Top gadgets for Christmas

GP's technology reviewer Dr Richard Harkness highlights the gadgets he would recommend as Christmas presents this year.

For GPs who are looking for the perfect gadget to buy family or friends (or themselves) this Christmas, here are my recommendations in a range of price categories. There is no lack of innovation and it won't be necessary to spend a fortune to impress the lucky recipients.

Under £50

Raspberry Pi
Available from
Perfect for the gadget-lover who enjoys a challenge

Raspberry Pi is a gift for the gadget-lover who loves to tinker with things. This little project, which started as a bid to create cheap educational computers, has taken the technology world by storm, selling in its millions.

Gaining a computer for under £30 is insane. True, you do have to make or buy a case for it, but it is very likely you have a keyboard and charger kicking around your house.

If you do not have a monitor, it will easily plug into your TV. You can fashion it to be whatever you want, from a smartphone triggered garage door opener to a supercomputer array. There is also a buzzing online community around the Raspberry Pi.

£50 to £100

Price From
Available from
Perfect for the person in touch with their inner child

Have you ever fancied owning a robot? Do you enjoy games? Why not buy something that combines both?

Sphero is your own mini robot that can be controlled using your smartphone. It is made for play, is pretty robust - able to survive a good knock around - and can even be used in the water. This robot is fast - it can navigate courses and jump off ramps.

It connects via Bluetooth, has a tidy wireless charging station and can be used as a relaxing night light.

With games available in the App Store for Apple and Android users, Sphero can be used as a game contoller (for example, on your mobile) or even part of an augmented reality game.

Oh, and if you have pets, they are going to love it. Probably.

£100 to £400

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Price £109
Available from
Perfect for the literature-loving insomniac

Kindle is a phenomenal success and already a household name. Much as 'Hoover' is used interchangeably with 'vacuum cleaner', Kindle has come to represent the ebook reader.

Now offering better resolution and faster page refresh, the Kindle is a wonderful device.

There is no need to keep your partner awake at night with your lamp-light - you can turn on the 'paperwhite' function to read in the dark. This should not tire your eyes, because e-ink is lit from the sides, not the back. The battery life is also lengthy.

The Kindle can store thousands of books, which can be bought easily, so it's difficult to think why anyone wouldn't want one.


Xbox One
Price About £430
Available from
Perfect for all the family (and for getting back into shape after the Christmas indulgence)

This will hit the spot for the family this Christmas, if you can get hold of it. Sold in millions in the first 24 hours after its November release, the Xbox One takes the Xbox 360 and grinds it into the dirt.

With 'next generation' graphics, home entertainment hub, Blu-ray player, web browser and plenty more, there is something to please everyone.

The Kinect sensor has revolutionised gaming, sensing your movement in the room and animating your avatar to match. Microsoft has made this amazing technology even better, providing greater accuracy and finer body-mapping. With plenty of fitness games available, you can even use your Xbox One to work off the mince pies.

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