Best gifts for Christmas 2013: tech gifts for less than £200
In a panic over what to buy for your nearest and dearest this festive season? Stumped for last minute Christmas gift ideas? Our shopping guide has 51 techie gifts for less than £200. Plus a selection of money’s-no-object items
Sony Reader PRS-T3
PRICE £83 (£99 inc VAT)
Its curved back, 6in size and 200g weight make this new Sony Reader ideal for one-handed operation. It has an optical touchscreen that can be used with gloves, and the high-resolution, 758 x 1,024 E Ink screen is almost as crisp as that of the Kindle Paperwhite. Unfortunately, thanks to its lack of integrated light the Sony Reader’s precise screen is also rendered a dull tea colour, and is impossible to read in the dark.
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The Sony Reader Store certainly isn’t as well stocked as Amazon’s Kindle Store, but support for EPUB files means users can load books from third-party stores. (The public library loan facility is best left alone, since it failed to download borrowed books in our tests.)
An attractive, cheaper alternative to the Paperwhite.
Read our Sony Reader PRS-T3 review
PRICE £56 (£69 inc VAT)
If your budget won’t stretch to a Paperwhite and it has to be a Kindle, you could do worse than stump up for the standard model. It’s quick and responsive, the 6in display is highly readable –with blacker text and a brighter white background than the Nook – and it’s backed by Amazon’s excellent book store. There’s no support for EPUB files, however, and the 600 x 800 resolution means the edges of characters can look ragged. But if you’re not fussed about extras, it does the job admirably.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
PRICE £91 (£109 inc VAT)
Amazon’s excellent Paperwhite received a minor update this year. It now has a faster processor, resulting in marginally snappier page-refresh times; a more even, brighter backlight; and better screen reflectivity, which delivers a more paper-like look.
Software improvements include the Page Flip tool, which makes it easy to flip through a book to hunt for references without losing your place, and Vocabulary Builder, which keeps track of the words you look up, and presents them in a separate volume in your Kindle library. There’s no support for EPUB files or storage expansion, but the new Paperwhite is better than its predecessor, and maintains its lead as the best ebook reader. It’s the perfect Christmas gift.
Read our Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review
Kobo Aura HD
PRICE £117 (£140 inc VAT)
Designed for “the discerning reader”, the Kobo Aura HD is intended for those who value quality over all else. Its 6.8in screen is larger than that of the Paperwhite, with a superior resolution of 1,080 x 1,440 to match. It’s certainly a beautifully made device, finished in silky-smooth plastic, with a rear panel fashioned to resemble a folded piece of paper.
It does all the basics well, too. There’s Wi-Fi for connecting with the Kobo book store, which isn’t as wide-ranging as the Amazon store, but with support for EPUB, it’s easy to fill the gaps. The 4GB of internal storage is expandable, and there’s an LED light built into the edge for nighttime reading. We love everything about this reader – except the price.
Read our Kobo Aura HD review
PRICE £100 (£120 inc VAT)
The 6in Kobo Aura goes toe to toe with the Kindle Paperwhite, and beats it – in some respects.
It’s both smaller and lighter than the Amazon device – compact enough to slip into a back pocket – yet boasts a similar feature set. It has a sharp E Ink display with a flush, capacitive touchscreen and a 758 x 1,014 resolution, plus a bright, white LED front light, microSD expansion, and access to the Kobo book store via 802.11bgn Wi-Fi.
As with the Sony Reader PRS-T3, the Aura supports EPUB files, so you can load library-loaned books as well as titles from third-party ebook stores. It falls short, though, due to a grainier screen than its rivals, and a price that’s £20 too steep.
Read our Kobo Aura review
Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight
PRICE£41 (£49 inc VAT)
Since the launch of the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, Barnes & Noble has steadily slashed the price to less than half its original price. It’s a classic E Ink reader, like the Kindle Paperwhite, and although it isn’t as accomplished as that device, it’s perfectly serviceable. It has a touchscreen, an integral front light and Wi-Fi for purchasing books from the Nook Book Store. We like its curvy, grippy plastic rear, and the broad screen surround makes it easy to hold.
While the poor screen quality makes everything look a little grey in comparison to the Paperwhite, it’s still a bargain.
Read our Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch review