The year is coming to an end, with Christmas only 19 days away.
It is time to unwind and get into the festive mood. It is also that time of the year when you start shopping for gifts for your loved ones.
Shopping for gifts for your kids, spouse, friends or relatives can be a daunting task. But if there is a category of gifts that is likely to put a smile on their faces, it would be the latest gadgets and gizmos.
The Straits Times Digital team has come up with some recommendations in its annual gadget gift guide. There is something suitable for everyone, or at least we hope we will be able to ignite some gift ideas.
SAMSUNG DARTH VADER POWERBOT ROBOT VACUUM CLEANER
The (suction) Force is strong with Samsung's Star Wars Darth Vader robot vacuum cleaner.
Featuring the helmeted visage of Darth Vader, this robot vacuum produces sound effects like Darth Vader's breathing, and plays his theme song, The Imperial March, when in use. Samsung says it has 20 times more suction power than the previous model while its mapping feature lets it avoid getting stuck in traps like chair legs. It returns to the docking station to recharge when its battery is running low.
LG NEOCHEF MICROWAVE OVEN
The microwave oven is an essential kitchen tool, especially for heating up leftover food after holiday feasts.
LG's latest range of NeoChef microwave ovens improves on the older models. For one thing, its Smart Inverter technology delivers consistent and precise power to evenly cook or defrost food. It can also sense when the food is done and turns off automatically to prevent overcooking your meals.
Cleaning the oven is made easy by its anti-bacterial coating - simply wipe its insides with a damp cloth.
KENWOOD CHEF XL SENSE
The Kenwood Chef XL Sense is the all-round kitchen appliance for the budding home baker. Its extra-large stainless-steel mixing bowl holds up to 6.7 litres for generous servings.
It has five different bowl attachments for a variety of tasks, such as a power whisk for making fluffy sponges and a creaming beater for smooth cake mixes. More than 20 optional attachments are available for this versatile machine.
With the right tool, you can make your own pasta or prepare burger patties.
DE'LONGHI PRIMADONNA ELITE
Fine-tune your coffee brew till you get your perfect cuppa with the De'Longhi PrimaDonna Elite.
Using its Coffee Link app, you can easily tweak the aroma level, milk quantity, coffee quantity and temperature of your brew. Once you have found the right blend of settings, you can save them in one of the machine's six user profiles. Multiple devices can connect to the machine, so each member of the household can get their own personalised brew.
Alternatively, you can also tap out the coffee order on its 4.3-inch touchscreen.
ST Digital's holiday gadget gift guide: For Him
DJI MAVIC PRO
Delight the man in your life with the small but powerful DJI Mavic Pro drone. It is foldable and compact enough to pack into any backpack. Yet, it has a maximum flight time of 27min and a maximum flight distance of 13km.
It is equipped with a 12-megapixel camera that is capable of shooting great still images and 4K videos, for some great aerial photography. Plus, the Mavic Pro uses FlightAutonomy technology to sense obstacles up to 15m away and can bypass or brake to avoid accidents.
The phone's fingerprint sensor is situated right below the dual-lens at the rear, which makes it easy to access.
The LG V30+ packs a 6-inch (2,880 x 1,440 pixels) display and a rear dual camera system comprising a 16-megapixel and a 13-megapixel image sensor. Its fingerprint sensor is situated right below the dual-lens at the rear, which makes it easy to access.
If your significant other is crazy about music, he will likely be excited by the phone's built-in Hi-Fi Quad DAC with sound tuning by B&O Play. And it comes with a headphone jack, so he can still use his favourite headphones with it.
Does your man love to play Pokemon Go? Get him the Mobot Altimex e-scooter so he can get to those rare Ho-oh raids as quickly as possible.
It is equipped with a 1,000W motor that would be able to tackle most upslopes in Singapore.
In addition, the Altimex uses a quadruple dual-shock suspension at both the front and rear wheels, so he can glide smoothly over rough surfaces. Just make sure he is not riding on the road, as e-scooters like Altimex are allowed only on public paths.
