When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you’re getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor’s hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

This time of year sees the publication of countless ‘best high-tech gifts’ features. In many cases, the products that get a mention are included because they’re quirky, faddish, stylish or simply the sort of expensive, aspirational piece of gadgetry that’s likely to be a talking point.

While many such products are well thought out, beautifully designed and functional as well as striking, too many appear in glossy magazines at this time of year only to disappear come Boxing Day.

We like a bit of kitsch, fun gadgetry as much as anyone, and you’ll find some whimsical accessories in our New Products section. But we prefer to champion useful, usable consumer electronics that we’ve tested and would be delighted to find in our own stockings.

Over the following pages we’ve looked at the year’s crop of techno-gifts in a no-nonsense, straightforward manner, taking our usual approach of testing, reviewing and telling it like it is. We explain what we think works and what doesn’t about each of the products in every popular category here.

If it’s laptops and desktop PCs you’re after, there are rigorous reviews in our dedicated Reviews website - desktop PC reviews here, and reviews of laptop PCs here. The MP3 player, meanwhile, continues to be one of the best-loved pieces of gadgetry, and there's. Turn to page 72 to read our thoughts on the best portable players out there.

For the rest of your festive IT needs, from photo frames to DAB radios, read on…

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you’re getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor’s hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

GPS DEVICES

TomTom GO 720

1. £329 inc VAT

TomTom’s Go 720 is very similar to the nüvi 660 (far right); the bulk of its features follow the Garmin to the letter, mimicking even its Bluetooth hands-free calling. However, TomTom will long be the name that Joe Bloggs associates with navigation, and not just because it’s what they sell in Halfords.

The price difference between the two is proof that sometimes it pays to be
patient. With Christmas poking its glittery head around the corner, that’s not likely to happen; we’ll settle for the knowledge that the TomTom’s smaller (although heavier) dimensions will allow it to sit more comfortably under our tree.

The TomTom graciously accepts constructive criticism. Find a mistake on the map – or, more likely, an altered road layout – and you can make an amendment; TomTom will verify the change before making it available to other users. So there’s less fear of missing your roast turkey because you’ve driven into a newly formed lake.

The TomTom also boasts a light sensor for automatic brightness control, plus speech recognition and speed camera alerts, so you’ve got little reason to mess with the touchscreen while driving. A built-in FM transmitter can be cleverly configured to blast audio over the car’s speakers.

On occasion we found the TomTom a little late with its verbal instructions – the information appears onscreen far earlier.

TomTom GO 720: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

2. Navman S30

£149 inc VAT

For the S-Series of portable satellite navigation devices, Navman has made a number of design changes. For instance, the cradle sports a mini USB connection on its underside. The power cable attaches firmly to this and snakes back towards the windscreen.

We also liked the fact the S30 only pings to warn you of standard speed cameras when you’re in danger of running foul of them (within a 10 percent margin). However, we would’ve liked to have been able to switch off the Navman S30’s spoken directions while still getting audible speed alerts.

The other notable new feature is the emergency button on the main screen. This gives you fast access to fire, hospital, police and breakdown service information, along with an option to direct you to the nearest hospital or mechanic or to dial their number.

The Navman S30 recognises full postcodes and can read aloud characters or numbers you enter, so you don’t have to double-check you’ve pressed the right onscreen key. It quickly identifies routes, alerting you if there are toll roads involved.

Some GPS devices have garish onscreen mapping information; the S30’s is more muted, in various shades of blue. Street names pop up, then fade from view as you pass. The countdown to turns is spot-on.

All in all, this is a well-priced and admirably intelligent satnav.

Navman S30: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

3. Garmin nüvi 660

£350 inc VAT

The pace of technology might swing by faster than Santa’s sleigh, but it’s worth looking at slightly older gadgets to find a real steal.

When we first reviewed the nüvi in March, we fell in love with its good looks, 4.3in touchscreen, portable entertainment functionality, Bluetooth hands-free calling and full feature set. But, at an alarming £350, the wallet said "No". Nine months on and with £75 off the price tag, the 660 is an excellent addition to your wish list.

Postcode navigation, spoken street names, automatic reroutes and custom points of interest quickly determine the fastest route, while all types of transport are catered for – from cars and motorcycles to pedestrians and buses; all that’s missing is multistop planning.

