The 15 Best Last-Minute Gifts For Tech Lovers This Holiday Season

The 15 Best Last-Minute Gifts For Tech Lovers This Holiday Season

technology By Dec 21, 2023 No Comments

In a nutshell: Figma is a recently incorporated company providing a web-based interface design platform focusing on real-time collaboration.

Adobe was pursuing an acquisition of its most intriguing competitors in years, but the attempt ultimately failed due to antitrust scrutiny in the Europe.

Adobe has lost interest in acquiring Figma.

The company was willing to pay $20 billion to buy the product design startup, but regulatory watchdogs from the EU and UK opposed the deal.

Antitrust laws are designed to preserve market competition, but Adobe said that the proposed remediations were unacceptable and “wholly disproportionate.”

Adobe and Figma negotiated the deal during the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly increasing worldwide technology and software investment.

The potential deal was eventually announced in September 2022, revealing that Adobe was willing to pay 50 times Figma’s annual recurring revenue and double the company’s latest private funding round in 2021.

Since the announcement, the two companies have fought battles on multiple fronts, with antitrust authorities trying to halt the sale.

The European Commission believed the merger could “significantly reduce” competition in global markets.

The EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the Figma acquisition would have prevented “all future competition” between the two companies, leading to less choice, reduced quality, and higher costs for consumers.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was equally concerned with Adobe’s proposal.

The agency proposed alternative “remedies” in November, forcing Adobe to abandon the deal or eliminate overlapping business products such as Illustrator or Photoshop.

Alternatively, the CMA could have forced Figma to sell off its core product, Figma Design, under the proposal.

Figma CEO Dylan Field told the Financial Times that the suggestion of “buying a company so that you can divest the company” was “quite amusing.”

Reading the CMA proposal was like reading a punchline to a joke, Field said.

Figma’s boss was disappointed with the outcome.

The situation ultimately forced Adobe to abandon the acquisition as there was “no clear path” to satisfy UK or EU regulators’ conditions for approval.

Provisional findings from the CMA contained “serious errors of law and fact,” Adobe and Figma said.

Regulators were influenced by an “irrational approach” to the gathering and appraisal of evidence.

Officials required divestment of a multibillion-dollar business (Photoshop, Illustrator) to address an “uncertain and speculative” theory of harm to competition, a wholly disproportionate reaction to the now-failed deal.

Priced from $349 – $600, these new video smartglasses are a whole new category of Assisted Reality, which traditionally means is putting a monitor in or around your field of view, like the original Google Glass.

The new display glasses put a big screen right in front of you.

It’s the only thing you see, and the screen is big, like 45% of your field of view.

They’re all great for media consumption, playing games, or screen expansion for mobile productivity.

Instead of looking down at a screen in your hands, you can now sit up and look ahead.

If you’ve got a geek on your list, they’re really going to like these.

New TCL RayNeo Air 2 video smart glasses for a big scrteen experience on-the-go. .


A smart phone viewing accessory that delivers a 201″ hi-def screen on the go.

We love these glasses, but compatibility is an issue.

If you have an iPhone 14 or any with a lightning port, you’re going to need the $99 to go with it.

The $499 XReal Air2. .


The biggest, brightest screen this new category of mobile phone accessories delivers.

I recommend buying it with the $119 , a needed iPhone adaptor which allows you to place the screens of varying sizes around the room.

Rokid Max AR Smartglasses $399.

One of the best is also the most expensive, but we love the $199 , a great Android device for streaming, and viewing downloaded videos without wi-fi.

The light weight Station controller makes media consumption on the Rokid Max feel more like the experience of watching TV on your living room sofa.


I first me Virture at CES last year, fresh off their win as one of Time’s best inventions of 2022.

It was plug and play with my iPhone 15 and the old Samsung Galaxy 10 worked well, too.

The screen dimming feature, the focal adjustments, and the outstanding Harmon audio are best-in-class.

The Spacewalker app turns the Virture into more of a 3DOF experience, and makes the phone your controller.

Check device compatablity, as some iPhone and iPads require an adaptor.

The Solos AirGo3’s detachible wing allows for interchangeable styling. .


There’s no display or camera on these smart smartglasses, which use AI as their operating system.

Ray-Ban Stories.


Our friend, Moor Insights analyst Anshel Sag, took great care with this lengthy review of Meta’s new iteration of Ray-Ban Stories: “The latest collaboration between Meta and Luxottica marks a significant improvement over their predecessor, Ray-Ban Stories.

These glasses, powered by Qualcomm’s AR1 Gen 1 platform, offer enhanced features like superior camera capabilities (12MP photos, 1920 x 1440 video), increased storage (32GB), and advanced wireless connectivity.

Notable upgrades include IPX4 water resistance, a sleek design, and a battery life of 36 hours with the charging case.

The inclusion of Meta AI facilitates voice commands and messaging, enhancing day-to-day usability.

Despite some areas needing improvement, such as video frame rate and continuous use battery life, the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses represent a major step forward in wearable technology, combining style, functionality, and a strong value at $299, signaling Meta’s leadership in the evolving smart glasses market.”

In brief: Pour one out for the GTX 16 Series.

According to new reports, Nvidia has decided to officially discontinue its entire line of GTX 16xx graphics cards that were first announced in 2019 and remain popular among Steam users.

It’s been over a year since Nvidia launched the last of its GTX 16xx graphics cards, the GTX 1630, a product we awarded a score of 20 and called an insult to gamers , which could explain its very short life.

According to the Chinese Board Channel Forums , Nvidia is expected to stop production of all GTX 16-series cards starting in the first quarter of next year – in a few weeks, essentially – with the final orders being completed this month.

Nvidia has already officially, or in some cases reportedly, discontinued most of the GTX 16xx cards, meaning the upcoming series discontinuation will only impact the GTX 1650 and GTX 1630; the latter is a cut-down version of the former.

The GTX 16 series is based on the same Turing architecture that launched a year earlier in the RTX 20 Series, which was more expensive and came with the likes of hardware-accelerated ray tracing and DLSS as standard.

While it might not have been as technologically advanced, the budget GTX 16 series has proved to be very popular with gamers: it was only in September when the RTX 3060 knocked the GTX 1650 off its long-held top spot on the Steam Hardware and Survey GPU chart.

The older card remains in second place and even saw its user share increase 1.13% last month.

Expect to continue to see the GTX 16-series cards available to buy until AIB and retailer inventories sell out – there are still plenty available from Amazon and Newegg.

Don’t be surprised to see their prices fall significantly over the coming months, too, and more GTX 16xx cards appearing on eBay as owners trade them in for newer models.

