Sat. Nov 23rd, 2019

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Holiday Gift Guide 2019: the best gadgets and tech to buy

19 min read


Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed

Set in the aftermath of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the story follows the creation of a special ragtag group of starfighter pilots who are tasked with tracking down a dangerous rogue squad of TIE fighters wreaking havoc on the New Republic.
Price: ~$15

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

If you’re a glutton for challenging games, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice hangs with the likes of Dark Souls, as it comes from the same developer. Set in feudal Japan, this game puts even more of a focus on reflex-based fights and vertical gameplay.Price: ~$40

iRig Micro Amp

The iRig Micro Amp is a guitar-friendly amplifier packed into a miniature box with a four-inch speaker that can connect with your phone, iPad, Mac, or PC. It’s got EQ, gain, and volume controls, and it can last for about 15 hours on six AA batteries at 7.5 watts. Use a nine-volt adapter, and it’s bumped up to 15 watts. Price: ~$150

Folio Society’s Game of Thrones

Perfect for the disillusioned Game of Thrones fan in your life, return to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series that the show is based on with this impressive Folio Society edition. It’s filled with incredible illustrations, a massive map, and it has a gorgeous design. The Folio Society promises that it’ll be releasing the rest of the series in a similar fashion, assuming GRRM ever gets around to writing it. Price: ~$195

How To by Randall Munroe

How To is the latest book from XKCD creator Randall Munroe. Filled with his iconic stick figure drawings, clever sense of humor, and cold, hard science, How To gives instructions on everything from moving your house to building a lava moat.
Price: ~$17

Twelve South Fermata headphone stand

Having a headphone stand is a lot like having dedicated hangers for your belts and / or ties: it’s not completely necessary, but it makes life feel a lot more organized. Fermata’s stand is better than most because it includes a Micro USB charging cable, so you’ll never have dead headphones.Price: ~$50

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon’s Echo Dot is an affordable smart speaker that will impress you with its countless skills. It’s also a fairly good-sounding speaker on its own, capable of filling a room with music from your favorite streaming service.
Price: ~$50

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is the speaker a lot of Sonos owners have been waiting for. It’s battery-powered, so users can move it from one room to another in their homes. At its price, it’s definitely a premium gift, but there’s little else out there quite like it. Price: ~$399

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

This is Leckie’s first fantasy novel. Much like her Imperial Radch science fiction series, it tells the story from the perspective of someone who doesn’t think or process things the way a human does. In this story about how gods and humans coexist in this fantasy world, it helps to draw a starker contrast on how different they are.
Price: ~$10

Intro-Level Ableton

Twenty-five years ago, if your kid was into music, you bought them a guitar. Now, you buy Ableton. The intro level doesn’t come with many instruments built in, but there are enough freeware synths out there to keep a person busy for years. Price: ~$99

SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

Getting your wireless headphones to work with the Nintendo Switch is usually a nightmare, but it’s a problem that SteelSeries’ Arctis 1 Wireless solves. It includes a headset that’s pre-paired with its handy USB-C adapter, which means you’ll be experiencing seamless, lag-free audio in no time.Price: ~$99

Apple Airpods with Wireless Charging Case

AirPods may not be the best-sounding wireless earbuds — and they’re certainly not the most stylish — but for iPhone users, there’s no pair of cordless buds that works better. The latest model of the original AirPods comes with the new H1 chip for better call quality, hands-free Siri access, and the case can be wirelessly charged. Price: ~$180

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama

This is a gorgeously illustrated fantasy comic about the daughter of a seamstress who dreams of learning magic, only to be pulled into the very secretive world of magicians when tragedy befalls her family because of her magical pursuit. It is reminiscent of books like A Wizard of Earthsea. Price: ~$10

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Trick Mirror brings together nine new essays from The New Yorker’s culture critic, which range in subject from optimization to the ills of the social internet to the heroine’s journey. They offer a unique combination of insight, humor, and honesty to complex topics of discussion. Price: ~$22

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening on the Switch is a great remake of the Game Boy classic. The new graphics make it seem like you’re playing with tiny toy figurines, and the game’s world, puzzles, and dungeons are just as fun to explore as they were in 1993.Price: ~$59

UE Megaboom 3

Ultimate Ears has continued to impress over the years with the stylish, great-sounding Boom Bluetooth speaker line. The original Boom became a market leader back in 2013 when the category first took off, and the MegaBoom 3 represents every improvement since. It’s loud, it looks great, and it sounds even better. Price: ~$200