Navteq maps provide European coverage, while an SD card slot allows storage for photos, MP3s and audiobooks. We liked the MP3 player’s intuitive interface and its careful muting of the sound as instructions are dispensed. The currency converter, world clock and phrase book are useful additions.

Even those with chunky digits will find the touchscreen easy to use, thanks to the larger menu icons that a widescreen display allows.

The nüvi’s 4.3in LCD may now be matched by both Navman and TomTom, but it’s nonetheless worthy of note. What the 660 lacks in high-end features such as Wi-Fi it makes up for in usability and panache.

Garmin nüvi 660: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

Also consider:

Navman S90i

With Navman’s S90i you can navigate using your own or others’ photos. Navman s90i review here.

BlackBerry Curve 8310

The best GPS/smartphone combo we’ve seen – like Google Maps come to life. BlackBerry Curve 8310 review here.

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you’re getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor’s hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

DIGITAL COMPACT CAMERAS

1. Kodak Z712 IS

£180 inc VAT

The Kodak is really a mini SLR (single-lens reflex) camera – there’s even an electronic viewfinder to complement the 2.5in LCD display. The camera’s larger than most compacts but it’s still reasonably portable. The massive 12x zoom lens helps the Z712 takes wonderfully sharp photos.

Given the giant zoom, which can go from 36-432mm, you’ll be thankful that Kodak has given this 7.1Mp (megapixel) camera a hand grip to help keep things steady. There’s also a pop-up flash.

Having an optically stabilised lens can make a huge difference and we found the Kodak Z712 was able to take very sharp photos in low-light situations.
Image noise can be a concern with any compact camera, but the Z712 can shoot at lower ISO settings, which means less noise and improved colour reproduction.

If you’re used to handling an SLR or a traditional film camera, getting to know the Kodak Z712 will be covering familiar ground.

Program, aperture priority and shutter priority modes are easily selectable. There’s a fully manual mode for maximum creative control. Plus there’s a good selection of scene modes and a VGA-resolution movie mode, all of which are accessible without entering the Kodak Z712 IS’s menu system.

The Z712 is excellent value and takes features from compact and SLR designs to produce a camera with unique advantages.

Kodak Z712 IS 7Mp: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

2. Canon Digital IXUS 75

£219 inc VAT

We think this slightly heavier-than-average compact model will particularly suit those with more than a passing interest in digital photography – and those who want a second compact camera to slip in a pocket for occasions when their digital SLR model would be less practical to take with them.

However, its stylish finish and the prestigious Canon branding will ensure it’s treasured by camera fans of all technical levels. Just three modes are offered on the dial on its top: Movie, Still and Scene. Twisting the dial to Scene brings up a choice of 11 presets; while not as generous as the compacts from Olympus and others, this covers the most common shooting scenarios. It also means you don’t have to cycle through a load of options you’ll rarely need.

The 2.5in screen is overlaid with setting options on each side, so you can quickly make adjustments as you compose a shot.

Our reviewer noted that the recessed buttons can be a little fiddly to select, so it’s not the best choice of compact for the less than dextrous.

Up to nine different subjects in a portrait shot can be separately, simultaneously and automatically detected by the Canon, a superb option for taking pictures of friends and family. Auto mode does the hard work for you (and disables most user-definable options), but in Manual mode you specify metering, white balance and ISO levels up to 1,600.

Canon Digital IXUS 75: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

3. Olympus Mju 820

£180 inc VAT

This is our current top choice of digital compact camera. It looks deceptively small because of its asymmetric design, but it houses a powerful zoom that silently glides into action and affords an optical magnification of up to 5.6x. If you’ve got a very steady hand or a small tripod, you can even experiment with the digital zoom – the Olympus offers magnification of up to 28x.

We also like the fact that the light frame is coated to make it weatherproof. It should be able to withstand inclement conditions better than most cameras (although we’d suggest you encase it in a waterproof housing if you want to use it in watery conditions).

You can’t capture quite as much detail with this model as you can with the Pentax S10 (see below), but the 8Mp sensor here results in good-looking images. We noted a tendency to smear and the introduction of a little visual noise at higher ISO settings, but were impressed by the Olympus’s ability to reproduce shadows and highlights.

Most people are unlikely to need its top ISO of 3,200 and will instead be kept busy trying its 640x460-pixel video mode and perfecting their composition technique. Olympus assists this via a built-in help Guide.