As we noted in our Best GPUs feature , there really aren’t many options left for anyone looking to buy a good sub-$200 GPU these days.

Our recommendation is the AMD Radeon RX 6600 or Radeon 6650 XT.

The former’s cheapest non-refurbished models on Newegg are $199, and they’re either discounted or are from lesser-known brands.

Permalink to story.

The agreement was struck in September between the parties but was filed late Monday in a federal court in San Francisco, our colleague .

The settlement and allocates a $630 million payout for U.S. consumers who used a payment system in Google’s Play store.

The states allege the system magnified prices for in-app purchases.

Google’s store collects on in-app purchases.

“The Complaint also alleges state-law antitrust and consumer protection claims.

Specifically, the States allege that Google has unreasonably restrained trade and monopolized Android app distribution and payment-processing services through anticompetitive conduct,” the settlement agreement states.

Those who are eligible will .

Additional payments may be issued depending on how those eligible spent on Google Play from Aug. 16, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2023.

Google will also need to in penalties and other costs.

The settlement needs to be approved by a judge.

Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy Wilson White in a blog post said the settlement “builds on Android’s choice and flexibility, maintains strong security protections, and retains Google’s ability to compete with other OS makers.”

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An estimated 260 million packages disappeared in the U.S. last year, according to Safewise, many taken right from the front door area while a camera recorded the theft.

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, package thefts are a top concern, and one shipping company is using artificial intelligence to combat porch pirates.

Nearly one in four adults had a package stolen in the last 12 months, a survey by Finder said.

Theft can be an even more serious problem if those packages contain necessities, like medication, or expensive items.

“This time of year, we ship a lot of gifts, so every package is very special to the person receiving it,” said Tarek Saab, president of Texas Precious Metals, whose company ships items like silver bars and gold coins.

This year, Saab is using a new UPS data program called DeliveryDefense, which he says helps them identify addresses that are likely targets for theft.

UPS gave CBS News a look at how the program works.

The A.I.-powered program takes a recipient’s address and produces a score — a higher score indicates a higher likelihood of a successful delivery.

The scores are created using years of data from previous deliveries and other factors.

For addresses with a low score, the merchant can reroute the item, with the customer’s approval, to a UPS Store or other pickup locations.

“About 2% of addresses will be considered low confidence, and we’re seeing that represents about 30% of losses our customers are having,” Mark Robinson, president of UPS Capital, told CBS News.

At Texas Precious Metals, Saab believes the technology can reduce those numbers.

“We recognize it’s computers versus criminals, and we have to use every tech capability that we have to try to circumvent any challenges we might run into,” he said.

Janet Shamlian Janet Shamlian is a CBS News correspondent based in Houston, Texas.

Shamlian’s reporting is featured on all CBS News broadcasts and platforms including “CBS Mornings,” the “CBS Evening News” and the CBS News Streaming Network, CBS News‘ premier 24/7 anchored streaming news service.

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Once upon a time, there was a market for sentiment analysis across multiple vertical industries.

Companies wanted to know what clients thought about ther products, services and even their “attitude.”

Did their clients like them, loathe them, empathize with their struggles?

Social media sentiment analysis was a way to expand insight into what clients do and think beyond traditional customer interviews and surveys.

Data was collected from newspaper clips, blogs, posts, headlines, articles and speeches – an expanded view of the customer.

But not a complete view.

Fast forward a decade and a truly holistic approach to investing is the raison d’etre of .

Many of us who have championed the role that so-called “soft” variables play in decision-making have been waiting for a comprehensive approach to problem-solving – in this case investing – for decades.

Highmoon describes its approach this way (the italics are mine): Highmoon blends all this with “traditional” market metrics to generate a complete picture of market conditions that generates informed investment decisions.

It’s amazing how many market analysts cite “emotion,” “psychology,” “sentiment” and other soft variables as the drivers of company and market performance, but fail to integrate them into their assessments or predictions.

Decades ago there were clear technological barriers to measuring the importance of these variables, but today we have generative AI (GenAI) and other tools that enable us to integrate hard and soft variables for improved investment decision-making, risk reduction, and even market projections.

: Lumine Lin, Founder & CEO, Highmoon Capital As the Highmoon founder and CEO – Lumine Lin – explains: But Lin’s most important statement?

The marriage between soft market forces and GenAI is a smart one.

While it remains to be seen how emotionally smart GenAI can be – how fast, if at all, it reaches general AI (GAI) – there’s no question that Highmoon’s approach is the right one.

It’s also one that will reveal some unexpected investment results as GenAI’s capabilities grow.

Said a little differently, the timing of all is this excellent as the capabilities of GenAI will only grow — and grow quickly.

The key to all this is the research agenda that emerges from a holistic approach to investing.

The premise of Highmoon’s approach is that there’s a large – and growing – family of variables that drive financial performance.

When that’s the assumption, research yields never before seen nuances.

Well-bounded problems with pre-packaged solutions are redefined into broader, fuzzier problems that require a set of new methods, tools and techniques that have not been in the traditional arsenal of financial analysts.

Highmoon is pioneering the application of GenAI to enable its holistic approach to market analysis and the deployment of capital.

At least two aspects of this are unique: the broad definition of market drivers and the application of GenAI.

The integration of cognitive biases, emotional influences, stock market sentiment, traders’ emotional intelligence and psychological factors with traditional financial metrics is what many of us have been hoping would transform the investment thesis.

The journey from social media analytics to GenAI-enabled holistic investing has been a long one — but it’s begun at Highmoon.

Stay tuned.

Marma charging rack for micromobility Standab, the Swedish micromobility infrastructure start-up, plans to roll out parking bays for bikes and e-scooters that can charge the batteries in the vehicles.

Marma is a parking rack for the likes of e-scooters that is equipped with charging technology to charge the electric batteries while the scooter or bike is docked.

The Swedish start-up has been making parking infrastructure since 2018 but the latest product marks a move into charging, chief executive Marcus Adolfsson said.

“We saw the natural development of this was to start charging.

When they’re parked why are they not charging?” he said.

Marma was initially piloted in Stockholm, where Standab is based, with Dott, one of Europe’s largest micromobility companies.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our integration into cities,” Laurent Kennel, chief development officer at Dott, added.

“This pilot with Standab has shown that a charging solution can be combined with neat, organized parking in city centers, to ensure riders can always find a vehicle which is ready to use, whenever they need it.”

With the findings from the pilot, Standab now plans to expand the new product to between four to seven European cities in 2024 and is in talks with many of the major operators around the continent.

Collaborating with operators is a key issue, Adolfsson said.

