SPRING IS in the air. Fathers' Day. Easter. Spring birthdays. There's a lot of reasons to want to part with your money for some serious swag. So here's our perennially updated list of the stuff that we've had into the office that might make a good gift, and absolutely isn't here because it didn't fit into another guide on the site.
We've had our eye on this cutie for a long time, and now, thanks to our friends at Prezzybox, we can tell you how cool it is. And the answer is VERY. The six pieces can be made into almost any combination, and in true Tetris style, the long straight one is compulsory, as that sends a small electric charge via the metal edging that makes the other pieces light up. There's a weird, giddy thrill in connecting it and making it light up. It seems like mild witchcraft, and once you decide how you want it, it looks gorgeous as a lamp too.
Chargepit charging station
In a world where we're forever surrounded by stuff that needs to be both tidy and charging via USB, it's hard to argue with the genius of the Chargepit. Four rows to accommodate your phones, tablets and ultrathin laptops, and buried deep within, a six port USB charger. Just add a cable and then poke it through the holes. It's hardly high-tech, and it's worth noting that there are no cables provided, but it charges six gadgets and keeps them out of the way. There can be no higher praise in this proliferation of stuff.
Why no one has thought of a proper, credit card sized battery charger for your phone is inexplicable, but here it is, finally. Currently Kickstarting for expansion, the device is very much available to order and offers a modest but essential 1,280mAh of extra power in wallet or purse, with a built-in microUSB cable or lighting cable. Plans are afoot for a USB-C version too. Chargers come and go, but we love the idea of having enough juice to get you out of a tight spot and this, is most definitely that. There's certainly ample to call a taxi.
Pure Danish innovation. A seat (or more specifically a leaning post) that folds down to the size and shape of a beer can. Made of the same material as a riot shield, it's perfect for whipping out at festivals or on the tube. The optional shoulder holster doubles as a padded seat to keep your hindquarters even comfier. Available in a range of colours, Sitpack is a definite must have for your travels or for anyone with a health condition that doesn't allow them to stand for too long.
It's been a long time coming, but for the vast majority of people who don't want complicated subscriptions and multi-room systems, Electric Jukebox is the perfect solution. A spare HDMI socket is all you need to access a huge range of music (the company claims as many tracks as its rivals) either with your voice or with the Wii-style pointer remote. Regularly updated playlists are curated by famous clever showbiz types including Stephen Fry and Alexander Armstrong, but what's best about this, especially as a present for a parent, is that the price on the box is all you pay for the year. Renewals after a year cost £52 but even without you can still access playlists and charts with ad support. The tech community have been a bit dismissive of this because of its simplicity, but we think that its the perfect present for the less tech-savvy music lover who wants something that "just works" because that's exactly what it does.
iMusic Speaker Pillow
Sleep is awesome. But if you're the sort of person that likes to listen to music, or whale sounds, or audio books before you go to sleep, then here's the solution. The iMusic pillow hides a speaker within its springy filling, so lying on your side allows you to listen as you snooze. The pillow connects via a standard 3.5mm jack (sorry, no Bluetooth) and the sound quality is surprisingly good, yet it isolates enough not to annoy your bed partner.
Noke Bluetooth Padlock
A very cool idea. Perfect for your bike or a gym locker, the Noke (pronounced "no key") padlock works by pairing to a Bluetooth device and locks as soon as you are out of range. Unlocking is a matter of tapping the phone against the Noke. You can override this with a programmed set of taps on the lock splint if you've forgotten your device, or something goes wrong. The app also allows for tracking from your phone if you want to find out where it is. One in the eye for thieves who somehow manage to get past the ridiculously strong boron-steel padlock. There's even an "emergency jump start" if the battery runs out, with an external battery. It's so well thought out.
Desktop Arcade Machine / Handheld Retro Pocket Arcade
240 games crammed into a gorgeous little desktop version of a classic arcade machine. The games look of a 16-bit quality to us and there's a good spread of time killers from puzzles to beat-em-ups on a teeny-tiny 2.5in screen. OK, it's not going to replace your PS4, but it's seriously cute. With an eight-way joystick, A/B buttons and adjustable volume (you'll be thankful of that), it's the perfect gift - something you probably wouldn't buy yourself but you'd go loopy to receive.
If you're more an 8-bit fiend, how about 120 retro games in a tiny pocket package with a 1.8in screen? It's surprising how absorbing it gets playing arcade classics from 30 years ago. A great one for the travel bag too.
Olixar 3-in-1 Emergency Pen
OK, something a bit weird now. Olixar are the in-house brand of Mobile Fun, and having tested a few of their products, we can see why. It's all incredibly good quality. In this case, it's a pen, it's a stylus, but it also has a secret weapon, literally. Unscrewing the stylus turns the pen into a spring-loaded tool for breaking glass, a proper Bond gadget if you get stuck in a building. Impress your friends! Save the girl! Kill the Baddies! Awesome. Weird, but awesome.
Lifemax Soothing Sounds Machine
It's very easy to say, "it's a machine that plays sounds", and that's the backbone, but what you've actually got here is a collection of trippy soundscapes that will allow you to drift off to sleep, meditate or generally relax. There's 12 different sounds from rain falling to white noise, to more esoteric noises like "meditate". Fully controllable volume, a sleep timer and a headphone socket round off a very neat, smart but simple tool for anyone who likes a full sensory experience. And if you're a masseuse - you need one of these, it's perfect for you.
Star Wars Death Star mood lamp
That's no moon - it's a mood lamp. No gift guide would be complete without a Star Wars gadget, so we give you the Death Star mood lamp, with a moody glow that will make any child (even a 41-year-old child) Keen to get into bed and gaze into the detail, authentic to the 1977 original. It's sturdy, with a transparent base to make it look more floaty, while turning it on and off is as easy as pressing the top. Simple. striking. Very cool.
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