TechRadar Christmas Wishlist: our team pick the very best tech for under your tree

If you were thinking about buying us all a gift...

Christmas is coming / the goose is getting fat / the TechRadar team doesn't want to be left unwrapping a big pile of tat.

We, the discerning editors and writers of TechRadar, are a picky bunch. Sure, you may be able to palm off some pals or relatives with a pair of socks, a box of chocolates and a bottle of booze. But we demand a higher quality of gift.

And so should you! We've handpicked the things that we're hoping to find under our tree - so if your Christmas wishlist is lacking in inspiration, take a look at what we'll be bugging Santa for this year.

Patrick Goss: Global Editor-in-Chief

MacBook Pro: This is my Birthday present plus my Christmas present plus I’m insisting on chipping in some money towards it. That’s because the thick end of £1,500/$1,500 is a *lot* of money. But I looked at the Air and then the MacBook and then the top end MacBook Pro with the touch bar I will never ever use and then decided this is definitely the king of the Apple Mac range. Power with portability and an OS that is so good it nearly (nearly) lets me move beyond the fact that I won’t be able to game on this. 

Nintendo NES Mini Classic: At a year shy of 40 I’m one of the few people on the team that can actually genuinely remember the original NES in all its glory and not through rose-tinted glasses. The NES Classic is definitely something I need in my life. Although the odd classic is MIA, the vast majority of the games my 9 year old self spent countless hours on are present and correct.

4K Television: I’m not yet of the 4K revolution - which is a bit depressing, but I have to convince my wife that our perfectly lovely 1080p is somehow not okay any more which is harder than you’d think. That said - if Santa was to somehow manage to squeeze a 65-inch 4K television down the chimney then I’d be fairly delighted. I’m a big fan of the Samsung KS9500 - but given I baulked at spending half the amount on a MacBook Pro I might have to compromise. Or face that I’m not getting a 4K for Christmas :( 

Matt Hanson: How To Editor

Amazon Echo: I bought one for my mum and was very impressed with it. Because my house is filled with home automation joy (Philips Hue lighting, Logitech Harmony remote control for everything) I think the Amazon Echo could make my life a lot easier. I’ve been playing around with the Amazon Echo and seeing what cool things it could do - like turn my Christmas tree lights on and off using just my voice - so I’d love one to experiment more with!

Oppo UDP-203 4K/UHD Blu-ray disc player: My second love after filling my house full of home automation gadgets is watching movies on the brilliant Hisense 65XT910 65-inch 4K TV. It’s recently got a firmware update to add HDR functionality so I think it’s about time I really see what this set is able to do with a 4K Blu-ray player, and I’ve had my eye on the Oppo UDP-203 4K/UHD Blu-ray disc player since I attended its launch event earlier this year. Not only does it do a fantastic job of playing 4K Blu-rays, it’s also one of those rare beasts that supports the high fidelity SACD format, and I’d like to try out the four or five CDs that support it. Dark Side of the Moon in 5.1? Yes please.

The Last Guardian: My third love, which actually is probably thinking about it my first love, is gaming and this year I’ve been absolutely spoilt for fantastic games, especially Uncharted 4 and Planet Coaster - the spiritual successor to the Rollercoaster Tycoon and Bullfrog’s Theme Park series of games. I’ve waited a long time for a new theme park management simulation game to carry this mantle, and have been having a blast so far. However, the only thing I’ve been waiting longer for is The Last Guardian, Team Ico’s latest (and last) game. Shadow of the Colossus is one of my all-time favorite games, so I have been eagerly anticipating The Last Guardian since it was announced way back in 2009. After numerous delays and rumors of cancellation it is finally here, and the reviews have been very positive so far - it looks like the wait may have been worth it, and I’m looking forward to unwrapping it on Christmas day. 

John McCann: Phones, Tablets and Wearables UK Editor

NES Mini Classic Edition: Quick confession, I never owned a NES. Or a SNES. Or an N64. In fact, the first Nintendo TV console I had to call my own was a Gamecube. It was purchased second-hand off eBay while at university for the sole purpose of feeding my friend’s rather unhealthy addiction to Mario Party. But I digress.

