Smart Kit for Christmas

Christmas presents used to be for kids; grown-ups just exchanged book tokens and weary glances.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But these days, no-one need be left out of the frenzy of paper-ripping and box-opening. There are plenty of techie gifts for even the most hard-nosed of business-people - as MT's selection of cool gear with guaranteed ROI shows. Whether you're keen to schmooze a client, impress your boss or want to top up your own Christmas stocking, let our list, compiled by Tom Dunmore, editor-in-chief of Stuff, be your guide.

FOR THE TERMINALLY HIP
Apple MacBook Pro, from £1,349
www.apple.com/uk

The latest professional Mac laptop isn't just the most powerful, most gorgeous Apple notebook ever, it's also the first to run on Intel chips - cutting-edge Core 2 Duo chips, in fact. So you can now run Windows XP on the MacBook, alongside the Mac OS. And every Mac laptop now has a built-in videocamera and free iChat software, allowing four-way videoconferencing over the web. The £800 i-Book has most of the same features, but in iPod white rather than aluminium.

FOR THE MULTI-TASKER
Microsoft Notebook Presenter Mouse, £65
www.microsoft.com

Microsoft's new wireless mouse brings the wow-factor to slide presentations. This advanced tool links to your laptop via Bluetooth and offers precise control, via six customisable buttons, a four-way scroll wheel and high-definition laser tracking technology in the place of a lint-gathering ball. Flip it over and a range of belly buttons lets you switch between PowerPoint slides, control media files, adjust volume and drive home your message with a laser pointer.

FOR THE E-MAIL JUNKIE
Blackberry Pearl, from £0 (subject to contract)
www.blackberrypearl.co.uk

The concept of the BlackBerry is simple: it keeps you up-to-date with your e-mail inbox wherever you are. Other mobile phones make similar promises, but nothing delivers like the device e-mail addicts call the 'CrackBerry'. In fact, it does its job so well that many overlook its failings - its size, its lack of other features and its ugliness. The Pearl heralds a new era. It's slim and beautiful - and feature-rich, boasting a digital camera with flash, music player and movie functions. It lacks its predecessors' full Qwerty keyboard, yet keeps a similar layout, with two letters assigned to each key - smart software works out what you're trying to type. You'll be e-mailing like a pro within hours. Navigating the menus (and web pages) is made easy by the central trackball that gives the Pearl its name.

FOR THE BOND WANNABE
Abacus MobileWear Bluetooth Watch, £150
www.widget.co.uk

Gadget watches have rarely delivered, but the new MobileWear Bluetooth is a revelation. Part of Fossil's Abacus brand, the stainless steel MobileWear is a classy analogue watch with hidden talents. It uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your mobile. When your phone rings, the digital strip lights up with cool blue characters to tell you who's calling. You can opt to silence your ringtone or decline the call without touching your mobile. Combine it with a Bluetooth headset and you have the perfect gift for that wannabe spy in your life. At present, it's compatible only with 007's favoured brand of mobile, Sony Ericsson.

FOR THE JET-SETTER
Sony UX90, from £1,225
www.uk.dynamism.com

The age of the ultra-portable computer is upon us. Sony's Vaio UX90 is a fully functioning Windows PC in a case smaller than a paperback novel. It's not the highest-powered PC ever, but it packs an Intel processor, 30GB hard drive and plenty of RAM - enough for pretty much anything you'd want to do on a PC, unless you're a 3D animator or professional gamer. Despite a screen that's a mere 4.5in corner-to-corner, the UX90 manages a resolution of 1200 x 1600 pixels - as much as most 15in monitors. And the UX90 has built-in zoom buttons to help you read the small print. Underneath the display lives a tiny Qwerty keypad. It's a bit cramped for fat fingers, but Tablet PC software and a touch-sensitive display let you write directly on the screen instead of having to type. It's high-tech, import-only and small enough to use even - the horror! - when flying economy.

FOR THE CEO WHO HAS EVERYTHING
Cisco TelePresence, from $79,000 to $300,000
www.cisco.com/go/telepresence

TelePresence uses up to three ultra-high-definition plasma screens running at 1,080p resolution - twice the quality of HDTV and six times as good as standard telly. Combined with high-definition cameras and multi-channel microphones, it allows totally natural communication, with simultaneous conversations able to take place, safe in the knowledge that Cisco's networking know-how will keep the meeting going longer. No more grainy, flickering images and stilted dialogue, this is as close to a real meeting as it's possible to get. It's seriously pricy, but so is regular long-haul first-class air travel - and it will save a lot of flying time as well as reducing your company's carbon footprint.

FOR THE ULTIMATE SALESPERSON
Samsung SP-P300ME, £550
www.samsungelectronics.co.uk

If you want your salesforce to make a good impression during presentations, arm them with a projector, because sod's law dictates that the client's will be on the blink, incompatible or sabotaged by your competition. But the problem with carrying your own, of course, is that these items are notoriously big and heavy, and delicate to boot - which hardly makes them ideal for lugging around the world. Samsung's SP-P300ME changes all that. It's the size of a hardback book, making it not just one of the smallest projectors on the market but lighter (at 700g) than most laptops. Yet this pocket imager delivers a crisp, bright image of up to 63in, thanks to up-to-the-minute Digital Light Projection (DLP) technology. And because it uses LED lights instead of a traditional bulb, it doesn't run hot or need a noisy fan. In fact, it requires so much less power than a standard projector that you won't even need mains power - it can run for two hours on an optional rechargeable battery (£139). That frees you up to take your presentation skills to places they've never been before, from your garden shed to a hut on a deserted beach.

FOR THE SECRET SANTA
Puk, £5
www.pukme.com

So you've been lumbered with buying the work experience bod a present, on a measly budget of a fiver? Help is at hand in the distinctive shape of the Puk. This squishy wrist-rest is designed to prevent RSI by supporting your mouse hand, its smooth underbelly allowing it to slide, tracking your movements closely across the desk as you work. It's a gift that shows you care about the health of your employees, and because it's available in five colours, its shows how attentive you are to their tastes (just match the shirt they wear on Friday). It can also show how much you care about your company - visit the website to discover how to personalise your PUK with a logo. Finally, it's a gift that shows you're in touch with your emotions - it's the perfect weight for throwing, and the padding means it's unlikely to cause lasting damage when hurled across the office.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime