It’s not easy being a fan of technology on a tight budget, and it’s even more difficult when you’re the one trying to buy a gadget as a gift. So, instead of wading through pages of advertising or online shopping websites, why not have a look through our independent (but entirely subjective) list of 10 of the top gadgets any serious technology enthusiast would be love to own.
Celestron Cosmos 90gt Wi-Fi Telescope
The South African night skies, outside of the city centres, offer some of the most incredible opportunities to view the stars. Armed with the Celestron Cosmos 90gt Wi-Fi Telescope, you’ll be able point your smartphone or tablet at the stars (or planets) and your screen will display all the information you could hope to read about the celestial body. The telescope supports Android and iOS devices and can control it via your connected device. The Celestron Cosmos 90gt Wi-Fi Telescope features a 90mm refractor with fully coated optics, which allows for sightings so clear even the craters of the moon and Jupiter’s Red Spot are visible. You can choose the object you wish to view from the telescope’s database of over 120 000 celestial objects. The Celestron Cosmos 90gt Wi-Fi Telescope retails for about R7 000.
GoPro Hero action camera
With its 2014 line-up of action cameras, GoPro heeded the call of many amateur videographers by introducing a new entry-level action camera called simply the GoPro Hero action camera. Featuring a similar design to its more advanced brethren, this one is slightly more limited in terms of its recording capabilities. It can record 1080p at 30fps or 720p at 60fps. Another difference is that this one is built into its rugged housing and is not removable. From a usability perspective, there are fewer settings to fiddle with, making it easy to use for first time action camera owners. At less than R2 000 on the Orange South Africa online store, this is one of the best tech gifts you can buy this year.
Samsung SB330 wireless speakers
Samsung’s SB300 wireless speakers are among of the best sounding ultraportable speaker sets on the market today. The SB330 houses a large battery capable of delivering around 15h of playback, and you can pair your device to it using tap-and-listen NFC technology. The audio quality is superb. The sound is thick and crisp due to the large speaker frame and the two 56mm audio drivers that are mounted behind the metal grill. Turning up the volume, this wireless speaker is quite a bit louder than any portable speaker of this size that we have tested to date. Indeed, this is not just a great present for the music lover in your life, but also the perfect holiday companion. The Samsung SB300 wireless speakers retail for about R4 800.
AwoX Smartlight Bluetooth LED bulb
Similar to the impressive Philips Hue LED light bulb, which is not available in South Africa yet, the energy-saving AwoX Smartlight Bluetooth LED is a wirelessly controllable light bulb that can display 16m colours. By using the SmartControl app, you’ll be able to set the colours that you’d like the Smartlight to display or even create profiles to it activate based on your parameters. The 9W LED is the equivalent of a 60W incandescent bulb. The software can control up to eight light bulbs and it has a 20m reception range. This E27-socket bulb is supported on Android and iOS devices. The AwoX Smartlight Bluetooth LED is on promotion on the Orange South Africa online store for R675.
Google’s Chromecast is one of the hottest gadgets you can get for anyone with a flat-screen TV. By connecting the Chromecast to a spare HDMI port and your home Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to “cast” any video on your Android, iOS, Mac or Windows device directly onto your TV. It works by installing a browser plugin in Chrome. With a video playing on your phone, tablet or PC, you can simply press the “cast” button to let your Chromecast take over that feed and display it on your TV. You can then disconnect your device and the Chromecast will continue streaming. The Chromecast also works with photos and audio. For R569 from Takealot, this is one of the best gadgets you can buy that person who has (almost) everything.
Garmin Virb Elite
Garmin’s entry into the action camera market has seen it take things to the next level with the Virb Elite. With built-in GPS capabilities, this camera will not only shoot video and still images, but will also track your speed, orientation and distance. All of which can be overlaid on your video, providing you with a unique way to show-off your extreme sport videos. It can snap 16-megapixel still images and record video at a maximum resolution of 1080p at 30fps. It can also shoots 720p video at 60fps. Anyone looking for an action camera these days has no shortage of options, but Garmin brings an interesting proposition to the table that will find favour with action junkies. You can get the Virb Elite for R4 999 at most outdoor and photography stores.
Micro Drone 2.0
The Micro Drone 2.0 is one of the best toys we’ve come across. Weighing only 34g and measuring 15cm in length, this tiny drone has four rotors to ascend into the air and uses advanced robotics to stabilise itself and perform mid-air stunts. It packs in some serious kit, including a bird’s-eye camera, sensors and remote control. The Micro Drone 2.0 can be flown indoors or outdoors and has a 120m flying range (operating at 2,4GHz). It also has some clever pre-programmed algorithms that allows it to do 360-degree flips. A battery charge will provide about eight minutes of flying time and the battery can be replaced to extend the flying time. This drone is also fully repairable and replacement parts can be purchased if needed. You can get the Micro Drone 2.0 for R1 500 with a camera (R1 200 without) at Micro Drone.
Olloclip for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
The Olloclip is one of the most popular accessories among iPhone owners as it adds an entirely new dimension to what is possible with the phone’s camera. The Olloclip slides over the iPhone and lets you attach removable lenses. The latest version supports the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, allowing you to clip four different optic lenses over your phone’s front and rear cameras. The four lenses are a fisheye, wide-angle macro and 10X and 15X magnification. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Olloclip also comes with wearable pendants that act as lens holders, a nice way to keep your Olloclip with you at all times. For anyone with a keen interest in mobile phone photography, the Olloclip is a must-have accessory. The new Olloclip for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus retails for R999. Olloclips are also available for older versions of Apple’s smartphone.
MakerBot Replicator Mini
One of the best gadgets you can get your hands on this festive season is a MakerBot 3D printer. These printers were recently launched in South Africa through distributor Rectron. The printers are powered by user-friendly software. Owners can print virtually anything they can dream up, be it a figurine or unique invention. Depending on budget and requirements, there are a number of MakerBot models available: the MakerBot Replicator Mini costs in the region of R16 000 and will be available at DionWired by mid-December. The filament that the MakerBot uses to print will retail for between R200 and R700, depending on size and type.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3G
The Kindle is still one of the most popular gadgets around. Not only is it the best e-reader on the market, but Amazon’s latest version the Kindle Paperwhite brings digital readers one step closer to the feel of a paper book. The Paperwhite edition features a much lighter page background than the traditional Kindle and is much faster thanks to its upgraded processor. It has a 6-inch Paperwhite display with a pixel density of 212ppi and there is even a built-in light for reading in low-light conditions without disturbing those around you. With built-in 3G connectivity, you are able to buy books from anywhere without worrying about data costs or Wi-Fi hotspots. The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite retails for R2 999 and is available from many online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media