In many cases, you get a live comparative thumbnail preview showing the result of up to four settings you can select. There are 20 built-in scene presets should you prefer to go for simple point-and-shoot snaps.

Olympus Mju 820: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

Also consider:

Pentax Optio S10

This 10Mp model has a 3x optical zoom which, combined with the digital zoom, allows shots to be taken at up to 16.3x. The S10 also has a face-priority mode that fixes on a moving subject. Pentax Optio S10 review here.

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you’re getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor’s hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

DIGITAL SLR CAMERAS

1. Canon EOS 400D

£400 inc VAT

Canon pretty much invented the digital SLR market and its 350D proved wildly popular, winning awards left, right and centre. The Canon EOS 400D is well on its way to doing the same, with its 10.1Mp Cmos sensor and excellent, almost totally noise-free shots.

The 400D is a great choice for those looking for their first digital SLR camera, as well as being suitable for those with a passion for photography and a grounding in composition and photographic tricks.

However, not everything about the Canon is ideal. For example, we can understand why Canon chose to add a proximity detector to the 2.6in LCD viewfinder, but this makes the camera less suitable than some for spontaneous point-and-shoot photography. You need to bring your eye up to the viewfinder before it springs into action.

What we do like about the Canon 400D is how easy it is to achieve excellent results with hardly any effort. Plenty of focus points are visible as you peer through the viewfinder, which gives you a fair idea of how your shot will come out even before you depress the shutter to lock the focus. Exposure lock and white balance information is helpfully displayed onscreen, too.

A dust-prevention feature helps ensure no grime is introduced when you switch lenses. While it’s got some stiff competition, anyone receiving an EOS 400D for Christmas is sure to be delighted.

Canon EOS 400D: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

2. Pentax K100D Super

£370 inc VAT

Sneaking off with our Best Buy award in last month’s group test, the Pentax K100D is exceptionally good value. Part of the reason for its low price tag is that this digital SLR camera has a 6Mp sensor (no great crime, as the success of Nikon’s D40 proved), whereas many SLRs now have 10Mp at their disposal.

The Pentax is relatively compact, measuring just 93mm across, but is actually a little heavier than most digital SLR cameras at a hefty 647g. No matter, because the resulting shots from this superb entry-level model make it worth every ounce. With a highly usable top ISO rating of 3,200, you’ll be able to capture usable shots even in extremely low light or over great distances. The 18-55mm lens included as part of this camera kit will soon earn its keep.

In bright light, we found images taken by the Pentax both crisp and colour-saturated, and we were pleased with the effectiveness of the white-balance adjustment.

Since this is a digital SLR camera designed with those who are new to photography in mind, there are plenty of scene presets to help compose the best possible shot. A separate LCD display shows the shooting options that are available, while a dial on the K100D’s top is used to select modes and scenes.

The robust and well-built Pentax is the best-value model of all the cameras featured here, and a great choice.

Pentax K100D Super: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

3. Nikon D80

£660 inc VAT

For those with a little more money to spend, the Nikon D80 is likely to be the camera of choice. The question really is whether you have the photographic skills to stretch this highly capable digital SLR.

Befitting its status as a camera for the semi-professional photographer, the Nikon is exceptionally fast, starting up in less than 0.2 seconds and, once the focus is set, shooting with imperceptible lag between shots. It should be ideal for action shots, especially given its relatively compact dimensions for a serious digital SLR camera.

Nikon has included an LCD on the top plate so you can easily check settings; any of these can be swiftly altered using the mode wheel. This is a ‘step up’ model for amateurs who’ve already discovered the rewards of full manual control over white balance, focus, f-stops and aperture priority.

But that’s not to say it’s unsuitable for those who are new to digital SLRs. This manual control includes a good range of scene modes and presets for those who aren’t so confident of choosing settings for a given scenario.

Low-light conditions are well catered for and the Nikon D80 delivers clean shots in imperfect conditions at its top ISO of 1,600. When more light is available, expect a flattering warmth to portrait shots. This is an excellent model for those who are serious about digital photography.

Nikon D80: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

Also consider:

Sony Alpha A700 This 12.24Mp model offers 5fps (frames per second) continuous shooting in RAW mode, a 3in LCD and a maximum ISO of 3,200. Super SteadyShot optical image stabilisation and a fast autofocus help prevent blurring. Sony Alpha A700 review here.

