2023 techmas gift guide

Published on the 14/12/2023 | Written by Heather Wright

All I want for Christmas is, well, maybe not…

The silly season is on us again, and with it an endless stream of gift guides as all vendors vy for our hard earned cash. Here at iStart we thought it would be remiss for us not to provide some Techmas present offerings.

Some are cool, some are just plain weird, and one or two remain downright creepy. We’ll leave it up to you to decide. 

For a sub-NZ$100 freestyle projector, head to Aliexpress and the Transpeed 4K Wifi6, 200 ANSI home cinema outdoor portable projector. With output up to 1280x720p, 130-inch screen projection display and a 180° project angle, you can stream movies, sports and music from the wall to the ceiling. 

It’s also available locally, but you will pay more. 

For those who are always having to do the sunglasses-reading glasses hokey tokey (you take your sunglasses off, you put your reading glasses on, you shake it all about, you turn yourself around and that’s what it’s all about!) there are the 32°N Adaptive Focus Glasses (US$849). With a swipe of the finger across the lens they switch from sunglasses to standard, off the shelf reading glasses. 

On the creepier, privacy-be-damned side, Meta unveiled its latest Ray Ban ‘smart glasses’ in October, with their hidden cameras to take photos and videos and a hidden speaker and microphone in the arms. The new versions, starting at US$299, feature an improved 12mp camera, the ability to livestream direct to Instagram and Facebook and a new feature enabling to you ask Meta AI questions and get answers straight to your glasses. It’s the idea that just never seems to die.

With Covid apparently rife across Australia and New Zealand currently, and the average smartphone packing 10x more germs than a toilet seat according to the US Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, how about a PhoneSoap 3 UV cell phone sanitiser? This nifty little $80 box  promises to clean and sanitise the surfaces of your phone and other high touch gear using UV-C. While we certainly aren’t going to promise you a Covid-negative device, PhoneSoap’s offering does also include a dual universal cell phone charger.

While we’re at it, how about Dyson’s Zone Air-Purifying headphones. Yes, they really did happen. A contactless, personal air purifier channelling clear air into your nose and mouth. They’re certainly a look, with the metallic visor covering the mouth, but whether it’s a look we want with its Hannibal Lecter overtones… The headphones, it should be said, are reportedly excellent quality. You decide if you want the air purifying aspect. We here at iStart think they’re right up there with 2017’s HushMe Bluetooth headset which, looking much like a human muzzle, muffles your conversation from prying ears. And yes, you can still buy HushMe. You can thank us later. 

We’ve got babycam’s so why shouldn’t you treat your precious pet to the same level of care? Petcube provides three indoor wi-fi pet and security cameras with a phone app, night vision and two-way audio so you can monitor your pet 24/7. Puddy looking a little distressed? You can alleviate its separation anxiety by chatting to them. Ahhh, another thing we can do to distract ourselves from work. Though the option of yelling at your dog from afar as it starts tearing furniture apart may not be completely unwarranted. 

For those of us living lives which don’t lend themselves to pets that require regular feeding, toileting, grooming and, well, looking after, Petoi Bittle has a palm-sized robot dog. It’s not the cuddliest pet, that’s for sure, but it walks, plays tricks and rolls around like a real dog. You can also ‘teach’ it new tricks. Oh, and you get to build it yourself and you can add AI chips or Raspberry Pi. 

With just one hour of playtime it won’t be demanding walkies, cuddles, feeding all day long. As a side note, this isn’t a toy for young children – parental guidance is apparently recommended so this won’t be an answer for those of us looking to get around the little one’s pleas for a dog for Christmas. 

For them, short of the real thing, there’s the plenty of robot dog options Zreswap Remote Control Robot Dog which can handle up to 100 commands. 

And speaking of robots, how about the Piaggio Fast Forward Gitamini personal robot designed to carry your cargo for you. It’s programmed to follow you while sensing the movements of fellow pedestrians. Bonus: A built-in Bluetooth speaker for streaming on the go. Your Roomba is going to be so jealous when it sees Gitamini leave the house with you! Great for the next tech conference when you don’t want to carry your own bag or backpack and just US$2,475. Plus possibly a trip to the US to pick it up as shipping to Australia and New Zealand doesn’t appear to be an option yet.

And because Christmas is quickly followed by New Year’s and all those endless promises to ourselves for a healthier future, how about the Oura Ring – because fitness watches are sooooo old school. This one is a discrete ring that tracks temperature, heart rate, daily activity, sleep, even stress levels and all at your fingertips, or rather finger.

So that’s a wrap of some of this year’s techmas options. And it’s a wrap too, from the team here at iStart, as we gear up for our Christmas break. We’ll be back again January 15, 2024 for another year of tech. In the meantime, we wish all our readers and advertisers a wonderful festive season – and here’s to a prosperous, fulfilling 2024.

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