“We saw that the main issue was the compatibility, it has to be compatible with everyone.

Cities are not interested in having, for example, Tier come with their charging solution when there are three or four more players there.

It has to be compatible

[with] everyone.”

Marma can solve issues for both the operators and city authorities, he added.

Parking of e-scooters has been a major bugbear in cities with reckless parking or discarding of vehicles, which can cause injuries, being a hot button issue.

This was a major factor behind Paris’s rental services earlier this year.

“The cities have a real issue that we’re solving and it’s of course the parking issue,” Adolfsson said.

“The good thing here is that we are all interested in the same areas, it’s the high footfall areas.

The operators, that’s where they have parking problems as well, and it’s also where they have the highest rotation of scooters.

Of course they want their fleet to be topped up [with energy] as much as possible.”

For the e-scooter operators, they can keep more units on the streets with enough juice while appeasing the concerns of city officials.

This, Adolfsson added, can be more cost effective than the practice of swapping out drained batteries in the fleet.

“Swapping a battery is extremely expensive for the operators, it’s a high manual cost and we’re going to be able to deliver that same amount of electricity into the battery at a much lower cost than manual swapping,” he said.

According to Standab, the Marma stands can charge a battery about 20% to 25% in an hour.

“If you take a scooter that has been there for an hour, you get an extra 25% of battery which will give it more or less an extra day of operations on the streets.”

Standab generates revenue from the operators who pay for the electricity used plus a premium.

“Cities get the infrastructure for free.

The operators get the infrastructure for free as well as the connectors and everything.

We are more charging as a service, the operators pay for exactly what amount of electricity is going into the scooter with a premium there.”

Adolfsson said that Standab has deployed 1,700 of its previous parking racks in dozens of European cities and hopes to replicate that with Marma.

He is joined in running Standab by Eric Bergqvist, who previously held senior public policy roles at Voi, one of Europe’s largest e-scooter players.

Several other former Voi executives have also joined the company.

Adolfsson said that the start-up has been largely self-financed to date but will explore opportunities from outside investors to fund the expansion of Marma.

Back Print

By Taiwo Adebayo – Associated Press – Wednesday, December 20, 2023 OMO FOREST RESERVE, Nigeria (AP) —

Men in dusty workwear trudge through a thicket, making their way up a hill where sprawling plantations lay tucked in a Nigerian rainforest whose trees have been hacked away to make room for cocoa bound for places like Europe and the U.S. Kehinde Kumayon and his assistant clear low bushes that compete for sunlight with their cocoa trees, which have replaced the lush and dense natural foliage.

The farmers swing their machetes, careful to avoid the ripening yellow pods containing beans that will help create chocolate, the treat shoppers are snapping up for Christmas.

Over the course of two visits and several days, The Associated Press repeatedly documented farmers harvesting cocoa beans where that work is banned in conservation areas of Omo Forest Reserve, a protected tropical rainforest 135 kilometers (84 miles) northeast of the coastal city of Lagos in southwestern Nigeria.

Trees here rustle as dwindling herds of critically endangered African forest elephants rumble through.

Threatened pangolins, known as armored anteaters, scramble along branches.

White-throated monkeys, once thought to be extinct, leap from one tree to the next.

Omo also is believed to have the highest concentration of butterflies in Africa and is one of the continent’s largest and oldest UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

Cocoa from the conservation zone is purchased by some of the world’s largest cocoa traders, according to company and trade documents and AP interviews with more than 20 farmers, five licensed buying agents and two brokers all operating within the reserve.

They say those traders include Singapore-based food supplier Olam Group and Nigeria’s Starlink Global and Ideal Limited, the latter of which acknowledged using cocoa supplies from the forest.

A fewer number of those working in the forest also mentioned Tulip Cocoa Processing Ltd., a subsidiary of Dutch cocoa trader and producer Theobroma.

Those companies supply Nigerian cocoa to some of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers including Mars Inc. and Ferrero, but because the chocolate supply chain is so complex and opaque, it’s not clear if cocoa from deforested parts of Omo Forest Reserve makes it into the sweets that they make, such as Snickers, M&Ms, Butterfinger and Nutella.

Mars and Ferrero list farming sources on their websites that are close to or overlap with the forest but do not provide specific locations.

Government officials, rangers and the growers themselves say cocoa plantations are spreading illegally into protected areas of the reserve.

Farmers say they move there because their cocoa trees in other parts of the West African country are aging and not producing as much.

“We know this is a forest reserve, but if you are hungry, you go to where there is food, and this is very fertile land,” Kumayon told the AP, acknowledging that he’s growing cocoa at an illegal plantation at the Eseke farming settlement, separated only by a muddy footpath from critical habitat for what UNESCO estimates is the remaining 100 elephants deep in the conservation zone.

Conservationists also point to the world’s increasing demand for chocolate.

The global cocoa and chocolate market is expected to grow from a value of $48 billion in 2022 to nearly $68 billion by 2029, according to analysts at Fortune Business Insights.

The chocolate supply chain has long been fraught with human rights abuses, exploitative labor and environmental damage, leading to lawsuits, U.S. trade complaints and court rulings.

In response, the chocolate industry has made wide-ranging pledges and campaigns to ensure they are sourcing cocoa that is traceable, sustainable and free of abuse.

Companies say they have adopted supply chain tracing from primary sources using GPS mapping and satellite technology as well as partnered with outside organizations and third-party auditors that certify farms’ compliance with sustainability standards.

But those working in the forest say checks that some companies rely on are not done, while one certifying agency, Rainforest Alliance, points to a lack of regulations and incomplete data and mapping in Nigeria.

AP followed a load of cocoa that farmers had harvested in the conservation zone to the warehouses of buying agents in the reserve and then delivered to an Olam facility outside the entrance of the forest.

Staffers at Olam’s and Tulip’s facilities just outside the reserve, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to discuss their companies’ supplies, confirmed that they source cocoa from farmers in the conservation zone.

AP also photographed cocoa bags labeled with the names and logos of Olam and Tulip in farmers’ warehouses inside the conservation zone.

The Omo reserve consists of a highly protected conservation zone ringed by a larger, partially protected outer region.

Loggers, who are also a major source of deforestation, can get government licenses to chop down trees in the outer areas, but no licenses are given anywhere for cocoa farming.

Agriculture is banned from the conservation area, except for defined areas where up to 10 indigenous communities can farm for their own food.

Nigeria is one of Africa’s biggest oil suppliers and largest economy; after petroleum, one of its top exports is cocoa.

It’s the world’s fourth-largest producer of cocoa, accounting for more than 5% of global supply, according to the International Cocoa Organization.

