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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 December 2006, 00:06 GMT
Christmas goes digital for many
HDTVs are high of many people's wishlists
Christmas is a time for family but it is also a time for playing with new gadgets and toys received during the festive period.

More than $30 billion (17bn) in consumer electronics is expected to be bought worldwide in the run up to Christmas and mobile phones have broken into the top 10 most wanted children's presents, according to analysts Deloitte.

Our panel of technology addicts reveal how they will be spending their digital Christmas.


Spending Christmas away from home typically means having to spend time away from my favourite toys. So no Xbox Live action for me in the Yuletide period. But I will be taking a few essential tools with me.

Digital photography has exploded in recent years

The Nintendo Wii will be making the trek to the homes of friends and family as it has proved such a popular party game in the last few weeks. I'm looking forward to a few more hours play of Wii Sports, especially tennis, golf and bowling. Let's just hope we can steer clear of any injuries or throwing the remote into the TV screen.

I take my Canon 350D digital camera and laptop everywhere I travel so I can take lots and lots of pictures, do a little bit of editing and then upload them to Flickr, the photo-sharing website.

I will take the iPod so that I can try to impose some of my music tastes on everyone else and my brother-in-law's broadband connection means I can listen to my favourite music on Pandora.com and LastFM.com, as well as keep track of all the blogs and news sites that I read. I use Netvibes.com to keep track of the 100-plus feeds I read regularly.


Once upon a time Christmas was a distinctly analogue affair, from the TV to the vinyl records, not forgetting the three-day wait for the photos of smiling children and discarded wrapping paper to be developed and printed.

YouTube will soon be full of home made Christmas videos

But no more. This year we'll be celebrating a distinctly digital Christmas, as most of us will be listening to DAB radio or CDs, watching digital TV or DVDs and taking digital photos, and playing games on one of the three top consoles.

Christmas cards, environmentally unfriendly and expensive, have been replaced by e-mailed greetings, and even the recipes will have been downloaded from the web.

Since it's the year of user-generated content, we'll be blogging the whole thing, probably from a mobile phone.

And I've no doubt we'll also be recording video in a suitable format to be pulled into an editing package and uploaded to YouTube before the day is out. After all, what's the point of Christmas if you can't share it with millions!


Not being a gadget lover, the idea of a gizmo-fuelled Christmas normally fills me with horror but this year I am hoping that Santa might leave a new mobile phone in my stocking.

Somehow though, I suspect that he hasn't forgiven me for putting my Razr- last year's Christmas present - through the washing machine.

So I will have to content myself with the loan of a smartphone from HP. It comes pre-loaded with satellite navigation - apparently the next killer application for mobile - so there will be no excuses for getting lost on the way to the in-laws' Christmas party.

This year even my mum will be enjoying a techno-Christmas with both a 1GB memory stick for her digital camera and her first ever DVD player finding their way into her Christmas sack.

She is also, rather surprisingly, promising to get a HD-ready LCD TV in place in time for all the TV viewing.

Perhaps my favourite use of technology this festive season will be the annual Skype call to my brother in Australia. This year, a combination of new video functionality on Skype and a Creative webcam will mean the cousins will get to see how much the newest member of the Wakefield family has grown.

With no blog, MySpace or Flickr accounts, I will not feel the need to bore complete strangers with the mundane details of my Christmas but I'm sure a few sneaky looks at the BBC website will be in order.

And the Cbeebies website is likely to provide an oasis of calm when my three-and-a-half-year-old son - strung out on Christmas e-numbers - becomes too much of a handful.


Christmas for me tends to be a time of relaxation.

Apple will be hoping to sell millions of iPods this Christmas

The time between Christmas and New Year is a time for resetting my digital life, and catching up on unfinished tasks.

While my wife is out at the post-Christmas sales, I take the time to purge or archive all of the old digital files I have, then reformat my computer to start the year fresh.

My arsenal of gadgets consists of my T-Mobile Dash Smartphone (loaded with Feed Reader to stay on top of the news), as well as my Nintendo DS for those extended periods travelling.

My Zune and iPod travel with me as well: the Zune for all of my video content that I have synched up from my Media Center PC, while the iPod holds all of my podcasts that I need to catch up on.

Over the holiday, I'll kick out a couple of podcasts of my own on my Thinkpad T60p, loaded with Windows Vista.

The evenings at home are spent increasing my gamerscore on Xbox Live with friends with some of the recent Xbox Live Arcade Titles.

Finally, I'll shoot off to Las Vegas after the first of the year for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, where I can take a peek at the gadget future and start thinking about what I plan to acquire over the next 12 months.


In some respects we've gone back to a more traditional Christmas since we've had kids.

Our offspring, three-year-old twin boys, are a bit too young to play video games and the presents they'll be getting are resolutely old school - not least because their favourite toys are a wooden railway and toy cars.

Technology will be there, but playing a supporting role. Any snaps we take of them in the sea of discarded wrapping paper will be uploaded soon after so other members of our far-flung family can enjoy them too. But that's as close as I'm likely to get to Windows over the festive break.

Doubtless we'll try to get a few minutes peace by installing them in front of a new DVD or two while we digest our enormous lunch but that's about as hi-tech as it will get.

The extent of my digital Christmas will largely depend on what happens in the world.

I'm a self confessed news junkie, so between opening presents, chomping on mince pies and basting the turkey I'll probably slope off to check the headlines on my laptop.

Guitar hero
Guitar Hero will be a Christmas distraction for many

If a large story breaks, I'll automatically get updates sent to my mobile phone. So even if I am out with the dogs walking off my second helping of Christmas pudding, I won't feel out of touch.

Most UK news outlets run a skeleton staff and past reporting the usual travel chaos, whether or not it was a white Christmas and what her Royal Highness broadcast to the nation, there's not traditionally been much to keep the news addict going.

But with the advent of blogs and news aggregators even the most obscure story can rise to the top of the news pecking order.

I supplement my web wanderings with the BBC World Service on my digital radio. Tuning into the network was nearly impossible a few years ago, but the advent of DAB means that I can now listen in crystal clear quality.

But Christmas is also about entertainment, so I'll also be taking regular breaks form the news.

As well as regular jamming sessions on Guitar Hero on my PlayStation 2, I fancy trying to watch the entire Star Wars sage back to back in high definition.

Sky has announced it will be showing them all on New Year's day. It will be the first chance to watch all of the saga in high def from start to finish.

The marathon will kick off at six o' clock in the morning with the Phantom Menace, perhaps the worst of the bunch. Actually, now I think about it, I might have a lie in and start at episode two.

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