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you’re getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor’s hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

WEB-BROWSING DEVICES

1. Apple iPhone

£269 inc VAT

Apple’s decision to release the iPhone in the UK in November is a wise move – the mobile phone/iPod hybrid is sure to be at the top of many people’s Christmas wish list and it’s not hard to see why. One million iPhones were sold in the US in just two months, and the general consensus is that the highly anticipated device has delivered on the hype.

Music and video playback are smooth, while the innovative and intuitive touchscreen interface makes interacting with the iPhone’s various additional features a breeze. You can use it to read and send emails, take photos and browse the web for free – provided you’re within reach of one of 7,500 Wi-Fi hotspots offered by The Cloud.

And then there are the undeniably fun aspects of the iPhone, from the cute icons on the home screen to the way deleted emails swoosh into the recycling bin. The iPhone is definitely the coolest gadget of 2007.

Apple iPhone: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

2. Nokia N95 8GB

£380 inc VAT

Can one mobile phone succeed at everything? Long before the iPhone’s US release we had our doubts. But Nokia’s N95 was the handset that convinced us.

The N95 is being touted as an alternative to the iPhone, and it certainly has the credentials – HSDPA (high-speed data packet access) and quad-band GSM connectivity; GPS; 802.11g Wi-Fi; a music player; stereo speakers; and a 5Mp camera. The revised version that started shipping in October also offers 8GB of flash memory and a larger 2.8in 240x320 colour screen.

The first thing that impressed us was the design. Although it will rank among the largest phones we’ve tested, the N95 is lightweight and feels comfortable to hold.

We really liked the responsiveness and buttons, but the N95 isn’t perfect – it lacks a touchscreen. At £380 it’s pricier than the iPhone, so shop around for a contract deal.

Nokia N95: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

3. Datawind Pocketsurfer2

£180 inc VAT

Accessing bite-sized internet pages using a device that fits in your pocket is nothing new, but the PocketSurfer2 provides the ‘real’ web almost anywhere in the UK – for free.

Datawind uses sophisticated scaling technology to ensure that the pages sent to the device are much smaller in size than those viewed on an internet-connected PC or laptop. Some sacrifices are made in image quality and you won’t have much luck with video clips, but Datawind has delivered
on its promise to allow pretty much any static page on the net to be viewed on the PocketSurfer2 in just a few seconds.

The 640x240 resolution screen is far from top-notch, while moving the cursor using the navipad is fairly slow. However, there are quick-access keys for certain apps.

The PocketSurfer2 is a one-trick pony, but you won’t find a better solution to access the web while out and about.

Datawind PocketSurfer2: full review, specifications and cheapest price online

4. Nokia N810

£299 inc VAT

Another touchscreen device, Nokia’s N810 has a full pull-out qwerty keyboard and can be propped up on a stand.

It offers a Mozilla web browser, satnav (using a built-in GPS receiver) and free Wi-Fi via The Cloud. Bluetooth is your other option.

Nokia hopes customers will take to the spacious 4.3in widescreen and decide that a large display on which web pages can be properly displayed is reason enough to sacrifice a little pocketability.

The memory can be expanded up to 10GB for music and video playback, while Nokia also anticipates users checking Facebook and webmail and engaging in video chats. A VGA camera is included, as is Skype.

Also consider:

Samsung i560
Mobile internet really took off in 2007, thanks to HSDPA. This upped the ante on connection speeds to 3.6Mbps. Slider phones are ideal convergence devices since you get a large screen, as with the 2.4in display on the i560.

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you’re getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor’s hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

MULTIMEDIA PHONES

1. LG KU990 Viewty

One of the big criticisms of mobile phones that claim to be cameraphones is that they look and behave nothing like cameras. Another is the poor images that result. Handset makers can cram in more megapixels – as with this 5Mp model – but cameraphone sensors aren’t up to the job.

That doesn’t stop us buying such devices at an impressive rate, though – and money is the best way to encourage innovation.

For our money, the best cameraphones are Sony Ericsson’s Cyber-shots, designed in such a way that the entire rear is given over to the camera. So it is with the LG KU990 – a 5Mp cameraphone that looks like an iPhone-lite on the front and a real camera from behind. The shutter release needs a firm press but the resulting photos aren’t at all bad, even taken in artificial light.

At 2x and 4x magnification, detail is still acceptable, although you shouldn’t have high expectations beyond this. The video facility is hard to argue with; super slow-mo playback of footage taken at 120fps (frames per second) is a real talking point.