Yet it’s far behind the world’s largest producers, Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together supply more than half of the world’s demand and are often singled out in companies’ sustainability programs.

According to World Bank trade data and Nigeria’s export council, more than 60% of Nigeria’s cocoa heads to Europe and about 8% to the United States and Canada.

It passes through many hands to get there: Farmers grow the cocoa beans, then brokers scout farms to buy them.

Licensed buying agents purchase the cocoa from brokers and sell it to big commodity trading companies like Olam and Tulip, which export it to chocolate makers.

In October, AP followed a blue- and white-striped van loaded with bags of cocoa beans along a road pitted with deep mud holes within the conservation zone to an Olam warehouse just outside the entrance of the forest.

At the warehouse, which Olam confirmed was theirs, AP photographed the cocoa being unloaded from the van, whose registration number matched the one filmed in the forest.

Farmer Rasaq Kolawole and licensed buying agent Muraina Nasir followed the van to sell the cocoa, and neither expressed misgivings about the deforestation.

“We are illegal occupants of the forest,” said farmer Kolawole, a college graduate and former salesperson.

AP also visited four cocoa warehouses in the forest belonging to licensed buying agents: Kadet Agro Allied Investments Ltd., Bolnif Agro-allied Farms Nigeria Ltd., Almatem and Askmana.

Managers or owners all told AP that they buy from farmers growing cocoa in protected areas of the forest and that they sell that cocoa to Olam.

Three of the warehouse managers told AP that they also sell to Tulip and Starlink.

“They do not differentiate between cocoa from local – that is farms outside the forest – and the reserve,” said Waheed Azeez, proprietor of Bolnif, describing how “big buyers like Olam, Tulip and Starlink” buy cocoa sourced from deforested lands.

“They buy everything, and most of the cocoa is from the reserve.”

Despite AP’s findings, Olam insists that it “forbids” members of its “Ore Agbe Ijebu” farmer group from “sourcing from protected areas and important natural ecosystems like forests.”

That Ijebu farmer group is listed as a sustainable supplier on Olam’s website and is said to be in Ijebu Ife, a community near the reserve.

“Any farmers found not complying with the code and illegally encroaching on forest boundaries are removed from our supply chain and expelled from the OAIJ farmer group,” the company said in a statement emailed to AP.

However, Askmana manager Sunday Awoke said, “Olam does not know the farmers.

We buy from the farmers and sell directly to Olam, and no assessment against deforestation takes place.”

Speaking to AP as a convoy of motorcycles brought bags of cocoa from the conservation area to his warehouse within the reserve, Awoke said he used to be a conservation worker who fought deforestation by farmers.

“But I am on the other side now.

I wish to go back, but survival first, and this pays more,” he said.

Others agreed.

“The place is not meant for cocoa farming, but elephants,” said Ewulola Bolarinwa, who is both a broker and a leader of those who farm at the Eseke settlement inside the conservation zone.

“We have a lot of big buyers who supply the companies in the West, including Olam, Tulip and many more.”

Ferrero, which makes Ferrero Rocher hazelnut balls, Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread and popular Baby Ruth, Butterfinger and Crunch candy bars, lists a farming group in a community near the forest as the source of its cocoa supplied by Olam, the Italian company says on its website.

McLean, Virginia-based Mars Inc., one of the world’s largest end users of cocoa with brands from Snickers to M&Ms, Dove, Twix and Milky Way, uses Nigerian cocoa from both Olam and Tulip, according to online company documents.

Ferrero, Mars and Tulip say they’re committed to their anti-deforestation policies, use GPS mapping of farms, and their suppliers are certified through independent standards.

Ferrero also says it relies on satellite monitoring to show that its “cocoa sourcing from Nigeria does not come from protected forest areas.”

Mars says its preliminary findings show that none of the farms it’s mapped overlap with the reserve.

Tulip’s managing director, Johan van der Merwe, said in an email that the company’s cocoa bags, which AP photographed in farmers’ warehouses inside the conservation zone, are reused and distributed widely so it’s possible they’re seen across Nigeria.

He also said “field operatives” complete digital questionnaires about sourcing with all farmers and suppliers.

On the ground, however, farmers and licensed buying agents who said they supply Tulip told AP that they were not required to complete any questionnaire before their cocoa is purchased.

“Though we know they depend on our cocoa, we don’t directly sell cocoa to the exporters like Olam and Tulip, middlemen do, and there are no questions about deforestation,” said farmer Saheed Arisekola, 43, also a college graduate who said he turned to farming because he could not get a job.

As farmers, brokers and buying agents say cocoa from the conservation area flows into Olam’s export supply, U.S. customs records show a slice of where it might be going.

Olam’s American arm, Olam Americas Inc., received 18,790 bags of Nigerian cocoa shipped by its Nigerian subsidiary, Outspan Nigeria Limited, between March and April 2022, according to trade data from ImportGenius.

Olam and Tulip are both licensed to trade Nigerian cocoa certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

However, Olam told AP that its license does not cover the Ijebu area, where it sources the cocoa it sends to Ferrero and is near Omo Forest Reserve.

Ferrero says Olam’s sustainability standard in the area is verified by a third-party body.

Farmers who told AP that their cocoa heads to Olam and Tulip said they are not Rainforest Alliance certified.

Tulip has only one farm with active certification in Nigeria, the nonprofit’s database shows.

The Rainforest Alliance says it certifies that farms operate with methods that prohibit deforestation and other anti-sustainability practices.

It says farmers must provide GPS coordinates and geographic boundaries for their plantations, which are checked against public forest maps and satellite data.

The Rainforest Alliance told AP that Nigeria has “unique forest regulation challenges,” including incomplete or outdated data and maps that can “lead to discrepancies when comparing forest data with real on-ground conditions.”

It said it is working to get updated data from Nigerian authorities and would decertify any farms found to be operating illegally in conservation areas following a review.

The organization also says companies it licenses can buy cocoa certified by other agencies or that isn’t certified at all.

Starlink Global and Ideal Limited – the Nigerian cocoa exporter that the farmers and buying agents said they sell to – doesn’t have its own farmland in the reserve, “only suppliers from there,” spokesman Sambo Abubakar told AP.

Starlink does not make sustainable sourcing claims on its website, but it supplies at least one company that does – New York-based General Cocoa Co., U.S. trade data shows.

Between March and April 2023, Starlink shipped 70 containers, each loading 4,000 bags of dried cocoa beans, to General Cocoa, according to ImportGenius trade data.

General Cocoa, which is owned by Paris-headquartered Sucden Group, supplies Mars, according to online company documents.

