It’s December, so that means that Christmas is approaching, fast. It seems like only yesterday we were packing the Christmas Tree away last year, but yet again, it’s time to think about what you’re going to get. Google would love you to purchase something from Google Play…if you get in before the 17th of December.
We’ve looked at a lot of stuff this year, and we thought we’d go back through and suggest some of the stuff we’ve looked at and think you’d either like for yourself or for someone else.
The main place people use Android is on their phone, and there’s been a number of great Android handsets released this year.
If you’re giving a phone as a gift, you might need to be careful of the recipient’s existing contract or network, so it might be a good idea to look into any requirements or restrictions that will apply.
LG G3 – for some of us, the phone of the year. A little large with a 5.5” display, but its QuadHD resolution is absolutely lovely. Definitely a phone to give if you want to spoil that special someone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – currently on the Ausdroid test bench, but initial impressions are good. Anyone who likes a large screen their phone will probably love this.
Sony Xperia Z3 / Z3 Compact – a refinement on the design of Sony’s Xperia Z2 series from earlier in the year. While it’s not a huge update in specs, it still seems like a great handset with battery life that will make even the most power hungry users happy. If the 5-inch model isn’t to your liking, it’s also available in its recently-reviewed compact form.
$699 RRP (Compact)
$849 RRP (Z3)
HTC One E8 – it may be only available here on import, but still an outstanding handset. A plastic-bodied version of the One M8 with a cheaper price tag, definitely worth checking out.
$489.99 from Expansys
Motorola Moto G Gen 2 – a great buy for great internals with a spacious 5-inch screen. If you need 4G connectivity, you can also go for the first generation model with 4G at around the same price (for some of us, a better bet).
Huawei Y500 – if your loved one is on Vodafone, it’s hard to look past this bargain unit. It’s locked to the network, but with decent enough specs for the price it’s hard to go past this phone if you’re on a budget.
The tablet market has exploded over the last couple of years, and there’s some great hardware out there now. With Lollipop coming out, there’s some great software on the way too.
Lenovo Yoga 2 Tablets have become a little stale, they’re invariably a little bland in design, so when a company comes forth with a new take that adds something to the tablet game, we take note. The Yoga 2 is a nicely performing unit which adds in a three-way stand, which adds a new dimension to usability for your tablet. Definitely worth putting under someones Christmas tree.
Nexus 9 is the new tablet built by HTC running the latest Android release, Lollipop. What’s not to like. Get your order in now from Google Play, or head into a Telstra store to check one out. If you’re into Android, then you’ll want to see what’s coming and the best way to do that is with a Nexus tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S Samsung has finally meshed their ‘S’ lines together, positioning the Galaxy Tab S as their premium line of tablets. With a high resolution Super AMOLED screen on the tablets, this bad boy is made for content consumption and what else could be better than kicking back on Christmas morning with a new light, thin Samsung tablet.
MeMO Pad 7 – Coming in three bright colours, this compact tablet is a great Christmas gift to keep kids entertained on road trips during these holidays. The MeMO Pad 7 combines a narrow bezel design and tactile smooth casing in a compact and lightweight 295gm package. With a 5-megapixel camera, they’ll be able to capture plenty of family moments on Christmas Day. For the tech savvy kids, the MeMO can act as an entertainment hub: hooked up with Miracast, they’ll be able to stream movie downloads from the tablet onto the lounge’s TV to keep the family entertained on Boxing Day.
Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Samsung knocked it out of the park on this one, it’s got a gorgeous screen, it’s light, comfortable to hold, has a great battery life and runs really well. As a premium line Samsung product, it’s most likely to see updates to the software pretty quickly too, and as a bonus check out the free content included in the ‘Galaxy Gifts section’.
$479 – 16GB Wi-Fi
$629 – 16GB LTE
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact The Sony tablets are well designed and with its compact 8” size it should fit in a stocking quite well. With an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact should also survive any spills or messes at the Christmas dinner table as well.
There’s only one choice here and Asus is the king of the transforming tablets. Grab an ASUS Transformer Pad TF103 – Perfect for your loved one that works from home or is always on the run, the TF103 combines the productivity features of a laptop with the convenience of a tablet. The detachable touch-screen allows the device to transform from a practical work laptop to a fun, easily transported tablet with just the flick of a button.The new keyboard dock also has ergonomic chiclet keys and includes intuitive one-touch function keys for common tasks like Delete or Screen Grab.
$429 – 16GB with keyboard dock
Last year the Smartwatch was really just starting to take off. With the Pebble and Sony Smartwatch 2 vying for attention under the tree. This year, Google released Android Wear into the wild. and we’ll be honest, we’re very biased here, we kind of like Android Wear a LOT.
Sony Smartwatch 3 If you’re going to go for a run, swim or anything to do with sport then the Smartwatch 3 is almost perfect. With GPS included, as well as NFC for pairing devices, the only thing this bad boy needs is a heart rate monitor. Still, at $299 it’s a great watch.
LG G Watch R If you’re after a great looking watch, then the G Watch R is one of the top contenders. Round face smart watches have become the big thing this year and the G Watch R is the only one sporting a fully round display. It’s a big watch but no bigger than many fashion watches out today. extremely useful and lacks very little. Stylish watch. battery well over a couple of days. watch band is meant to be high quality leather but very stiff- if purchasing for someone consider buying them a standard 22mm band more suitable to go with the watch.
Motorola Moto 360 – Since Google announced Android Wear, the Moto 360 was THE most hotly anticipated watch of the lot. When the ‘flat tyre’ on the bottom of the screen was finally outed, it divided people quite heavily. But, it’s still a great watch…if you can get one. Stock shortages persist for the Moto 360, but if you can get one, it’s arguably one of the best looking Android Wear watches out there.
We’re going to put the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live in the mix here. They’ve basically been outdone by this stage by their more flashier cousins, but the price seems to be dropping to sub-$200 on both of these at places like Officeworks and JB Hifi, so if you want in on the ground floor of Android Wear, then these two are a great place to start.
G Watch $249 RRP (on-sale till 11th December for $99 for Google Play
Samsung Gear Live $250 RRP
Chromebooks & Chromeboxes
As Android afficianados we’ve also as a group taken a general liking to ChromeOS as well. Now in our second year of ChromeOS in Australia, we’re still not getting the high end devices, but we’re seeing some great hardware. We’ve reviewed quite a few over the year and if you think a Chromebook or Chromebox is a great gift, here’s the ones we liked.
Asus has released both a Chromebox and a Chromebook, both of which are available in different configurations. While the C200 and C300 Chromebooks haven’t crossed our test bench, we took a look at the low-end Asus Chromebox and liked what we saw. If you have the money though, go the mid-range i3 based Chromebook which will support 4K video output and with 4GB of RAM, it’s also going to perform better just surfing the web.
$299 RRP Celeron
Acer released a couple of units this year, but it’s the Acer C720P which caught our eye. Anything which we review and immediately turn around and buy for ourselves is a definite winner and that is what Scott found with the Acer C720P when he reviewed it. The combination of a great price, bright well lit touchscreen, compact size and ability to add update RAM and SSD made this a great device. For a truly great christmas gift, track one down and throw in an additional 128GB SSD for a truly happy camper this christmas.
HP has really covered the range of ChromeOS, releasing a number of ChromeOS devices this year. They’ve released 11” and 14” Chromebooks, as well as moving into releasing Chromeboxes. They’re a little overpriced, but for quality, HP has hit their mark time and time again.
We checked out an absolute bunch of headphones this year, if 2014 sees you needing to get a new set of headphones, then you should check out what we looked at this year.
- a-Jays Five for Android
- Bose Soundlink Bluetooth on-ear headphones
- Bose Quiet Comfort 25
- Plantronics Backbeat Fit
We also checked out some new wireless, multi-room speaker setups from Samsung and Sonos. There’s some great deals around on these in the lead-up to Christmas so check these out.
We also checked in on fitness bands, looking at the Jawbone Up24 and the Sony Smartband. The Up24 is probably our pick here, but the recent price drop on the Sony Smartband is hard to go past.
We also looked a the Lantronix xPrintServer Cloud Print Edition and the Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker, hands down though for me – what we thought was the coolest thing we checked out this year was the Oral-B Bluetoothbrush – at $179 from Shaver Shop it’s an extravegance but that’s Christmas for you.
If nothing here is to your liking then you’re obviously in need of some stocking stuffers.
Being an Android fan is more than just devices, so why not look at other things you can grab for your Android loving giftee.
- Chromecast – This is the second year in a row that we’ve had the Chromecast in our Christmas list, but this year, there’s no hoops to jump through to grab one. From streaming local or online video from Youtube through to Netflix or even playing games on your TV, Chromecast is the little device that continues to impress. If you want something that’s small, relatively cheap and will amuse for hours, the Chromecast is it. Available for a RRP of $49, keep your eye out for specials on this in the lead up to Christmas.
- Google Play Gift Cards – Available in $20, $30 or $50 denominations, Google Play Gift Cards will let whoever you give these to, access movies, music, apps, books and more. You can now even use them to pay for a subscription so they’re incredibly versatile and make an excellent filler or last minute present.
- 3D printed Android Lollipop – last year there was a 3D printed KitKat figure based on the limited edition Nestle chocolate, this year it’s a limited edition Android shaped lollipop. A must for your hardcore Android fan.
- Android Infected Resin cast mini figure – If you’ve collected any of the Android Mini figures from Andrew Bell/Dead Zebra, then this delightfully detailed resin cast ‘Zombified’ Android figure, made originally for a San Diego ComiCon exclusive is a great addition. Get in fast as you’ll have to grab this from the US and shipping may be a little expensive.
- Chromed Android Mini Figure – Another must for the Android Mini Figure collector, with a Chrome plated version of the DIY Android. It’s selling out of Germany so you’ll have to get an order in early to ensure delivery by Christmas.
- Android Costume – if Halloween is to become a ‘thing’ in Australia, why not start getting ready and dress up as the BugDroid. Sadly for the taller people out there you’ll have to pay an additional US$20 for a custom made one if you’re over 5’10” – but it’s your own Android costume!
- We’d be remiss if we didn’t add a product which we weren’t very sure on at first, but once you’ve tried it will surely delight. Google Cardboard. Released at Google I/O this year as something of a throw-away, Cardboard is a low-end VR Headset made from cardboard. There’s a variety of Super Cheap places to buy Cardboard, but you may wait months for shipping. Try out Unofficialcardboard or more locally, at Gadgets4Geeks.
So that’s it – we hope you find something here that will satisfy the Android lover out there and if you’re an Android fan yourself, share the list around to anyone who may buy you a gift. We’re also open to receiving a Christmas gift or two ourselves if you’re feeling generous ;).