While I may not have the nostalgia surrounding the NES console itself, there’s nothing I love more on Boxing Day than to settle down with some retro games. In the past Micro Machines V3 on the PS1 and GTA Vice City on the iPad have fed my day-after-presents old school gaming craving - this year I want to sit two foot from my TV and burn giant pixelated graphics into my retinas.

Ford Mustang: I drove the new, right-hand-drive Ford Mustang earlier this year and it’s fair to say I’m smitten with this V8 beast. It’s great fun to drive, puts a smile on your face and sounds awesome when you press the accelerator. And with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system now on board it plays nicely with your phone with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration.

Watch Dogs 2 (PS4): When the first Watch Dogs game launched I was intrigued, excited even - but then the reviews hit and it seemed to fall flat of its promise. My hope with the second instalment is that it lives up to my expectations of fusing my love of GTA with my obsession with technology. On paper it’s the perfect mix - and I’d love to find out if it lives up to the hype.

Gerald Lynch - Associate Editor

Onkyo TX-NR646 4K HDR cinema receiver: First-world problems - I’ve finally reached critical mass when it comes to 4K devices in my home. Sky Q, PS4 Pro and a Nvidia Shield TV - and that’s before the rare occasion that I decide it’s worth the hassle to drag my gaming PC into the living room for some big screen 4K gaming goodness. With half those devices 4K/HDR compatible, and my TV supporting the new screen tech standard, it’s probably about time Santa invested in a new 4K/HDR-compatible HDR receiver for the Lynch household. Something like the Onkyo TX-NR646 would fit the bill nicely.

Amazon Echo: I’m still waiting for my personal C-3PO protocol droid, but in the meantime, the Amazon Echo will do. Having seen it in action, it’s very impressive in how it handles quite complex voice commands, and its repertoire of “Skills” (aka, voice activated apps) is increasing all the time. I can see it getting plenty of use in my household.

The Guardian (Kindle/iPad Subscription): It’s been a dark year on the world stage, making good quality journalism that can cut through the “post-truth” noise all the more important. The Guardian is my newspaper of choice, and an annual subscription to its excellent news and features output would keep me informed and entertained throughout the year.

Marc Chacksfield: Global Managing Editor

Propel Millennium Falcon Drone: Special Edition: I’ve always loved the idea of having a drone but I hadn’t found one that was good enough to spend good money on. Until now. The Millennium Falcon Drone by Propel is a wonderful mashup of design engineering and geekiness. The normal version of the drone is a laser battling multicopter that can fight other drones by Propel, complete with sounds and sayings from the movie peppered into its arsenal. So far so awesome, but the special edition comes with a display case and a box that talks when you open it! 

PlayStation VR: I love what HTC has done with the Vive and the care it’s taken to make sure the VR experience is second to none, but its lack of great games worries me. This is why I am backing the PSVR as the kit to make sure virtual reality is a hit. The device looks great and I’m already a PS4 fan so this as a Christmas present is a no-brainer. Plus, it means I get to slope off and be Batman, while the rest of the family is doing the dishes.


Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Special Edition: I’ve been a big fan of Plantronics headphones ever since the launch of the Plantronics BackBeat Sense. They were great budget-friendly wireless cans, but they were lacking noise cancellation. This is something that the the BackBeat Pro 2s remedies. The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 offers superb noise cancellation - that lasts up to 24 hours - at a lower price than the Bose QC35s. They look great too and are some of the most comfortable headphones I’ve used.

Emma Boyle: Staff Writer

PlayStation VR: I first tried PlayStation VR all the way back in September of 2015 and as soon as I took the headset off I vowed to the room of people not listening to me that I would absolutely buy one when it was released.

Well, that release date has come and gone and I’ve still not purchased one. It’s partly down to cost and partly down to the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to clean up my living room to accommodate it. Now that the season to treat thyself approaches and I’ve been forced to clean out of a sense of shame, the time seems ripe to finally buy one.

Besides, if it turns out 2016 has simply been a prelude to a worse 2017, I’m going to thank myself for buying access to a virtual escape pod.

The Last Guardian: Finally, The Last Guardian is here. I feel like I’ve been waiting an age for this game but I have a funny feeling it’ll be worth it. We haven’t been inundated with spoilerific footage, and I’m hopeful that we’ll see the beauty and emotional impact of ICO combined with the scale and grandeur of Shadow of the Colossus. Me? High expectations? Never.

Wacom Intuos Graphics Tablet: In a desperate attempt to have a hobby that didn’t involve looking at a screen, I recently took up art again. However, wouldn’t you just know it, I feel like my drawing experience could only be improved by the introduction of digital software and a screen. 

The Wacom graphics tablet is an affordable option that crams a huge range of art supplies into one small pen. No more sharpening pencils or using erasers for me. It’s also a good option for beginners since it comes with a bunch of online tutorials which should stop me running back to the familiar safety of a pen and paper. 

James Peckham: Phones, Wearables and Tablets Writer

Dishonored 2: I picked up the first Dishonored game on a whim in 2012, and it ended up being one of my favorite gaming experiences of that year and even the console generation as a whole. I’ve been waiting for Dishonored 2 for some time, but a November release has made it the perfect title to pick up and play over the Christmas holiday period. The option to play however you want with a plethora of skills laid out before you was enough to hook me, but then the news of The Clockwork Mansion mission solidified my excitement. Don't trust me? Read our glowing review of Dishonored 2.

Google Home: Out of every gadget in 2016, I want a home assistant the most. I want to walk into my house, throw my bag down and have everything I need to know read to me without even needing to press a button. Sadly Google Home isn’t available in the UK yet – where I live – and although it hasn’t been as well reviewed as the Amazon Echo, I believe it has a lot more long term potential. From using the Google Pixel XL, I’ve seen exactly how Google Assistant compares to Amazon’s Alexa and there’s no contest. Google Home is the one I want to get as soon as possible. It may not be as great at the end of 2016, but it is almost guaranteed to receive continued support and grow more and more as Google Assistant improves.

HTC Vive: If you gave me an unlimited budget this Christmas season I’d immediately snap up a HTC Vive with a compatible PC. There’s the problem though – it’s so expensive. For me - someone who doesn’t currently own a desktop PC – it would cost somewhere in the range of £2,000 before I was able to set up a HTC Vive at my house. I’ve only played a maximum of five hours of Vive so far, but there’s no gaming feeling quite like it. Samsung Gear VR is fine, PlayStation VR is better but Vive is where it’s at. Fancy buying me one? Or do you just want to know more? Then read our review of the HTC Vive.

Jon Porter: Home Technology Writer

PS4 Pro: We were worried when the PS4 Pro was first announced. Here was a console that had been heavily rumored as being the first 4K hardware from Sony, and suddenly we were being told that it would be a glorified upscaler. 

Those fears subsided as soon as we got our hands on the console itself, at which point we discovered that Sony’s fancy new upscaling technology produced an image that was just a hair’s breadth away from native 4K content. 

Until graphics cards capable of 60fps gaming become commonplace, the PS4 Pro looks like it’s the best way to experience Ultra HD gaming, and it’s top of my wishlist this Christmas. 

Netflix 4K subscription: Of course, a 4K console wouldn’t be complete without a good amount of 4K movies and TV shows to watch on it, and right now Netflix has one of the biggest 4K libraries out there. 

There’s just one problem, and that’s the way you have to pay for a more expensive tier of Netflix if you want your content to be in 4K. 

At the moment I wouldn’t be prepared to pay for the amount of 4K content that’s currently available, but if someone was willing to gift me a subscription I’d be more than willing to take it off their hands. 

Fiber Internet: The final item on my wishlist might seem a bit surprising for a tech journalist, but my internet situation has more or less reached breaking point. 

Until now I’ve survived by buying physical game discs where possible, and having my consoles auto-update whenever possible, but it’s gotten to a point where I regularly have to wait hours to play a game because of the litany of patches I’m now expected to download before I can begin. 

Day one patches aren’t going anywhere, which means I’m going to have to make my peace with having to download hundreds of megabytes before being able to start a game that I’ve already paid for. 

The only solution is getting a faster internet connection to turn all those multi-hour downloads into something my PS4 can play in half an hour. 

Cat Ellis: Downloads Editor

Garmin Forerunner 235: I find that the best way to deal with problems is to physically run away from them, so I’m expecting to be doing a lot of cardio in the coming months. My old sports watch is still serviceable for the most part, but now refuses to charge unless you spend hours fussing with the battery contacts by the light of the full moon and make a sacrifice to the Greek goddess Nike. The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a great mid-range running watch with solid GPS performance, plus indoor workout tracking for those occasions when the post-truth world becomes too terrifying to face.

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium:Those long training sessions can get awfully dull after a while, and the quieter stretches of half and full marathons can be quiet and demotivating. In-ear headphones are banned from most races (and with good reason - I’ve seen several music-lovers merrily veer off course to the dismay of screaming, red-faced marshals), so bone conduction is the way forward. The Trekz Titanium are designed to limit noise leakage too, so I won’t inflict my dad-rock playlist on my fellow runners. Got my first real six-string...

Philips 65PUS7601: If everything goes to plan, my husband and I will soon be moving into our own flat, and this Philips TV would look great in our new living room (not least because we could use the Ambilight as an excuse not to redecorate). Mortgage payments and property solicitors’ fees mean we won’t be going out much, but with immersive 4K at home, who cares?

Cameron Faulkner - Mobile Editor

Xiaomi Mi In-ear headphones Pro: You’ve probably heard that the headphones included with your smartphone are garbage (it’s true), and you’ve probably been offered plenty of expensive solutions to take their place, too. 

Imagine the face I made when I discovered that Xiaomi is the company behind one of the best and most affordable sets of in-ear headphones out there. These affordable in-ears sound like they should cost at least five times as much. Seriously, give these a shot. Yeah, I already own these, but I want another set just for good measure.

Google Home: I shouldn’t be as interested in Google’s AI-powered speaker as I am, but darn if I don’t want one. Its vase-like design looks to be a perfect fit for just about anywhere in my apartment, and even though I don’t have many IoT appliances to link it up to, the cost would be validated just by testing its speech-recognition chops.

Microsoft Surface Dial: Both Apple and Microsoft introduced new ways for users to interact with their computers this year, but personally, I found the latter to be more interesting. I’m talking about the Surface Dial, a cylindrical accessory that can add extra context-sensitive functions to the programs that I use the most, like Affinity Photo. Mostly though, it’s just fun to hold, spin around, and generally fidget with.

Joe Osborne: Senior Editor

New Matter MOD-t 3D Printer: I’ve been wanting to get back into painting miniatures for a while now for obvious reasons (see below). But, the minis from the hobby shop can be so pricey and not fulfil exactly what characters I’m looking to depict on the game table. So, with some training in 3D modelling programs or even with Paint 3D coming to Windows 10, I could very well make my own D&D miniatures with one of these bad boys.

The BattleBards Soundboard: Letting the nerd flag fly at full mast, I want BattleBards’ awesome collection of tabletop RPG sound effects and full soundtracks at my fingertips for the next game of Dungeons & Dragons hosted in my gaming cave. Oh, and I need some sound effects and music tracks to play with, too, so 25 bucks in credits would be nice.

  • Check out its crazy sounds here

NES Classic Mini: Emulators are boring. We’ve all been there and done that. What Nintendo has crafted with the NES Classic is a veritable nostalgia overload. Sure, the controller cords are too short, but to play spin doctor on that, sitting in front of your TV on the damn floor isn’t just the best way to play this thing – it’s the only way.

Nick Pino - Senior Editor, Home Entertainment

Razer Blade Pro: I need a new laptop. I’ve spent years hauling around a MacBook Pro and I’m pretty sure my back will never be the same. Here’s the problem: while anyone else might settle for something that just gets the basics done – web surfing, streaming and word processing – I have much higher standards for my tech. In all reality, I need gaming desktop performance in a laptop form factor – hence my pick for the 2016 Razer Blade Pro. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Continuing with that Pro mentality, what I really want the big jolly red man to bring me this year is a Microsoft Surface Pro 4. So Patrick, if you’re reading this, please make it happen. (I’m kidding. Please don’t fire me.) It’s a super sleek, ultra powerful tablet and packs the kind of performance that I can trust to get me through the long hours I spend flying to bring you guys the great gear you find on the home entertainment channel.

