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Today's hottest stories from Tech Digest, Brandish and our pals

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christmas-guide-banner-2011.jpgIt's that time of the year again folks; the central heating is on, jackets are tightly buttoned and we're all tentatively trying to hide the fact that we're wearing granddad's long-johns underneath our jeans.

Okay, so maybe that last one is just me, but one thing's for certain; Christmas is just around the corner and it's time to start sketching out those wishlists for Father Christmas.

To help make your Christmas gift buying and choosing decisions that little bit easier this year, Tech Digest are putting together a ton of gadget, gaming and geek related guides to the best tech presents available this year.

From Blu-ray boxsets to compact cameras, 3D TVs to smartphones, geek chic to the best gear to kit out your man cave with, you'll be sure to find something for even the most discerning tech fan here.

We'll be updating this post pretty much on a daily basis from today right through December, so be sure to bookmark the page and check back every day to see what new goodies we think should be on top of your Christmas list this year. Scroll down to get started!

Best Blu-ray movie boxsets

Take a little bit of cinema magic home with our guide to the best movie boxsets available in the high-definition Blu-ray format. From Star Wars to Toy Story, you'll be gawping at gorgeous movies all winter long with this set.

Best DVD TV boxsets

Settle down this Christmas with a marathon session of your favourite TV shows. We've pulled together ten must see shows in this guide, guaranteed to entertain long after the mince pies have run out.

Best Gaming Chairs

What's Skyrim or Modern Warfare 3 without a comfy chair to play them in? Packed with speakers, rumble packs and butt-caressing cushioning, these gaming chairs will see you sitting merrily right up until the very last boss.

Kitting out the ultimate "Man Cave"

Need to getaway from the festive madness? Kit your spare room out with some of this great geek gear to create the ultimate "Man Cave".

Geek Chic Apparel

Unleash your inner nerd with this collection of nifty t-shirts, bags and accessories in Tech Digest's buying guide to geek chic apparel.

Stupidly Expensive Gifts For The Man That Has It All

What do you buy the man that has everything? His own personal, man-made customised island, a jetpack and Marty McFly's very own motor, that's what! All these gifts and more can be found in this guide, provided you've got a wallet big enough to handle them...

Top Online Digital Services - Spotify, Lovefilm, Dropbox and more!

Who said a Christmas present had to be something you can hold in your hands? Subscriptions to or vouchers for these excellent online digital services are superb, thoughtful gifts too.

Set-top boxes from Sky, Apple, TVonics and more!

Get the most from your new flatscreen TV with these top-notch set-top boxes. From comprehensive televisual nirvana from Sky to Apple's on-take on pay-per-view TV, there's plenty to chose from here.

Top 50 iPad Gaming Apps

You've got Apple's iPad tablet, but what games should you be playing on it? Let Tech Digest guide you through our tips as to the 50 best games on the Cupertino slate.

Best Games Consoles! Xbox 360! PS3! 3DS!

Have yourself a frag-filled Christmas by picking up a top games console. We run down all the usual suspects (PS3, Wii and Xbox 360) and throw some wildcards in for good measure too.

Best Xbox 360 games of 2011

After one of the busiest years in recent gaming history, it can be hard pressed to remember all the great titles that made their way onto the Xbox 360 this year. Tech Digest here guide you through ten of the best to hit Microsoft's console over the past twelve months, each a perfect present for a gaming loved-one.

Best PS3 games of 2011

Despite the PlayStation Network outage hiccup earlier in the year, the PlayStation 3 celebrated one of it's greatest 12 months of pure gaming action, with dozens of great first party titles hitting the console, not to mention stellar multi-platform efforts too. From early winners like LittleBigPlanet 2 through to recent greats like Uncharted 3, it was a great year to be a PS3 owner.

Best Nintendo 3DS games of 2011

Want the very best gaming action in your back pocket? Check out our run down of the best Nintendo 3DS games to hit the console since launch for a slice of Zelda, Mario and Star Fox shaped fun.