Navigation-wise, you leave a fingerprint trail on the LG’s 3in, 240x400-pixel screen, but getting around it is a doddle as its clear onscreen icons are large enough to accurately select using a fingerpad. Note that the LG is a 3G HSDPA phone – something Apple has decided to hold off on for now with the iPhone.

LG KU990 Viewty: full review and detailed specifications

2. Motorola Razr2 V8

Motorola had a lot to live up to after the success of its original Razr, with its industrial design, large keypad and serious entertainment credentials. The Razr2 V8 keeps the critics happy, with a more robust keypad, navigation that’s far more straightforward than on many of its feature-laden rivals and a huge dual-colour display.

Both displays are touchscreen and the media player can be controlled without needing to flip open the phone. The external display is adequate for reading incoming text messages and for photo ID.

While phones such as the Nokia N95 cram in everything but the kitchen sink and are overly weighty and chunky as a result, the Razr2 is both small and light. It’s 2mm slimmer than the first Razr handset and has a ridged, circular control pad just below its main internal screen. This allows you to quickly jump to Contacts, stored music or photos and click to launch the web browser.

Ringtones and alerts are whimsical but melodic, while downloaded music has a clarity rarely heard on a music phone.

Compared to Samsung’s latest handsets and the LG (above), the Razr’s 2Mp camera is run-of-the-mill – although we like its best shot mode, which takes multiple snaps and selects the best from these.

The lovely deep blue shiny metallic casing betrays every fingerprint, but it never looks grubby for it. This is a phone to be seen with.

Motorola Razr2 V8: full review and detailed specifications

3. Blackberry Pearl 8120

As the first foray into the consumer market for a company that made its name with a business handset that turned out to have fashion kudos, the Pearl may just have been the device that convinced Apple of the viability of a design-focused smartphone.

BlackBerry is largely responsible for the success of the smartphone as a product category. While other handsets last just a few short months before being superseded by models with better cameras or slightly more storage space, it’s a testament to the Pearl that it’s still around a year later.

The revised Pearl has an improved 2Mp camera with magnification of up to 5x. We were pleasantly surprised by the flash that kicked in automatically as we took shots at a party, although it’s far from discreet. Video can be recorded to a micro SD Card, too.

We were impressed by the interface. Click on the Maps application and, if you’re already online, you’re asked whether you want to turn on the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Mobile Network – or all of them in one go. The wireless radio icon of previous BlackBerries now pops up to Manage All Connections.

The Pearl doesn’t pretend to be like the other handsets here. Its purplish-blue casing is attractive without being either flashy or too corporate. Smart, attractive and functional, with enough fun factors to balance its connectivity credentials, the ‘Pearl 2’ will be tough to beat.

BlackBerry Pearl 8120: full review and detailed specifications

Also consider:

Sony Ericsson Walkman W960i
Available from December, this hotly anticipated phone matches the Nokia N95 with its 8GB internal memory, has a touchscreen and can show videos at TV quality on its 240x320-pixel screen. Up to 8,000 songs can be stored in eAAC+ format. Sony Ericsson Walkman W960i review here.

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you’re getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor’s hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

DAB & INTERNET RADIOS

1. Freecom MusicPal

£80 inc VAT

The MusicPal is an internet radio rather than a DAB model and, while it’s not as fully featured as the Noxon2, it certainly beats it for looks.

The MusicPal has a larger LED display than other internet radios, allowing plenty of room for time and date information. Scrolling text shows the currently selected station, along with any supplementary description of the station, the show or the tune currently playing.

For relaxing background music and general entertainment, the Freecom MusicPal’s audio quality is more than adequate.

Freecom MusicPal: full review and detailed specifications

2. Pure Digital Move

£89 inc VAT

This portable battery- or mains-powered DAB radio is made from lightweight aluminium and has an attractive grille front. It sits back casually on a flat, U-shaped hinge and serves up crystal-clear DAB radio without fuss.

There’s a sturdy aerial and, where both are available, you can choose between listening digitally or over FM.

Pure claims a full charge should see you through 14 hours of listening, although DAB sucks power noticeably faster than FM.

The Move isn’t the most feature-packed digital radio, but it’s the
best-looking battery-powered model we’ve seen and among the lightest. The volume can be cranked up high, while the audio is clean.

