It’s that time of the year again – Christmas and the festive season are almost here, and it’s time to find a gift for the TV, streaming and gadget lovers in your life.
As someone who covers streaming devices, home entertainment and, well, cool gadgets year after year, I’ve prepared this updated roundup of products and gift ideas – from the best streaming sticks out there, to earphones and speakers, streaming subscriptions that you can give as a gift, and a few unique smart products for those who have everything.
As always, please remember that although there are lots of deals and discounts during the holiday season, you should only buy within your means and your budget – no discount or gift is ever worth going into debt over.
As always, some of the links in this article may earn us a referral fee, at no extra cost to you – but that never affects my unbiased opinion of the products.
While many people just use their Smart TVs for streaming apps – those are often slow, and not very user-friendly – plus, when they get old, some apps disappear (like last year’s ITV Hub exodus).
Therefore, a standalone streaming stick is often the better choice, with a longer list of supported apps, better performance, and a longer shelf-life.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen)
I’m a big fan of Amazon’s Fire TV sticks, and this year Amazon released a brand new version of its top-tier stick – the Fire TV Stick 4K Max (see my full review of it).
The brand new Fire TV 4K Max’s interface is speedy and very responsive (thanks to an updated CPU), and it supports almost every streaming service in the UK, along with hundreds of additional apps (and even games) – see my Fire TV app recommendations.
If you’re looking for the ultimate streaming stick to give as a gift – you can’t go wrong with this one.
Cheaper Alternative: Fire TV Stick Lite. It only supports HD (no 4K), and it’s not as fast to use – but it still supports the Fire TV’s huge app and streaming library, and can be a nifty bedroom/guest-room stick.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
Roku’s 4K stick is almost as fast and powerful as the Fire TV Max stick – with the main difference being the operating system (and the Firestick’s support for WiFi 6E).
Roku’s OS is simpler and easier to use, with a grid of streaming channels and apps that you just need to choose from.
If you’re buying for someone who wants to get into the streaming world, but isn’t very technically minded – the Roku sticks are a great starting point.
Cheaper Alternative: Roku Express. The entry-level streaming device from Roku – it only supports HD, and it’s not as fast – but it features the same simple interface and wide app/streaming support, at a very affordable price.
If you want something a bit more unique, the Streambar combines a 4K streaming device with a compact soundbar (see our Streambar review).
For the price and its size, the Roku Streambar is surprisingly good, with powerful sound that manages to fill the room (as long as you don’t live in a mansion, that is). And, it has Roku’s easy-to-use interface already built-in, so you get two devices in one.
Every TV sold in the UK already has a Freeview tuner built-in, so set-top box Freeview recorders may seem like a thing of the past.
However, if you know someone who’s a hardcore Freeview viewer, and especially if they’re looking to ditch their expensive Sky Q or Virgin Media TV360 subscription – then a dedicated set-top Freeview recorder can offer so much more than just a TV with Freeview.
Unfortunately, Freeview recorders have been vanishing in the UK, and the new Manhattan T4-R is only expected in 2024.
Therefore, the only fully-featured Freeview recorder available to buy as new at the moment is the Aura:
The Aura is certainly expensive, but it serves two functions: it combines a Freeview Play recorder with an Android TV streaming device.
So you get 1TB or 2TB of storage space for recordings, as well as Android TV and Chromecast support, with hundreds of supported apps and streaming services (but it doesn’t support Netflix for now, unfortunately). See my Humax Aura review.
Be careful not to buy one of the older Humax Freeview boxes though – as they no longer support some apps, particularly ITV Hub (and the upcoming ITVX).
Earphones & Speakers
Watching something interesting on TV – or even on your smartphone – works best when you have good earphones or speakers.
The good news is that in recent years, some of the budget-priced (or mid-priced) audio devices have gotten better and better – without getting more expensive.
So here are some recommendations…
EarFun Air Pro 3
If you want excellent true wireless earphones at an even more budget-friendly price, the new Air Pro 3 from EarFun are a great choice.
They support most of the features one would expect to find on TWS earphones these days, they have a total battery life of 45 hours, the audio quality is quite good – and their Active Noise Cancellation is miles better than what you usually get at this price range.
- See my EarFun Air Pro 3 review.
Creative Outlier Pro
If you’re looking for affordable true wireless earphones made by a well-known brand, the Outlier Pro earbuds are a great choice.
The sound is rich and warm (though the bass is better than the high ends), the batteries last forever, and even the big form factor becomes a plus when you notice how comfortable the buds feel in your ears.
Creative Katana V2X
Soundbars are usually big and heavy – but the Katana V2X from Creative pulls a mighty feat – it’s small, lightweight, and comes with a slimmed-down subwoofer (over the original Katana V2’s sub), yet still features very impressive volume levels.
With an RGB light strip and special gaming modes, this soundbar is aimed more towards gamers or smaller TV rooms, and probably won’t be big enough for a huge lounge.
But if you’re looking to spoil someone who watches TV in their room, or needs better sound for a computer or gaming console – the Katana V2X is a great choice.
- See my Katana V2X Review.
GeoSmartPro Air Fryer
Wait, an Air Fryer is a tech gadget? Well, it is when it’s a “Smart” Air Fryer, which is what we got from British start-up GeoSmartPro this year.
