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Inspector gadget

Juliette Robeson and her team of road testers review the best of our 21st Century gadgets and gifts for 2012

COMPUTER GAMES

Games are an inevitable part of the 21st century, where kids take refuge from life in a virtual world. Given the state of the real world today, who can blame them?

KINECT DANCE CENTRAL, X BOX, £23

Dancing is the new rock and roll and this interactive dance craze where the characters on the screen literally ‘kinnect’ with you, provides hours of endless fun. Also, see just how rubbish you are when your computer counterparts outdance you! Great Family fun.

9/10
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GEARS OF WAR 2, X BOX, £13

Gears of War excels in its multi-player function online and offline, where you and a friend work through a well-compiled story of aliens attacking you.

The level of graphics are intense and spec ration to real life is very realistic; characters look how a human should.

The gameplay is fast, dynamic and easy to use and the game overall is a must have for fans of the Gears Of War series.

9/10
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RATCHET AND CLANK, SONY PS3, £22.99

One is an alien and the other is a robot, both overcoming obstacles and levels to save the world whilst dissing and nagging each other. Great for the young and restless.

6/10

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TABLETS

Tablets have come a long way since Moses was handed one with the Ten Commandments. If he’d had one of these, he could have put all the Commandments on one – and if he'd had Google maps he would have found a quicker route leading his people out of Israel.

MOTOROLA XOOM, £339

Very responsive, fast and easy to use. Slim and lightweight, this is a fabulous machine for teenagers and businessmen alike.

9/10

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BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK, £260

Complete with BBM, an amazing camera and video, this is by far the cutest tablet around. At less than half the size of the iPad2, it slips into a pocket or small bag as easy as pie. It takes superb photos, and the videos are crisp.

9/10

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APPLE IPAD 2 £385

No prizes for original names, presumably the next one will be called the iPad 3. Sleek, intuitive and intelligent, it runs multiple applications seamlessly. A trifle too large to be really mobile, but definitely out performs most other tablets on the market.

10/10

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MUSIC SOFTWARE

Music software is now affordable and accessible for young wannabe producers, who no longer have to wait until they have left college to start creating tracks. They are very viable gifts and encourage real creativity, as opposed to the more passive pursuit of video games.

PROPELLERHEAD REASON ESSENTIALS, £192

This is powerful music software for budding producers to turn their ideas into music from their bedrooms. Includes features such as Sequencer,

Mixer, and ReGroove real-time groove. If you drop these names in front of your kids, they’ll think you’re as cool as Jay-Z.

9/10

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BLUE MICROPHONES YETI USB, £82.50

Retro twist on a modern design. This USB microphone cuts out all the awful buzzes of previous mics. Excellent tool for any music software, with features such as a built-in gain dial and four operating modes. Also very affordable. With this microphone, even the most mediocre talents would sound professional.

8/10

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SELF IMPROVEMENT, HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

Christmas should not just be about excess, vanity and greed, but about creativity, fitness and well-being. The 21st Century has enough gadgets and gizmos at hand to accommodate any of our aspirations. So don’t hold back. Be creative and make those changes for 2012.

DRAGON DICTATE FOR MAC, £114

The accuracy and precision of this product is staggering. It gets as close to replicating the human voice and reproducing it on paper. Okay, the training is a little wearing, but once it has learnt to recognise your voice, you are away. Dragon can cut down all your typing tedium dramatically, but more importantly , it will help unleash that novel inside of you. Amazing stuff.

10/10

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MOTOACTV £145

This nifty device sits neatly on your wrist and tracks your physical and aerobic progress, analyses the quality of your workouts and motivates you to push yourself further. But beware: you can lie to your friends and say that you have done a circuit around the park, but MOTOACTV won’t let you off the hook! Brilliant gadget designed to make a difference.

9/10

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ABSOLUTION YORK FITNESS, £72 (DISCOUNT INTRODUCTORY OFFER)

A punishing but fun abdominal personal trainer in your front room. This is a great prezzie for mum, dad or partner after the excesses of Christmas. You can do sit ups, compete with the machine, and try to achieve a personal best. Absolution will challenge you, as if it was your own personal trainer. A very affordable funky machine.

8/10

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