Gifts that live in the present
High-contrast ... the Kindle Paperwhite, from $US119.
Christmas is just around the corner so, if you haven't bought presents for all of your loved ones yet, it's time to get cracking. Gadgets make for great gifts and most are practical without being too impersonal.
FitBit One ($119.95). This tiny device is designed for everyday use rather than specific sports, and tracks daily physical activity and sleep patterns using a three-axis accelerometer and altimeter. It also has built-in Bluetooth for uploading stats to the online dashboard using an iPhone or iPad.
Given that games consoles are now a lot cheaper than most people might realise, you'll look extremely generous giving one as a gift. The Xbox 360 is available for as little as $199, and the newly slender Sony PlayStation 3 starts from $259. You may also want to consider the new Nintendo Wii U for $349.95. There are lots of great cross-platform games available too, such as Halo 4 ($89.95), Rocksmith ($249, includes a real guitar), Call of Duty: Black Ops II ($79) and Nike+ Kinect Training ($69.95).
Sol Republic deadmau5 Tracks HD headphones, $199.
The new Apple iPad mini (from $369) is the popular favourite because of its smaller-form factor and popular iOS operating system. If you want to save a hundred bucks, you could go with the Nexus 7 instead (from $269), which has similar specs but runs Android.
For something a little more left-field, there's also the Microsoft Surface (from $559) running the Windows RT operating system - a good choice if you're after something that works more like a laptop.
Nintendo Wii U, $349.95.
These Sol Republic deadmau5 Tracks HD headphones ($199) were designed by DJ deadmau5, and offer the same head-thrashing bass reproduction of the more-expensive Beats and Bose headphones but with a lower price tag. The three-button remote and built-in microphone lets them double as a hands-free headset for your mobile phone.
The nano ($169) is the sleeper hit of Apple's new iPod range. While it doesn't run the full iOS operating system, it comes with the excellent Nike+ fitness app that works with the built-in pedometer to track exercise. It also has built-in Bluetooth for wirelessly streaming music to compatible headphones, speakers, and car stereos.
Perfect for the social photographer in your life, the Samsung Galaxy Camera ($599) promises to combine the power of the Android operating system with a full-fledged 16-megapixel 21x zoom camera. Functionally speaking, it's the equivalent of a Galaxy S III glued to the back of a compact camera. It even has a SIM card slot so you can jump online to share photos (and use any other app) over 3G.
Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite is arguably the best e-reader on the market. It has a high-contrast ''paper-white'' screen that's perfectly legible in the sun (unlike smartphones and tablets), touch navigation, and up to eight weeks of battery life. The only catch is that it isn't officially available in Australia, so you'll need to source one through eBay or an Australian reseller such as ReaderShop.
The beauty of the Big Jambox wireless speaker ($359) is that it works with any phone, tablet or laptop using Bluetooth. It's portable enough to take to the beach and powerful enough to drive a party, with top-mounted controls and an internal battery that's good for 15 hours of continuous playback.