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Monday, December 27, 2010

Its the most wonderful time of the year….

One of the best things about having a birthday just before Christmas is you often end up with slightly better presents than you otherwise would.  As a child my parents always made sure I got some to unwrap on both my birthday and at Christmas, but often I would get a small token gift for one and a much more significant gift for the other.  This year its been much of the same, which is great given some of the fantastic gadgets around at the moment.

Perhaps the obvious gadget gift this year would have been a tablet of some sort, but in my opinion its still early days and the next 12-18 months are likely to see some large and fast advancements in this market, so I’d rather wait for things to mature a little.  That plus the current tablet of choice is without doubt the iPad, which even as a combined Christmas/birthday present is a bit on the pricey side.

But as I said, there are plenty of great gadgets around at the moment to still guarantee some great gifts. This year my parents went big on birthday and small on Christmas, while my fiancé did the reverse. So which gadgets brightened up this festive period.

 

kindleFirst up was the Amazon Kindle.  Now I’m not the biggest reader of books, but I spend around a hour to a hour and a half every day commuting to and from work and often spend this time reading. Plus when on my summer holidays I normally take three or four books to read. The real problem is we are running out of room in the house to store any more books.  I have to say I have never enjoyed reading electronic books, LCD screens just don’t work for me like paper, especially when sunlight comes in to play. This year when on holiday I noticed a few people with various e-readers and was impressed with the clarity and in some cases the size.  So when I discovered that John Lewis were stocking the Kindle in their stores, I popped in to my local shop to have a look.  The first thing that impressed me was the size.  I had expected it to be a good bit bigger than a traditional paperback, but was pleasantly surprised to find it a similar size. I was instantly converted.  Combined with the basic leather case, it gives a feel of holding an actual book, the text is clear and the fact I can download so many classics for free is a huge bonus.  Even my mother who prior to buying me the Kindle as a gift couldn’t have been more against such devices seems to be a convert (could be one gift next year already sorted).  I like the idea of getting a daily newspaper on the device so will be trying a few 14 day trials to see if they are any good. The only downside I have seen so far is that eBooks seem to often be the same price as the paperback and sometimes more, mainly due to VAT being charged on eBooks, where as the paper versions are zero rated VAT items. Hopefully this is something the government will look in to changing sooner rather than later.  At least there is no more worrying about fitting any new books on the bookshelves, I now just need to finish reading my current John Grisham paperback so I can get stuck in to my Kindle properly.

kinectMy second bit of gadgetry goodness is Kinect for my Xbox 360.  Now due to some suffering from what ever winter illness is currently doing the rounds, I haven’t really had the energy to put it properly to the test, but all I can say so far is WOW!  Its amazing!  So good that my other half has let me move the Xbox from the spare room to the living room so we can both play.  Not sure how she will take to me playing COD while she checks her Facebook but I think I’ll be having to kick her off the fitness and dance games so I can get a go.  It does take a little getting used to at first, but once you get in to it, it truly is amazing. Have to wonder now whether the Wii will be assigned to eBay. Time will tell.

It’s worth remembering that Christmas is a time for giving, and as I write this its technically Boxing Day. (Honestly it is, Boxing Day can’t be a Sunday, Google it if you don’t believe me).  The idea of Boxing day comes from giving to those less fortunate, so if like me you have be fortunate to get some great gifts this Christmas, why not take today to give something to those less fortunate, no matter how small.  Christmas is a time for giving, at its not what you give, but the thought that counts.

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