Apple Watch 2: OK, OK, this one’s decidedly not pro-level. Apple’s wearable hasn’t been received with the most open of arms, due in large part because it has yet to offer that one killer app you need to have. Still, the Apple Watch 2 has definitely been on my list of gadgets to get my hands on for months and there’s no better time to jump on the activity tracking train than the week before the start of the new year. 

Phil Hall: Photography Editor

Fuji X70: I’m lucky I’ve got a pretty nice DSLR outfit, but a pocket-sized compact is sorely missing from my camera kit. You could argue that a smartphone will do the job, but with their tiny little sensors, they’re far from great, especially when you compare it to the large 16MP APS-C sized sensor nestling in the Fuji X70. With a fixed 28mm lens, it’s got roughly the same field-of-view as most smartphones, while the sleek and compact body means it’ll still fit in your pocket. The perfect compact to always have with you.

Garmin Edge 820: It may not be Garmin’s top-of-the-range Edge 1000 cycling computer that adorns most of the pro bikes in the peloton, but for my riding, it ticks all the boxes. As you’d expect from a cycling computer, it can give you your speed, distance and average speed, but that’s just touching the surface. There’s GPS turn-by-turn navigation via the 2.3-inch touchscreen, live Strava segments so you know when to dig deep, while there’s a useful incident detection function that will send your location to an emergency contact should your speed stop abruptly. Clever stuff, and all in a compact design.

Squarespace: With the likes of Twitter and Instagram to share images, I’ve neglected my own website over the past few years. I’d like to completely overhaul it and start again, using Squarespace to do it. They have some cracking templates to really show-off your images, while they can be customised for a distinctive and unique look. With it cold outside, the festive break would be the perfect time to sit down and get started with it.

Kevin Lee: US Computing Editor

Oculus Rift + Touch: Now that the Oculus Rift finally has Touch controllers, you have the ability to to walk around and interact with objects using your own two hands. It’s been the vital missing piece in the Oculus Rift’s virtual reality experience compared to the HTC Vive.

What’s more, they’re just slick as hell. While the HTC Vive comes with controllers in the box, they feel like you’re flagging down a plane with lightsticks. By comparison, the Oculus Touch controllers are like slipping your hands into the control ring mechanism for a futuristic robot. They’re just so light and form fitting to be perfectly held in your mitts.

Fujifilm X-T2: I’ve been using the Fujifilm X-T1 since it was launched in early 2014, but I’ve been dying to upgrade to the newer Fujifilm X-T2. It has literally everything I love about Fujifilm’s first DSLR-style camera with an even higher-resolution sensor, quicker autofocus and 4K video capability to boot. Fujifilm might not focus nearly as fast or offer as robust video features as a Sony A6500, but the company’s X-Trans sensor is unrivalled when it comes to colors and high-ISO shots. It’s arguably the best stills camera with enough video features to make you salivate.

Surface Studio: You can basically leave it to Microsoft to build the most impressive computer of the year. This is the third consecutive time the classic software maker has wowed me with its hardware chops (following the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Book). The 28-inch 4,500 x 3,000 resolution PixelSense display is drop dead gorgeous and paired with the Surface Dial it’s also one of the best computers designed for artists. 


Michelle Fitzsimmons: Senior News Editor

Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones: What started as a gift idea for my college-student brother quickly turned into a selfish desire to have the Bose QuietComfort 35 all for myself. Call me a grinch, but I just can’t resist the luxurious feel of these headphones. You know that muffled sensation you get when you step into a professional sound booth? That’s what it feels like to wear the cushy QuietComfort 35. The audio is so smooth, the noise cancelling so complete, these headphones would make long work days - or long walks as the cans are wire-free - simply sublime. 

Lenovo Phab 2 Pro: Of all the phones that launched this year, my favorite is the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. Why? Because it’s so different from every other device out there, and even more so because its augmented reality applications gave me legitimate joy when I took them for a spin this summer. It’s bigger than handsets I typically like, but its stunning screen, insane real-time rendering capabilities and what feels like limitless potential combine to make me want this phone, even if I never use it to make a call. I just want to hold it, look at it, and cherish it.