Google Pixel 4

The Pixel 4 is Google’s latest phone, created with a blend of high-end and experimental features. It has a 90Hz display, 6GB of RAM, and the latest Android 10 software. But the real differentiator is its dedicated radar chip that you can control by waving your hands around.Price: ~$799

Baum-Kuchen Idea notebook

Sometimes you just need an analog place to put your ideas. These notebooks are ideally suited for the task with 72 pages of gridded paper. They’re perfect for sketches, diagrams, or written text — whatever helps you get your ideas out. Price: ~$11

Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac

Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber is part nonfiction, part corporate thriller. It chronicles the history of Uber and the rise and fall of former CEO Travis Kalanick. This deeply reported book is a fascinating look at one of the most influential companies of the decade.
Price: ~$25

Awair Glow C

There are a lot of smart plugs out there, but Awair’s Glow C is the only one that packs in air quality, temperature, and humidity sensors. It also has a customizable nightlight. Plug an air conditioner or fan into the Glow C, and have it automatically come on whenever your room needs fresh air or is getting uncomfortably hot. Price: ~$89

Bose 700 Wireless Headphones

Bose has always been a dominant force in the field of noise-canceling headphones, and its new 700 model reaffirms why. They have a sleek and premium build, more effective noise cancellation, better voice call quality, and USB-C charging.Price: ~$399

Apple iPhone 11

Apple’s iPhone 11 may look a lot like last year’s XR, but the company made some big changes, including a massive battery that lasts way longer, a camera that’s one of (if not the) best on any smartphone, and an even more accelerated processor. If you’re looking to buy an iPhone this holiday season, this is the one to get. Price: ~$700

Railroad Ink

Railroad Ink is a compact and simple game about trying to draw a better train network than your friends based on dice rolls of different intersections of tracks. Even though you are all using the same pieces, how the networks actually look at the end will be very different.
Price: ~$20

Control

This is one part action game, one part otherworldly / paranormal horror game. Jesse finds herself infiltrating the mysterious Federal Bureau of Control’s headquarters, called the Oldest House, in search of her long-lost brother. It is a wild ride that’ll have you searching for every little scrap about the mysteries of the Oldest House and FBC.Price: ~$45

Tom Binh Daylight Briefcase

Tom Bihn’s over-the-shoulder briefcase is a spacious, simple way to carry your belongings with you wherever you go. It’s more than enough room for a Nintendo Switch and a 13-inch laptop as well as some cords and adapters. It might seem a little expensive, but it comes with a lifetime warranty against defects.
Price: ~$85

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo’s portable console has only gotten better in the last year, with great new games like Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the Link’s Awakening remake, and, of course, Pokémon Sword and Shield. Playable both on the go and a big screen and now featuring even better battery life than the original model, the Switch is still a no-brainer.Price: ~$299

Logitech Brio webcam

Designed to be the “Tesla of webcams,” the Brio offers 4K HDR streaming, 5x zoom, 60 frames per second streaming at 1080p, and even infrared facial recognition for services like Windows Hello, all in a sleek metal and glass package that’ll blend in seamlessly with most computer monitor setups. Price: ~$159

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Samsung’s latest flagship phone is its best one yet. The Note lineup is known for doing the most, but the Note 10 does even more. It’s infused with more power, more features, and better looks than any other Note before it.Price: ~$850

CB2 Black Dip Large Mug

This two-tone mug looks great and won’t break the bank. Why start your morning by drinking coffee out of a clear mug you got from a random event when you can begin your day with a little more style. Price: ~$7

PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Switch Controller

PDP’s wired Switch controller plugs into your dock and enables some things that aren’t possible with Nintendo’s own Pro controller. You can plug in headphones for private listening and voice chat in supported games.Price: ~$25

Amazon Echo Show 5

Amazon’s Echo Show 5 is the company’s smallest and least expensive smart display. It’s great for seeing headlines or making video calls from your desk or as a smart alarm on a nightstand.
Price: ~$90

Elgato HD60 S+

Elgato’s HD60 S+ capture card is something you’ll want to invest in if you’re trying to get your streaming side gig (or hobby) off the ground. It connects through HDMI and can stream in 1080p at a smooth 60 frames per second, so your stream will look great.Price: ~$200

Mairico heavy duty kitchen shears

Kitchen scissors are an often-overlooked but incredibly useful tool to have in your home. Whether you need to cut meat, trim flowers, open packages, crack nuts, or even open a bottle, these scissors are great for all of your kitchen needs. Price: ~$7

