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This article was published on November 24, 2017

TNW’s holiday gift guide: Staff picks

TNW’s holiday gift guide: Staff picks
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Black Friday is almost upon us, and while we hope you’re at home waiting for the sweet deals to come on Cyber Monday, here’s a quick list of what our editorial team loves this holiday season, just in case.

Abhimanyu Ghoshal

Oree’s Board Essential is hands-down one of the most beautiful keyboards ever made. Its rich wood grain and fine craftsmanship add a touch of elegance to any desk, and it pairs nicely with its companion touchpad/numpad combo. Add to that its diminutive size and hassle-free wireless connectivity, and it’s perfect for use at work, in your home office, or around the house with your tablets and TVs.

Credit: Abhimanyu Ghoshal

Find the Essential over at Oree’s site for $149, or order it from Amazon for $165 in the US.

If you’re looking to treat the audiophile in your life to something special this year, consider Blue’s Sadie wired headphones. They deliver a full, powerful sound without sacrificing clarity, thanks to an onboard amplifier, and they’re great with everything from pop to R&B to metal.

Credit: Abhimanyu Ghoshal

You don’t need to charge it to work, as it gets plenty loud even with the amplifier turned on, but it’s helpful for when you want to turn things up to 11. The Sadie set is also exceedingly comfortable, and is just the thing for folks who like to relax at home with an album or two to wind down.

Find Blue’s Sadie on Amazon US for $400 and on Amazon UK for £385.

Alejandro Tauber

Give yourself a little love and get you a portable beamer. Really. The XGIMI Aurora CC projector we got sent over literally changed my life at home. Not only did it replace the big black rectangle in my living room, freeing up space and getting rid of annoying cables, it also cured me of herpes. Amazing.

It’s still on sale for the reasonable price of $599 on Amazon. Go get it.

This might make you want to yell ‘stick to tech,’ but I bought this cast iron pot, and it’s great for just about everything. I wish I knew what brand it was, but because I’m a cheapskate I bought it in a second hand shop for like 20 euros, so I couldn’t say. All I do know is that it’s really heavy, and that it works for soups, stews, pasta sauces, and basically anything else you’d wish to make that requires a pot.

Here’s one on Amazon for about $25.


It won’t make you the cool uncle or aunt you want to be, but you should totally consider getting your loved ones a proper VPN… because the best way to show your appreciation for someone is to help them feel more secure.

I personally copped my VPN subscription from Private Internet Access. It’s fast, easy to set up, and also happens to work on most popular desktop and mobile operating systems – so you don’t have to worry about buying a new subscription if you update to a new device.

Private Internet Access is currently offering a year membership at the price of $40.

This one is actually even more bizarre than my first pick… but buy your loved ones some cryptocurrency. I recently stumbled upon a tweet from a certain crypto influencer, who shared he bought his new-born son 11 Bitcoin back in 2016. Since then, the price of the popular cryptocurrency has risen more than 10 times.

Yes, some people might be upset your gifting them “money,” but watching the value of their tokens grow exponentially will surely make them appreciate it in the long run. Plus, they can always opt to spend their crypto on some actual products.

Make sure you do your research before you invest in crypto though!

Or you could always try our CEO Boris’ method

Anouk Vleugels

Hate Uber all you want; they do deliver wonderful Christmas trees. I tried their “trees-on-demand” service last year — my first self-bought tree ever, I might add — and it the whole experience was unapologetically satisfying. Within 25 minutes, a luscious Nordmann (Editor’s note: That’s a Christmas tree, we learned) was delivered to my doorstep and it only cost me about 30 euros — the same price charged for a Nordmann on the street in Amsterdam.

Bryan Clark

I’m going a little off the beaten path in my holiday gift recommendations by offering up two items that I’d like to receive. The first, while tech, is tech that gets you outside. And I think few of us could argue that anything that gets us outside is a good thing.

The product is called Deeper, and it aims to end that age-old problem for anyone that casts a line in water in hopes of reeling in something more than their own bait. Deeper offers sonar for the bank fisherman through an ingenious device that attached to the end of your line. As you cast and retrieve, the device sends information in near real-time to your smartphone that not only determines depth and temperature (two things sure to help you find more fish) but also underwater structure fish could be hiding in, and sometimes even the fish themselves — although in my experience you’re better of just relying on the structure and depth finding capabilities.

Grab yours for $225 — a small price to pay for a weekend of drowning worms without any payoff.

I never liked the cheap knock-off controllers, but I didn’t know “premium” ones existed until only recently. Rather than buying replacement models for $60, I found you can double the spend for a super premium controller that not only feels nice, but offers mappable paddles to avoid that “claw” grip that leads to fatigue and pain, as well as a ton of really cool customization options.

My favorite of all these controllers so far has been the SCUF Infinity4PS PRO controller ($150) — the choice of esports competitors worldwide. You can grab a controller for PS4 or Xbox, with all the customization your heart desires, over at the SCUF website.

Inés Casserly

Most of us take thousands of pictures on our phones, but rarely take the time to print them out. Prynt ($150) lets you print any picture directly from your phone, on the go — similar to a Polaroid camera. Currently, the gadget is only available for iPhone, but the company plans to launch an Android version soon.


Grab yours for $115.