Pure Digital Move: full review, detailed specifications and cheapest price online

3. Noxon2 iRadio for iPod

Terratec has released three versions of the Noxon2 – the first looked similar to a Mac mini, with a playback information screen on its front that raised it on to its haunches. This model emulates that design, but sits atop a subwoofer and has acquired a metallic sheen.

Large, plasticky buttons adjust the volume, start, stop or resume tracks and cycle through song and station listings. Stations are grouped by geographical location, genre or era.

Accessing your iTunes library and streaming individual songs, albums or playlists is made easier by the inclusion of a remote.

Noxon2 iRadio for iPod: full review, detailed specifications and cheapest price online

4. Intempo Digital TRS Series

£39 inc VAT

As an additional DAB radio for your home, or one you can take down to the end of the garden or wherever you want some background entertainment that won’t distract by constantly breaking up, this new model from Intempo is a real bargain.

It’s made from hard-wearing plastic and resembles several of Intempo’s other DAB radio designs, such as the unabashedly loud pink Matthew Williamson peacock design launched for charity last year.

The TRS has a large knob situated to the right for easy station tuning and volume control. Neatly arrayed preset buttons beneath this let you jump straight to 20 stored digital and FM stations.

Intempo Digital TRS Series: full review and detailed specifications

Also consider:

Roku SoundBridge Radio

This streamer can pull tracks from any source, including a NAS drive.
Roku SoundBridge Radio review here.

Intempo GX-01

Use this to wirelessly access 5,000 web radio stations.

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you're getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor's hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

MEDIA-STREAMING DEVICES

1. Netgear HD EVA8000

£193 inc VAT

The EVA8000 is feature-packed and versatile. It combines support for a wide range of video formats, it functions as a digital video and it can be used to check email as you flit between channels.

You can watch YouTube videos on the Netgear and this media streamer supports high-definition video (including 1,080p content).

Web-streaming capabilities are impressive. You can add audio- and MP3-streaming sources to the free Shoutcast web radio service the Netgear comes with. Photo sharing, RSS feeds and online weather updates supplement content streamed from your PC or NAS drive.

Netgear HD EVA8000: full review, detailed specifications and cheapest price online

2. Slingbox Solo

£130 inc VAT

The Slingbox Solo is a bold little media-streaming device: its trapezoid design is refreshingly distinctive. It looks less like electronic gadgetry and more like the sort of thing you'd be proud to show off to your
mates – especially as it supports high definition (HD).

If you want to use the Slingbox Solo remotely to gawp at your home video or photo collection or log in so you can view recorded TV content from another dimension, you'll need a decent uplink speed.

The Slingbox Solo can be attached to DVD and digital video recorders as well as HD boxes of any flavour.

As a way of enjoying your HD content around the home, the Slingbox Solo may be the best value and simplest choice.

Slingbox Solo: images, specification and cheapest price online

3. Apple TV

£199 inc VAT

As you'd expect from an Apple product, the diminutive Apple TV works like a charm. It's a cinch to set up and, though things get a bit more complicated with Wi-Fi, even here setup is easier than most.

If you can play a file in iTunes, you can play it through Apple TV. But that means no WMA music or XviD videos without converting them. Following complaints that Apple hadn't made enough UK content available, it's possible to buy TV shows, video podcasts and short films from the iTunes Store. You can also watch YouTube clips.

The Apple TV connects to widescreen TVs only, via an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface), component or analogue connection.

Apple TV: full review, detailed specifications and cheapest price online

4. Philips Streamium WACS7000

£699 inc VAT

With its thick, chunky styling, the Philips Streamium may look rather over the top, but if you want music streaming from every room (well, two at any rate), this is a nicely worked if costly solution.

The main MusicCentre has an 80GB hard drive. You rip your CD collection on to this or fill it with MP3s from your PC or network, then play the files on it or zap them across to the separate MusicStation – one of these is provided, although you can buy additional ones.

Quality is generally pretty good and, difficult interface aside, the Philips Streamium WACS7000 is a well-designed system for anyone with the dosh.

Philips Streamium WACS7000: full review, detailed specifications and cheapest price online

Also consider:

Sonos Digital Music System

Sonos has updated its superb (if pricey) wireless-streaming system to make tracks easier to find.

