12 top treats to keep techy kids happy at Xmas

Toys have changed irrevocably. Sure, the shelves are still lined with action figures, but kung-fu chopping action just can't compete with light, sound and a USB connection any more.

Board games are boring and as for that plastic sledge, leave it at the shop.

Give your web-obsessed child what they really want this Christmas: technology. Just remember the batteries, will you?

1. Ultimate Wall-E
£300, www.ebay.co.uk
There are so many Wall-E action figures in the world that they'll one day form a towering trash mountain, in a moment of high irony. Moreover, a simple action figure can't really capture the joy of Pixar's burbling, boxy robo-guy. A half-metre tall, remote control, talking, programmable robot pet, though? That's the stuff. This painfully expensive wee fella is capable of over a thousand action combinations, and can even be hooked up to an MP3 player – so you can have your music literally follow you around the house.

2. Star Wars: Clone Wars Ultimate Lightsaber
£35, www.play.com
The Clone Wars movie earlier this year may have been the final, damning proof that George Lucas doesn't care about grown-up Star Wars fans any more, but that doesn't stop the lightsaber from being the signature sci-fi weapon. This electronic build-your-own set isn't as high-grade as the all-singing, uber-geek FX models, but c'mon – you get to build it yourself, aping the weapon of your favoured Jedi or Sith fella.

3. Memory Stick Cars
From £10, www.iwantoneofthose.com
Auto-geek meets toy-geek meets tech-geek: a holy trio of nerdery in your pocket. There's no reason why a memory stick needs to be a dull, silver mini-monolith after all. You've a choice of a VW camper van or classic Beetle in various colours and capacities from Iwantoneofthose, while Play.com also has a Lamborghini model. Oh, and the headlights flash when they're transferring data, cutely.

4. Veho USB Microscope
£45, www.firebox.com
Whether for budding entomologists or just for gross-out fans who fancy inspecting fingernail clippings in horrifyingly close-up detail, this surprisingly powerful microscope brings old-skool school to your desktop. It's got a 20 to 200x zoom and can snap both photos and video.

5. Suck UK USB Mix Tape
£15, www.memorybits.co.uk
Usually, giving someone a 64Mb flash drive would be right up there with giving them a bowlful of dead earthworms for Christmas. In this case though, the restriction is deliberate – it means you can only store as much music on it as you could on a C60 cassette. You then pop the stick back into its faux-cassette casing, scribble a suitable fanziney tracklisting on the inlay, and you've got yourself a classic romantic mini-gift infused with modern tech values.

6. Transformers Music Label Soundwave
£60, www.xybertoys.com
The best/silliest Transformer – the one that turned into a cassette recorder – is rethought for 2008. Taciturn Decepticon Soundwave here retains his classic '80s look, but now transforms into a working MP3 player. Note you'll need a MicroSD card for music storage. Oh, and you can also pick up a pair of headphones that change into his loyal mini-servants Frenzy and Rumble.

7. MP3 Spy Camera Sunglasses
£80, www.geniegadgets.com
With a gigabyte of onboard memory and a 1 megapixel camera, this is hardly the high end of digital. That's not the point – the point is that they're a spy toy. You'll be rumbled if anyone peers too closely at your shades, but they're subtle enough to grab a few incriminating shots from afar.

8. Acer Aspire One
From £167, www.amazon.co.uk
A proper laptop for a baby price. The leading light of the second generation of Netbooks sports Intel's redoubtable Atom processor, so it's not the compromise these things used to be. The cheaper models come with Linux, but fork out a bit more or install Windows yourself and it's an instant portable web surfing machine.

9. Nintendo DSi
£150, www.gadget-asia.com
Geek cred doesn't get any more potent than imported Japanese tech. The latest revision of Ninty's ageing handheld is currently only available in the land of the rising sun, but you can ship one over easily enough if you've got the cash. The DSi is still a DS at heart, but throws in a built-in camera, SD card slot, online store and larger screens to keep it contemporary.

10. Meccano Spykee
£150, www.play.com
Vaguely similar to Ultimate Wall-E, with two key differences. Firstly, you build it yourself – and as it's compatible with standard Meccano parts, you can customise it loads. Secondly, it's controlled via Wi-Fi. And not just locally – log in remotely from any internet-connected PC and you can steer Spykee about the house, seeing what he's seeing like an ambulatory CCTV camera.

11. Radio Controlled Schweizer 300
£13, www.ebuyer.com
These RC micro-copters are bally everywhere these days, which means everyone's trying to undercut everyone else's prices. £13 really ain't bad for a licensed chopper with a 50m range.

12. Wi-Fi Detecting T-Shirt
£23, www.dabs.com
Simultaneously the most and least cool thing in the world. Hidden wires and batteries power an on-chest LED Wi-Fi monitor, which updates every 30 seconds to display the signal strength of nearby networks. Don't blame us if you get beaten up for wearing this in public.

Now read our 15 great Christmas gifts for less than £30.