2015’s top money-no-object Christmas presents: Here's 10 great pieces of tech to blow your budget on this year
What would you buy if you had all the money in the world to spend? It’s like being given the freedom of Amazon.co.uk and told to go wild, only better.
We’re going to look at all the Christmas presents we’d pick if a price limit were taken out of the equation. This isn’t about picking the most expensive bit of tech in the universe. You can Google that yourself. We’re looking at the best tech presents, just not holding back with any question of “well, who’s going to spend that much for Christmas, eh?”
From speakers and gaming extras to projectors that’ll turn your living room into a cinema better than your local Odeon, if this list of gadgets doesn’t get you drooling, maybe it’s time to give up on tech.
Sonos Play:5 | £429
A £430 speaker money-no-object pick? That’s right, we really do love the Sonos Play:5 that much.
For those of you who have been living in a bunker for the past half-decade, Sonos makes multi-room speakers. And the Play:5 is one of the best, ever.
It’s not doing to dominate your lounge, but packs-in a frankly ridiculous number of drivers. We’re talking six drivers, three for the lower frequencies and three for the sparkly treble bits.
Attach a pair of these to our old favourite Sonos Playbar and SUB and you have the makings of a seriously potent surround sound system. Sonos’s system uses your home Wi-Fi network to let you control music from your phone or tablet, including any locally stored stuff and services like Spotify.
This is a the top of our most-wanted wireless speaker list. But if you’re willing to give over even more space to a speaker, you also need to check out the Naim MuSo. It’s fab.
iPad Pro | From £679
The iPad Pro is bloomin’ great. But it’s not for bargain hunters sniffing away at cheap iPad mini 2 deals. It starts at £679 and heads up to £899 if you want the version that has even more storage and 4G mobile internet. You could get a pretty sweet laptop for that kind of cash.
However, the allure of the iPad Pro remains strong, particularly if you have an inner Renoir that has always threatened to escape. You see, if you add the Apple Pencil (£79) it turns into a fantastic doodling/designing surface. It’s actually a much, much better way to relax on the sofa than playing Candy Crush Saga, putting you into a truly relaxed state rather than one craving the bright lights and bloops of today’s brain-dissolving mobile games.
That’s what’s neat about the iPad Pro. It feels like its aims are different to those of other mobile devices.
It can also replace an Ultrabook laptop if you’re willing to fork out an extra £139 on the Smart Keyboard. That’s right, the whole lot comes to £1117 if you get the top-end iPad Pro. We did say these were ‘money no object’ picks, though.
Want the basics info? The iPad Pro is basically a 12.9-inch version of the iPad tablets we know and love. It runs the same software, and can handle the same apps. It just has the stature and accessories that suit more serious work.
Panasonic OLED TV TX-65CZ950 | £7,999
Any TV nerds out there know most LCD TVs just don’t cut it. They don’t have the cinema-beating blacks you used to be able to get off the shelf with a plasma TV. However, there’s finally a solution: an OLED TV.
By using the same sort of screen we see in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6, TVs like the Panasonic TX-65CZ950 offer absolutely perfect blacks, letting you watch in a pitch-black room without the picture looking all grey. The price for this jaw-dropping picture quality? A mere £8000.
It delivers honestly the best TV picture quality we’ve ever seen, though. It’s even better than the LG OLED sets that had mouths drooling and bank balances shaking over the last few years.
Panasonic has made sure the TX-65CZ950 feels like an investment, something you can be proud to own too. Its back has a Alcantara cover, meaning this is one TV you don’t have to push as far back against the wall as possible.
Have we tempted you yet? Just make sure your lounge is up to it first. At 65 inches this is no small beast, even though the body itself is really quite slim, and just lightly curved.
Merlin 1 | £1,299
For vinyl lovers, this has to be the ultimate present. Not only does it include an incredibly stylish record deck, the Musical Fidelity Merlin 1 also encompasses a pair of speakers and an amp. Suddenly its £1300 price doesn’t seem so high.
The speakers and deck are colour-matched, just begging to live front and centre in your living room. It’s one of the most stylish pieces of tech we’ve seen all year. We were very, very sad when it had to leave Trusted towers.
Merlin 1’s speakers use BMR drivers, which are flat rather than cone-shaped, letting them push sound out at a much wider angle than traditional speakers. Not only does this help it give the system a room-filling sound, it also makes the speakers much less picky about where they are positioned. Audiophile systems rarely get as lounge-friendly as this.
Epson HL-LS10000 | £6,000
No matter how big and flashy your TV is, it can’t match the best projectors when it comes to that sense of getting a cinematic image in your lounge. The Epson HL-LS10000 not only gets you that effect in spades, it also zaps one of the most annoying things about traditional projectors: lamps you need to replace.