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you're getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor's hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

DIGITAL PHOTO FRAMES

1. Parrot Photo Viewer 7in

£129 inc VAT

The Parrot stands out from other digital photo frames because it's the only one to feature Bluetooth connectivity.

The Parrot Photo Viewer is a cinch to set up and use, although our test model kept us in the dark as to its four-digit Bluetooth PIN. It's easy to guess, however, and installing the dongle was straightforward.

Bluetooth is the only method of putting shots on to the Parrot Photo Viewer, so if your PC isn't within 10m of the frame, you'll need a Bluetooth-enabled camera or phone.

Images on the Parrot's 7in screen are bright and detailed but, if your original shot was overexposed, the Parrot Photo Viewer is unforgiving. It will adjust to landscape or portrait mode, depending on the way you hold the photo frame up. It also crops images to fit the screen. You can view individual shots, or a slideshow of your favourites.

Images are displayed at 6x4in and there's a neat, unobtrusive stand. The Parrot is light and thin enough to attach to a wall and we were pleased with its viewing angles.

So what's not to like? Well, digital photo frames remain expensive gadgets and, although the Parrot isn't overpriced, it's not cheap for a one-trick pony.

Not everyone will love the Parrot's faux-crocodile-skin frame (although we did), and the surround is quite bulky for a 7in screen. But overall the Parrot Photo Viewer is a well-designed living-room gadget.

Parrot Photo Viewer 7in: full review and detailed specifications

2. Philips 9FF2CWO

£143 inc VAT

Digital cameras have been around for 10 years now, and in that time we've met only a handful of people who regularly print their photos. So it seems inevitable that the evolution of our favourite media would upscale itself directly into the 21st century with digital frames, where pictures can be uploaded to the frame by USB directly from the image source or via a memory card.

In the Philips 9FF2CWO we have a fine exponent of this new gadget trend. The 9FF2CWO sits perfectly on a mantelpiece, with a generous 9in screen, a white border and a clear perspex surround. There's also a chrome stand that gives a satisfying click when switched from portrait to landscape mode.

Despite its nice 9in screen, the Philips retains a svelte profile.

Navigation is difficult, though, because the 9FF2CWO sits very upright – which makes the frame slightly unstable – and because the buttons are located on the back.

The Philips 9FF2CWO's navigation system takes the form of a large directional button and two separate menu buttons. As the power button is located quite close to this cluster, it's easy to turn it off by accident.
Digital photo frames are still quite expensive for what they are, but if you're tempted by the idea of showing off your photos in a neat, eye-catching way, the Philips is a nice choice.

Philips 9FF2CWO: full review, detailed specifications and cheapest price online

3. AG-Neovo V-10

£150 inc VAT

A neat solution to a new digital problem, the AG Neovo V-10 is a stylish and well-built digital photo frame. Not all of its features are able to match its looks, however.

Pictures can be uploaded to the frame by USB directly from the image source, and the world can see your masterpiece in all its glory on the mantelpiece.

Despite its relative bulk – it's not as slim as the Philips 9FF2CWO (above) – the AG Neovo V-10 gets around balance issues with some nifty modern design. There's a neat wedge moulded into the curvature of the back that works equally well whether you're viewing landscape or portrait pictures.

The AG Neovo V-10 has a battery, which sets it apart from the other screens here. It lasts around 45 minutes between charges, which allows you to take the screen to your PC to upload your pics without worrying about plugging and unplugging it all the time. And the V-10's navigation buttons are located on the front of the touchable frame. They appear and disappear at the slightest touch which is, well, a nice touch.

Less impressively, the AG causes irritation by beeping continually and refuses to adjust photo display from a compulsory widescreen – some heads may be chopped off.

The AG Neovo V-10 is a well-built frame that will make a stylish addition to your front room – but the lack of wireless and frequent beeping are potential headaches.

AG Neovo V-10: full review, detailed specification and cheapest price online

Also consider:

Kodak EX811

Kodak's user-friendly EX811 can play Mpeg2, MOV and AVI video and MP3 audio files. It works with six different media-card types and can connect over Wi-Fi. In many ways, this frame is a cut above the rest. Kodak EX811: full review and detailed specifications

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!

When choosing a gift for yourself, your friends or your family, you want to be sure you're getting a present worth paying for. PC Advisor's hands-on reviews help you make some wise Yuletide buys.

