Gadgets for humans

TNW presents the greatest gift guide in the world… ever

Here be the best stuff for you to buy in 2018

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The adverts have started, the songs are blaring, and dust is being blown off the decorations. Truly, the holiday season is upon us. And you know what this means? Gifts. Lots of gifts.

Whether you’re putting together your own list, or trying to find the perfect thing to get someone else, we’re here to help. We’ll be running a range of difference gift guides over the coming weeks, but this is our first: the ultimate guide.

Basically, this is a selection of some of our favorite stuff in the world. It’s brimming with items we couldn’t live without and we think you’ll feel the same.

Here we go!

UE BOOM 3

On the lookout for a portable bluetooth speaker? Well, I’m happy to say your search is over.

The UE BOOM 3 is the best around – it’s tough, waterproof, stylish, and reasonably priced. Sound-wise, it handles all music genres (and podcasts) with aplomb. Plus, it can get loud.

The battery lasts for ages and it’s small enough to just slip in your bag when you go out. You can also turn it from across the room using your phone, which is a blessing for the lazy person.

Please never leave us, UE BOOM 3, you’re too beautiful.

Price: ~$130

Amazon | Best Buy (US) | Currys (UK)

Master & Dynamic MW50+

This was a tough one. There are a lot of brilliant premium headphones out there (shout out the Sennheiser HD1 and the Sony WH-1000MX2), but the Master & Dynamic MW50+ have captured my heart. I couldn’t imagine not having them in my life.

The build quality is brilliant. They’re bluetooth, but you have the option to use a wire if you dig the headphone jack. Plus – you can also change the headphones to be either on-ear or over-ear.

And the sound, oh lord, the sound. Rich, precise, and with enough oomph to make even the most mundane tracks exciting. You can’t go wrong with the Master & Dynamic MW50+. Get them for yourself or your loved one and everyone will be happy for years.

Price: ~$400

Amazon | Best Buy (US)

Pax 3

Weed’s everywhere these days. It used to be something you did hidden away, but the legalization movement has swept the globe. And, just like attitudes towards the plant has changed, so has the way we consume it.

One of the most popular – and in my mind best – is the humble vape. Over the past few years, this technology has gone from bulky and inefficient, to slick and premium. And in this market, the Pax 3 is the best.

It’s simple to use, portable, and delivers a great high. And did we forget to say it’s also a bit of a looker? If you’re looking to switch up your marijuana habit, check out the Pax 3. It comes highly (get it?) recommended.

Price: ~$200

Namaste Vapes | Everyone Does It

DaVinci IQ

Sitting alongside the Pax 3 at the top of the weed vape tree (it’s a real thing, I swear) is the DaVinci IQ.

Both vapes are brilliant, but the IQ is a bit more rugged. It feels hardy, robust, and industrial, compared with the slicker, more Apple-esque Pax 3. Another point of differentiation is customizability. The DaVinci IQ makes it easier to do things like change the burning temperature without the need for an app.

Both the Pax 3 and DaVinci IQ are amazing vapes and come highly recommended, which one you prefer will be personal preference.

Price: ~$275

DaVinci

Oculus Go

If you’re curious about VR, the Oculus Go is the perfect introduction. It’s a standalone headset (and controller) that can take you to a virtual world quickly.

I’ve spent a lot of fun hours with the Oculus Go and almost everyone I’ve shown it to has been impressed. No, it’s not the same VR experience as an expensive computer-bound headset, but the Oculus Go is accessible, entertaining, and an ideal gift for someone wanting a gadget that’s a bit different.

Price: ~$200

Amazon | NewEgg (US) | Currys (UK)

Apple Watch 4

Finally, the Apple Watch has delivered. The past iterations of the smartwatch have been good, but Apple has hit its stride with this generation.

Aesthetic-wise, it’s a thing of beauty – everything about it screams quality. The battery life is better than ever and when this is combined with the groundbreaking health applications (including the EKG feature), the Apple Watch has moved from a curiosity to a must-have.

It’s an incredible device and should be top of lots of your wish lists.

Price: ~$430

Best Buy (US) | Currys (UK)

Casio G-Shock watch

Look, while some want the newest and fanciest tech out there, others desire gear that just works. And the Casio G-Shock GWM5610-1 is the latter in a nutshell.

Can you check social media on it like the Apple Watch? Nope. Can you send a text? Nope. Look at photos? Not a chance.

But let me tell you something. I’ve owned the above watch for 6 years. It’s never broken, it’s never stopped working, and – because it’s solar powered – I’ve not even had to change the battery. It’s a perfect example of technology designed for a single purpose. It just works and does so perfectly.

Please never leave me, Casio.