It uses laser projection rather than halogen lamps, meaning that it’ll last 30,000 hours rather than 3000. Even if you use it five hours a day, every day, that means it should last 16 years. By which time we’ll all be living on Mars anyway.
The Epson HL-LS10000 also gets you amazing images, with rich colour and great contrast. The only issue is that it doesn’t display at real 4K, but has to pull off some tricks to get you essentially the same image detail as a 4K TV.
It pumps out some of the best images we’ve ever seen from a projector. And while the £6k price seems high, the performance makes it a completely fair deal.
Related: Best TVs to buy this year
Audeze EL-8 | £599
Not heard of Audeze? That’s fine. It’s a boutique headphone maker whose sets aren’t generally found on the shelves of you average high street electronics retailer. Its pairs are usually a bit too pricey for that.
However, we actually consider the Audeze EL-8 a minor a bargain for their price, able to step up to even pricier headphones like the £1000 Sennheiser HD800 without looking embarrassed. It’s all down to the kind of driver they use.
The Audeze EL-8 use planar magnetic drivers, which use a very large flat driver instead of the kinda cone-shaped one you get in normal headphones. This helps them keep distortion down, and doing that is one half of getting great sound quality. The other half is tuning the sound, and Audeze has that down.
This is one of the few ultra-high-end closed back sets of headphones too, making them that bit more practical than most.
Related: Best tablets to buy 2015
Sony A7R II | £2,599 body-only
If there’s a camera that shows the appeal of old-school DSLR cameras is on the wane, it’s the Sony A7R II. It only got knocked down a peg or two at review as it’s so pricey. But we don’t care about such things here.
The Sony A7R II is a compact system camera, letting it squeeze its full-frame chops into smaller body than that of a full-frame DSLR. It’s not just size that makes the A7R II so desirable, though.
Unlike the venerable granddads from Canon and Nikon, the Sony A7R II can shoot 4K video and has an incredible optical image stabilisation system that means you should hardly ever have to use a tripod.
Oh, and we’d better mention that its 42-megapixel sensor can create some of the most detail-packed photos you’ve ever seen. It makes a lot of traditional DSLRs look like cameras of the past.
Related: Best games of 2015
Thrustmaster T300 RS | £269
You haven’t experienced driving games properly until you’ve used a force feedback wheel. It’s the truth.
What’s so special about them? They let you feel the car, not just see and hear it. Motors in the base make the wheel pull against you just like a real steering wheel would. It also lets you make much finer adjustments than a gamepad does. 95 % of pro gamers agree, you’ll get better lap times with a steering wheel. And yes, we made that stat up.
Our pick of the bunch for the current consoles is the Thrustmaster T300 RS, a wheel designed for PS4, PS3 and PC. Xbox One owners need to hunt down the Thrustmaster TX Ferrari 458 wheel.
It wins out over its fierce rival the Logitech G920 because it has super-smooth and yet powerful belt-driven feedback. It’ll really give your arms a workout if you crank up the force feedback intensity.
Asus ROG G751JL | £1,699
Don’t want to ever have to tone down graphical settings in your games, or lower the resolution? The Asus ROG G751JL is where its at.
It’s a beast of a laptop, making no size concessions for anyone planning on, say, playing Fallout 4 on the train to Dunstable. Big, heavy and really very powerful is what the Asus G751JL is about.
You can get it with graphics cards going all the way up to the almighty GeForce GTX 980M. There are configs for varying budgets. But all of them have a giant 17.3-inch screen.
And, crucial to the Asus ROG G751JL’s spot here, all have very good keyboards and solid trackpads. It has its priorities in order. Of course, if you want a portable gaming rig, avoid this like the plague.
You also might want to consider waiting for the G752, coming next year. It’ll have an eye-popping 4K screen option that’ll challenge even the more powerful graphics cards.
Related: Best Headphones of 2015
Cambridge Audio CXN | £700
Covering all of the digital music streaming bases, the CXN is a sleek network music player beauty that deservedly earned its 10 out of 10 score earlier this year.
Whether it's liberating your iTunes catalogue or streaming high res audio from Tidal, the CXN is well equipped packing range of hi-fi components including the same core technology used in the Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6.
The gorgeous piece of kit features a sizeable 4.3-inch colour screen to show off all of that lovely cover art and is brimming with connections letting you directly hook up your PC or take advantage of the built-in Wi-Fi.
All of the key audio file formats are supported, including 192kHz/24-bit FLAC files (that's high res audio files) thanks to two high-quality Wolfson chips to handle the digital-to-analogue conversion.
Downloading the smartphone companion app also makes it easier to scan and stream music libraries with Spotify Connect also in tow.
It's slick, delivers wonderful sound and should look the part sat next to an equally expensive set of speakers.