It's nearly Valentine's Day, which means it's almost time to panic-buy a card at the last minute, grab the last bouquet of flowers from the supermarket, and dust off that box of chocolates someone gave you at Christmas that you haven't eaten yet.
Or you could plan ahead and use our handy list of techy Valentine's gift ideas to make sure you get that special someone they might actually want this year.
Sure, you might be thinking that tech gifts are hardly the height of love, but how do you know until you've shared a romantic dinner, lights dimmed by your Amazon Echo, Barry White streaming over your Chromecast, your phones gently charging together through a power bank for two?
Amazon Echo (2nd-gen)
Don’t order your partner about - bark orders at the Amazon Echo instead. You can ask it to play some slushy love songs when she or he wakes up on February 14th, although your wife/girlfriend might get suspicious if she thinks you are calling her “Alexa” before she realises you’ve bought her a lovely gadget gift. And husband/boyfriend might think you’ve treated him to something quite inappropriate for Valentine’s…
The Amazon Echo is a hands-free voice-activated speaker that uses Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant to play music, check the weather, turn on the lights, and much, much more. Alexa can answer your questions, as well as giving you a news and weather briefing. You can also ask Alexa to dim your Philips Hue lights or turn up the temperature on your Nest thermostat, so clothes start coming off a little faster.
Music is one of Alexa’s specialities. As well as playing tracks you’ve uploaded to your Amazon account, she can also play from Prime Music or Spotify (assuming you have a subscription to such services). If you request a track and it isn’t in your personal library, she will try Prime Music.
While you can control smart home gadgets with your voice, or get a weather forecast or train times don’t forget to actually talk to your partner as well on Valentine’s Day. Otherwise you and Alexa will not be as popular as you’d hoped.
There’s also the Echo Dot, which is £49.99 from Amazon. This also comes in black and white and differs from the Echo only in that it doesn’t have the same high-quality speaker inside it, which also makes it considerably smaller.
DIY Electronics Kits
The ideal Valentine’s gift should really be something that brings the two of you closer together, which is why we reckon these DIY electronics kits from Technology Will Save Us could be a winner.
Each kit contains everything you need (including instructions) to build a different bit of tech, giving you both a useful gadget and a little more tech know-how at the end of it all. For a music lover, the portable speaker and synthesizer kits are obvious choices - and you can save a bit of money by buying them together in a gift pack.
If music isn’t their thing, the Arduino kit could be a good intro to coding, and the gamer kit has a pretty obvious appeal. They even have a solar-powered moisture sensor for plants, ideal for anyone with a bit of a green thumb.
Fitbit Alta HR
What better romantic gift is there than fitness? It’s a win-win for both of you – fitter, healthier people make for more loving times - or at the very least it gets him/her out from under your feet at home. There are plenty of fitness trackers out there - you can read our selection of the best to see what suits you - but the most popular by far are made by Fitbit.
There are still lots of different types of Fitbit, though we have a guide to help you figure out which Fitbit is best for you or your partner.
You can also find our selection of the top Fitbit deals online in case you want to shop around a bit.
Available in stainless steel or 22k gold plate, they turn your Fitbit into a rather more glamorous bit of jewellery, without sacrificing any functionality. Just remember that the actual Fitbit itself is sold separately - the bangle and pendant on their own are essentially just cases for the tracker.
Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2
One of the best things about the digital age is how easy it is to take photos wherever you are, and it’s never been easier to remember special occasions or time spent with your partner. Conversely, one of the worst things about the digital age is how easy it is to forget those same photos, to lose them in the mass of other files you accumulate, without any physical copies to hold onto.
With that in mind, we think one of the new wave of instant printers would make an ideal techy Valentine’s gift. There’s no need to give up the ease of taking quick photos on your smartphone, but now you can immediately print out your favourites, Polaroid-style, giving you a few romantic keepsakes to hold onto.
Alternatively, you can grab a camera with the printer built in - ideal if your partner’s phone doesn’t have a great camera, or if they just fancy themselves a bit of a budding photographer.
Does your partner have a tendency to forget where they put their keys, their phone, or, well, everything? Enter the Tile.
You simply attach one to whatever you’re worried about losing, and as long as it’s within Bluetooth range of your phone, you can ring it to find out where it is. It also works the other way too - double-tap the button on a Tile to make your phone ring, even if it’s on silent.
If you’re not in Bluetooth range, the phone app will remember where it was the last time it connected to each Tile, to give you an idea of where to start looking.
Each Tile lasts a full year without charging, at which point you can buy a replacement at a discount - just in time for Valentine’s Day next year too. Though don’t blame us if your partner doesn’t appreciate getting the same present two years in a row.
Power Banks and Chargers
Look, we’ll admit that we’re not entirely sure of how romantic a portable battery pack can ever really get, but judging by how often they go on sale for Valentine’s Day there’s clearly a market for people looking to give that special someone a little extra juice.
We’ll leave it up to you as to how you spin this from ‘dull and practical’ to ‘thoughtful and romantic’, but there are a few obvious options at least.
Maybe you want to share battery life just as you share your love. Maybe it’s about making sure that they never miss one of your messages thanks to a battery running low. Or maybe you just go full Frankie Goes to Hollywood and say something or other about the power of love.
You can check out our guide to the best power banks if you're not sure where to start. Or maybe just use the sale as an excuse to buy one for yourself, and get your partner some chocolates instead.
Apple Watch Series 3
An Apple Watch is exactly the sort of gratuitous gadget that it’s incredibly hard to justify buying for yourself, but brilliant to be given by someone else.
Even better, because it comes in a variety of versions with different watch colours and straps, it’s a good chance to show off that you know your loved one’s personal style.
Of course, since the Apple Watch starts from £329, it’s only an option for those with a decent budget set aside for Valentine’s Day. But if you want to spend a bit less, and your partner already owns a Watch, you can give them a bit more customisability by buying a new strap from it. Apple has its own extensive range, and our colleagues at Macworld UK have also rounded up a few of their favourites from other manufacturers.
You should also check out their round-up of the best Apple Watch bargains to find the best price before you buy.
If your partner is the type who can’t get off their phone, you might as well help make sure that they can do as much as possible with it.
Google’s Chromecast devices connect to either your TV or your speakers, letting you broadcast to them directly from your phone over your Wi-Fi network.
The base Chromecast (check out our review here) plugs into the HDMI port on a TV, and lets you stream audio and video from any Chromecast-enabled app on a phone, tablet, or laptop direct to the TV. If you want to step the quality up, the Chromecast Ultra (here’s our review) does basically the same thing but in Ultra HD - just make sure that you have a 4K TV to take advantage of it.
If your partner already has a Smart TV, or just doesn’t care much about controlling it with their phone, then the Chromecast Audio does a similar job but for, well, audio. Plug it into any pair of speakers and you can effectively make them wireless, casting audio to them directly from a phone, tablet, or laptop.
If your partner is still carrying around a battered old pair of cheap in-ear headphones, it might be time to get them an upgrade.
There are too many headphone options out there to sum up right here, and it depends a lot on what your partner is looking for. We’ve rounded up what we think are the best headphones on the market, with the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signatures coming in at the top.
Then again, if they’re an Apple lover then there’s really only one choice this year: the wireless AirPods, which our Macworld colleagues gave a 5-star rating for their slick design and Siri integration. Buy direct from Apple.
And if you want to keep things romantic (and wired), why not throw in a headphone splitter so you can listen to music together next time you travel.