Jean-Baptiste Lescop, secretary general of Sucden Group, says the company manages risks to forest conservation by sourcing Rainforest Alliance cocoa, mapping farms and using satellite images but that it’s a “continuous process” because most farmers in Nigeria don’t have official land ownership documents.

Sucden investigates reports of problems and is working on a response to AP’s findings about Starlink, Lescop said.

The conservation zone, which spans about 650 square kilometers (250 square miles), is the only remaining vital rainforest in Nigeria’s southwest, conservation officials say.

Such forests help absorb carbon from the atmosphere and are crucial for Nigeria to meet its pledges under the Paris climate agreement.

Besides helping fight climate change, the forest is designated an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area by BirdLife International, with significant populations of at least 75 bird species.

“There are now more than 100 illegal settlements of cocoa farmers, who came from other states because the land here is very fertile,” said Emmanuel Olabode, a conservation manager who supervises the reserve’s rangers in the protected areas.

“But after some years, the land becomes unproductive.”

The farmers know this.

“We’ll then find another land somewhere else or go back to our original homes to start new businesses,” said Kaseem Olaniyi, who acknowledges that he farms illegally in the conservation zone after moving in 2014 from a neighboring state.

The government in Ogun state, which owns the forest, said in a statement to AP that the “menace of cocoa farming” in the reserve dates back decades and that “all the illegal farmers were forcefully evicted” in 2007 before they found their way back.

“Arrangements are in the pipeline to engage the services of the Nigerian Police Force and the military to evict them from the Forest Reserve,” the government statement said.

However, Omolola Odutola, spokeswoman for the federally controlled police, said they do not have records of such a plan.

The farmers have been ordered not to start new farms, and those who spoke with AP said they are complying.

But forest guards said new farms are sprouting up in remote areas that are difficult to detect.

Rangers – who work for the government’s conservation partner, the nonprofit Nigerian Conservation Foundation – and forest guards who are employed by the state government both told AP that lax government enforcement has made combating cocoa expansion a challenge.

They told AP that previous arrests have done little to stop the farmers from returning and that has led to a sense of futility when they encounter illegal farming.

The state government said it “has never compromised regulations” but acknowledged that farmers are in the forest despite its efforts.

Homes and other buildings at farming settlements visited by AP have been marked for removal, including warehouses like that of licensed buying agent Kadet, one of the biggest there.

Farmers’ homes lack running water and toilets, forcing women and children to collect water from narrow streams to use while the men work.

The removals have not taken place because officials make money from the cocoa business in the forest, according to farmers and buying agents, who lament the difficult living conditions, with mud roads filled with holes creating high transportation costs that eat away their already meager profits.

The state government declined to comment about making money from illegal cocoa farming in the forest.

The agents have formed a lobby group that has “rapport with government officials” to ensure farmers remain in the conservation zone despite threats to evict them, said Azeez, the owner of buying agent Bolnif who is also chairman of a committee that monitors risks against cocoa business in the forest.

The European Union, the largest destination of cocoa from West Africa, has enacted a new regulation on deforestation-free products that requires companies selling commodities like cocoa to prove they have not caused deforestation.

Big companies must ensure they’re following the rules by the end of 2024.

Experts at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria are launching a “Trace Project” in six southern states – though it doesn’t include Ogun state where Omo Forest Reserve is located – to advance efforts against deforestation in cocoa production and ensure Nigeria’s cocoa is not rejected in Europe.

“From the preliminary data collected, major exporters are implicated in deforestation, and it is their responsibility to ensure compliance with standards,” said Rasheed Adedeji, who leads the institute’s research outreach.

But farmers say they’ll keep finding places to work.

“The world needs cocoa, and the government also gets taxes because the cocoa is exported,” said Olaniyi, one of the farmers.


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With CES 2024 just around the corner, a slew of product reveals is in store with the first set being LG’s upcoming soundbar lineup.

The 2024 soundbars as presented by LG in its press release hinge primarily on TV synergy and audio immersion using several features that make them stand out from the crowd: The two newest soundbar models in its lineup include the SG10T and S70TY, while the S95TR is an upgraded version of LG’s S95QR from 2023.

Among the features coming to next year’s lineup is a new AI Room Calibration feature that “rapidly analyzes the environment of a room and adjusts the settings” both for the front and rear surround speakers.

Using newly designed internals and a rich feature set that is expertly paired with specific LG TVs, these new soundbars could prove to make a world of difference in your everyday entertainment consumption — provided you have an LG TV to pair alongside them.

As already mentioned, LG’s new 2024 soundbar lineup consists of three main products: the S95TR, SG10T, and S70TY.

They’re listed in accordance with their general market, with the S95TR being LG’s flagship model.

Given its premium nature, the S95TR comes kitted with all the bells and whistles, including 15 channels, 810W of total power output, and a list of internal upgrades to set it apart from the previous S95QR iteration.

The size of the soundbar has been increased slightly to better compensate for these internal improvements.

The S95TR will use an enhanced passive radiator and a set of upgraded tweeters for impeccable audio quality and boosted bass.

Its five dedicated upward firing drivers will also make it quite a beast for those who love Dolby Atmos , but do note that this is a wired product as opposed to the other new LG offerings.

On that topic, the new LG SG10T is a wireless soundbar with some neat tricks up its sleeve.

The most obvious one is its ultra-thin design that’s intended to make wall mounting far easier and fit more cleanly with LG’s G series OLEDs, like the LG G3 OLED , which the soundbar specifically caters to.

In the more mid-range category is the S70TY, yet another wireless soundbar built specifically for LG’s QNED TV models.

It’s set to leverage LG’s up-firing channel speakers and is intended to aesthetically match with the LG QNED80, QNED85, QNED90, QNED95, and LG QNED99 TVs.

There’s little else LG announced in terms of exciting internals on the new soundbar models and pricing remains a question mark most likely until CES 2024.

The company did, however, highlight some key features that will make these models turn your TV viewing experience into a draw dropping spectacle.

So which of the features are specific to LG TVs?

Leveraging the WoWCast feature, soundbars — like the aforementioned SG10T and S70TY — can wirelessly send Dolby Atmos sound to other compatible devices, such as LG TVs and even alternative LG soundbars.

LG’s Wow Orchestra, a feature that allows both the TV and soundbar to work in tandem for perfected sound quality, is also being improved and included on newer LG soundbar models.

Finally, the newly introduced Triple Level Spatial Sound technology is also an exciting new addition on LG soundbars, gifting them, as the press release states, “lifelike sound and a compelling sense of space.”

The feature uses a 3D engine to analyze channels for the most optimal and immersive sounds possible.