The GeoSmartPro combines size and smart technology in a sleek, space-saving design. It features an 8L capacity (with an adjustable tray) ideal for families and batch cooking, Pro AirTech technology for healthier cooking with 80% less fat, and is 75% more energy efficient than traditional ovens.
But the highlight is the accompanying app. You connect the Air Fryer to your phone (via WiFi), and can then control everything from the app – from preset cooking options, manual activation and smart device notifications.
Typically with kitchen devices, I tend to forget what all the buttons do after exactly one week – and I just use On and Off (does anyone know what all those microwave buttons actually do?). With this air fryer’s app, I was finally able to do more than just turn the thing on and off.
Oh, and the food came out crispy and tasty – just don’t expect the app to manage your cooking skills.
Streaming Subscription Gifts
With so many streaming services around these days, no one has them all – so they can be a great gift option. And since you can either give them via a gift card, or virtually – they’re great as a last-minute gift.
Disney+ Gift Subscription
Disney+ (see our full review) can be streamed on most streaming devices and Smart TVs in the UK, and includes content from the worlds of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, National Geographic and Star – Disney’s general entertainment category for more mature audiences (which includes popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy, The Bear and many others).
Disney+ changed its pricing and plans recently – so the annual gift card is for the new Premium tier, which supports 4K and doesn’t have advert breaks.
The gift subscription will be delivered via e-mail, but do note that it’s only for new Disney+ subscribers (so it can’t be added on top of an existing subscription).
Netflix Gift Cards
Who doesn’t know Netflix? The granddaddy of all streaming services, if you’re looking to buy a gift for someone who likes watching TV and somehow DOESN’T have Netflix yet – this is it.
With numerous TV programmes, Netflix Originals, movies and even some reality TV, Netflix has something for everyone.
The standard Netflix subscription currently costs £10.99/month (but there are also Premium 4K and the newish, Basic-with-Adverts plan), and you can choose gift cards that are worth between £15 and £200. You can find official Netflix cards on Startselect (which sends the code instantly via e-mail).
iTunes Gift Cards
If you’re buying gifts for an Apple fan – gift cards for iTunes are the most flexible. They can be used to then buy apps, films, TV programmes or even full streaming subscriptions on Apple’s app and media stores.
Audible Gift Membership
It’s not a streaming TV service, but Audible still offers great entertainment, with one of the largest audiobook collections in the world (We gave it a lot of praise in our Audible UK review).
For gift memberships, you choose the number of months you want (with one credit given per month) – and it starts from £7.99 for 1 month/1 credit.
More Tech Gift Ideas
Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet
Tablets are great media-consumption devices – and the Fire HD 8, with its very affordable pricing, is a great gift idea.
It’s an excellent tablet for watching videos, casual gaming and simple productivity apps – and I’m a big fan of its size, which feels just right – not too small, but also not too big, so you can easily carry it with you and hold it over long periods of time.
The lack of a proper Google app store is the main downside, but you still get most of the major streaming services and games on the Amazon app store.
- See my Fire HD 8 review.
Tapo Smart Light Strip (L930-5)
Forget Granny’s Christmas lights – this LED light strip from TP-Link is great for Christmas but also for year-long usage.
You stick it anywhere you want with the built-in adhesive (so on the wall, under a counter, etc.), and then let the fun begin – you can use the app to change the colours and brightness, create lighting effects and more. And – you can control it all with a voice assistant like Alexa or Google’s Assistant.
I was a bit sceptical at first, but I’m a convert now – much more than a novelty, this light strip can genuinely change the way you use and control lighting in your house.
Tronsmart T7 Portable Speaker
We listen to music and podcasts everywhere these days – at home, on the bus, while doing the washing up… but what about when you’re showering or taking a bath?
Yep, there’s no reason to stop listening when you’re near water – as long as you have an adequate waterproof speaker – and that’s precisely what the Tronsmart T7 is, and more.
You connect the T7 to your phone (or tablet) via Bluetooth, and can then stream anything to it – music from Spotify or YouTube, podcasts and even phone calls.
It’s very portable but also surprisingly loud with IPX7 Waterproofing – so it can keep on playing where you’re in the shower, outdoors in the rain, and anywhere you might want to take it.
Creative Muvo Go Speaker
Another excellent option for those who want to listen to music on the go (without shutting yourself out with earphones).
The Muvo Go from Creative is even more portable, weighing just 570 grams, it has IPX7 waterproofing, and a particularly good sound quality and volume levels, considering its size.
Plus, you can choose one of three nifty colours…
Tronsmart Bang Mini Party Speaker
Lastly, if you’re in the great outdoors (or… simply in your garden), and you want to get the party going – the Tronsmart Bang Mini is much more powerful than your run-of-the-mill personal Bluetooth speakers.
With two speaker cavities on both sides, the sound is surprisingly loud (especially for such a portable device – though it is a bit on the heavy side at 2.37kg), with an 8000mAh battery, it will last the night – and definitely keep going for the entirety of your Christmas party, even with the RGB lights turned on.
Plus, it’s IPX6 waterproof, so you can use it in the rain – just don’t throw it into the pool…