Price: ~$95

Amazon

Garmin Edge 500

The Garmin Edge 500 in the picture is kind of old. Specifically, seven years old. But I think that reinforces why this is such a great piece of tech. It’s dented, scratched, and the rubber surround is ageing, but it’s faultless and never skips a beat. Even now.

Which is good, considering I use it to monitor my heart rate.

The Edge 500 really kicked off the trend for mass-market GPS enabled bike computers, but it has since been superseded by a number of newer iterations, the latest being the 520.

Newer versions come with color screens, improved mapping, and Wi-Fi, but for me the Edge 500 has always done its job well, with no fuss or failure. I expect newer models to be just as good. (Matthew Beedham)

Price: ~$218

Amazon

The Nintendo Switch

Well, Nintendo‘s truly got its mojo back. The Switch is a wonder. It’s one of the most innovative devices out there, and something you couldn’t have imagined any other company creating.

And while some of the company’s other experimental consoles (think the Wii U) were poorly made, the Switch feels like an engineering marvel. To this day, being able to play the same game in your living room and on public transport is breathtaking. It’s the future.

One of the criticisms originally levelled at the Switch was the lack of games, but now – a year and a half since its release – this has changed. Super Mario OdysseyPokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!, Breath of the Wild, Diablo III, and many more will keep everyone hooked.

The Switch is a must-own gadget, whether you’re an intense gamer or not. I couldn’t imagine being without mine.

Price: ~$300

Amazon | Best Buy (US) | HMV (UK)

A pair of Joy-Cons

One of the joys of the Nintendo Switch is the multiplayer experience. Nothing beats crowding around a TV with some friends and gaming into the wee hours. And the best way to do that? With another set of Joy-Cons.

Just like the Switch itself, the controllers are well-made, finely engineered, and innovative. Despite their looks, they feel like an advanced bit of technology, not a toy.

Whether it’s Mario Kart, Mario Party, or Overcooked 2, there are a raft of games that an extra pair of Joy-Cons will take to the next level. Plus, they’re an ideal present if the person you’re buying for already has a Switch.

Price: ~$68

Amazon | Best Buy (US) | Currys (UK)

Orzly Nintendo Switch Case

If you have a Switch, you’re going to need a case. I mean, how else are you meant to carry it around? I tried out a few and the Orzly case had the best balance of storage space, protection, and price.

You won’t regret it.

Price: ~$12

Amazon

A PlayStation 4

If you love gaming, but don’t like the look of the Switch, the PS4 will be the console for you.

The wide range of games, more mature content, and next-gen graphics make the PS4 a must-buy. It’s powerful, has some terrific exclusive titles, and really has become the de facto console for the dedicated gamer.

Price: ~$300

Amazon | Best Buy (US) | Currys (UK)

Red Dead Redemption 2

If you haven’t heard about the massively successful Red Dead Redemption 2, where have you been?

Just in case you need a refresher, the game sees you playing an old West outlaw in a huge open world environment. You do all the things you’d expect in this universe: riding horses, robbing trains, drinking in saloons, and so much more.

But it’s the story that sets Red Dead Redemption 2 apart. It’s engrossing, emotional, and well-balanced, more akin to a classic movie than the common perception of video games. It’s brilliant. Basically, if you (or anyone you’re buying a gift for) have any interest in video games, Red Dead Redemption 2 is essential.

Price: ~$60

Amazon (PS4) | Amazon (Xbox One)

Dobble (AKA Spot It!)

Dobble is like snap, if snap was sent back from the future to avenge its dead family. There are multiple variations of the game, but they all work in a similar way. There’s a card with a selection of images, one of which will match an image on a card you’re holding.

It might sound simple, but I can’t describe how much brain energy it takes.

Dobble is a heap of fun, and can be picked up and played in seconds. Also, it can take up to eight players, which is great for family gatherings. I warn you though, things are going to get loud. Still, it’s a perfect gift for people who like their games short.

Price: ~$12

Amazon (Spot It!) | Amazon (Dobble)

Bananagrams

Dig Scrabble? Then you’ll love Bananagrams.

There are several variants of the game, but they generally involve selecting a number of tiles, before making an interconnected word grid from them.

Up to 8 players can join in, is really simple to learn, and games can be completed quickly. Picking up Banagrams for your family or friends to play over Christmas will lead to many happy hours. That’s a guarantee.*

Price: ~$13

Amazon

*it’s definitely not a guarantee

Exploding Kittens

If you’ve been on the internet, you’ll have come across the Oatmeal. The site, run by Matthew Inman, is filled with webcomics that have their fingers firmly on the pulse of internet culture. But Inman didn’t stop at just comics…

Enter Exploding Kittens. It’s a card-based game that requires very little time to play, less to learn, but is a whole load of fun. Think of it like an advanced version of Uno. It’s part luck, part strategy, but pure entertainment.

