Throughout the year the Somo team get to explore and experience a lot the latest trends from the digital and technological worlds to see how brands and customers can best interact with them. This year we have put together a list of the best tech Christmas presents anyone can hope to receive.
2016 has been crammed full of exciting launches. From much anticipated new iPhone 7 to the futuristic VR headsets. However, some brand-new gadgets did not make it onto the Christmas gift list, such as Samsung Galaxy Note 7, for obvious reasons, and the GoPro Karma drone which has been recalled in the US for malfunctioning flying controls. Maybe Samsung and GoPro can try again next year, and get off the naughty list. This Christmas however, there are several exciting smartphones, VR headsets, gaming consoles and AI gadgets to pick up.
This year has brought the next generation of smartphones which took the term ‘smart’ to a whole new level.
Starting with the brand-new iPhone 7 which launched this past September. Apple scandalously got rid of the AUX jack on their new iPhone, but there is still plenty left to be excited about. The new iPhone has new advanced camera systems, the best performance and battery life ever in an iPhone, and immersive stereo speakers. You could have this splash and water resistant phone starting from £599 this Christmas.
Another tech giant launched their first phone this year. The Pixel phone by Google, priced from £599. It can be 70% charged in 15 minutes, has unlimited photo and video storage and is preloaded with the Google assistant. If photography interests you the Pixel has the highest rated smartphone camera ever. The Pixel becomes even more exciting when combined with additional products.
In addition to the Pixel phone, you can get the DayDream View VR headset by Google. Experience VR simply and comfortably by inserting your Pixel into the headset and explore the possibilities. The headset is currently only compatible with the Pixel phone and costs £69. The headset has been getting great user reviews already, referencing simplicity and comfort. Available in a variety of colours the headset is made with soft, breathable, washable and lightweight fabric to help you stay in VR for longer periods of time.
For a more complex VR headset with an inbuilt display, a really high-tech Christmas present would be new Oculus Rift VR headset and controls. For £738 you can get both the Oculus Rift headset and the Touch (the hand controls). The Oculus Rift is exceptional in quality and its design. Not only customizable, comfortable and stylish, the headset delivers one of the highest quality VR experience available today.
There is however another option if a VR headset is what is required this festive season – the HTC Vive VR headset. Unlike Oculus Rift, the Vive’s front-facing camera enables integration of the real-world space with the VR experience much better than any other technology currently available. For £759, the headset is operated by easy-to-use Windows 10 and has highest precision motion tracking for flawless experiences. But you will have to ensure your PC is powerful enough to run the graphics needed for the immersive experiences.
If you are looking for a Christmas present for someone who is serious about gaming, then the new PlayStation 4 with the PSVR headset is probably your best choice. This VR experience does mean you need some room to play, just like the HTC Vive, otherwise you risk knocking over everything around you, or getting tangled in your Christmas tree. Users said that about 2 by 1.5 meters is sufficient, even though the Sony recommendation is at least 3 by 2 meters. The PlayStation VR kit requires a camera and two Move controllers. Sony offers different bundle options, depending on what PlayStation equipment you already own. Separately the PlayStation 4 costs £227 and £349.99 for the VR kit. Xbox also released the new Xbox One X, available for the cheaper price of £249.99. While Xbox One X has improved quality, controls, improved wireless range, and actual aesthetics, it is difficult to compete with the future of gaming which most certainly includes VR.
Another hot topic in 2016 is artificial intelligence. Even though the concept of AI in our everyday lives is not new, after years of Siri in our pockets, connecting AI with the Internet of Things has become more accessible than ever before. You can make someone’s whole home smarter by gifting them the Amazon Echo, which connects to hundreds of different apps. What you get for £149.99 is a personal assistant 'Alexa' with 360º omni-directional audio voice control & far-field voice recognition. Alexa answers any questions, helps you with your shopping list, calendar, notes, recipes, Uber rides, alarms, music, lights, and so much more, short of walking your dog or closing the door this assistant is hard to beat. If the Echo speaker is too much for you, you could opt for the Echo Dot, which is a £49.99 Alexa with a much smaller speaker but all the AI power of the full size model. Until Google releases their AI home assistant Home, Alexa is the AI gift to go for.
“Alexa, add Amazon Echo to my shopping list.”
The future of a connected world through mobile, virtual reality and the Internet of Things is already here and the rate of innovation and adoption will accelerate throughout next year.