Super Mario Maker 2

Make the Mario level of your dreams (or nightmares) with Super Mario Maker 2. This sequel to the Wii U original comes with tons of new level-making options, a Super Mario 3D World level theme, a story mode, and competitive online multiplayer.Price: ~$50

DJI Osmo Mobile 3

The Osmo Mobile 3 is perfect for someone who wants to shoot really smooth footage with the camera that’s already in their pocket. It’s lightweight, folds up easily to fit into a bag, and offers 15 hours of battery life at a price that won’t break the bank.Price: ~$119

Ikea Symfonisk

Ikea has teamed up with Sonos for the Symfonisk, a table lamp that’s also a full-fledged Sonos speaker, complete with the company’s best-in-class multiroom audio tech. It also has support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 tech. Price: ~$179

DJI Spark

DJI’s diminutive drone has been the go-to for anyone looking to get started with a drone since it launched in 2017, and it’s still the best place to start for anyone looking to experiment with flying a drone or shooting drone photography. Price: ~$388

1Password subscription

If your loved ones are ignoring your (very sensible) advice to set up and use a password manager, then get them this. They might just feel guilty enough to actually use it.
Price: $10 to $100

Judgment

Yagami is a disgraced lawyer-turned-private detective in the fictional Kamurocho district of Tokyo. Aside from handling other small cases for people around town, he gets pulled into a larger case involving warring Yakuza clans, corrupt police and government officials, and corporate espionage, which all ties into the case that caused him to stop being a lawyer.Price: ~$39

Lego Tree House

Lego’s incredible treehouse set may not be based on a Star Wars or Marvel movie, but it does feature thousands of pieces, lots of intricate details, and leaves that can cycle through the seasons. Plus, it’s just plain fun to build. Price: ~$199

Beam Electronics Universal Smartphone Car Air Vent Mount

This simple but well-designed air vent mount grips your phone safely, opens at the touch of a button, and provides space for a power cord and audio cord (provided your phone still uses one).Price: ~$13

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

You and your friends play as medieval alchemists who are trying to brew the best potions at a nine-day festival by blindly pulling new components for your brew from your ingredient bags. If you manage to push your luck enough, you might get the best potion of the day, or it might explode in your face.
Price: ~$50

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon makes a lot of Kindles, but the best of them is the Paperwhite. It’s got the same, ultra-high pixel density backlit E Ink display as the pricier Oasis, it’s waterproof, and it has Amazon’s massive ebook library. If you want to carry a library in your pocket, this is the way to do it.
Price: ~$150

Lego Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

The best part about Lego’s space sets is the company’s attention to detail when replicating actual spacecraft. You’ll have periodic moments of delight when you realize you’ve just built an actual propellant tank or installed the camera that was used to film Neil Armstrong’s famous walk down the ladder to the surface. This set is a great way to refresh your knowledge of vintage spacecraft design while enjoying crafts on an indoor afternoon. Price: ~$200

Apple Macbook Pro

If you’ve been holding off on upgrading your Apple laptop, this year’s MacBook Pro is an obvious upgrade. Compared to previous models, it has a faster processor, and it now comes with a Touch Bar by default, which comes with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded into it.Price: ~$1,300

Magnetic Personalities

Need some inspiration? These finger puppet versions of famous writers, scientists, and politicians are magnetized so they can stick to your monitor. Or you can just pop one on your finger and pretend you’re conversing with Sigmund Freud, Jane Austen, Langston Hughes, or Schrodinger’s cat.Price: ~$7

King Home Series 65 whetstone

It’s not only nice to have your kitchen knives sharp, but it’s also safer. Whetstones require a little practice and effort to use, but they are a great way to keep your knives sharper for longer. This set comes with a base that’ll keep the whetstone from moving as you sharpen. Price: ~$30

Moment Anamorphic Lens

Moment’s Anamorphic lens turns your phone into a cinematic tool, allowing for true widescreen aspect ratios and natural lens flares (none of that fake stuff). You’ll need the companion case to attach the lens (~$30) and the Moment Pro Camera app (~$5) to de-squeeze the anamorphic footage. Or you can import to your favorite video editing program and work your J.J. Abrams-esque magic from there.Price: ~$150

Withings Steel HR Sport

If you know someone who is hunting for a fitness tracker that looks more like a classic watch than a block of glass or plastic, the Steel HR Sport is exactly that. It works with both iOS and Android phones, needing only Withings’ health app, and it can stay charged for nearly a month.Price: ~$200

Wacom Cintiq 16

Wacom’s most affordable display tablet yet, the Cintiq 16 is a great starting point for young creatives and hobbyists who want to make the jump to more professional devices. Price: ~$650

