Top tech for kids
Buying for kids isn’t always easy. Pick the sort of toys you’d have liked at their age and the best you can hope for is a half-hearted thanks and the sort of look that makes you feel even older than you are.
But this year it can be different. This year with the help of our guide you can be the cool mum or dad or uncle or ‘do I really have to buy a present for their kid? I’ve only met him once when he was a baby’ person.
Whatever your budget we’ve got a high-tech gadget that’s sure to please, so put down that Duplo and read on for a techtastic Christmas.
M:Tech Wall Climbing Car
Price: £19.95 (around $30/AU$42)
What’s better than a remote control car? A remote control car which climbs walls. That’s exactly what you get with the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin M:Tech Wall Climbing Car. Oh, and it can also drive along ceilings, obviously.
These gravity-defying gizmos are small enough that they won’t cause too much chaos and strong enough that they won’t easily break. Most importantly they’re also a lot of fun. Really, they’re cars which climb walls… who wouldn’t want that?
KidiZoom Smart Watch
The chunky, colourful KidiZoom Smart Watch is a bit more exciting than the watches we had as kids. Its brightly coloured touchscreen makes it fun to interact with and does a lot more than just show them it’s bed time, with both built in and downloadable games and a tool to help young children learn to tell the time.
Like any good digital watch it also has a stop watch, timer and alarm and it goes above and beyond with a camera and a variety of clock faces. It’s not quite the Apple Watch, but it’s far more fun for young children.
Parrot MiniDrone Airborne Cargo
Everything’s better when it flies and while a pet bird might be a good bet, a drone is a high-tech and frankly superior alternative.
You don’t have to confine it to a cage and you won’t have to look after it when the next shiny thing comes along (though you’ll probably want to).
Make it a Parrot MiniDrone Airborne Cargo and it won’t cost a fortune either, so if it crash lands one too many times it’s not the end of the world. However, it’s durable enough that it should be able to survive a good few rookie pilot errors.
If the child you’re buying for is a bit old for the KidiZoom then it’s worth checking out Pebble. This is a proper smartwatch and not specifically aimed at children, but with a fairly low price and a colourful design it’s one of the more kid-friendly wearables around.
There are loads of downloadable watch faces, including plenty of fun ones that kids will love and it’s water resistant, so it can survive an accidental dunk – and it’s been updated to the new version of the OS too!
It’s also got a long-lasting battery, so it won’t need charging every day. The only downside is that like most smartwatches you really need a smartphone to make the most of it, so this is best suited to well-connected (or slightly older) kids.
Anyone who says they don’t want a robot is probably lying and shouldn’t be trusted. But where once such a desire was little more than a pipe dream they’re now kid’s toys.
The WowWee MiP will follow your hand movements, play games and dance to music and for extra control you can use the accompanying app on a smartphone.
We don’t generally like to encourage the inevitable robot apocalypse, but the WowWee MiP is so much fun that we can live with the fact that it may one day be our robot overlord.
Fire Kids Edition
Price: £79.99/$89.99 (around AU$165)
Amazon’s built up an impressive range of tablets, combining decent specs with low prices, and with the Fire Kids Edition it’s even built one specifically for children.
This low-cost slate has a colourful, durable build that’s designed to withstand drops and scrapes, yet it still includes a 2-year no-questions-asked replacement guarantee, to keep it worry-free.
Screen time limits, personalised profiles and a kid friendly browser keep adults in control and with one year of Fire for Kids Unlimited included your child will have access to books, TV shows, games and educational apps at no extra cost.
At the time of writing it’s still a mystery as to whether the new Star Wars film is any good or not, but even it ends up being awful at least one great thing will have come out of it: the Sphero BB8.
It’s probably the most convincing looking Star Wars toy ever and, better yet, it’s a functioning robot, which can be controlled from a smartphone app. Why weren’t gadgets this cool when we were kids?
Moto G 2015
You can get a lot of smartphone for not a lot of money these days, which is especially useful when buying for a child.
The Moto G 2015 is a great option, as not only is it cheap (by smartphone standards), but it’s colourful, customisable and water resistant, which are all good things, especially when kids are involved.
It’s a top phone in its own right too, with a good screen and camera.
iPad mini 2
The Fire Kids Edition is cheap and cheerful, but the iPad mini 2 will be a real crowd pleaser if your budget can stretch to it.
Apple’s slate is small enough for little hands and cheaper than most of the company’s tablets, yet it still offers a great experience, with a brilliant screen and plenty of power.
Most importantly it’s got access to thousands of brilliant educational (and not so educational) apps and games, thanks to the richest app ecosystem around.
You’ll be hard pushed to find a better present than the PlayStation 4 for any gadget hungry child. Sony’s latest console already has a large selection of games and it’s powerful enough that it’s not likely to feel outdated any time soon.
Throw in a PS Plus subscription and your giftee will have an ever expanding library of games for not very much extra outlay.
The only downside is you might never get to use the TV again, but then again, you’ve also got the most popular new console in the world in your living room and you didn’t even need to pretend it wasn’t for you.