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Electronics

Best tech Christmas gifts under £100

If you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet then you probably should. There’s less than 20 sleeps until the big day and you don’t want to disappoint your friends and family with a pair of socks and a box of Celebrations you bought from a petrol station on Christmas Eve.

This is the excitement level you should be aiming for.

Whatever your nearest and dearest are into, there’s a great gift waiting to be found. We’re here to help you narrow the search and we’ve picked six pieces of must-have tech that will keep you in good graces this Christmas.

2nd generation Amazon Echo – GBP79

With so many features, the latest Echo makes an excellent gift.

It can play music, control smart tech, and act as a personal assistant by arranging taxis, setting alarms and even ordering pizza. All these features are triggered by voice-commands and there aren’t many requests that Alexa, the name of the built-in assistant, can’t respond to. Alexa’s capabilities are always expanding.

Since the launch of the original in 2014, Alexa and the Echo have learned to control certain TVs and recognise different voices to give contextual responses. Then there’s the skills, which act like apps for the Echo. By enabling them from the Alexa smartphone app, you can have Alexa tell you your fortune, add items to your Ocado basket and more.

There are thousands of skills to try and they are all free. Find out if the 2nd generation Echo has better sound quality than the GBP149 original in our 2nd generation Amazon Echo hands-on review[1]. If you already have speakers and you just want Alexa’s smarts, then you can buy the cheaper Amazon Echo Dot[2] for GBP50 and connect that to your existing system using a 3.5mm cable or Bluetooth.

Garmin Vivofit 3 – GBP55

Whether the recipient is into fitness already, or you reckon they’ll be gym-bound come the new year, a fitness tracker makes a great gift.

The Vivofit 3 isn’t the most advanced tracker out there, but it won’t cost the Earth either. It’s got a cracking battery life and it’s comfy to wear. It tracks steps, distance, how many calories you’ve burned and it’s waterproof, so you can take it swimming.

The key thing with any tracker is accuracy. To find out how good the Vivofit is at keeping tabs on your workout, head to our Garmin Vivofit 3 review[3].

Amazon Fire HD 8 – GBP80

For every GBP550 iPad Pro, there’s a low-cost tablet. While the screen resolution won’t be as high and it won’t load apps in the blink of an eye, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth picking one up.

The Fire HD looks the part and its 8-inch screen is 1,280×800, which is a crisp enough resolution for a small display. It has stereo speakers, too, so it’s a good device for watching Netflix, YouTube and, of course, Amazon Video. If want to add your own media to the HD 8, then the good news is you can expand the storage up to 256GB with a micro-SD card.

That’s more than enough space for scores of HD movies and hundreds of albums. It’s all coming up roses for the Fire HD 8, but have any concessions been made to get the tablet under GBP100? Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 review[4] to find out.

Google Chromecast Ultra – GBP69

If you’ve got that one family member who won’t stop banging on about how there’s nothing on TV, then an internet TV box – or in this case an internet TV disc – is the perfect pressie.

The Ultra connects to wi-fi and a spare HDMI port on your TV, and opens up a whole world of streaming. Apps, including YouTube, Amazon Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and most other catch-up TV apps all come pre-installed. As it’s the Ultra, the lucky recipient can also watch content in 4K, which is currently the highest resolution offered by any of the streaming apps on the device.

If they don’t have a 4K TV yet, they can still watch HD shows and movies and you get to spend less, too. Get a standard Chromecast, [5]which costs around GBP30, or a GBP40 Fire TV stick[6]. To see if the Ultra aced our tests and sits top of the heap in a competitive area, head to our Chromecast Ultra review[7].

Sennheiser Urbanite – GBP88

They may be a few years old, but that just means you can get these Sennheiser headphones for less.

These on-ear Urbanite headphones look stylish enough to hold their own in a world of glossy Beats and chunky, over-sized headphones from Skullcandy[8] and Monster[9]. While not as portable as an in-ear pair, they do fold flat and fit neatly into the supplied travel case. There’s an inline remote, too, so you can take calls and adjust the volume of your music without reaching for your phone.

There are two versions: one that works with iPhones and one that works with Android handsets. So make sure you choose the right model if you want the remote to work with the recipient’s phone. Click through to our Sennheiser Urbanite review[10] to see how these on-ear headphones sound.