Amazon Prime membership

I almost never used to shop at Amazon, but now I’m ordering from it at least once a month. While free two-day shipping is reason enough to ask Santa for a Prime membership, access to Amazon’s library of movies and TV shows is what I’m really after. The retail giant has a host of originals I’d love to check out, with The Grand Tour and The Man in the High Castle topping the list. Plus, Amazon recently added unlimited reading on any device to the Prime perks package, so I may never have to leave Amazon for all my shopping and entertainment needs should I get one. 

Matt Swider: Senior US Mobile Editor

Canon 80D Video Creator Kit: One of my New Year’s resolutions – one of my many – is to take better photographs and to capture daily video. The best all-in-one camera package for that is the Canon EOS 80D Video Creator Kit. It’s conveniently tricked-out all the right tools: a 24.2MP DSLR that has Canon’s latest Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus technology, a power zoom adapter compatible with the 18-135mm lens, and a Rode VideoMic Go. It’s slightly bigger than the newer Canon EOS M5, but that fully articulating 3-inch LCD screen is what sells me on this one.

Oculus Rift with Touch controls: I’m always being asked about the HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift comparison, and now that the Rift has its new Touch controls, I’m more inclined to steer people that way. Why? It comes down to the games available for Oculus Rift, which have felt less like tech demos. I really enjoyed Lucky’s Tale, for example. It’s a platformer that takes advantage of virtual reality at every corner, and then there’s Epic Games’s Bullet Train demo that pulls off a first-person shooter in VR. Everything here is impressive, and it’s a great, long-overdue start for practical virtual reality.

Skylanders: Imaginators Starter Pack

When Activision introduced its line of ‘InterAction’ figures in 2011, I liked the punny category name and the real-world toys being transported into the video game - but I didn’t know if I’d like the actual gameplay. Fast-forward five years and my both my nephew and I enjoy this generational-bonding series. It’s still going strong with Skylanders: Imaginators, with brand new figures for Crash Bandicoot and Doctor Neo Cortex. It brings back memories (for me) while creating new ones (for my nephew).

Gareth Beavis: Global Phones, Tablets and Wearables Editor

Garmin Forerunner 630: This year has been the hardest year of running in my life ever, and I’ve needed a decent running watch to accompany me along the way.

If I was going to choose one from the year, it would be the Garmin Forerunner 630 as it mixes a decent enough price with excellent functionality - it gives you next generation insights into the maximum speed you can sustain during a race and has a massively long battery life too.

HTC Vive: I don’t care what anyone says: I want an HTC Vive. And actually I’d struggle to find anyone who doesn’t want one if they’ve tried it, because it’s just such an awesome experience.

It’s the most immersive, exciting and interactive virtual reality technology out there - it’s only the cost that stops me buying one right now. I’ve already got a PS4, but I’d still like someone to spend thousands to get me the Vive instead.

Dell XPS 13: This is TechRadar’s laptop of choice for a good reason: it’s got the best of everything. The Dell XPS 13 is slim and speedy with a great-looking design, and it’ll run the internet perfectly on the go with capacity to do any task I ask of it.

Part of me would like to go for a MacBook Pro, but the cost is just too high and I’m not sure I really need that touch bar - and I’m not going to a lower-spec model either. So the Dell does it for me, and I want it under my tree.

Kane Fulton: Computing Editor

Alienware 13 OLED: Yeah – I’m probably not getting this, but Alienware’s gorgeous GTX 1060-powered laptop tops my (unrealistic) Christmas shopping list. The OLED screen is the real draw here, and something that you just can’t get on any other gaming laptop out there. The Alienware 13 is also fairly compact which would lend it to being carted around in a backpack. And, despite its small dimensions, it would run my HTC Vive games smooth as butter too.

V-Moda Zn: I’ve been using a cheap-o pair of Betron headphones for listening to music in the gym and when travelling. While they’re suitably bassy, I’ve decided that it’s time to treat myself to something with a little more pizazz. After sampling the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless, I’m intrigued as to how good the company’s flagship in-ear monitors will sound. At its high price, it had better be phenomenal.

PlayStation Pro: Though I game more on my PC, there are some genres that I much prefer to delve into while sat in a big comfy chair gaming on a 40-inch TV. The Fifa series and Rocket League are two series that work better on a bigger screen and with a PS4 controller, so I want to make sure that they’re being ran on the best hardware possible.