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Best last minute Christmas gifts for IT pros

IT professionals spent all year protecting the company from computer meltdowns – now it's time to return the favour.

By Sabrina Dougall

Here we are again. Left the present shopping until the last few days, hoping that Christmas would forget to happen this year and the family would simply appreciate the presence of your charming company. That is not how it works.

Santa has a gift for everyone, but what did he bring the IT professional on the nice list this year?

Fortunately, we’ve asked him and this is what he said…

1) A 3D printer (£139-£1,300+)

An extraordinarily helpful machine in Santa’s workshop this year is the 3D printer. Spinning up charming ornaments and fabulous figurines, this dream-manufacturer is a


win-tinten Dual Extruder Desktop FDM 3D printer (ABS/PLA Filament), £249

must-have for the gadget genie in your life. Now any futurist can design and print out a real-world model up to 8.5in (22cm) tall in the comfort of their home office. The cost of 3D printers has dropped considerably since they first became commercially available in 2009. FFM (fused filament manufacturing) models tend to be cheaper, as they use a moving melting plastic filament to form each CAD creation.

Starting from £139 for a win-tinten printer to £1,300 for the higher end LulzBot, many models come with WiFi, 4G+ memory, SD card slot and compatibility with desktop PCs and Macs.


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2) Fitbit Unisex Ionic Health and Fitness Smartwatch (£250-300)


Fitbit Unisex Ionic Health and Fitness Smartwatch, RRP £299.99

Unless you have been living at the bottom of the ocean this year, you will already be au fait with the ubiquitous Fitbit smartwatch which tracks your geolocation, heart rate and sleep cycles around the clock.

While the company’s market value slid this year (perhaps all the trendy people have one already?) this Christmas could be an excellent last ditch opportunity to bring your technophobe aunt or uncle into the 21st Century.

The new Ionic model includes 60 new apps including ride-sharing, music, restaurant reviews and news services. Be warned, the device is said to not adjust particularly well to smaller wrists so… choose a friend who could do to get a bit more fit. At any rate, the Apple Watch may have more compelling health features with recent research suggesting it can detect sleep apnoea, hypertension and abnormal heart rhythm.


3) Smart Plug for Remote Home Hub control (£4-30)


TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug, RRP £29.99

Want a smart hub, but not sure if it can be trusted left to its own devices? A nifty extra socket may be the smartest tech purchase you make this Christmas, for yourself or for someone else. Wifi smart switch timer sockets (or names to that effect) have been selling in their thousands on eBay with options from just £13.

Worry no more whether your toddler, parrot or poodle will order unwanted packages while home alone with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The official TP-Link model from Amazon has an RRP of £30 and is available with free delivery in December at £25. Remote access switches the plug on or off remotely from the Kasa app on smartphone or tablet. Alternatively, you could go for a generic timer plug socket – like one used with a freestanding heater – which costs more like £4-8.


4) Build-Your Own IoT kit with Raspberry Pi 3 (£35.99)


Raspberry Pi 3 Physical Computing Learning Kit For The Internet of Things, £35.99

Built that first IoT application yet? Why not? A Gartner survey discovered just 31% of IT professionals felt their company was prepared to address their IoT needs in the absence of a qualified IoT architect. If that wasn’t enough of a sell, then who knows what would be.

To give that special someone an extra IoT injection this Christmas, why not get hold of a do-it-yourself Raspberry Pi project kit? This off-the-wall gift box from Delonnay comes with official Raspberry Pi foundation tutorials and six custom resistors. The good news is no prior coding knowledge is required; your better half will be building motion detectors or distance measuring equipment in no time. Note: it doesn’t come with a Raspberry Pi. Or a raspberry pie. Sorry.


5) A Bluetooth ‘anything’ tracker tag (£9-31)

ChristmasHow many days and weeks of your life will you spend searching for your misplaced keys, wallet, travel card? Tile Mate (£17-23 RRP), GOMAN Key Finder (£9-15) and Luxsure (£17-£31) are all bestselling Bluetooth-connected tags on Amazon. Give your forgetful friend the most valuable gift they are likely to get this Christmas: a wireless tracker chip.

Tile Mate will set your misplaced phone ringing even if it’s on silent, so long as it is within range. The stylish ribbed Luxsure runs for up to 8 months per battery and works with Android iOS 8 or later. On the cheaper end of the tracker range is the luminous green GOMAN fob with a 12 month battery life. Esky RF could be best for family and home use, with a central hub, four tags with an audible range of 82ft. Apparently the device can be used to track your pets, but if your dog/cat/budgie is going to go AWOL, it most likely isn’t going to remain in the 25m bluetooth range.


6) Wearable contactless payment device (c. £20)


Link bPay to most major credit or debit cards for payments of £30 or under at over 400,000 UK retailers

If your loved one is already over the novelty of the contactless card or phone app this Christmas, how about an even speedier way to make quick purchases on the go: a contactless payment bracelet? Launched in 2015, bPay by Barclaycard is a £20 wristband in grey and black.

The fintech is also available as a keyring fob for those who are not much of a wearables fan. If you’re not a fan of the Barclays model, PureWrist leverages a prepaid MasterCard Debit in its SSL-encrypted water-resistant wristband. Visa payments are supported on Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin vivoactive 3 and Optus pay bands.

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