CASIO G-SHOCK GRAVITYMASTER GPW-2000-1A
Get a watch worthy of your boyfriend or husband with the sturdy but good-looking Casio G-Shock GravityMaster GPW-2000-1A.
Featuring the Connected Engine Three-Way module from Casio, the G-Shock GravityMaster receives both radio wave and GPS satellite-time calibration signals, as well as connects to time servers when paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth for better time-keeping accuracy. Great if your significant other flies frequently for work.
This G-Shock's handsome watch face features a world time sub-dial, a 24-hour sub-dial, and latitude and longitude displays. Being a G-Shock watch, it is shock-resistant and water resistant down to 200m.
APPLE TV 4K
Apple TV 4K now supports 4K output, and displays more vibrant images and sharper text across its entire menu interface.
For the couch potato in your man, get the Apple TV 4K media streamer. It now supports 4K output, and displays more vibrant images and sharper text across its entire menu interface.
Its built-in high-performance 4K scaler will make his non-4K content great again. Plus, it will always output at the highest resolution possible for his TV.
With support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision standards, both of you can binge watch House Of Cards on Netflix, or enjoy 4K movies like Wonder Woman available in the iTunes store.
ST Digital's holiday gadget gift guide: For Her
MICHAEL KORS ACCESS SOFIE
Need a good-looking smartwatch befitting the lady in your life?
Get the Michael Kors Access Sofie for her.
This Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch has a 42mm stainless steel case with a fully-round Amoled display. Its bezel and strap are adorned with luxe pave accents that add plenty of glamour points to the watch.
The watch will not only show e-mail and message notifications, but it also doubles up as a fitness tracker.
It is water resistant to a depth of 10m and comes in silver, gold, rose gold and sable-tone finishes.
LG GRAM 15 (MODEL: 15Z975)
Get a sleek and lightweight laptop for the woman in your life with the LG Gram 15. This model comes in white, a colour now rarely seen on a laptop. More importantly, it has a huge 15.6-inch display but weighs a mere 1090g. So she can binge watch Korean dramas on a big screen without straining her back carrying a laptop around. For work, the Gram 15 comes with the eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB of system memory and up to 512GB of flash storage for optimal performance.
CASIO TR MINI (TR-M11)
Your girlfriend or wife loves to take selfies? You might want to get her the Casio TR mini (TR-M11).
This nifty compact camera looks like a cosmetic compact. But when you flip it open, it becomes a selfie camera. It has a 10.5-megapixel image sensor with a 21mm f/1.8 lens on the top lid and a 2.5-inch touchscreen display on the bottom lid.
There are nine LED lights - eight around the lens and one below the display - to make the skin look brighter. It comes with Casio's legendary Make-up Mode that produces natural-looking selfies with smoother skin.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 (ROSE PINK)
This latest rose pink variant of the Samsung Galaxy S8, available since October, could be the perfect gift for her.
Unlike many huge flagship smartphones, the S8 is relatively small and great for one-hand usage. Yet it features a large gorgeous 5.8-inch display, so she can watch YouTube videos and reply to messages with ease.
Plus, the phone is IP68-certified, so it does not matter if it is dropped accidentally.
FUJIFILM INSTAX SHARE SP-3
If she loves to print photos, the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 portable printer could be just what she wants.
If she loves to print photos, the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 portable printer could be just what she wants.
It prints photos on Fujifilm's new instax Square film, and all she needs to do is to use the instax share app, select the photos from her smartphone and print them directly with the SP-3 through Wi-Fi.
She can also print images from her Instagram, Facebook and Google Photos accounts. It is available in black and white models.
ST Digital's holiday gadget gift guide: For Kids
$20 on Steam for Windows PC; available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Android (upcoming)
Cross a sandbox game like Minecraft with an action role-playing game (RPG) and you will probably get something like Portal Knights. But, unlike Minecraft, Portal Knights has an overarching plot that keeps you invested in your player character.