Speakers, Docks and Hi-Fi systems

Blast out "A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector" in style this holiday season with any one of these ten superb speaker set-ups.

Retro presents

Re-live your childhood with these excellent retro gifts. Our top tips for an old-skool Christmas include everything from Plasma Balls to Space Hoppers.

Stocking fillers for under £10

If you're planning on being a tight-fisted Scrooge this Christmas, check out our guide to cheap-and-cheerful stocking fillers that will give you change back from a tenner.

Best earphones and headphones

"Wow, listen to these crazy new croon-crunk, teen wave sounds! Rad! Dope! Awesome!" That's what your little ones will be saying if they pop a pair of Tech Digest's favourite ear-pieces on this Christmas.

arcam-avr400-sil.jpgArcam are giving UK customers added seasonal spice with £400 off the AVR400 price tag when they trade in any old AV amp.

Usually costing £1800, the Arcam AVR400 is available for £1400 with the trade in deal. Just bring any old AV receiver and pick up the stunning new AVR400 leaving extra cash ready for the Christmas shopping!

The AVR400 offers over 90 Watts per channel with enough power for even the most demanding speakers. It's 3D ready for all those great Christmas movies and comes with clever auto setup routine.

It even has an onboard network music player, which can be controlled from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch using the Songbook Arcam app available from the iTunes store.

The trade in offer runs until December 31st.

http://www.arcam.co.uk/retailers/AVR400TradeInDeal

digital-services.jpgTech gifts don't have to be about screen sizes or processing capabilities these days. In fact, they don't have to be physical gifts at all. You can put a smile on a loved one's face just by setting them up with one of the many ace online digital services and subscription packages that are tied into apps, download and streaming sites too.

From music packages like Spotify to productivity programs like Dropbox, there's something here for everyone.

When you're done here, be sure to check out the rest of Tech Digest's 2011 Christmas wishlists too.

duck-tales.jpgMrs Branson, Mrs Gates, Mrs Buffet; this Christmas Gift Guide is tailor-made for you. Christmas is just around the corner, your mega-rich spouse is expecting something extra-special, but he's already snagged that island, the custom built jet with swimming pool and solid gold golf set that you planned on getting him.

But don't despair! We've got plenty of inventive ways to spend your billions in Tech Digest's Christmas Gift Guide to "Stupidly Expensive Gifts For The Man That Has It All".

Just don't forget to slip a tenner (or ten thousand) in the post to us for all our hard work once you've browsed our suggestions.

When you're done here, be sure to check out the rest of Tech Digest's 2011 Christmas wishlists too.

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE: Geek Chic Apparel

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geek-chic-banner.JPGThe Geek shall inherit the Earth!

Far too long have we sat in the shadows, pouring over our alphabetised VHS collection of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, plotting our rise while caressing a handful of D&D 12 sided dice!

Now the rest of the world seems to be catching up with our nerdy style, with plenty of stars trying to ape our inimitable fashion sense.

Show them how its done by grabbing some of our favourite clothes and accessories this Christmas from Tech Digest's gift guide to getting the geek-chic look!

When you're done here, be sure to check out the rest of Tech Digest's 2011 Christmas wishlists too.

mancave-banner.JPGThe relatives are chatting non-stop, the kids are running around like E'ed up mentalists and Nan's suffering the inevitably stinky after effects of a sprout-filled roast. It can only mean one thing: it's Christmas Day.

If you're lucky enough to have a spare room to get away from all the madness, why not kit it out with some of these gadgets and furnishings? Add these gifts to the top of your Christmas wishlist and you'll be relaxing in the ultimate "Man Cave" come the holidays.

When you're done here, be sure to check out the rest of Tech Digest's 2011 Christmas wishlists too.

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE: Best DVD TV boxsets

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dvd-gift-guide-banner.jpgThe Christmas holidays; for most of us it's the one time of the year when we've got enough free time to sit down, crack open a beer and stare at the TV for a few hours straight. But what to watch? With so much Christmas TV scheduling devoted to re-runs and kids films, finding exactly what you want to see may be tough.

That's where Tech Digest's Christmas Gift Guide to DVD TV boxsets comes in. Here's our selection of the best shows to put on your DVD wishlist, ready for an epic marathon in front of the gogglebox.

When you're done here, be sure to check out the rest of Tech Digest's 2011 Christmas wishlists too.

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Top of your Christmas list may be a shiny new flatscreen HDTV, PlayStation 3 or laptop, but if you're really going to get the most out of your new toys you're going to have to get some high-definition content to display on them. It's taken a while to pick up in popularity, but Blu-ray is finally the flourishing HD format it always promised to be.

Here, Tech Digest pick the top Blu-ray movie boxset collections you should be hoping to find under your Christmas tree this year.

When you're done here, be sure to check out the rest of Tech Digest's 2011 Christmas wishlists too.

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O2 has announced that they will be stocking Kinect for Xbox 360 as a part of a new Christmas gaming package.

If you are an O2 customer and due for an upgrade, but don't care about getting a new handset, you might want to consider O2's Christmas Packages that will allow you to buy an Xbox 360 gaming package for £189.99 on a £25 24 month tariff, instead of taking a new phone. This package will include an Xbox 360 game console with a 250GB hard drive, Kinect and Kinect Adventures, plus a choice of either Dance Central, Kinect Sports or a 12 month Xbox Live membership. If you are not eligible for an upgrade, you can purchase the same bundle without needing to upgrade for £389.99 in approximately forty stores across the country.

Alternatively customers wishing to buy a PlayStation can also choose to upgrade to a Sony PlayStation 3 with a 320GB hard drive and PlayStation Move starter kit - one Move controller, a PlayStation Eye and a starter disc - for free on a £35 24 month tariff.

Personally I think it is a little early to start thinking about Christmas, but with the lights up and Christmas commercials already running on TV, the rush to become the top seller this season is already on.

Shopping website VoucherCodes.co.uk polled 3000 UK consumers during October to try and predict what the most desirable Christmas gadgets for 2010 will be. Unsurprisingly, the iPad came out top, with over a third saying it will be on their Christmas list this year.

Check out the gallery of their predicted Top 5 gadgets for Christmas 2010

Sony Launches its 'VAT Back' Scheme

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If you are planning on buying any Sony products in the next few months your in luck.

Today Sony launches its 'VAT Back' scheme. This means you can claim back the VAT on a number of Sony products until Christmas eve, ahead of the VAT rise to 20% in January.

To launch the scheme they have created this awful remake of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol:

Tipped for the top of kids' Christmas lists this year is Dave the Funky Shoulder Monkey robot.

Priced £24.99, Dave can perform over 30 different actions and movements, controlled via remote control. And yes, before you ask, that includes a fart noise/movement combo.

The perfect primate for your cheeky little monkeys this Christmas? Watch the video above and decide for yourself.

John Lewis santa.jpgI don't quite know whether to believe this story or not, but it's very sweet nevertheless so let's run with it. Apparently, according to John Lewis, sales of binoculars have increased 600% over the period of a week.

The reason? According to John Lewis it's because children want to look out for Santa as he crosses the skies delivering presents. Says Justine Burgess, buyer for imaging at John Lewis. "We have identifed a continuing trend where sales of binoculars spike the week before Christmas Day."

Pictured is Molly Baker looking out for Santa Claus in London's Sloane Square using a pair of Nikon Action EX binoculars, priced at £167. Offering 12 x 50 magnification they also feature a long eye relief design so you should be able to make out Santa's reindeers and even sleigh bells.

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Recent figures published by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk appear to reveal that this year's most sought after games console is the Xbox 360, outselling its nearest rival the PS3 by a ratio of 3:1.

But which machine really deserves to be crowned king of the console wars this Christmas; Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PS3 or Nintendo's Wii?

To decide which console is worthy of your cash, we'll be looking at seven key areas that need to be of the highest quality in order to warrant your attention: Games, Exclusive Titles, Media Options, Online Gaming, Extras, Future Features and of course Value For Money. We'll then tot up the results to see who comes out on top.

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Games

A year ago this would have been an easy first point for the Xbox 360, with a massive range of quality titles. However it's been a superb year for games on the PS3, with its catalogue steadily growing. There is a fair bit of cross over between both gaming catalogues, with massive titles such as Assassins Creed 2, the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games, Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum all available on both machines. It's a hard one to judge for now until you consider exclusive titles (which we'll be getting at next). The Xbox 360 and PS3 both boast HD gaming, becoming increasingly cinematic in scope and presentation. The Wii offers a far different experience; being a motion-gaming console, many titles such as Wii Sports Resort or Wii Fit offer pick-up-and-play fun that all the family can enjoy. However, other than first-party Nintendo titles, Wii games often lack the polish of those on the PS3 or 360.

Winner - Xbox 360 (for quantity alone over the PS3)

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Exclusive Titles

If you're only going to be able to afford one console this Christmas, knowing which titles are exclusive to each is a massive consideration. Again, last year the Xbox 360 would have won this one hands down, but it's anyone's game this year. PS3 owners can pick up the excellent Uncharted 2, Killzone 2 and Little Big Planet, with God of War 3 and Gran Turismo 5 all on the horizon. Xbox 360 owners can enjoy Forza Motorsport 3, the Halo titles, Fable II, the Gears of War series and Mass Effect (also available on the PC), with its sequel not far off into the New Year. Wii owners can delight in the fact that they will be the only people with access to gaming legends such as Mario, Zelda and Samus Aran of Metroid, though ports of games available on other consoles are often of a poorer quality.

Winner - PS3 (because Uncharted 2 is ridiculously good, and for turning the AAA exclusive title drought around this year)

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Media Options

Easy one this; the PS3, hands down. Not only does it throw in a top notch Blu-ray player, but compatibility with all sorts of media files is available. Both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 have media server capabilities, but the PS3's sleek Xross Media Bar UI and built in Wi-Fi make setting up these features very simple. The PS3 has also recently launched the Playstation Network Video Delivery service, allowing you to download or rent movies straight to your console. The Xbox 360 has DVD- playback and the option to download HD films too, but so far no Blu-ray option, despite constant rumours of an add-on in the pipeline. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 have USB ports, and support many music files such as MP3's, which can then be integrated into the soundtracks of many games. The Wii is really weak here: no Blu-ray, DVD, no movie downloads, no nothing.

Winner- PS3

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Online Gaming

There's no denying the Xbox 360 has a thriving online community. 2 million users were clocked using the service simultaneously the week Modern Warfare 2 came out. There's no dearth of competitors to take on, but be prepared to get regularly battered by seven year-olds from the states. Subscription fees apply to become an Xbox Live Gold member (£40 for 12 months), and you'll also need an add-on to go wireless that costs around £45, but you do get regular content updates, lots of affordable and high quality downloadable games and a good service for the money. PS3 and Wii owners can enjoy the luxury of going online for free, which is obviously ace. There aren't a huge number of players online on the Wii, but they do have access to some real gems from the Nintendo gaming back catalogue. The PS3 has a growing userbase, all keen to get online and play for free. Downloadable games content is similar to the Xbox 360, though smaller in range, but does feature some classic PS1 titles such as Metal Gear Solid.

Winner - Tied (Xbox 360 offers the best online service but is costly, the PS3 and Wii offerings are free and have some good content but, for the moment at least, are on a smaller scale than Microsoft)

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Extras

The Wii and its channel set-up is a simple and easy to use portal to lots of features such as a web browser and BBC iPlayer, but it just cant compete with the PS3 and Xbox 360's offerings. PS3 users also have a web browser and dedicated iPlayer app, but also have access to Facebook too, with a whole slew of other add-ons on the way. Though it doesn't have an iPlayer, the Xbox 360 has everything else; Facebook, Twitter, Last FM, Sky Digital. Lots to be getting on with for 360 owners.

