What we really want for Christmas

Pokonboy's 13-in-1 Solar Robot Creation Kit (left) and the Fujifilm X-Pro3 are among the top picks for Christmas.
Pokonboy's 13-in-1 Solar Robot Creation Kit (left) and the Fujifilm X-Pro3 are among the top picks for Christmas.PHOTOS: POKONBOY, FUJIFILM

On Irene Tham's wishlist

Pokonboy 13-in-1 Solar Robot Creation Kit ($41.33, buy from Amazon)

Nothing excites a child more than being able to build a toy that moves.

My 10-year-old daughter is still playing with a wooden toy robot she made last year using tools supplied by KiwiCo, a subscription service that delivers science kits for various age groups. She learnt how circuits work and how to connect wires to a battery to power the robot's arms and legs.

Pokonboy's 13-in-1 Solar Robot Creation Kit takes the science project one step further by introducing the concept of renewable energy - the perfect toy for sunny Singapore.

The kit comes with 13 different designs and 190 parts, including a solar panel, for assembling and reassembling to keep the child entertained. It is definitely on my Christmas wishlist; I will do whatever it takes to limit my child's screen time.

On Trevor Tan's wishlist

Fujifilm X-Pro3 ($2,999, body only, buy from Lazada)

Street photography was my first love and thus, so were rangefinder cameras, which will always be associated with street photography due to their usage by legendary photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. I used to own a Voigtlander Bessa R film rangefinder but sold it a decade ago.

Now, the Fujifilm X-Pro3 (Dura Black) has piqued my interest again. While not a rangefinder, this 26.1-megapixel mirrorless camera is styled like one. It has a hybrid viewfinder that works both as an optical and an electronic viewfinder. Furthermore, it has a 1.28-inch E-ink display at its rear that shows only film simulation and ISO settings, making it look very much like a film rangefinder.

Now, when is that bonus coming?

On Vincent Chang's wishlist

Mixcder E10 headphones ($78 from AliExpress)


At around $78, the E10 is a much cheaper alternative than top active noise cancellation headphones from the likes of Bose and Sony that are usually over $400. PHOTO: MIXCDER

In my job, I have been lucky enough to try the best tech gizmos. But when it comes to buying my own gadgets, I am fairly frugal and get a kick out of finding products that offer good value for money.

This is why the Mixcder E10 active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones is on my list. Mixcder is one of the many lesser-known audio brands that have been around for a while.

Its latest E10 Bluetooth headphones was launched in September this year. At around $78 (from its official store on AliExpress), the E10 is a much cheaper alternative than top active noise cancellation headphones from the likes of Bose and Sony that are usually over $400.

Mixcder claims that its ANC system can reduce 96 per cent of ambient low-frequency sound. It also has Bluetooth 5.0, aptX support and a fast-charging feature that takes around 5 minutes to replenish the headphones for 3 hours of usage.

The proof, though is in the listening - I can't wait for the headphones to arrive.

On Hariz Baharudin's wishlist

Ember Temperature Controlled Mug 2 ($169, buy from Apple)


The mug maintains this chosen temperature for about 90 minutes on a full charge. PHOTO: EMBER

Days of being journalist can get extra long, and sometimes, a hot beverage can do wonders - lifting my mood or giving me that extra boost to get through the day.

Unfortunately, in the rush of meeting deadlines I sometimes forget to drink my hot beverages that I make, and they quickly lose their comforting heat in the cold newsroom.

Enter the Ember Temperature Controlled Mug.

With its temperature sensors to keep my tea, coffee or hot honey lemon between 50 to 62.5 deg C, never again will I be disappointed by a beverage gone cold.

The mug maintains this chosen temperature for about 90 minutes on a full charge. There is even an accompanying app that can be used to customise presets for my favourite drinks and receive notifications when my desired temperature is reached. Most importantly, the mug's plain and sleek aesthetic is definitely my cup of tea.

On Yip Wai Yee's wishlist

Dyson Airwrap Complete ($699, buy from Lazada)


The Dyson Airwrap Complete operates on temperatures no higher than 150 deg C - much cooler than typical curling tongs that go up to 250 deg C. PHOTO: DYSON

It is a perennial issue.

Girls with curly locks always try to iron out their hair, while straight-haired girls like me only long for the luscious waves seen on the heads of Victoria's Secret models.

Unfortunately, hair salon perms either fail to last or make me look like Medusa, while I also lack the hand-eye co-ordination to manually style my hair on my own using traditional electric hair curlers.

This is why the Dyson Airwrap Complete is the perfect answer - the hair styling tool uses what it calls the Coanda effect to create a vortex of air, automatically wrapping hair around the barrel to create natural curls.

Of course, automatic does not mean that it is easy to use, as one still needs to master the right direction of air - it took me quite a few attempts during a recent trial before I got anything close to an acceptable curl. But practice makes perfect, right?

It also operates on temperatures no higher than 150 deg C - much cooler than typical curling tongs that go up to 250 deg C - meaning that my hair will not get damaged and my clumsy fingers will not get burnt.

For the sake of both my vanity and safety, I need this in my life.

On Lester Wong's wishlist

Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 ($4,998, buy from Amazon)


Thin and light, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 has top of the line specs including an RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card. PHOTO: ASUS

Cloud gaming is supposed to be the future, but with Google Stadia's rather rough launch last month, I won't be giving up on the good old gaming PC or laptop just yet.

Thin and light, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 has top of the line specs including an RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card, but that's hardly the main reason for why it's on my wishlist.

No, one does not simply buy a gaming laptop like the Zephyrus for gaming alone.

Like with a Ferrari car, part of the pleasure of owning a Zephyrus is the feeling of having all that mechanical power at one's fingertips, inciting awe-struck and envious looks from everyone who passes by with their inferior machines.

That said, I could well end up mostly just sending e-mails or doing something ho-hum on it.

On Bryan De Silva's wishlist

The Valve Index (US$999, S$1,360)


The Valve Index comes with two controllers that you can strap to your hands and which can measure squeeze pressure and even detect individual finger motion. PHOTO: VALVE INC

On March 2020, game developer Valve will release Half-Life: Alyx, the prequel to the legendary game Half-Life 2, making it the first new title in the series in 15 years.

It's also the first virtual reality (VR) entry in the series, so what better way to enjoy the game than with Valve Index - Valve's own VR headset and controllers.

The kit comes with two controllers that you can strap to your hands and which can measure squeeze pressure and even detect individual finger motion - tech which is sure to be implemented as part of the gameplay in Alyx.

For crisp visuals, the headset has two 1,440p LCD displays running at 120Hz, with a built-in slider to optimise the distance between the screens and your eyes.

Earphones are optional as the Index has built-in speakers that sit just over your ears, which make for more comfortable marathon sessions. Finally the headband is padded and features a rear dial for adjusting tightness for a good fit.

The Index doesn't ship to Singapore, but vPost or a shipping alternative should have me covered.

At US$999 (S$1,360), the Valve Index is on the higher end of headsets, but I owe it to myself to experience the game the way it was meant to be played.