It has standard RPG conventions, like gear upgrades and levelling up via gaining experience points, as well as starting classes like Knight, Archer and Mage. Its cutesy aesthetics are suitable for younger kids. There is a split-screen local co-operative mode that lets you play together with your child.
Foster the tinkering spirit in your child with the Kano computer kit. It is a complete Raspberry Pi-powered system (monitor not included) that can be assembled by the young and curious.
The computer runs on the custom Kano operating system and comes with 150 hours of guided challenges, tutorial and projects that teach your child how to code. Users can share their projects online via the Kano World website. Third-party apps like VLC and Gmail are available for download from the Kano World website.
UBTECH FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER ROBOT
Unleash your child's Star Wars fantasies with Ubtech's Stormtrooper robot.
Bark orders at this 11-inch tall robot to patrol a designated area and ward off intruders. It recognises and stores up to three faces, and responds differently to each person that it remembers.
Included is a mobile game with first-and third-person augmented reality features that lets you and your child launch attacks against rebel fighters.
To allay security concerns, Ubtech says the robot does not link to the Internet, while the Wi-Fi communication between the robot and the app is encrypted.
JBL JR300 ON-EAR HEADPHONES
$39.90 (wired), $79.90 (wireless)
Let your kids enjoy music, games and movies without worrying about damaging their tender ears with JBL's first line of kids' headphones.
Intended for children aged three to 10, its volume maxes out at 85 decibels. Its flexible ear cushions are built for a child's smaller ears, sealing off the outside world so that they do not need to strain to hear.
For a tangle-free experience, JBL has a wireless Bluetooth version (JR300BT) that offers up to 12 hours of playback on a full charge.
ST Digital's holiday gadget gift guide: For Audiophiles
SONY WH-1000XM2 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
Sony's WH-1000XM2 headphones pack incredible active noise-cancellation - they are among the best in themarket - allowing you to soak in a bubble of silence.
Also impressive isits battery mileage of up to 30 hours with the noise-cancellation on. Combine that with solid audio quality and a sturdy, comfortable build, and the WH-1000XM2 is what you'll reach for when leaving home. Its touchpad controls make adjusting the volume or skipping tracks a breeze.
Plus, it's $50 cheaper than its predecessor.
MRSPEAKERS AEON CLOSED-BACK HEADPHONES
These are headphones you will enjoy in the comfort of your home, unhindered by the need for noise-cancelling. The Aeon headphones feature planar magnetic drivers which give them a distinctive sonic character with a large, spacious soundstage, exceptionally detailed audio quality, and a tight balance between bass, mid-range and trebles.
The Aeons hold their own across a variety of music genres from hard rock to classical, making them a versatile option for the audiophile looking for something that covers all bases.
SCHIIT MAGNI 3 AMP
Music lovers need a good headphone amplifier to provide enough juice to properly power their cans. The Magni 3 is a great budget option that punches above its price point, providing a robust, transparent sound signature.
This is great news for audiophiles with their own collection of headphones, as the Magni opens up the characteristics of each headphone instead of colouring them with its own identity. A high-gain setting lets it power even the most demanding of headphones, while the cleaner low-gain setting will make most headphones sound plenty loud.
KLIPSCH THE THREE
These classy speakers are perfect for modern music connoisseurs, who might enjoy the versatility of listening to their collection from a variety of sources.
While they look like they came from the 1960s, the features of these speakers are anything but vintage. They can pair with your music playing devices and play high-resolution audio through Bluetooth with aptX support, sync wirelessly through an app, and connect to music players or turntables through 3.5mm auxiliary and phono cables.
The smooth wooden finish makes The Three a sophisticated addition to any home.
ST Digital's holiday gadget gift guide: For Fitness Buffs
NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM CRUZ PROTECT PACK
This pair of running shoes features New Balance's Fresh Foam cushioning technology for a stable run. Its upper combines a synthetic mid-foot saddle with a protective water-resistant mesh for comfortable fit and support. Its slip-on bootie construction makes it easy to put on the shoes.