Winner - Xbox 360

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Future Features

Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 look set to throw new attempts at motion gaming into the console mix next year. In fact, the Xbox 360's Natal motion-controller is claimed to be so revolutionary as to be a console changing device. Rumours still abound for a Wii HD, but this would come in the form of a brand new console, not a feature, so should be viewed perhaps as a mark against buying a current-generation Wii.

Winner - Xbox 360

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Value For Money

The Xbox 360 budget Arcade machine will set you back around £150, but to get the most out of the console the £200 Elite version with 120GB hard drive is the best option. A basic Wii package will cost £100, but keep in mind it's pretty slim on content straight out of the box. The PS3 offers the best value for money; the PS3 Slim with 120GB hard drive costs around £250, but for that you're not only getting a gaming platform, but also a top-notch Blu-ray player, free online gaming, Wi-Fi straight out of the box and immediate access to features such as BBC iPlayer.

Winner - PS3

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Overall Winner - PS3

It's a close run race, but if I had to pick an overall winner, I'd side with the PS3. The Xbox 360 performs well, particularly in the breadth of its available content, but is let down by its costly albeit excellent online service. Finally affordable at £250, the PS3 has had an excellent year for exclusive titles and add-ons. The built in Blu-ray and free online gaming represent excellent value for money, and there are some hot titles lined-up for the New Year. I know which console I'd want Santa to leave under my tree.

santa usb stick.jpgIf you're already dying to get into the Christmas spirit, and a festive desktop wallpaper just wont cut it, maybe this USB stick could be what you're looking for.

Dust proof, water proof, probably snow and reindeer-proof too, the Santa USB stick has it all. Except a shirt, it would seem.

The stick, from Power Quotient International is available in 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB models.

Sure, it doesn't do anything remarkable. But you have to enjoy life's portly little pleasures.

Check it out here.

Christmas greetings to one and all! You're probably all a bit financially ruined from spending so much money on Christmas food and presents right now, even with Woolworths virtually giving away all of its stock - and I'm here to help!

Christmas Day is one of the most energy-intensive days of the year, what with demand for power from cooking equipment, entertaining the family and the like, so here are a few tips on how to have an efficient Christmas. You can have a happy holiday AND save energy while doing so...


And my energy saving tip for New Year's Eve? Drink a small bottle of vodka at home, on your own, and ensure you've collapsed asleep in a heap on the carpet in the lounge by 10.30pm, avoiding expensive "ticket only" club nights and their over-priced drinks.

Remember to turn the lights and TV off before you lose consciousness, though! See you in 2009 for more energy saving advice.

Related posts: E&E 11 | E&E 12


Headline with bad pun - check. Novelty gadget - check. Silly video - check. Energy efficiency - check. This is tech blog gold! It's an OLED Christmas tree, created by the lovely chaps (and they seem to be exclusively chaps) who work at the GE OLED labs.

It hurt me to watch this. Hurt me because I now know that the people who I'm counting on to build me an affordable OLED TV are spending their time making Christmas trees, rather than solving the problem of how to make their awesome displays cheap. Damn their eyes!

GE OLED (via Crunchgear)

Related posts: Technology Deathmatch: LCD vs Plasma vs OLED - TV Take Down | Samsung stretches out its OLED display technology to a whole 40 inches

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Everyone has their own way of getting the festive season right and today on TD Tips we're going to let you into our little secrets on the best Christmas websites money doesn't need to buy.

There's very little in the way of rules. It has to be up and running and that's about it. Click on the very large NO to begin.

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This tickled me a little, so I thought you might find it amusing too. Gadget and gift site Firebox will be offering a CrapWrap option alongside its more normal giftwrap options this year. CrapWrap allows you to send a loved one a package deliberately wrapped very very badly. It's like doing it yourself, but without the effort!

Actually, that's a lie. I'm a bit of a wrapping ninja. You can be too - it's not tough. Follow the instructions on Wikihow.com, and you'll be the one whose presents under the tree for others look just that little bit more special than everyone else's.

Firebox CrapWrap

Related posts: Ultra-retro Space Invaders wrapping paper | Wrappers delight - custom order your own notebook and gadget covers

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