Sony SRS-X11 – GBP30

At just GBP30, this little cube from Sony is one of the bargains of the century – if the sound is up to scratch.

It’s Bluetooth and portable and our tests found it to be surprisingly loud considering it’s pocket-friendly size. It has more features that belie its low price. There’s near-field communication, or NFC, which makes it easier to connect your phone to the speaker, and there’s a microphone built-in, so you don’t need to disconnect your phone to take calls.

Ultimately, it’s sound quality that will secure a Best Buy for this little speaker, does it have what it takes?

Here’s our full Sony SRS-X11 review[11].

References

  1. ^ 2nd generation Amazon Echo hands-on review (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Amazon Echo Dot (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Garmin Vivofit 3 review (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Amazon Fire HD 8 review (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Chromecast, (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Fire TV stick (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ Chromecast Ultra review (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ Skullcandy (www.which.co.uk)
  9. ^ Monster (www.which.co.uk)
  10. ^ Sennheiser Urbanite review (www.which.co.uk)
  11. ^ Sony SRS-X11 review (www.which.co.uk)

Which? reveals five new Best Buy headphones for Black Friday

October was a stellar month in our headphones lab. We tested 10 pairs and half of them were good enough to be Best Buys. Our exhaustive tests use an expert listening panel to pick out exemplary headphones that will impress even the most discerning listener.

Whatever style you prefer, we’ve got you covered with in-ear, on-ear, over-ear and wireless headphones running our testing gauntlet. And Sony fans will have lots of options to pore over, with no less than six new reviews. Read on to see which ones came out on top and which ones you should leave alone even if you spy them with a reduced sticker on Black Friday.

Best Buy headphones – see which models we recommend.[1]

Sony WH-1000XM2

A flagship Sony pair of over-ear headphones packed to the brim with features, these aim to provide the ultimate wireless headphone experience. In the search for perfection, they even sense the atmospheric pressure around you and optimise their sound settings accordingly, whether you’re on a plane or in your living room. Sporting noise cancelling, microphone, NFC (near-field communication) and the ability to tweak the soundscape through a smartphone app, these headphones desire to please even the most demanding audiophile.

Can’t hear the announcement at the train station? Just hold your hand to one of the touch-sensitive cups to let in sound from around you. Can Sony really pull all this off and send you to audio heaven?

Find out in our Sony WH-1000XM2 review[2].

Sony WH-H800 h.ear on 2 Mini

For those who don’t want the bulk of over-ear headphones, Sony’s also got you covered with this on-ear pair. Part of the h.ear 2 range with great looks, you’ll be able to fit these in your bag more easily. They also have the same ability to tweak the sound profile through a smartphone app, so there’s no need to worry about whether they will be too bassy out of the box.

NFC support and a built-in microphone are here too, plus the claim of a highly respectable 24-hour battery life. But do they have a good seal to block out background noise? Our experts give their verdict in the Sony WH-H800 h.ear on 2 Mini review[3].

Sony WI-H700 h.ear in 2 Wireless

If you want a listening experience on the move, Sony gives you this feature-packed in-ear experience.

Available in a wide range of vibrant colours, the WI-H700’s neckband packs in the electronics. But Sony has aimed not to compromise on flexibility with the lightweight design. This model has the ability to play high-end digital music files, NFC and, again, it can adjust the sound profile via Sony’s smartphone app for headphones.

Sony says the battery lasts seven hours but this is nowhere near the impressive 24 hours it claims for its WI-C400[4] headphones, also just tested. The WI-H700 is just one of six new Sony headphones in our latest tests. Can Sony maintain a high standard across so many different sets?

Check out the Sony WI-H700 h.ear in 2 Wireless review[5] to find out.

JVC HA-FX38M

At only GBP10, these are one of the cheapest pairs of earbuds we’ve ever tested. They have a simple, lightweight design for those who just want to plug in and listen. JVC claims the earbuds are like a ‘spongy marshmallow’ for maximum comfort.

They’re aimed at anyone on a tight budget who wants a pair to carry around all day without having to worry about charging a battery. There’s no microphone or in-line controls, but if you only listen rarely or frequently lose your headphones, could this be the way to go? See what we thought in our JVC HA-FX38M review[6].

Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless

Skullcandy typically aims at the lower end of the market, but at GBP100 this pair is priced at the serious end.

