What technology should be on your Christmas list this year?

Red and gold wrapped Christmas presents under a tree

Any gadgets under the tree? Photo by MeiTeng, stock.xchng

Christmas is fast approaching, and you may have already sent off your letter to Santa, but if not you may be considering asking for a new piece of technology from generous family or friends. If your parents are already shelling out thousands for you to study and live in Sheffield, it may now be a bit more difficult to blag the latest toys and gadgets for Christmas. However, if you ask for something which can enhance your studies, and therefore be considered an investment in your future, how can they refuse? Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to receive a big wad of Christmas money that will be burning a hole in your pocket by Boxing Day; in either case, hopefully our guide below will help you decide what’s right for you.

Laptop or tablet?

A number of Microsoft surface devices of different colours, on a table

Microsoft Surface, by methodshop.com, Flicrk

It may be the case that your current computer is on its last legs and you’re looking into replacing it, but you’re also tempted by the seductive new player in the PC market: the tablet. For serious study, desktop or laptop computers are probably best, boasting high specification that can manage memory-hungry files and plenty of storage space, for a good price. However, tablets can be ideal for combining study and leisure, offering a range of apps for work as well as play (see our Study App of the week series for more ideas of study-related apps). Well thanks to the latest development in computer technology you might not have to choose between the two – devices like the wafer-thin 13″ Windows 8-based Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga offer a touch-screen which folds all the way back so that you can use it as a tablet. If you want more of a tablet than a laptop experience you may want to wait, though, as the 11″ version will be released soon. Or you could go for the Microsoft Surface, which combines Windows functionality with a super-slim colourful look. Alternatively, the Asus Eee Pad works on an Android operating system and has a fully detachable tablet screen.

Portable Hard Drive

It may not be the most exciting present in your stocking (second only to the squashed satsuma at the bottom), but a portable hard drive could be one of the most useful, and could potentially save you a lot of frustration and time. Read our article on why and how you should backup your files and if you feel that a portable hard-drive is the right option for you, think about investing in one with plenty of space and one that will be easy to keep with you such as the Toshiba STOR.E Slim.

Kindle/Kindle Fire

A Kindle Paperwhite device.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. Photo by appsmanila, Flickr

The emergence of e-book readers onto the technology scene a few years ago was met by some with cynicism and many others with excitement; however, they are now well and truly a major player in the handheld device market. As their main rival, the tablet, started to become more mainstream and increasingly brighter, slicker and offering a range of extra functions, the E-book reader stuck to its ground boasting a realistic book-reading experience through the use of e-ink. The Amazon Kindle, which has dominated the sector, was one of the most popular Christmas presents of 2011 and has now had a makeover with the launch of the Kindle Fire which places itself very firmly in the tablet category with its 7″ HD display and range of apps. However, if the authentic reading experience is what you’re looking for, but just don’t have room on your bookshelf for all the volumes of Hunger Games/Game of Thrones/Twilight, you may be better of reaching for the lightweight, glare-free Kindle Paperwhite 3G; alternatively, a better tablet option than the Kindle Fire could be the Google Nexus 7 which contains a quad core processor wrapped up in a lighter, more polished design and also offers the full range of Android apps (including the Kindle app), all for the same price as the Kindle Fire.

For a bit of fun…

Little printer device showing its face on roll of paper.

BERG Little Printer. Photo by Roo Reynolds, Flickr.

On the market just in time for Christmas, the Berg Little Printer is turning virtual content on its head by creating miniature daily printouts based on what you want to learn, interact with, or be reminded of. Through free subscriptions to your smartphone, Little Printer provides you with a touchable daily dose of friends’ birthdays, your schedule, news, puzzles and anything from mini origami to seasonal recipes, to stick to your fridge or keep in your wallet. Visit the BERG website for more information and view their blog to find out how this little gadget is already popular with Iron Man!

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