The good news is that this one should work regardless of whether you own an LG TV or not.

Those in attendance at CES 2024 in January can get a special taste of LG’s new soundbars and the delectable audio enhancements they provide to the home cinema.

LG will be in the Central Hall of the LAs Vegas Convention Center at booth #15501.

Researchers have developed an augmented reality heads-up display that could improve road safety by displaying potential hazards as high-resolution three-dimensional holograms directly in a driver’s field of vision in real time.

Current heads-up display systems are limited to two-dimensional projections onto the windshield of a vehicle, but researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and University College London (UCL) developed a system using 3D laser scanner and LiDAR data to create a fully 3D representation of London streets.

The system they developed can effectively “see” through objects to project holographic representations of road obstacles that are hidden from the driver’s field of view, aligned with the real object in both size and distance.

For example, a road sign blocked from view by a large truck would appear as a 3D hologram so that the driver knows exactly where the sign is and what information it displays.

The 3D holographic projection technology keeps the driver’s focus on the road instead of the windshield, and could improve road safety by projecting road obstacles and potential hazards in real time from any angle.

The results are reported in the journal Advanced Optical Materials .

Every day, around 16,000 people are killed in traffic accidents caused by human error.

Technology could be used to reduce this number and improve road safety, in part by providing information to drivers about potential hazards.

Currently, this is mostly done using heads-up displays, which can provide information such as current speed or driving directions.

“The idea behind a heads-up display is that it keeps the driver’s eyes up, because even a fraction of a second not looking at the road is enough time for a crash to happen,” said Jana Skirnewskaja from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, the study’s first author.

“However, because these are two-dimensional images, projected onto a small area of the [windshield], the driver can be looking at the image, and not actually looking at the road ahead of them.”

For several years, Skirnewskaja and her colleagues have been working to develop alternatives to heads-up displays (HUDs) that could improve road safety by providing more accurate information to drivers while keeping their eyes on the road.

“We want to project information anywhere in the driver’s field of view, but in a way that isn’t overwhelming or distracting,” said Skirnewskaja.

“We don’t want to provide any information that isn’t directly related to the driving task at hand.”

The team developed an augmented reality holographic point cloud video projection system to display objects aligned with real-life objects in size and distance within the driver’s field of view.

The system combines data from a 3D holographic setup with LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data.

LiDAR uses a pulsed light source to illuminate an object and the reflected light pulses are then measured to calculate how far the object is from the light source.

The researchers tested the system by scanning Malet Street on the UCL campus in central London.

Information from the LiDAR point cloud was transformed into layered 3D holograms, consisting of as many as 400,000 data points.

The concept of projecting a 360° obstacle assessment for drivers stemmed from meticulous data processing, ensuring clear visibility of each object’s depth.

The researchers sped up the scanning process so that the holograms were generated and projected in real time.

Importantly, the scans can provide dynamic information, since busy streets change from one moment to the next.

“The data we collected can be shared and stored in the cloud, so that any drivers passing by would have access to it—it’s like a more sophisticated version of the navigation apps we use every day to provide real-time traffic information,” said Skirnewskaja.

“This way, the system is dynamic and can adapt to changing conditions, as hazards or obstacles move on or off the street.”

While more data collection from diverse locations enhances accuracy, the researchers say the unique contribution of their study lies in enabling a 360° view by judiciously choosing data points from single scans of specific objects, such as trucks or buildings, enabling a comprehensive assessment of road hazards.

“We can scan up to 400,000 data points for a single object, but obviously that is quite data-heavy and makes it more challenging to scan, extract and project data about that object in real time,” said Skirnewskaja.

“With as little as 100 data points , we can know what the object is and how big it is.

We need to get just enough information so that the driver knows what’s around them.”

Earlier this year, Skirnewskaja and her colleagues conducted a virtual demonstration with virtual reality headsets loaded with the LiDAR data of the system at the Science Museum in London.

User feedback from the sessions helped the researchers improve the system to make the design more inclusive and user-friendly.

For example, they have fine-tuned the system to reduce eye strain, and have accounted for visual impairments.

“We want a system that is accessible and inclusive, so that end users are comfortable with it,” said Skirnewskaja.

“If the system is a distraction, then it doesn’t work.

We want something that is useful to drivers, and improves safety for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.”

The researchers are currently collaborating with Google to develop the technology so that it can be tested in real cars.

They are hoping to carry out road tests, either on public or private roads, in 2024.

More information: Accelerated Augmented Reality Holographic 4K Video Projections Based on LiDAR Point Clouds for Automotive Head-Up Displays, Advanced Optical Materials (2023).

DOI: 10.1002/adom.202301772

The 8 Biggest AI Moments Of 2023 I feel confident that 2023 will be looked back on as a major turning point in the adoption of AI into society.

Largely thanks to the emergence of generative natural language interfaces, including ChatGPT, AI has become an increasingly omnipresent aspect of our everyday lives.

From what we know of earlier technological and industrial revolutions, the arrival of AI is as much about societal change as technological change.

The impact on how we work, build, socialize and play will be enormous, and the direction this will take us in is likely to be strongly influenced by actions taken today.

So, here’s what I believe are the most important events of the last 12 months – in terms of the implications they could have on the future of not just AI but our lives.

2023 was undoubtedly defined by ChatGPT mania.

Although we were blown away by the capabilities of the GPT-3.5 engine powering its initial release, rumors were swirling regarding the upcoming GPT-4 and how much more powerful and capable it would be.

When it arrived in March, few were disappointed – it was clearly far more advanced in its ability to converse and provide us with information.

Further updates throughout the year gave it the ability to search the web as well as view and create images.

Public awareness of the dangers of fake AI images and videos rose in 2023, thanks to the emergence of ever-more realistic deepfakes and scams.

One incident in particular threw a spotlight on the issue when images of Pope Francis wearing a ridiculously oversized puffer jacket appeared at the top of our social media feeds.

The image was noteworthy for its realism, and the response showed that it had clearly fooled many people.

For many, this could have been the first real indication of the technology’s potential for spreading manipulation and misinformation.

As examples of legislation being enacted in 2023, the European Union AI Act and China’s Interim Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) are potentially the most significant.

In June, the European Parliament adopted the act, which is designed to ensure the safe, reliable, and transparent use of AI in line with existing legislation, including the Human Rights Act and GDPR.

The GAI interim measures aim to promote the healthy use of AI that is in line with moral and ethical values.

Both contain measures aimed at addressing the issue of AI and intellectual property.

Some of the most profound implications for AI are in the field of bioscience and genetics, and in 2023, Google made a significant leap forward with its DeepMind-developed AlphaMissense model.