Brimming with bass, this over-ear pair claims to have a battery life to last throughout the day, with fast-charging technology to minimise any downtime. Is this pair a good alternative to more expensive headphones from bigger brands? The Hesh 3 Wireless has some strong competition in this price bracket.

See how it measures up in our Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless review[7].

Audio-Technica ATH-DSR7BT

Aiming to please audiophiles, Audio-Technica has the ambition to provide crystal-clear sound to even the most discerning ear. This wireless Bluetooth pair’s signature feature is sending the digital music directly to its speakers without converting it to an analogue signal first. Audio-Technica says this gives the pair pure sound that is a cut above the rest.

With a top-end price of GBP295 and a surprisingly middling 15-hour battery life, does this pair deliver a new level of audio design?

Read what we found when we put it through its paces in our Audio-Technica ATH-DSR7BT review[8].

Even more headphones tested

As well as the models featured above, you can also read new reviews of the following:

References

  1. ^ Best Buy headphones (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Sony WH-1000XM2 review (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Sony WH-H800 h.ear on 2 Mini review (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ WI-C400 (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Sony WI-H700 h.ear in 2 Wireless review (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ JVC HA-FX38M review (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless review (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ Audio-Technica ATH-DSR7BT review (www.which.co.uk)

Black Friday Christmas gift Best Buys for under £50

With Christmas edging closer, you may want to use this year’s Black Friday sales to pick up some affordable gifts – and they don’t come better than a Best Buy. Retailers are slashing prices on the latest and greatest tech and home products, so you could land yourself a bargain this Black Friday if you shop wisely. As always, our advice is to plan ahead – and that means finding out if the products that might be on sale are any good before you buy.

To help, we’ve rounded up a range of giftable gadgets where we’ve found Best Buys for less than GBP50 – great news if you want to keep Christmas affordable. Plus our in-depth reviews will help steer you in the right direction, so you don’t end up with a discount dud. Black Friday hub[1] – top tips on spotting bargains

Tech products for Christmas under GBP50

Headphones

You’ll have no trouble finding headphones under GBP50 on sale this Black Friday – at the time of writing we have 72 reviews at this price point, but quality is mixed, to say the least.

Review scores range from 72% down to just 15% – the realms of the dreaded Don’t Buy. The Sennheiser HD 206 headphones [2]recently returned from our test lab. These lightweight over-ear headphones are on sale for around GBP20, rocking a lightweight design and a three-metre cable.

They’re cheaper than the popular HD 231i[3], but can they outperform them? You’ll also find some impressive and cheap models from brands like Sony[4] and Skullcandy[5]. Browse all our headphone reviews[6] for the lowdown on the best bargains.

Fitness watches and activity trackers

If you or a loved one are planning on working off that Christmas turkey next year, a fitness watch or activity tracker[7] could be just the inspiration you need to stick to that new year’s resolution.

It’s not easy to find a good fitness tracker for under GBP50, but there are some available. We’ve reviewed models from the likes of Garmin[8] and Fitbit[9] to help you choose, plus read our first looks of the Goji Go[10] and TomTom Touch Cardio[11].

Wireless and Bluetooth speakers

A cheap Bluetooth speaker[12] could make for a good stocking filler this Christmas. Big brands like Bose, with its SoundLink Color II[13], and Sony’s SRS-X11[14] are both available for under GBP50, and the Jam Classic [15]is just GBP15.

Sound quality is obviously paramount here, but we also test speakers to find out how easy they are to use, how long their batteries will last and what connections they have, so you know in advance whether you can hook up them up wirelessly, or with the right cable.

Internet-TV boxes

We expect to see a selection of Black Friday deals on internet-TV boxes[16] this year. We’ve just had the new Roku Express[17] back from our test lab – it’s the first ever 4K Roku internet-TV box and costs GBP30. All you need to do to set it up is plug it into your TV’s USB port.

Alternatively, there’s the GBP40 Amazon Fire TV Stick[18]. It comes bundled with an Alexa-enabled remote, which means you can use your voice to play your favourite TV shows.

Home products for Christmas under GBP50

Coffee machines

A popular giftable option around Christmas, a new coffee machine can make those winter mornings just a little more bearable. The Lavazza Jolie[19] is just GBP35 from Tesco.

It’s compact (so won’t take up much space on your worktop) and uses Lavazza’s A Modo Mio capsules. Or are you better off opting for another big-name brand, like Delonghi? Its own budget coffee machine, the GBP40 Delonghi Dolce Gusto Jovia[20], is also pretty slimline and can make a variety of drinks to keep you or your family warm this winter.

See our coffee machine reviews[21] for more.

Food processors

Grate, slice, chop, mix, knead, whip, whisk and blend those festive ingredients with an affordable food processor. You might not think you’d find much for less than GBP50 but there are some impressive Best Buys available, along with others that don’t make the grade. The Kenwood FPP220 Multipro Compact[22] lands at around GBP40 and has a 2.1-litre bowl and two speed settings.

We sent it off to our test lab to see how effectively it can chop onions, nuts and herbs. If you’re on a tighter budget, read our verdict on the GBP15 Kenwood CH180A[23], or head over to our food processor reviews[24] page to see our full line up of tested products and pick one that performs.

Blenders

A top-notch blender can whiz up a range of ingredients into delicious smoothies, and many of the models we’ve tested (33 to be precise) come in at under GBP50. While there are four great Best Buys to choose from in this price range, others could leave you reaching for the chopping board.

The Nutri Ninja Slim Blender QB3001[25] costs around GBP40 and doesn’t feature any buttons – all you have to do is load it with food and push the cup down to start blending. The cheapest on offer is the Kenwood SB056[26], currently under GBP20, and there are plenty of models in between. See our blender reviews[27] page for our verdict on products from Philips, Kenwood and Breville to see whether you can bag a bargain, or if it’s worth paying more.

Electric toothbrushes

Although you can spend a small fortune on the latest and greatest electric toothbrushes, that’s by no means a guarantee of quality.

We’ve tested and rated electric toothbrushes from the biggest brands, including Oral B, Philips Sonicare and Colgate, ranging from GBP12 to GBP250, and it’s fair to say performance varies across the board. There are bargains and discounts to be found on many models, including the Colgate ProClinical 350 Whitening[28] toothbrush (which now costs around GBP15, reduced from GBP59.99) and, as the name implies, includes a whitening element on its head. There’s also the GBP40 Philips Sonicare EasyClean HX6511/50[29] to consider – it’s a tad pricier but boasts a claimed battery life of two weeks.

Or should you really risk spending GBP12 on the Superdrug ProCare[30], or GBP14 on the Asda Pure Hygeine[31]?

Don’t believe everything you read when it comes to bagging a bargain in the Black Friday sales.

Our Price Predictor tool[32] can help you work out if a discount is really as good as it seems.

References

  1. ^ Black Friday hub (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Sennheiser HD 206 headphones (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ HD 231i (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Sony (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Skullcandy (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ headphone reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ fitness watch or activity tracker (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ Garmin (www.which.co.uk)
  9. ^ Fitbit (www.which.co.uk)
  10. ^ Goji Go (www.which.co.uk)
  11. ^ TomTom Touch Cardio (www.which.co.uk)
  12. ^ Bluetooth speaker (www.which.co.uk)
  13. ^ SoundLink Color II (www.which.co.uk)
  14. ^ Sony’s SRS-X11 (www.which.co.uk)
  15. ^ Jam Classic (www.which.co.uk)
  16. ^ internet-TV boxes (www.which.co.uk)
  17. ^ Roku Express (www.which.co.uk)
  18. ^ Amazon Fire TV Stick (www.which.co.uk)
  19. ^ Lavazza Jolie (www.which.co.uk)
  20. ^ Delonghi Dolce Gusto Jovia (www.which.co.uk)
  21. ^ coffee machine reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  22. ^ Kenwood FPP220 Multipro Compact (www.which.co.uk)
  23. ^ Kenwood CH180A (www.which.co.uk)
  24. ^ food processor reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  25. ^ Nutri Ninja Slim Blender QB3001 (www.which.co.uk)
  26. ^ Kenwood SB056 (www.which.co.uk)
  27. ^ blender reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  28. ^ Colgate ProClinical 350 Whitening (www.which.co.uk)
  29. ^ Philips Sonicare EasyClean HX6511/50 (www.which.co.uk)
  30. ^ Superdrug ProCare (www.which.co.uk)
  31. ^ Asda Pure Hygeine (www.which.co.uk)
  32. ^ Price Predictor tool (www.which.co.uk)