Across the UK, millions of people will have received gadgets and gizmos for Christmas.
Many of these are designed to enhance existing devices, by making them easier to use or more practical.
Given our reliance on mobile connectivity, it’s perhaps unsurprising than an array of smartphone peripherals is now available – some costing just a few pounds.
These are the smartphone peripherals which can turn your handset into a powerful workstation or versatile media centre:
Bluetooth is increasingly being eclipsed by newer technologies like NFC and 4G, but it remains useful for attaching smartphone peripherals.
Wireless keyboards are a prime example.
Folding or collapsible keyboards take up minimal space in a drawer or suitcase, expanding to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard with function keys and sometimes even number pads.
Connecting them to your phone once should ensure an automatic connection whenever the keyboard is opened up and Bluetooth is turned on.
Tasks like responding to emails are far easier with a full-size keyboard than using the diminutive touchscreen affair provided on a normal five-inch smartphone screen.
And because phones automatically detect the presence of a Bluetooth keyboard, the usual touchscreen interface won’t display, freeing up valuable screen real estate for other content.
Printers used to be hardwired into desktop computers using USB cables, but technology has evolved considerably over the last five years.
The advent of cloud-based computing makes it easier than ever to print documents over WiFi, turning wireless printers into useful smartphone peripherals.
Wireless printers can be purchased for as little as £30, connecting to your broadband router across WiFi or even using an Ethernet cable.
They will accept instructions remotely from any compatible device – there’s no need to install printer drivers onto each individual smartphone or tablet.
Software utilities like Google Cloud Print make the job even easier.
Monitors and TVs
It’s possible to redirect a phone’s screen content to a smart TV or monitor, in a process known as mirroring or casting.
Given the infinite combinations of smartphone models and TV variants, each pairing involves a slightly different connection process.
(For instance, connecting a Samsung Galaxy to a Samsung smart TV involves activating Screen Mirroring on the TV, and turning on the phone’s Smart View or Quick Connect.)
Individual apps or websites sometimes permit casting via a shortcut button – typically depicted as a rectangle with three quarter-circles.
This supports common functions like casting YouTube videos to your TV, or outputting photos onto a screen everyone in the same room can comfortably see.
Speakers and headphones
If audio output is more important than video streaming, there are plenty of wireless speakers capable of augmenting your phone’s (usually rather tinny) sound quality.
These range from RF devices requiring a USB plug-in to Bluetooth headphones suitable for port-free smartphones.
There may be a degree of sound degradation over a Bluetooth connection, though most consumers would struggle to identify it.
Be aware that bass drivers tend to need deeper housings, which is why today’s ultra-slim flat screen TVs generally produce thin, weedy sound output.
Cloud storage is an increasingly popular option for data storage, but wireless hard drives remain a viable alternative.
Information is distributed across a proprietary WiFi connection, though it may be necessary to install an app before data transfers begin.
These portable battery-powered storage devices can also be used for desktop or laptop computers and tablets, for added flexibility.