Yes, it’s the thought that counts, but maybe think a bit harder?
With Amazon having just released a £49 tablet, it’s actually pretty easy to get someone a cheap but nevertheless usable device. However, you might decide to go even cheaper and pick up one of those £20 things you saw on eBay or Amazon. Yes, they come from a Chinese manufacturer you’ve never heard of, but how bad can they be? Well, the answer to that is very bad. Very bad indeed. Sure, there are some bargains to be found, but as with most things in life, you generally get what you pay for, so there’s a good chance that the cut-price tablet you’re thinking of getting for someone will be slow, unreliable and will probably break five minutes after being unwrapped.
Of course, many people these days already have a tablet, so you don’t need to buy them a new one. What you could get them, though, is something nice to put theirs in. That’s fine, but it’s also potentially risky, because even if you know they have an iPad or a Nexus, you might still end up buying the wrong case. What you really need to know is the exact model of iPad or Nexus. And even if you get that right, there’s the matter of taste. You might think your children would love nothing more than sparkly plastic covers with fake diamonds on them, but they might actually want something… erm, good. Again, the matter of taste is important here: if you’re going to buy someone a CD, DVD or Blu-ray, then you better know exactly what they like (and that they don’t already own the thing you want to buy them). But that’s not the only problem with hard media. Perhaps it’s just us, but unwrapping a present to find a CD or DVD became disappointing sometime in the noughties. By that point, downloading media was already common, and these days we don’t even need to do that, thanks to streaming services like Spotify and Netflix. Some people say they like to have the artwork and that the quality is better, but for many folk these days, the convenience of digital media is all that matters, and little plastic discs are the last thing they want. Considering that we just said we like digital media, it might seem odd to then say that an iTunes voucher is a bad idea. But giving someone money to spend in Apple’s digital store comes with a couple of potential pitfalls, the first being one that’s common to all vouchers: the recipient might not shop with that company and may have no interest in doing so. However, there’s another problem that’s specific to iTunes and to all Apple products: their price. Although deals can be found, on the whole you can expect to pay more for Apple’s products, which means your loved one is going end up getting a smaller gift from you than they would from a rival service. Then again, digital media often is overpriced, so that might explain why people still give DVDs and CDs to each other. The toy helicopter used to be a luxury item, costing hundreds of pounds, and although those high-end models still exist today, you can also pick up a basic one for a fiver. Yes, it’ll be small, but it will fly. That’s fantastic, and these things genuinely are fun, but the problem we have with them is the battery life. Before you actually buy one of these things, look at the box and find the bit of information regarding the charging time. Often, you’ll find it reads something like this: “Requires two-hour charge for ten minutes of flight.” That’s like going to the cinema, sitting through an hour of ads, then getting to watch the first scene of the movie, before being subjected to yet more ads. If you are going to buy someone one of these helicopters, though, maybe just give it a charge before you wrap it up, so they can at least enjoy it immediately without having to wait.