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House & Garden

The 9 best gadgets for Christmas

From sleek smartphones to the latest tablets and next-generation gaming consoles, David Phelan picks his favourite devices

1. Amazon Kindle Paper white

Amazon’s latest tablet designed for reading ebooks is its best yet. The black-and-white screen is sharper than ever and the front light means you can read it in the dark effortlessly.

How much: from £109

Where from: amazon.co.uk

2. Apple iPhone 5s

The best smartphone Apple has yet built, the 5s is slim, light, attractive and very fast. It has a fingerprint sensor to wake the screen, which is brilliantly intimate.

How much: from £549

Where from: apple.com/uk

3. Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet

Nokia’s first tablet is a triumph. It feels great thanks to a warm-to-the-touch polycarbonate shell. It’s a Windows 8.1 RT tablet, augmented with Nokia’s ace apps.

How much: £399

Where from: johnlewis.com

4. Damson Jet

Tiny speakers are portable but lack the punch of separated stereo. The Damson Jets come as a stereo pair in lots of colours. They’re small but sound terrific. They have rechargeable batteries so are entirely portable.

How much:£150

Where from: damsonaudio.com

5. Xbox One

The new console from Microsoft is much more than a games machine. As well as playing DVDs and Blu-ray discs, you can even control your TV or Sky box by talking to Xbox!

How much: £429

Where from: xbox.com


Buyer's guide:

Compact cameras that charm

Since the best camera is the one you have with you, it’s easy to think that the snapper on your phone is enough. But for higher quality pics, a dedicated camera is best. For instance, very few phones have optical zooms.

Cameraphones have murdered the cheap compact camera market – though these still have their charms, especially if you pick a “ruggedised” model that’s shock- or waterproof, making it suitable for beach or skiing holidays. Don’t chase higher pixel counts: cramming millions more pixels onto a small sensor adds to image noise. Advanced compacts like the Sony RX100 II or Fujifilm X20 boast bigger sensors that perform sensationally and are well worth the extra spend over a basic compact model.

Compact System Cameras offer the large sensor and interchangeable lenses of an SLR in a lighter body and are a great step up from a compact. The Fujifilm X-A1 and Sony NEX-6 are outstanding. But the SLR is still top of the pile. An SLR like the Canon EOS 100D or Nikon D610 offers the best viewfinder, sensor and usually superior build quality.

6. Canon EOS 100D

The smallest and lightest SLR there is, making for superb handling and ease of use, without sacrificing outstanding picture quality. The 18MP sensor is large and accurate, and though the 100D is small it’s big enough to be taken seriously.

How much: £449

Where from: argos.co.uk

7. Sony RX100 II camera

This is a compact with a big 20.2MP sensor, so the resultant pictures are rich and detailed. It’s easy to use and it’s a great all-rounder that is ideal for new photographers and experienced ones alike.

How much: £649

Where from: sony.co.uk

8. Fujifilm X-A1 camera

This 16MP compact system camera is exceptional, matching outstanding optics and features at a competitive price. It’s beautifully made, has a pleasing retro styling and an intuitive interface that’s easy to use.

How much: £499

Where from: jessops.com

9. Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3

This is an affordable compact camera that sports a 14.1MP sensor. Its 5x optical zoom is longer than standard and features include strong optical image stabilisation, so your shots are steady even when you’re not.

How much: £119.95

Where from: johnlewis.com