Google that its model was able to identify potentially dangerous mutations that can cause diseases like cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia and cancer.

The breakthrough built on work previously done by the AlphaFold project and a catalog of mutation data was published with the aim of helping researchers fight these diseases.

We’ve never seen a business go from virtual obscurity to darlings of the tech world as quickly as has happened with ChatGPT owner OpenAI, so it’s probably natural that its organizational integrity experienced some stress.

CEO and current Silicon Valley

Golden Boy Sam Altman was briefly fired before being reinstated due to reasons that still aren’t exactly clear but seem to be down to board-level politics and rivalry.

Why is it significant?

Well, we’ve never seen a superstar CEO like Altman removed and then returned to power- due to popular demand– so quickly.

The event has led to renewed calls for greater regulation and scrutiny into the ways that leading AI companies are run, which could influence debate on the subject in the future.

Public awareness is a critical part of the puzzle regarding managing AI‘s integration into society.

The Pause Giant AI Experiments may not yet have achieved its apparent primary aim.

Thanks to the publicity generated because signers include Elon Musk, Yoshua Bengoi and Stuart Russel, they captured headlines and generated awareness.

By the end of the year, more than 33,700 signatures had been gathered, and although research on giant AI is ongoing, I believe many of us have a better understanding of what’s at stake as we head into 2024.

A new version of Microsoft’s Bing, powered by ChatGPT, appeared early in 2023, marking the first time many people would see natural language integrated into a search engine.

The move was not surprising as Microsoft’s multi-billion-dollar investments in ChatGPT’s creator, OpenAI, were well publicized.

However, it marked the start of a rush to integrate large language models capable of understanding and responding via human language into many tools and apps.

This trend is likely to be at the vanguard of AI’s push to be integrated and accepted into society in the next few years.

Later, in 2023, Microsoft began rolling out generative AI functionality branded as Co-Pilot across other products and services tied to its Windows operating system and 365 Office platform.

A first-of-its-kind international agreement was made at the AI UK 2023 conference between 28 countries, including the US, EU, UK and China.

The aims to put in place a framework for identifying risks and putting guardrails in place around the super-powerful AI that we can expect to see emerging in the near future.

Some have said the events and its outcomes were shrouded by political aims and overlooked many concerns including impact on women and questions around intellectual property rights and AI.

But it can’t be denied that the issue of safe and ethical advanced AI is critical and will require international cooperation at the highest levels.

It’s less than a week until Christmas Day, so you can’t put it off any longer.

If you’re gifting this season, you need to get your act together pronto.

Gadgets and tech make for great gifts: if the person you’re choosing for likes an electric toothbrush, they’ll think of you every morning.

Below, I’ve gathered together 15 of the best items for every budget and a variety of recipients.

Some will be brands you know, others will I hope be new to you.

All have been put through their paces and reviewed thoroughly so they come with a tried-and-tested recommendation.

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Prestige 9900

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Prestige 9900 $249.96 from , £223.52 from The Sonicare range is unbeatably good, offering excellent brushing to ensure optimum dental health, with multiple settings and a companion app that can tell you how well you’re doing as you go, warning you if you press too hard or miss a bit.

The brush head is bigger than on some rivals and has angled bristles to improve plaque removal.

It’s a sonic toothbrush, which means it vibrates so fast plaque is dislodge more easily.

There’s a charging base where the toothbrush stands and a travel case which charges by USB.

This is great for the holidays, though the battery tends to last more than a week anyway.

This is an expensive toothbrush, but look around and you can find it significantly cheaper, as in the Amazon prices above which are respectively 34% and 59% off.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Amazon Kindle Paperwhite $139.99 from , £149.99 from Give the gift of reading with Amazon’s best-ever Kindle.

The Paperwhite now comes with a bigger display, 6.8 inches, narrow borders around the edges and a flush-front design.

Kindles are front-lit, so unlike a regular tablet which is backlit, these are much more restful on the eyes.

The Paperwhite, which is waterproof so you can read in the bath with peace of mind, has a light which you can adjust in brightness and color, from white to amber.

This also contributes to the restfulness of the experience.

The price includes lockscreen ads which are not very intrusive, but if you don’t like them, you can pay an extra $20 to banish them.

Note that the U.K. price is higher because it’s for the 16GB capacity version, while the U.S. price is for 8GB.

Unless you plan on holding multiple Audible audiobooks on your device, 8GB is enough.

Nomad 65W

Slim Power Adapter Nomad

65W Slim Power Adapter $65 from Travel adapters are tricky things: you always need several and they often have the wrong connectors on board.

The new slim adapter, has two USB-C sockets in it so you can plug two devices in at the same time, and it’s powerful enough to handle a laptop and a phone at the same time.

It’s designed with technology which makes it small and slim, so it can be squirreled away in the smallest carry-on.

If you don’t need multiple sockets, there’s a 35W version which has one output socket on board, which costs $35.

Nomad’s trademark immaculate build quality is on display here in both cases.

OOFOS OOMG Sport LS Shoe OOFOS OOMG Sport LS Shoe $139.95 from , £129.95 from This health option concerns recovery.

If you’ve been running and have overdone it, or you suddenly suffer from the annoying and painful plantar fasciitis, then you need recovery footwear.

The incredibly soft foam that OOFOS owns is different from the bouncy effect you find in performance shoes—this is to help you get better.

It works brilliantly and is amazingly comfortable to wear.

There are different styles from clogs to slippers to mules to trainers.

The website has a big range and if the person you’re gifting is in need, their feet will thank you.

OnePlus Open Smartphone OnePlus Open $1,699.99 from , £1,599 from Phones that open out into smallish tablets are all the rage these days and the OnePlus Open looks great, especially in its sultry green finish, and works like a dream.

It feels sturdy, which is not something you can say about all foldables, and it is thinner than some rivals.

The OLED panels look great, inside and out, with a matte screen protector helpfully minimizing reflections.

Some folders neglect the camera, but the rear panel here with three snappers is enormous and offers great performance.

The main 48-megapixel camera is especially good and the company’s liaison with Hasselblad continues to pay dividends.

The other cameras are a 48-megapixel ultrawide and a 64-megapixel periscope zoom lens.

Highly enjoyable.

Sonos Era 300 Smart Speaker Sonos Era 300 Sonos pioneered great-sounding wireless speakers that were superbly easy to set up.

The latest model, the Era 300, is the most versatile and best yet.

Its unique shape gives you a clue that it’s designed to project audio in every direction, and it delivers sumptuous, room-filling sound.

It’s designed to work with spatial audio formats.

