10 PC peripherals to treat yourself to this Christmas
Read too much into the mainstream press and you could easily think you can do everything on your phone. Of course, that's not really true. Want to try playing The Witcher 3 on an iPhone 6S or try convincing Kanye to make his next record with a Nexus 5X? Thought not.
Actually, don't try that last one, he might go for it.
The point stands, though. Sometimes you can't beat a good, study PC. A PC whose tower looms off the floor like a great obelisk of fans and circuitry. We salute the PC.
But some things can make a PC even better. Here are our top 10 recommended PC peripherals to take your PC from an imposing box (or a simple laptop, if you must) to a true multi-skilled beast.
1. Razor Blackwidow Chroma
From £63/$89 | Amazon
Unless you're truly in love with the shallow feel of today's laptop keyboards, we think you'll love the way mechanical keys roll. They're ultra-deep and lightly clicky. Great for gaming, great for typing, and they're totally out of sync with the way Apple and co make their keyboard these days. But given the dozens of mechanical models out there, there's definitely some appeal to keys you can actually feel moving.
You can get the BlackWidow with or without a backlight, and even one with a multi-colour rainbow light. You get to choose your own level of bling with this one, and it uses Razer's own mechanical keys.
2. Logitech G502 Proteus Core
£35/$59 | Amazon
You can spend loads of cash on gaming gear. And you won't always want to show it to your non-gamer friends. However, the Logitech G502 doesn't cost the earth, still gets you absolutely loads of customisable features and doesn't look too bad either.
It's nothing like the mouse that came bundled with your PC, though. It features 11 customisable buttons and a a scalable DPI level. This is the 'resolution' of the mouse, moving between 200dpi and 12000dpi with a press of a button on the side. It's not often you get to experience tech overkill at this sort of price. But Logitech has done it.
3. Intuos Pen and Touch
from £109/$99 | Amazon
When tech reaches a certain level, it's time to think "maybe I don't need the pro-grade version". That's definitely the case with graphics tablets for those who just want to try them out. Pro graphics person? Get the Intros Pro by all means, but otherwise we think the cheaper Pen and Touch might fit into your life much better.
Just look at it: barely takes up any more room than the active 'drawing' suface itself. And even if your passion for digital drawing never takes off, you can also use the Pen and Touch as a giant trackpad. It's much more than just a dust-gatherer. There are small and medium versions available, and they have 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
4. Thrustmaster T300 GTE
£270/$349 | Amazon
Haven't tried a force feedback racing wheel yet? Well, then you haven't really experienced racing games. Not properly anyway. Wheels like the Thrustmaster T300 GTE use powerful motors to recreate the sort of forces you'd feel during real-world driving. You have to fight the wheel.
As well as being much more fun than using a gamepad, with sim-style racers anyway, a good wheel can actually improve your performance too. The T300 is Thrustmaster's latest effort, and it's compatible with the PS4 and PS3 too. If you're more on the Xbox side, check out the TX Racing Ferrari 458 wheel instead. Might as well get one that works with your console too, right?
5. Q Acoustics Q-BT3
£299/$454 | Amazon
Just because you're tooling out a PC doesn't mean you have to use those tiny little satellite speakers usually seen in PC audio systems. The Q Acoustics Q-BT3 is a set of bookshelf-style hifi speakers, but with the amp circuitry built into them so you can just plug your computer into the back.
If you've not heard of Q Acoustics yet, they have been making some of the best affordable-ish surround sound systems for years. You don't get surround sound here, but you do get great overall sound quality, as well as Bluetooth. They can double-up as a wireless speaker for your phone.
6. Kingston KyperX Cloud II
£69/$99 | Amazon
Few gaming headsets sound that good. They tend to focus on looking brash and impressive. The Kingston KyperX Cloud II strip away all the pretense to get you some of the best-sounding gamer cans you can get, with an excellent mic attached to the front for good measure.
They act as their own soundcard, plugging into your computer with a USB port rather than a dumb audio jack. Don't fancy the control box? You can use them with that simple audio jack too. The mic is removable too, if you want to get rid of the "I just stepped out of a helicopter" look. And to top it off, there are (fake) leather and felt-style pads as well. What more do you want?
7. Canon Pixma MG7150
£90/$136 | Amazon
Meet the budget printer that has it all. The Canon Pixma MG7150 looks good, is great for photos and has an integrated scanner. For a lot of people this is pretty much the perfect balance of abilities. Oh, and it has Wi-Fi too, meaning you can easily keep it out sight. Even good-looking printers aren't worth showing off, are they?
The Canon Pixma MG7150 has a five-colour cartridge system, which is part of the reason why it manages to crank out such good-looking photo prints. It even lets you print directly onto CDs/DVDs, if you're still using those old things.
8. Logitech C930
£89/$104 | Amazon
Webcams? Yep, they still exist. And if you want to Skype from your PC rather than your phone you still need one. Logitech has ruled this area for years now, and it still does. Funnily enough, you don't get 4K streaming with this easy-to-recommend pick. However, its 1080p video quality is good, and its sound is clearer than ever. Both video and audio are improved over the older, cheaper C920.
Still, this is probably one for the smartphone-hater in your life as we find video chatting with a phone or laptop feels much more normal than using the desktop these days.
9. Anker 60W 7-port USB hub
£30/$37 | Amazon
This little Anker gadget lets you plug just about everything into your PC. It boasts a whopping seven USB ports, and as it has its own power supply rather than leeching off your computer, it can supply 60W of power. No more slow charging, even if you have multiple mobile gadgets plugged in.
The days of messing around with your computers inbuilt USB ports, hot-swapping devices every other day, are over. Some of the ports also support Anker's PowerIQ system, meaning they can mimic chargers up to 2.1A.
10. Xbox One Elite Wireless pad
£172/$253 | Amazon
It may have "Xbox One" stamped on the box, but the Xbox One Elite pad is also a fantastic PC controller. Plug it in or get hold of a wireless PC adapter and you're away.
For the uninitiated, the Elite pad looks a lot like the normal Xbox One pad, except its build quality is a good deal better, it has extra control paddles on the back and you can switch the D-pads and sticks to suit different kinds of games. Pretty much everyone agrees it's great. The only stinger is the price: ouch.