It is amazing how many utterly useless gifts are received every year, but occasionally Santa drops a few classics down the chimney. Xtra! has some recommendations for your Christmas list. Nathalie Towner reports

Origin Blue i speed trap detector
A small device (about the size of a packet of cigarettes) that sits on the dashboard of your car, this speed trap detector uses Global Positioning System technology and has an updateable database containing the location of every fixed-position speed camera in England, Wales and Scotland. An internal modem allows all new camera sites and road information to be added. It tells you the vehicle speed, road number that you are on, direction of camera and gives audio and visual warnings if you are approaching a camera while driving above the speed limit.
The speed trap detector is totally legal and its makers claim it has been shown to reduce accidents (no more sudden braking when cameras come into view).
Price:£399
www.originbluei.com

Cobra Optics 1302 Storm night vision goggles
Night vision goggles are indispensable for anyone living without electricity or those who are incapable of getting up in the middle of the night without switching on every light in the house. As one enthusiast says, "This brings the luxury of the night vision to any home."
Price:£599.99
www.amazon.co.uk

Micro Racer
Micro Racers are the smallest radio-controlled cars in the world. The cars are too small to take batteries so they have to be charged by clipping them onto the control handset. They then run for more than three minutes. If you are one of the few people in your office who has to go into work between Christmas and the new year, why not buy the pack of three and set the office up as a racing track?
Price:£19.95 or £54.95 for three
www.firebox.com

Vectron Blackhawk
If you want to create mayhem in the office this remote-control flying saucer is for you. Running on three powerful motors in a protective saucer ring, this gadget will fly, hover and crash into colleagues. It is easy to operate - simply plug it into the nearest wall socket and manoeuvre the infrared control with your thumbs.
Price: £119.99
www.iwantoneofthose.com

Space Invader T-shirt
This T-shirt is the ultimate gift for fans of the most popular videogame ever made. The image of one of the distinctive attacking aliens adorns T-shirts available in navy/cream or charcoal/green.
Price:£19.95
www.firebox.com

Executive Truth Machine
The Truth Machine picks up micro tremors in the voice that are undetectable to the human ear but can show if someone is under stress - it does this by measuring the amplitude of the upper and lower sidebands of the frequency spectrum of the voice. If the responses are true a green light flashes, but if the person is fibbing the lights go red.
Price: £23.95
www.paramountzone.com

Procrastinator
This is the ideal way of putting off any crucial jobs while avoiding total boredom. The Procrastinator has more than 1,000 drawing exercises, word games, gap-fillers and doodling patterns. It may not sound like much but it is the perfect friend for a wandering mind and you may even convince your boss that it helps you get your creative juices flowing.
Price:£12.95
www.firebox.com

Precision camera
You can use this camera to download 80 low-resolution or 20 high-resolution colour pictures onto your PC with the software and USB cable provided. It also doubles up as a webcam and can produce 10-second video clips. All of this from a gadget no bigger than the palm of your hand.
Price: £29.99
www.boystuff.co.uk

Instant Fireplace or Aquarium VHS/DVD
Imagine the crackling of a log fire or gazing at the fluid motions of tropical fish and you will feel the stresses of the working day immediately disappear. Not everyone can afford a Victorian fireplace or a high-tech fish tank but now they are available virtually. Watch wood snap and burn on your TV or listen to the sounds of bubbling water on your DVD player.
Price:DVD £14.95, video £9.95
www.firebox.com

Power Ball
Those of you with addictive personalities should not be allowed anywhere near a Power Ball. This sports training tool is designed to strengthen forearms, wrists and fingers. Once you set the inner section spinning, rhythmic circular hand and wrist movements maintain the rotation and make it go progressively faster. It does not get any easier though, as increased centrifugal force makes it harder to keep spinning.
The revolution counter on the top of the ball is what makes it hard to ignore. You will want to improve on your score and you may even find yourself keeping score sheets as you compete against colleagues.
Price: £24.95
www.firebox.com

Mobile phone call sensor pen
In an imaginary world where everyone has a mobile phone call sensor pen there would be no need for irritating ring tones. This device simply alerts its user to an incoming call with a flashing light. The range is between 1m and 2m.
Price: £9.95
www.paramountzone.com

Combat Ball
This game is for people who love paintball but not the paint. It comes with two guns, two sets of body armour and lots of velcro balls which stick on contact to the body armour. If you cannot find anyone to play with, it also comes with a target so you can perfect your shooting technique.
Price:£119.95
www.iwantoneofthose.com

Casio WQV10 colour wrist camera
Owners of this Casio watch camera are able to view colour images on their wrists. It has an STN colour liquid crystal display. Up to 100 colour images can be stored in the memory and thanks to the visual databank it is possible to store 24 characters of text with each image. It also has 2x digital zoom, a camera timer, a function to combine four images on display for simultaneous viewing as well as the usual watch functions.
Price:£244.95
www.paramountzone.com

Palmtop chess
This portable chess player is pitched at beginners through to advanced level. It is an ergonomic handheld with 73 strength levels and more than 1,000 level-setting combinations. It will even replay some of the best historical chess games.
Price:£24.95
www.iwantoneofthose.com

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This was first published in December 2002

 

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