Furthermore, it looks like a pair of trendy sneakers, so you do not need to pack an extra pair of running or casual shoes when you are travelling overseas.
GARMIN VIVOACTIVE 3
The Garmin vivoactive 3 might look like an analogue watch with its 1.2-inch round touchscreen display (240 x 240 pixels) and stainless steel bezel, but it is actually a fitness tracker and smartwatch rolled into one.
It has built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer and thermometer.
The watch will even allow you to pay for your post-workout drinks with Garmin Pay, when it is eventually rolled out here. It supports Visa credit cards and works with contactless payment readers via Near Field Communication.
SAMSUNG GEAR FIT2 PRO
Most fitness trackers merely count your steps taken daily. Not the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro. It comes with built-in GPS, so you can go for runs without a smartphone and still get accurate distance tracking.
In addition, it will automatically track your workouts, whether you are playing tennis or dancing. Its built-in heart rate monitor measures your heart rate continuously throughout the day. Furthermore, it is water resistant down to 50m. And with the new Speedo On app specially developed for Fit2 Pro, it will track your swims too.
APPLE WATCH SERIES 3
If you are an iPhone user who loves to exercise, you have to get the Apple Watch Series 3.
This smartwatch has built-in GPS and heart rate monitor as well as a barometric altimeter that measures elevation so it can count the flights of stairs you have climbed. It is also water resistant down to 50m and can track your swims.
It features an S3 dual-core processor for 70 per cent faster performance than its predecessor, so native Apple Watch apps run more smoothly.
ST Digital's holiday gadget gift guide: For Gamers
SUPER NES CLASSIC EDITION
From $135 at local, online retailers
Relive the heyday of 16-bit gaming with this retro mini-console loaded with 21 games from the 1990s.
It comes with two wired Super NES Classic controllers so you can start challenging your friend in Street Fighter II right away. Other must-try games include classic role-playing games Secrets of Mana and Final Fantasy VI, as well as 2-D platformer Super Mario World.
Bonus: it has a never-before-released sequel to 3-D shooter Star Fox that can be unlocked after completing the first level of Star Fox.
SONY PLAYSTATION VR AND PLAYSTATION CAMERA BUNDLE
Itching to try out virtual reality (VR)?
Now is the time to take the plunge with the Sony PlayStation VR headset. The Sony PlayStation VR headset and camera bundle is $70 cheaper than its launch price over a year ago.
More importantly, there is more content, with Sony touting more than 140 VR games and experiences. Some of the latest VR titles include a VR version of the open-world role-playing game classic Skyrim, and a fishing game from Final Fantasy XV, Monsters of the Deep.
LOGITECH POWERPLAY WIRELESS-CHARGING MOUSEPAD
Wireless mice reduce desktop clutter, but they need to be recharged now and then. Logitech's latest gadget, the PowerPlay wireless charging mousepad, solves this problem - and more.
It delivers power wirelessly to a compatible mouse (Logitech G703 and 903) that is placed on it. The mousepad can also pair directly with the mouse so you do not need to attach a USB dongle to your computer. Another plus point: the mousepad has RGB lighting that can be customised to match your mood and gaming gear.
LG 34UC89G 21:9 CURVED ULTRA-WIDE GAMING MONITOR
Level up your gaming experience with LG's latest 34-inch gaming monitor. Powered by Nvidia's G-Sync technology, the LG 34UC89G offers fluid graphics without stuttering or screen tearing. Its refresh rate can be overclocked to a maximum of 166Hz to ensure smooth moving images while gaming.
Other features include a Black Stabiliser mode that brightens the darker areas of the screen and a Crosshair screen overlay to help players find the target in first-person shooter games. In addition, its ultra-wide screen can fit multiple windows for greater productivity. With the In-Plane Switching display, you can expect wide viewing angles and vibrant colours.
ST Digital's holiday gadget gift guide: For Shutterbugs
SONY a7R III
$4,699 (body only)
If you are split between speed and resolution when choosing a camera, get the Sony a7R III.
This interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera features an impressive 42.4-megapixel image sensor for high-resolution images, with up to 15-stop wide dynamic range. It also comes with 399 phase-detection autofocusing (AF) points and 425 contrast AF points for quick AF performance.
It also has a super fast shooting speed of up to 10 frames per second. Thus, you are getting the best of both worlds in terms of speed and resolution.
$10,475 (body only)
The Leica's M rangefinder series has been the quintessential rangefinder favoured by legendary photographers and the M10 is the pinnacle of the series. It uses a range-finding focusing mechanism incorporated into an optical viewfinder that lets the photographer measure the subject's distance and manually focus the subject. Its manual controls bring photographers back to the essence of photography.
This Leica has a 24-megapixel image sensor with the Maestro II image processor for fast shooting of up to 5 frames per second at full resolution.
RICOH THETA V
A 360-degree camera used to cost an arm and a leg but, thankfully, not any more.
The Ricoh Theta V features two 12-megapixel image sensors with two 180-degree lens to produce 14-megapixel 360-degree still images. It is also able to shoot 4K (3,840 x 1,920 pixels) 360-degree video recordings at 30 frames per second.
Plus, it supports 4K 360-degree live streaming. And transferring images and videos to your smartphone is 2.5 times faster than its predecessor.
GOPRO HERO6 BLACK
If you are the adventurous type, you might want to get the new GoPro Hero6.
While it looks like its predecessor, it has twice the capture performance - 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps) and full high-definition video at 240fps.
Plus, it has better dynamic range, low-light performance and an added digital zoom. It is also water-resistant down to 10m, so you can record your snorkelling or windsurfing adventures.
What we would like
SAMSUNG C49HG90 QLED GAMING MONITOR
Ever since I saw the Samsung C49HG90 Qled gaming monitor that my colleague was reviewing, I have been salivating over its colossal 49-inch 3,840 x 1,080-pixel display. You see, I have at least three monitors, both at home and at work, as I find the multiple screens superb for multitasking.
With the C49HG90, all I would need is just this one monitor.
Also, the monitor displays more than a billion colours as well as supports 125 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut.
This monitor also has a fast refresh rate of 144Hz and supports AMD's FreeSync 2 technology to reduce screen tearing. Thus, it is the perfect monitor for both my photo-editing and gaming needs.
From US$999 (S$1,347), excluding taxes from Amazon.com
Google's premium Pixelbook Chromebook has been on my wish list since I found out that Amazon ships it here for free. It seems like an expensive folly - after all, Chromebooks run relatively few apps compared with regular Apple or Windows laptops - but Chromebooks have improved this year.
The Pixelbook, like newer Chromebooks, can now run Android apps such as Microsoft Office.
Furthermore, I need just a handful of apps and the Samsung Chromebook Plus that I am using is good enough.
But then, the Pixelbook offers a significant hardware upgrade, especially as it has a backlit keyboard that is missing from the Samsung. Its snazzy dual-tone design, too, stands out among laptops while its stylus works with Google Assistant to make it even more convenient when searching.
DEVIALET GOLD PHANTOM SPEAKERS
The first time I saw one of Devialet's Gold Phantom speakers, I was in the transit area of Hong Kong International Airport rushing to catch my flight home. But the crazy way the speaker's diaphragm was vibrating caught my eye, along with the music pumping from it.
French luxury brand Devialet certainly knows how to make an impression. The Gold Phantom speakers are its highest-end speakers which will set you back almost $4,500 for one unit. But it is capable of pushing out a maximum 4,500W of power - the sound of a small-scale concert.
The Gold Phantom's smooth, detailed sound quality, coupled with its eye-catching good looks, will make a fine addition to my audio collection.
And if one sounds good, having two wirelessly synced up in true stereo fashion would be even more impressive.
ALL GIFT IDEAS BY TREVOR TAN, VINCENT CHANG AND LESTER HIO.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2017, with the headline 'Holiday gift guide'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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