Sick of using an aux cord to connect your phone to your speakers? Google’s Chromecast Audio ($35) turns your outdated speakers into modern technology once again.

Plus, wireless devices are always a plus.

Már Másson Maack

The best gifts are the ones you can use everyday. And what do you do every single day? Drink coffee. I like making a proper cup of coffee when I’m home (the coffee at TNW sucks) and pour over filter coffee is the best there is.

That’s why I recommend giving your favorite coffee enthusiast a beautiful Hario electric kettle ($70) or go crazy and splurge on a full Hario V60 set ($124).

I know it’s kind of strange to put a 65-year-old novel on our gift list, but I feel like Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano just keeps gaining relevance with each passing year. The novel portrays a nearly fully automated world and humans’ quest to understand their role in it.

It’s of course written in Vonnegut’s hilarious satirical style, so it’s a fun dystopian read — perfect for the holidays.

Matthew Hughes

I fly a lot. My least favorite part of the entire ordeal is going through security. Emptying your pockets, and rooting through your rucksack to find your laptop and tablet (damn you hand luggage-only fares), while a queue of weary and jet-lagged travelers build up behind you isn’t fun. For the past few months, whenever I fly, I’ve been wearing a hoodie from Idaho company SCOTTeVEST.

It contains a ridiculous amount of pockets, and can even discreetly hold a couple of iPads, meaning all you have to do before going through the metal detector is take off your hoodie, remove the larger items, and walk on through. It’s made everything a lot easier.

You can get the jacket ($69) here, or the vest ($100) here. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, or just looking to smuggle massive quantities of Colombian blow out of Medellín, you can grab the 26 pocket RFID travel vest ($140) here. Also, please don’t attempt to smuggle cocaine.

Going to the gym often feels like a gargantuan effort, especially on wet, dark English nights, where the only thing you want to do is curl up in bed and watch TV. The thing is, it’s necessary. One fitness-oriented product I’ve been playing around with is the Excy ($799), which is a self-contained, all-body fitness trainer that comes with its own smartphone app to show you what to do.

It’s a bit like having your own personal trainer, except it doesn’t verbally berate you if you quit. It also allows you to track your progress, and keep records of your workouts. Unlike some of the other fitness tech products I’ve tried, Excy folds up, so you can shove it in a corner when you’re finished and forget about it. Michele Mehl, the company’s founder, told me that it’s not really intended for heavy workouts, but rather to allow you to take mini intense exercise breaks throughout the day.

I’d be a liar if I said I used it religiously. However, when I have, I’ve felt much better for it.

Napier Lopez

Here’s a gift that is both immensely practical and a could make your recipient feel like a spy. The FLIR One thermal camera ($200) is a small module that attaches to your phone’s Lightning or USB-C port and lets you view your world in infrared. It’s one of those things you’d never really think could be so useful: discovering leaks, catching mice, checking food temperatures, finding studs, or cheating at hide-and-seek.

It costs $200, but you can opt for the $400 Pro model if you want to go all out.

There are plenty of pet monitoring cameras out there, but few that actually keep your pet entertained too. That’s where Petcube’s cameras come in. The Petcube Play ($200) lets you remotely control a laser that your dog or cat will endlessly chase around. The Petcube Bites ($250) will actually fling treats up in the air for your pet to catch.

Both feature 1080p ultrawide cameras and the ability to automatically capture a shareable clip when motion is detected.

Rachel Kaser

The Nintendo Switch has been the hot ticket ever since its release earlier this year. Combining the power of a TV-based console with the portability of a handheld, the Switch is a far more versatile machine than its predecessor, the Wii U. There are now several more must-own games that you can get alongside the console, including the recently-released Super Mario Odyssey, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, and (naturally) Skyrim.

The Switch is still available (currently) at Amazon for $299. It might not last long.

The Amazon Fire 10 HD tablet ($100) has a beautiful display and a decent line-up of pre-loaded apps. It’s an amazing tablet for watching video and listening to music.  It also allows you to use Alexa using only your voice, making it a good companion tablet to turn on and then leave running.

While it has its drawbacks — not the least of which is the lack of Google Play support — it’s a good Android tablet that can be had for a relatively low price.

Tristan Greene

The Amazon Cloud Cam is a great example of a gadget that perfectly balances what it does, with what it costs. Whether you’re going to use it for security, as a baby monitor, or to keep an eye on rambunctious pets, it’s up to the task. I was particularly impressed by its image quality, motion detection, and night-vision capabilities. Cloud Cam is a great gift for anyone on your list who already has Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa in their life.


You can grab yours for $120 at Amazon.

Kamigami are fully functional robots that you create by folding sheets of plastic together and snapping them onto a motorized frame. They are a blast to put together and even more fun to play with. Kamigami are better at traversing carpet and grass than most wheeled robot toys thanks to their six scrabbling legs, which make them ideal for outside play. Kids can also ‘fight’ them, or play games like freeze-tag, if you get a couple of the robots together.

Pick up a set here for just $50.

And we really can’t stress this enough. Please… please… don’t try to smuggle cocaine.

Whether or not we like a product, we get a small cut of the revenue if you buy it through our affiliate link. This isn’t a sponsored post, but for the sake of transparency, you deserve to know what’s up.

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