The whole thing is imbued with Inman’s particular sense of humor, but most importantly, it’s a great way to spend some time with your loved ones. And a brilliant gift.

Price: ~$20

ThinkGeek | Amazon

Jaipur

I’ve spent a lot of wonderful time in the pub playing Jaipur and I hope you’ll do the same.

This is a two-player game that takes around 30 minutes to play. In it, you play a merchant, complete trade deals, and try to earn more money than your opponent.

Jaipur is easy to learn, and has a nice balance of luck and skill, meaning there’s a positive equilibrium to the game. It’s a brilliant way to spend some time with someone you love (and it’s a whole heap of fun).

Price: ~$22

Amazon

7 Wonders: Duel

The other four physical games we’ve recommended can be played and enjoyed by almost anyone. 7 Wonders: Duel isn’t the same. Think of it like a two-player board game version of Civilization. If that sounds like something someone you know will like, they’re going to be so happy when you buy this for them.

It’s a bit fiddly when you start playing, but it doesn’t take too long to get in the groove and you realize what a finely balanced game it is. 7 Wonders: Duel is the ideal gift for the board-game nerd in your life – their evenings and weekends are bound to get a lot more fun.

Price: ~$30

Amazon

Pixel Pals

On the hunt for a nerd culture gift? Then check out Pixel Pals.

Basically, they’re pixelated models of famous characters from TV, comics, and games. And they light up. Yeah, they’re not going to change anyone’s life, but I’ve got a couple of these dotted around, and, well, they’re quite delightful.

In other words, Pixel Pals are an ideal stocking filler. Don’t sleep on them.

Price: varies, but ~$15

Amazon (Shredder) | Amazon (Racoon Mario) | Amazon (Batman)

Tamagotchi

We all remember Tamagotchis, right? RIGHT?

These virtual pets were all the rage back in the day and, thankfully, they’ve returned. They might not be as technologically impressive as they once were, but they’re still just as much fun. And just as annoying.

One thing I can guarantee is that whoever receives this gift will do so with a huge smile.

Price: ~$20

Amazon

‘Head Lopper Volume 1’ by Andrew MacLean & Mike Spicer

Okay, let’s run a test. Does a graphic novel about a Viking-style hero called Head Lopper murdering his way through a cast of psychedelic enemies sound like something you (or a loved one) would like?

If it’s a yes, then buy it immediately.

Head Lopper isn’t only one of the most fun comics I’ve read, it’s also a masterclass in succinct story-telling and breathtaking art. A must-buy for anyone in love with fantasy and graphic novels.

Price: ~$14

Amazon

‘The Power’ by Namoi Alderman

Ever heard a story and idea so brilliant you were shocked it hadn’t been done before? ‘The Power’ is like that.

In this sci-fi influenced, speculative tale, women mysteriously develop powers that allows them to ‘shock’ people. Told over the course of a decade, the book tracks the moment the powers are first developed to the point of the whole world changing.

It’s a romping read that’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished it. A vital read.

Price: ~$12

Amazon

The Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Cixin Liu

It’s almost impossible to describe the scope of Liu Cixin’s spectacular sci-fi trilogy, Remembrance of Earth’s Past. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn’t shift the story from my head until I finished Death’s End, the final book in the trilogy that brought the awe-inspiring Chinese epic to a close.

I don’t want to spoil the story, as the first book is so much better without knowing what to expect. But what I can say is that Liu’s trilogy is hard on the science and weaves mind boggling (and real) science into a fantastical – yet grounded – vision of the future.

Barack Obama also loved the first book, The Three-Body Problem, and if Trump could read, I bet he’d love it too.

If you’re a fan of science fiction or just science in general, you need to read this trilogy. (Már Másson Maack)

Price: between ~$10 and ~$15 depending on novel

Amazon (Book 1: The Three-Body Problem) | Amazon (Book 2: The Dark Forest) | Amazon (Book 3: Death’s End)

Nanoleaf Canvas

Say hello to the Nanoleaf Canvas. These are a selection of tiles that you link together and then they light-up in glorious fashion. They’re like a glowing artwork or decorative lighting, depending on how you see it. Have a look at them in action here.

Oh, did I forget to say they’re cool? Very, very cool.

The Nanoleaf Canvas is easy to set up, are a positive addition to any room, and can even do their lighting-up thing in time to music. Wonderful stuff.

Price: ~$250

Nanoleaf

iStorage diskashur 2 hard drive

Yes, most data is stored in the cloud these days, but having a physical back-up is still important. Choosing a specific hard drive was tricky, but we eventually settled on this iStorage device.

The inclusion of a keypad and military-grade encryption separates this hard drive from the rest. It means that your sensitive data will stay secure. On top of this, the embedded USB cable is also neat.

If you’re looking for a well-built, advanced hard drive, you can’t do wrong with the iStorage.

Price: ~$270

NewEgg (US)Currys (UK)

Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger

Portable chargers aren’t sexy, but I love them. The idea of going out in the world without a way to give my phone, iPod, headphones, Switch, and other gadgets some juice is unthinkable. I won’t do it.

But which one to choose? Anker. Choose Anker. The PowerCore 26800 in specific is brilliant. It has a huge capacity and three USB slots, so you can charge a trio of devices at once. Or you can let your friends have some juice, if you’re that way inclined.

This is an essential tool for the gadget lover, make sure that person in your life has one.

Price: ~$66

Amazon | Anker | eBay 

iPod Classic

Yes, that’s an old school iPod Classic. Soak in all 160GB of its storage and its fine aesthetics. Mmmm.

It’s no secret that we love the iPod at TNW. In many ways, no MP3 player has ever surpassed the iPod and, if you have a big MP3 library, it’s still worth picking one up. The model in the photo is mine and I love it. I think someone in your life will feel the same.

If you don’t want one that’s exactly the same as ten years ago, there are also people selling iPods with SSDs on eBay. We can’t vouch for these as we haven’t tried them, but they could be worth exploring.

Anyway, long live the iPod!

Price: can vary substantially between stores

Amazon | eBay | Music Magpie (UK)

Decoded leather backpack

I have one (rather egotistical) rule when I get my boyfriend birthday presents: I should benefit too. That’s the exact reason why I’ve bought him many fancy kitchen supplies. And several weekend trips that included me.

It’s also why I’d rather not buy him shoes or pants — unless he specifically asks for them, I’m not that big of an asshole — but instead buy items like raincoats and bags. You know, things I can use.

Case in point: This handmade, black leather backpack. Does he love it? Yes, he uses it all the time. Will I borrow it at some point? Most certainly, yes.

The bag is made by Decoded, a Dutch company that makes all kinds of leather bags and cases. Like with many luxury brands, the website’s copy is a little inflated, with musings like:

“When you return home everything appears to the same, but in your mind something has changed. Something that changes everything”

And phrases like: “urban jungle.”

The bag, however, is a solid product that stands the test of time. So my advice to Decoded: cut the marketing blabble and stick to making great products. These babies will sell themselves. (Anouk Vleugels)

Price: ~€300

Decoded

A Torro iPhone case

Look at that beautiful case. You know why it’s so beat up? Because I’ve had it for over four years. Yep, that’s an iPhone 6 Plus underneath that genuine leather case. Somehow, over four years of daily use, abuse, and general battering, the Torro iPhone case has remained steadfast.

And you know what else? The case has a selection of hand slots for all my cards. Does that make me an old man? Probably. But why should I care when the case is so good?

To put it bluntly, when I finally cave and buy a new iPhone, the first thing I’ll purchase after will be a Torro case.

Price: ~$35

Amazon

Fujifilm X-T3

After spending thousands of hours (and four years at university) studying cinema, I always felt regretful about giving up on my fascination with visual arts. I decided to change that last year, so I bought my very first camera, the Fujifilm X100F.

Though I immediately fell in love with the X100F, it’s a fixed-lens camera. This means that it comes with a set of restrictions, the biggest one of which is the inability to change lenses. So when Fujifilm announced the X-T3 – its new, mid-range mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera – I knew I had give it a test drive.

I’ve been playing with the X-T3 for a month now, and it has easily become my absolute favorite gadget. Although it’s a little bulky to pocket (unless you have very big pockets), the X-T3 is still compact enough to carry around.

Not only that, it’s stylish, sturdy, and weather-sealed; so you won’t have to worry about getting it wet or dusty. Indeed, its design is so clean that even camera non-enthusiasts will stop by and ask me about it.

Of course, the best part is that the X-T3’s sleek design is totally on par with its performance. The camera is blazingly fast in absolutely every aspect, and especially when it comes to auto-focus. It also takes absolutely gorgeous images.

But talk is cheap, so let me show you some my favorite shots I’ve taken with the X-T3 so far:

While the X-T3 is not a full-frame camera (it has an APS-C sensor with a 1.5x crop factor), it supports a maximum resolution of 6240 x 4160 pixels which leaves plenty of space to crop the image without sacrificing quality.

Curious to find out more about the X-T3 and its stellar performance? Stay tuned for our full review – it’s coming in a couple of weeks!

And if you want to check out more samples from the X-T3 in the meanwhile, follow me on Instagram here.

(This entry was written by Mix)

Price: ~$1,500 (without additional lenses)

Amazon


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Published December 10, 2018 — 13:29 UTC