case with a Freedom Input Bluetooth keyboard tucked snugly into the base.
The stylish black case is claimed by Freedom Input to be up to up to 30 per cent lighter and thinner than other leading brands. Freedom Input have borrowed, and improved on, Apple’s own very popular smart cover’ case by incorporating an ingenious Origami-type design into the top cover which, when folded, provides secure portrait and landscape positions for the enclosed iPad. The top flap also contains a Sleep/Wake mode magnet and is lined with a soft velour-like material that won’t scratch or harm the screen. And as it’s attached by Velcro, if you do want to use another manufacturer’s top flap, go ahead and swap them over.
The keyboard is well constructed and the 79 scissor keys with non-removable caps are sensitive and responsive, the top row having iPad-specific controls – Home button, Media, Brightness `– in place of the usual F Keys.
In the right hands, ‘reet petite’ ones especially, a decent typing speed can be achieved. Those with larger, heavier mitts – the polite term is ‘spatulated’ – will initially struggle to avoid touching adjacent keys or double striking by inadvertently pausing too long, but that’s always going to be a problem with mini-keyboards. Battery life is a generous 100 hours and the keyboard can be charged using the included micro USB cable.
Mophie Juice Pack. Okay, it may not have been exactly a eureka moment but Californian firm Mophie was one of the first to identify the potential of supplementary power packs for idevices – iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Apple’s ‘removable batteries not included’ policy has left heavy and frequent device users looking for portable power solutions when they’re out and about. Smartphones drink up juice like there’s no tomorrow but while many an Android’s thirst can be easily quenched (slip off the off phone case, swap batteries and in barely a minute you’re good to go), idevices, pre-Mophie, were dependent on wall sockets.
So, if you have a suspicion that your pressie is going to share stocking space with a smartphone or tablet (it could be Apple or Android) Mophie has what you need. There are Juice Packs in all shapes and sizes but fashionistas looking for something festive might want to head to the Apple online store where they can buy any of the PowerStation Juice Pack range in pristine white. Just don’t drop in the snow...
Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation Duo
Apple Store, £79.95
If, however, it looks as if Santa might be lobbing a PlayStation or Xbox down the chimney, then perhaps an HDPVR2 from Hauppauge would be a good idea. Essentially a data capture and storage device, the PVR2 is a compact, square plastic box that allows users to record games in high-definition video (for the technically minded the format is H.264, the same compression system used in burning Blu-ray disks).
Once captured, gamers can watch their favourite game plays on monitor or HD TV set or, should they crave worldwide attention, upload gameplay to YouTube. One click puts an end to all those arguments about who reached the final level. A word of caution: before buying, ensure that your hardware and software is up to spec. Hauppauge recommends a minimum of 1 GB RAM, HDTV set with HDMI input and a graphics card with 256 Mb of memory.
Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Capture Device, £138 from www.amazon.co.uk
Worried that even the memory of a 64Gb iPad might not be big enough for your film/video collection? Check out Kingston’s Wi-Drive product line of mobile, wireless hard discs, recently expanded to include a capacious 128Gb model.
Slightly smaller than an iPod Touch, the Wi-Drive, which now comes in 16, 32, 64 and 128Gb sizes, is a battery-driven unit that creates its own Wi-Fi network to transmit and receive data to and from mobile devices. Initially intended for Apple IOS users with fixed storage the Wi-Drive is equally useful when coupled with Android devices such as Galaxy Tabs.
The well designed Wi-Drive app allows for dual streaming so you could, for example, be sending different videos to two restless children seat-belted up on the way to the grandparents. It’s also a great way to store those favourite music and movie files for broadcasting to virtually any mobile device – phone, tablet, iPad – that has Wi-Fi capability.
Kingston Wi-Fi Drive from Amazon.co.uk