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell’s latest XPS 13 polishes an already great laptop with one very important tweak: the webcam is finally on the top of the display. For your money, this is one of the best Windows 10 laptops you can currently buy.
Price: ~$1,370

Anker USB-C to Lightning cable

If you’ve bought an iPhone in the past few years, it’s probably capable of USB-C fast charging that will charge it way faster than Apple’s awful in-box charger. But you’ll need a USB-C to Lightning cable to do it, which (unless you’ve got the newest and priciest iPhone 11 Pro), Apple won’t include with your new phone. Pick one of these up (along with a USB-C plug), and say goodbye to slow charging. Price: ~$17

Porcelain Dinosaur Planters

Everybody has loved dinosaurs at some point in their life, and these porcelain dinos are both useful and fun to look at. These planters will make your succulents and other plants look their best.Price: ~$40

Melifluos Cardigan Poncho

If your home or office can fluctuate between freezing cold and just not quite warm enough, it helps to have some additional layers of clothes on hand to insulate what heat you do have. These ponchos are not only a great lightweight option, but they’re also stylish enough for any meeting.
Price: ~$31

Wingspan

Wingspan is not only a gorgeously designed game, but it’s also a clever one. Players amass different birds, building a gameplay engine that escalates as each round progresses. It’s thoughful and wonderful to look at, and it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next game night.
Price: ~$76

Apple Watch Series 5

The latest Apple Watch makes a small but important leap over the previous model: an always-on display. That means you can finally see the time without holding your arm up. Better yet, this Apple Watch’s battery doesn’t really suffer many at all with this feature switched on.Price: ~$385

Rilakkuma cable protector

Is there a cuter way to protect your beloved cables from fraying than with an adorable bear wrapping itself around it? Probably not.
Price: ~$9

Switched on Pop by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding

Switched on Pop is the book based on the eponymous podcast that’s all about peeking inside chart-topping songs. What makes certain melodies so popular? Why can’t you get those lyrics out of your head? How did “Despacito” become a cultural moment? This book takes a deep dive into 16 modern classics to give you insights into the musical qualities of pop’s biggest songs.
Price: ~$25

RavPower 61W GaN charger

RavPower’s 61W charger looks about the size of a phone charger, but it packs some serious firepower. It’s enough to charge most laptops, while still fitting in the palm of your hand. If you have a USB-C laptop, you’ll never want to travel with anything else again.Price: ~$36

Sega Genesis Mini

Whether you had a Sega Genesis growing up or not, this mini version of the console is a great idea for any gamer. It is everything you expect from a tiny retro console: it has a great library of 42 games and modern save functionality, with lots of great small details like menu music, moving bits of hardware, and access to games from multiple regions. Pictured with Sega Genesis Mini Tower of Power accessories. Price: ~$70

Sony WF-1000MX3 Wireless Earbuds

They may not have the same cultural style as AirPods, but Sony’s wireless earbuds have a different trick up their sleeve: they pack Sony’s fantastic noise-cancellation technology into the truely wireless buds along with great sound quality.Price: ~$230

Shark Socks

They’re socks. They’re sharks. They’re shark socks! And they look like a cozy knit shark is about to eat your feet. What else do you need?
Price: ~$10

Saga: Compendium One

Whether you’re new to graphic novels or not, Saga: Compendium One is an incredible, sprawling tale told from the perspective of a child raised by parents of a war-torn universe. There’s humor, action, loss, and the art is staggeringly beautiful.
Price: ~$44

RAVPower Wireless charding stand

Wireless chargers are a great accessory for your phone, and RavPower’s pads (whether you prefer a stand or a flat pad) are the best around. They charge fast, they come with a wall brick in the box, and they look great on your desk or nightstand. Price: ~$50

Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator 170

Teenage Engineering’s first modular line is loads of fun to assemble, play with, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s approachable for beginners. The 170 is an analog monophonic synthesizer with a programmable sequencer that comes with a 70-page illustrated manual, including several sample patch diagrams to get you started.Price: ~$399

Philips Hue with Bluetooth

Philip’s Hue bulbs are a great place to start if you’re looking to dip your toe into a smart light system. The company’s latest Bluetooth-enabled smart bulbs make that even easier by removing the need to get a wired hub first. Price: ~$25

Solar Puff outdoor lamp

This is the perfect wireless lamp for when you want a little mood lighting on the go, outside, or wherever. It charges off a solar panel hidden on the bottom of the cube, and it flattens for easy packing. It also has an adjustable velcro strap that can be used for hanging or as a handle.Price: ~$30

Waterfield Designs Vitesse Cycling Musette

While its name might suggest that it’s only meant for cyclists, this bag is a great way to carry around your everyday essentials. It’s especially handy on vacation or any other time you might be looking for a simple, lightweight solution to your carrying needs.
Price: ~$89

Oculus Quest

The Oculus Quest hits a sweet spot of power and convenience for virtual reality headsets, offering room-scale tracking and full-fledged hand controllers in a self-contained, user-friendly package. It’s especially good paired with Beat Saber, a kinetic rhythm game played with virtual lightsabers, which is one of the best experiences VR has to offer.Price: ~$399

Roku Streaming Stick+

This stick offers a ton of power in a small package and at a small price, too. It lets you quickly give any television access to 4K HDR streaming video without another device cluttering up your entertainment center or dangling precariously off your wall-mounted screen.Price: ~$50

Kakao Friend Airpods case

AirPods cases are the new phone cases, meaning it’s yet another gadget you can adorn with protective, cute covers that show off your personality. These Kakao characters are all the rage in Korea, with Ryan being an especially hot item.Price: ~$28

Mophie Powerstation XXL

There are some battery packs you can easily slip into a back pocket and carry around on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t one of those. This is a brick of a battery that’s designed for trips when you might need to recharge a phone or Nintendo Switch.Price: ~$78

Rode NT-USB

Add a podcast microphone to your 2020 starter kit. You’re going to need it. This model has everything you need to record yourself, including a pop shield. It’s both iPad and laptop compatible. Price: ~$169

Wemo Smart Plug

This smart plug is a great and inexpensive way to turn not-smart devices, like lamps, into something you can control with your preferred virtual assistant. It’s also a great first smart device for someone who isn’t sure if they really want or need a home full of smart devices.
Price: ~$22

Mophie wireless car charger

Listening to your music or running Maps — or both — while you’re driving can run down your phone’s battery in no time. This vent mount will hold your phone safely while wirelessly keeping it charged.Price: ~$70

Apple iPad

If you’re looking to give a gadget to someone who shuns plastic straws and water bottles, they might be happy to know that this is the first iPad to feature an enclosure made with 100 percent recycled aluminum. It’s also got a bigger screen and can connect to Apple’s Smart Keyboard.
Price: ~$330

Hydro Flask 32 oz Wide Mouth

There isn’t much more you could ask for from a water bottle. It has a great capacity, a wide-mouth opening to help fill it faster, and it is insulated enough to keep hot drinks warm for 12 hours and cold drinks cold for 24 hours.Price: ~$40

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit makes a lot of fitness trackers, but the Charge 3 HR checks all of the boxes: great battery life, tons of fitness tracking options, sleep tracking, and a stylish look. It even does some basic smartwatch functions, like call and text notifications. Price: ~$149

Google Nest Hub

Google’s Nest Hub smart display is many things: a TV-like device that can play YouTube videos, a command center for smart home gadgets, and, most importantly, an excellent digital photo frame for your Google Photos collection.Price: ~$130

iFixit Mako Driver Kit

When you are looking to fix a device, you don’t want to spend time looking for the right bit for your screwdriver. Not only does iFixit’s kit probably include every bit you could possibly need, but they are all nicely laid out. That makes it easy to see which one you need, grab it, and get back to what you were fixing.Price: ~$30

Inkkas Star Wars shoes

If you want to walk like an Ewok, then you may want to try out the Star Wars boots designed by Inkkas. The fabric footwear includes a variety of styles inspired by the sci-fi film series (for example, the Death Star High Top), and a percentage of each sale goes toward reforestation.
Price: ~$149

Citizen Eco Drive Watches

Finding the right watch for you or a loved one can be challenging. Citizen’s Eco-Drive watches look great, and they can last basically forever, thanks to their ability to recharge from the sun. If the watch dies, just stick it in sunlight for a few minutes to bring it back.Price: ~$180

Uniqlo Pile-lined hoodie

You can never have too many comfortable hoodies, and this one has a super soft interior, thanks to the pile lining. The cozy fabric will keep you extra warm this winter, and it works great as an extra layer under a coat or jacket if you have to go outside.
Price: ~$40

Verge Merch

If you’re reading this, then you probably read The Verge, which means you probably know someone else who also reads The Verge. So they’d probably like a Verge shirt or hoodie as a gift — or maybe you would. Here is a discount code either way: HGG2019
Price: Varies


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https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/5/20929348/holiday-gift-ideas-tech-phones-books-gadgets-christmas-hannukah-2019

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