PHOTO PRINTERS

1. HP Photosmart A826

£182 inc VAT

The A826 is a great choice for digital photographers who want to print their own digital photos with minimal hassle. The case design could use some improvement for greater ease of handling, and dark prints appear a little dull, but the A826 is an attractive, fun device well tailored
for its intended consumer group: hobbyists and digital scrapbookers.

At £182, you pay quite a premium for the convenience the A826 offers, but its innovative, user-friendly interface makes this printer a worthy investment. The A826 doubles as a photo and slideshow viewer, which greatly enhances its appeal.

As well as being used to show off your snaps, the Photosmart's 7in display is touch-sensitive (it comes with a stylus to avoid greasy thumbprints). Printing photos is as easy as inserting a photo storage card and tapping the screen, then the Print icon.

Speed is moderate. It took one minute and 29 seconds to print a photo at best-quality.

The HP's real strength is its user-friendly interface and the stylish simplicity of its innovative touch and print setup. The menu is straightforward and we were able to crop photos, add or remove effects, type captions, add frames and insert clip art without once consulting the user manual.

If you want a stylish photo printer-cum-photo viewer, the A826 is likely to be the talk of your neighbours (in a good way).

HP Photosmart A826: full review, detailed specification and cheapest price online

Epson PictureMate 290

£170 inc VAT

The Epson PictureMate 290 builds on the legacy of dedicated photo printers that Epson introduced some four years ago. Since then, non-PC-dependent home photo printing has gained many fans. This model offers excellent print quality, fast printing and an admirably simple interface. Epson even includes a built-in CD burner – all of which makes printing photos fun and easy, without compromising on quality.

While the original PictureMate was shaped like a small, rounded boom box (or possibly a toaster), the 290's boxy form is more like a car battery. It's bulky, but a large handle makes it convenient to carry.

Setup involves plugging it in, flipping up its 3.6in LCD screen, inserting its single four-colour ink cartridge and loading some photo paper. Insert your photo card, choose one or more photos to print and voila! Using the Epson's straightforward control panel, you can apply edits to your photos, such as cropping, red-eye removal and colour effects.

The 290's print quality and speed are competitive. Photos are crisp and clear, with accurate colours and excellent detail. And the 290 printed a single photo in 42 seconds – other printers we've tried recently took more than twice as long. Unfortunately, the Epson is limited to one paper size: 4x6in.

Even so, the Epson is one of the best portable photo printers you can buy, if you don't mind its print-size limitation.

Epson PictureMate 290: full review, detailed specifications and the cheapest price online

3. Canon Pixma MP180

£69 inc VAT

Canon's MP180 is reasonably priced and has plenty of functions for the keen home photographer. We found its tendency to print photos on a slant concerning – and it takes its time to print – but if you line up the paper accurately and are prepared to be patient, you'll be rewarded.

As an entry-level model in Canon's line-up of Pixma multifunction photo printers, the MP180 has no colour LCD. However, it has a versatile memory-card slot as well as PictBridge support. We were pleased to discover that there's a designated button to print out an index sheet of the contents
of your memory card.

Colour photos print quickly and look great. Test shots averaged 173 seconds at the highest resolution of 4,800x,1,200dpi (dots per inch) and displayed plenty of detail.

Although the Canon isn't the fastest we've seen to print text in draft mode, its results are far better than many other photo printers we've tested. The MP180's document feeder occasionally slants pages, however.
As well as photo-printing, you get scanning and copying functions. The Canon's scanner is able to accurately detect document edges and crop in scans, which max out at 1,200x2,400dpi. Colour copies are of a reasonable standard, and come out at a decent speed.

If you want a photo printer with scan and copy capabilities, the MP180 fits the bill.

Canon Pixma MP180: full review, detailed specification and cheapest price online

Also consider:

Sony DPP-FP70

The Sony produces sharp prints in 45 seconds. Use the 2.5in LCD to edit or preview photos.

Canon Selphy ES2

We like the ES2's vertical design and 3in LCD. It can be used wirelessly and accepts most memory cards.

Christmas gift guide 2007:

  1. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007
  2. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: GPS devices
  3. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: compact cameras
  4. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: SLR cameras
  5. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: web-browsing devices
  6. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: multimedia phones
  7. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: DAB and internet radios
  8. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: media-streaming devices
  9. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: digital photo frames
  10. PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide 2007: photo printers
  11. Get bargains on all your Christmas gifts, with PC Advisor Shopping!