Twelve stylish and up-to-the-minute presents for the whole family; even the bah-humbug business guru. Equally, if you’re too busy making a buck to traipse through the shops, you can mop up some ideas for bargains right here.
1. Office 2010 Home & Business
Perfect for: Mum
Take a look here: The Microsoft Store
Estimated Retail Price: £239.99
If Mum’s the entrepreneur, then Office Home & Business will make perfect sense. It includes the highly functional and connected 2011 versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and OneNote – everything she’ll need to make a perfect business impression. With plenty of free templates, she’ll soon be drafting letters, invoices, quotes and presentations in minutes.
2. Nokia Lumia 710 and 800
Perfect for: The Young Professional
Take a look here: WindowsPhone
Price: Contract dependent
With the NOKIA Lumia 800 every detail floats to life on the surface of the curved 3.7" ClearBlack display, bringing striking clarity, indoors and out. And with a seamless, deep-dyed body and cutting-edge 8 MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics, you’ve got a revolutionary smartphone in the palm of your hand.
3. Dell Venue Pro
Perfect for: The Independent Thinker
Price: £25-£35 per month on contract, or £350 SIM-free
Of course you didn’t expect Dell to make a mobile, and if you want to follow the herd somewhere else, that’s fine. But the Venue Pro is getting rave reviews, and is shaping up to be the only phone to offer a Blackberry-style physical keyboard but lso the same full-size screen as the Omnia 7. Early users say it’s rugged, beautiful to use, and brilliant for both business and gaming.
4. Educational Software at Educational Prices
Perfect for: The Student
From: Software for Students and other Microsoft Learning Partners
Price: Dependent on software, but expect 50-80% off for educational use.
Because we all know that students live exclusively on baked beans and are kind enough keep our streets free of bollards by walking around with them on their heads, software manufacturers like Microsoft are proud to do a little to ease the financial urden with some great software offers for educational use. As well as Office, you’ll find Visio and even Microsoft Expression, the easy way to create elegant and search-engine-friendly websites; all at prices even students can’t scoff at. Genuine Microsoft software is available to primary, secondary, third level students, teachers, parents and guardians in the United Kingdom. Check websites for eligibility.
5. Saints Row: The Third
Perfect for: Teens
Price: Around £35
Available for Xbox and PC as well as other platforms, this is the latest in the hugely successful guns’n’gangs Saints Row franchise. If you don’t understand video games, particularly hyper-realistic and violent ones like this, let us help you with the following advice: Mum won’t like this one bit.
6. Disneyland Adventures
Perfect for: Kids
Price: Around £35
Saints Row isn’t for the younger faces in your family; but Disneyland Adventures is. It’s designed around the fabulous controller-free Kinect device for the Xbox, taking kids on a virtual and game-filled tour of Disneyland; featuring encounters with all their favourite Disney characters along the way. It’s a very clever mix of gentle gaming and an exact replica of the real Disneyland. Adults will be bored in minutes, but for the sixes and sevens, this is great entertainment, without the need for parental supervision, and Mickey and his friends as the icing on the cake.
7. Microsoft Lifecam webcam
Perfect for: Grandparents
From: Microsoft Store
Price: From £29.99
Nobody sees Nan or Grandpa as often as they should. But just because they can’t watch BBC2 on the microwave oven, don’t think they’re techno-numpties. Nan loves you, and for that reason she has got to grips with computers. She’s a silver surfer. So pay her the favour back, and get her a top-notch webcam so that you can see each other in video chats, wherever you both are in the world. Family harmony will be restored.
8. A living-room friendly PC
Perfect for: Dad
From: Microsoft Store
Price: £500-£1500 and everything in between
Christmas is a great time to buy a new PC, and these days computers aren’t just for the boys. The Vaio C Series, for example, puts Sony quality in your hand for under £600 in a range of cool colours, with a lightweight design and ideal for HD films, TV, games and photos. Or try the HP Touchsmart 520 at £849: with a touchscreen and elegant design, it doesn’t even look much like a computer. Store all your films on it, run a massive range of apps, and chat around the world on video with a built-in HD webcam.
9. Office 365
Perfect for: The pressured entrepreneur
From: Office 365
Price: From £4 per user per month
Office 365 is Microsoft’s most economical offering for small businesses, and represents an extraordinary amount of powerful software and services for less than a couple of cappuccinos a month. The included tools can genuinely transform a small business (top-grade email, live collaboration, document editing, websites etc). They might also transform a small business owner, with work-anywhere facilities which mean the office can at last close each evening. If you aren’t expecting to see your partner much over Christmas, this might be the answer.
10. Xbox 360 with Kinect
Perfect for: Anyone under 20
From: Microsoft Store
So, as someone over 30, you rightly have little understanding of the world of gaming. Because you have a mortgage instead. Here’s what you need to know to look the part in your local games emporium. Xbox 360 is a console – and a good one at that. You buy the console and then it will run hundreds of separately purchased games. Consoles often use controllers (which ome with the console); these can be connected, or completely wireless. But Xbox now offers a third option: no controller at all! It’s called Kinect, and frees players from holding anything at all. Brilliant. Also available are extra storage drives (around £80) and expect to hear your kids talk about Xbox live, the online hub where the entire game experience (and much else) can be shared.
11. Asus Eee Slate EP121
Perfect for: people on the move
Price: Around £900
Tablet PCs seem to have got an unfair reputation for being insubstantial. A small form factor (that’s the size and structure of a PC) doesn’t mean it has to be underpowered or feeble. For a year or so, Asus has put Windows 7 into its top Tablets, so they’ll be as fully functional as a laptop. The EP121 is a behemoth (with a screen over 30% bigger than the Apple iPad), inbuilt Wacom digitiser pen (perfect for use with OneNote) and USB connectivity. As Tablets go, it’s a giant, but a pretty one.
12. Apps for Windows Phone
Perfect for: stocking fillers for everyone
Price: Plenty under £3, and many freebies too.
What could make a better stocking filler than phone apps and games? Windows 7 Phone owners also get games (famous ones like Assassin’s Creed, Tetris or the ubiquitous Angry Birds) which are enabled for Xbox Live – which means games can be played and shared across the globe.
And if none of the above appeal, there's always a pair of socks available somewhere...