By Lewis Empson and Marcus Yeatman-Crouch
Tech and gaming gifts aren’t always the easiest to buy; different platforms, compatibility and specs can cause confusion and result in a more messy than merry christmas. So here at Download we’ve hand picked some of our favourite suggestions to make the already stressful task of Christmas shopping a little easier by highlighting some good picks for the gamers and tech enthusiasts in your life, we’ve even managed to find some good deals – you can thank us later.
- Game Suggestions: a selection of games to appease all types of players:
- Cyberpunk 2077 (releasing December 10th): Xbox One, PS4, PC (next gen upgrade for free)
- Fifa 21: Xbox One/X|S, PS4/5, PC
- Spider-Man Miles Morales: PS4/5
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Xbox One/X|S, PS4/5, PC
- Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War: Xbox One/X|S, PS4/5, PC
- Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (£10.99/month)/PS Now Subscription (£8.99/month): Imagine the Netflix of gaming; hundreds of titles to stream or download ranging from indie gems to triple-A blockbusters. Obviously it depends what console the person uses that you are buying for but either way they’re both great services and offer plenty of choice meaning the likelihood of that awkward “thanks but this game isn’t really my thing” will be a thing of the past. Whether it’s an Xbox gamer in your life that has held out on Gears 5 and Forza Horizon 4 or perhaps they want to play through the whole of the epic Halo saga then Game Pass is the gift that keeps on giving – it also includes Xbox Live Gold for online multiplayer. PS Now is no slouch though with it’s recently added titles boasting the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn and The Surge 2. You can buy codes for either 1 month, 3 months or 12 months subscriptions which vary in price.
- Astro A10 Heaset for Xbox, Playstation, Switch, PC and Mobile (currently on sale for £39.99): Astro are renowned in the gaming scene for their high quality audio accessories; although more often than not they retail at eye-watering prices. Enter the A10 multi platform headset with crisp audio and a lightweight, comfortable design all for only £59.99 – it gets better though as at the time of writing they are on sale for just £39.99 on Amazon, an absolute steal. This headset will work with every device you own as long as it has a 3.5mm headphone port making it the perfect companion for the PS5, Xbox Series X|S and Switch. It includes a microphone perfect for team chat and parties which has a quick flip-to-mute function so you can silence yourself before bursting out into a fit of gamer rage… we’ve all been there.
- Apple iPad 8th Generation (£329/£309.60 with student discount): There’s no getting around it, yes iPads are expensive but you get what you pay for. The newest generation iPad features a large 10.2 screen that’s perfect for work and play. It is compatible with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard making it a valuable educational tool for taking notes and its FaceTime HD camera is ideal for the Zoom call dominated world we now live in. When work is done you can watch Netflix, YouTube and more on its Retina HD display and with Apple boasting it’s supposed “all-day battery” then it should be the ideal productivity machine. Also if you’re a student then you can claim a nice 10% discount and a free year of Apple TV+ which is a nice bonus.
- Anker Powercore Slim power bank (£19.99): A power bank is a tech enthusiasts best friend. Nothing is worse than seeing that dreaded 10% battery warning and having to scramble for your charger or even worse, seeing that when you’re out of the house and unable to top up your battery. The Anker Powercore Slim is (as the name suggests) a slim and compact portable charger which boasts a 10,000mah cell capable of charging an iPhone 2.6 times and can even charge the gargantuan battery in an iPad. A portable charger is easily one of the most practical presents you could buy.
- Nintendo Switch Lite (£179.99): The amount of time people are spending indoors has led to a massive boost in console sales this year. If you or your giftee just wants a system to enjoy games on at home, but can’t afford or find stock with the newest consoles, look no further than the Nintendo Switch Lite. The Lite version of Nintendo’s current console foregoes the ability to detach its controllers or connect to a TV screen, keeping itself fully portable like the Nintendo DS of old. These may seem like some big sacrifices, but Game have slashed the price of the system to £180, making it well worth the money for what you’re getting. It still runs all the games the main Switch can, is available in 4 different colours, and is essentially perfect for anyone who just wants to be able to pick up and play in their downtime. You won’t be getting the power or graphics of the Playstation or Xbox, but for its cut price the Nintendo Switch Lite makes for a great gift for the casual gamer.
- Amazon Echo Show 5 (£64.99): Here’s one for the family. Amazon’s Echo Show is essentially Alexa with a screen, meant to be placed on the counter or table around the home as an assistant like the smaller, audio-only Echo’s. With functions like a weather app, connections to security cameras, and the usual links to apps like Spotify or Prime Video that let you watch and listen to all your favourites wherever you are in the house. What sold it for us was the added video call functionality that the screen gives – if you’re stuck away from family for Christmas, giving them the Echo Show is not just a handy gift but a new way to connect, and its purpose as a home appliance means it will always be on hand if you feel like making a call. At the moment, the Echo Show feels like both a thoughtful gift and a useful one, and the compact model 5 comes in at £65, a worthwhile investment for the family.
- Gaming Monitors (from £74.99): Building a PC is expensive, and budgets this year are tight. Ideally, you want to maximise your spending on the things going in the PC first – graphics cards, RAM, and storage amongst other pricey things – so the accessories to this machine are likely the last thing in your wallet’s mind. With that said, there are some great, cheap, monitors designed for a gaming PC available online, including the one we’ve linked which is currently on sale for almost 20% off. Not only is the monitor itself a cheap option if your main aim is to get a PC built, it also functions as a great, high quality screen in place of a TV, if you lack the space for a proper one, and can just as easily be hooked up to a Playstation or Xbox for gaming on there too. It’s an excellent all-rounder monitor, and if you have a higher budget there are plenty of similarly good but well priced alternatives online too.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick (£29.99 – £49.99): The Fire TV Stick is a great little tool for students and families alike. It comes in two parts: a remote, and a dongle you simply plug into the HDMI port of your TV. These two pieces open you up to all the streaming essentials including Netflix, Spotify and Disney+, all in a convenient and easy to use system. All 3 versions of the Fire Stick come with Alexa voice controls, while the £40 and £50 versions have TV controls so you don’t need to use your original TV remote to navigate. There’s really not much difference between the three different levels of Fire Sticks, although at £50 the final one will get you 4k streaming if you have a TV that can support it – we would recommend the £40 one for the added TV controls but if you just want an affordable device to access all your streaming services, the £30 option is just as good and doesn’t have any difference in quality. The Fire Stick is so portable and easy to plug in and use that it’s really becoming a staple, so if you or your family don’t have one already, this Christmas might be the time to invest!