And, unlike most of Sonos’s previous devices, this one includes Bluetooth as well as wi-fi.

One of the joys of Sonos is the way you can add more speakers when budget allows.

Easy set-up remains as key as ever and this is sublimely simple to get going.

And using it reminds you how good your music can sound.

There are plenty of other Sonos models worth a look, but this is strong on value and outstanding for audio quality.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 Apple Watch Ultra 2 $799 from , £799 from You need to get your skates on for this one if you’re living in the U.S.

Thanks to an intellectual property disagreement which has gone against Apple, the company is pausing sales online on Thursday, December 21, and instore sales on Sunday, December 25.

Other countries are unaffected, and you should be able to buy it from other resellers in the U.S. after these cut-off dates.

The Watch Ultra 2 is brilliant—literally, as it has a 3,000 nits display, the brightest yet on an Apple Watch.

It looks great and works wonderfully well.

There’s an extra button compared to other Apple smartwatches, which can be configured as you like.

It’s perfect to start workouts, for instance.

The Ultra 2 also has the new double-tap mechanic, where you pinch your index finger and thumb together to pause a timer, snooze and alarm or otherwise interact with the watch.

Battery life is two days with ease.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Bose QuietComfort Ultra $429 from , £449.95 from These cans are not cheap (though if you’re quick you can snag $50 or £50 discounts) but they are tremendous.

Bose is known for its class-leading noise-cancellation and that’s better than ever here, promising a quieter environment when it’s turned on.

As well as quiet mode there’s an effective aware mode, and a Bose specialty: immersion mode which works in conjunction with Bose immersive audio, which works better with some tracks than others.

Across the board, though, audio quality is tremendous.

Superbly comfortable, even for extended wear.

Belkin AirPods Cleaning Kit Belkin AirPods Cleaning Kit $14.99 from , £14.99 from This is a great stocking-filler or other small gift for anyone with AirPods.

It may not be the pleasantest of subjects, but in-ear headphones can see build-up of earwax on them (I mean, the good news is at least it’s not in your ears any more, right?).

It’s designed for regular AirPods rather than Pro or Max, but works with all three generations of AirPods.

There’s a brush, a dispenser with wax softener in it, cleaning gel and microfiber cloth.

You drip the softener into the areas you want to clean, wait for a minute, tip it out and gently scrub with the brush.

After that, the cleaning gel satisfyingly picks up any debris.

It’s sold as a single use package

but I reckon you could clean a couple of pairs at least.

Therabody TheraFace Mask Therabody Theraface Mask $599 from , £549 from LED light therapy is used to stimulate the skin’s collagen and elastin production to make your skin look younger, which is probably something everybody wants.

TheraFace is the mask from Therabody, the brilliant company that makes outstanding massagers, among other things.

It has almost 650 LEDs which offer three different settings: red, blue or red plus infra-red.

These variously treat fine lines and wrinkles (red), treat breakouts and blemishes (blue) and tone the skin (red plus infra-red).

There are plenty of different sessions.

The mask also has vibration therapy, which is relaxing and enjoyable.

Tremendously good.

Allbirds Runner-Up Mizzles Allbirds Wool Runner-up Mizzles in Thunder Green $145 from , £135 from Winter wear has never been more comfortable.

The exceptional Allbirds shoes are smart because they’re made from remarkable materials.

They use a technologically advanced design, and have unique foam soles (made from sugar, though don’t try snacking on them).

The shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles and there’s recycled nylon in some products and TrinoXO in others, which contains chitosan, made from crab shells.

The insole is made from merino wool and castor bean oil.

Wear them and you’ll feel like you’re walking on clouds.

The runner-ups cover more of your ankle, keeping them warm in the winter.

And the Mizzles refer to their resistance to mist and drizzle, keeping you dry, too.

Ugreen MagSafe 10,000mAh

Powerbank Ugreen MagSafe 10,000mAh powerbank $69.99 from , £49.99 from There are plenty of battery packs on the market.

What sets this one apart is it is compact and light but still manages to pack in 10,000mAh of energy.

That’s enough for two charges of an iPhone 15, or one-and-a-half times an iPhone 15 Pro Max.

It’ll work with other phones, too, but is best for an iPhone with MagSafe as it snaps in place.

There’s also a kickstand, so you can use this to connect an iPhone 15 Pro, for instance, in landscape orientation so that it can display a clock at night, among other features.

What’s more, it can charge up to three devices at the same time, though only one wirelessly, obviously.

Anker 765 USB-C to USB-C Cable Anker 765 USB-C to USB-C cable 3ft $34.99 from , £22.99 from 6ft $34.99 from , £25.99 from I know, a cable is about as sexy as a handkerchief or pair of socks, but here’s why you should consider this: this year, Apple’s iPhone moved to a USB-C connector instead of the previous Lightning socket.

So, plenty of people who until now had more cables than they knew what to do with suddenly need a spare cable for the car, the bedroom or the travel pack in the suitcase.

Anker’s cables are brilliant, offering great build quality and attractive design.

They’re powerful enough to allow up to 140W output so you can be sure your gadget is charging fast.

Nomad Base One Max Nomad Base One Max $150 from When Apple introduced its ring of MagSafe magnets on the back of the iPhone to ensure a secure and strong connection between charger and phone, it also created charging pads, but so light that when you lifted the iPhone, the pad would stay attached.

However, Nomad’s handsome, well-built charger is heavy enough to stay put, however quickly you grab your phone.

A rubber base means it doesn’t slip and you can choose between a dark carbide or eye-catching silver.

If you have an Apple Watch as well, then the Base One Max has a charging pad for your smart timepiece, too, plus a dip into which AirPods Pro fit.

There’s also a version, the Base One, that’s for iPhones only.

Nomad does not supply a charging plug, believing that many of us have more power adapters than we know what to do with.

Note that this needs a 30W adapter as a minimum.

Philips Azur Elite Iron Philips Azur Elite £119.99 from Now, look, you need to be careful who you give an iron to: it could suggest you expect them to smooth the wrinkles out of all your clothes.

But if that special recipient has hinted that’s what they want, there’s no better choice than the Philips Azur Elite.

Philips makes sensational steam irons and the Azur Elite is the top of the range.

It includes something called OptimalTEMP technology which basically means you never have to set the temperature of the iron, it does it automatically, with no fear of you burning or scorching the fabric, whatever it is.

It also claims that the steam control is also intelligent, ensuring just the right amount of steam is released.

It heats up fast and has a steam boost to get rid of creases.

Hard to beat.

Note, in the U.S., Philips has a different range of irons but are consistently well-designed and effective.

Happy holidays!

Source: forbes

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