Your 2015 holiday tech gift guide

  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 02 Dec 2015

Gifts for geeks: We've found 12 of the coolest tech toys to get this holiday season.

Just in time for Christmas, here's a list of products that would make great stocking stuffers.

IT IS that time of the year again when we take a look at gifts for the technologically-inclined amongst us. That’s right, if you have a loved one who is a gadget-head, then this list is just for you.

We’ve looked long and hard at all the tech stuff available and we’ve come up with 12 devices at a variety of price points that should satisfy the most dedicated techno buffs.

Here’s a list of the coolest gifts we could find, ranging from reasonably priced to stratospheric.

Packing power: the Xiaomi Mi Power Bank 10,000mAh is a great gift for anyone who needs to charge on the road
Packing power: the Xiaomi Mi Power Bank 10,000mAh is a great gift for anyone who needs to charge on the road.

Mi Power Bank 10,000mAh

Xiaomi makes some of the most affordable yet feature-packed smartphones and if you are in the market for one you should check out its offering.

However, our recommendation is not for the company’s smartphones but its excellent power bank and in particular the 10,000mAh version. It has enough power to charge your smartphone many times over even though it’s relatively small.

Mi Power Bank makes a nice gift because the sandblasted aluminium finish gives it a sleek look and it comes with high quality lithium-ion cells.

The best thing about the Mi Power Bank is actually the price – at RM59, it’s actually a great stocking stuffer which will definitely be appreciated by any smartphone owner.

Multi-tap: the Logitech K480 can pair with multiple devices and switch seamlessly between them
Multi-tap: The Logitech K480 can pair with multiple devices and switch seamlessly between them.

Logitech Bluetooth Multi-device keyboard K480
Price: RM179

Ever had the feeling that you just have too many keyboards in the house?

If you’re like us, you’ve got one for the home PC, one for the tablet and one for the smartphone.

Logitech’s Bluetooth Multi-device Keyboard K480 might just help you solve this problem – it can pair with up to three devices at once and a handy button lets you switch easily between devices.

The keys are well spaced and contoured for easier typing although it lacks a number pad.

It supports the standard Bluetooth protocol, which means it will work with any PC, Mac, iOS or Android device.

The K480 comes with a built-in cradle but if you don’t need it then you can opt for the K380 which has the same functionality but gives up the cradle in favour of a smaller footprint.

Be Fre: the Lifeproof Fre case is one of the thinnest ruggedised and waterproof casings around
Be Fre: The Lifeproof Fre case is one of the thinnest ruggedised and waterproof casings around.

Lifeproof Fre case
Price: US$79.99 (RM345)

We’ve seen many ruggedised smartphone cases and some of the slimmest ones come from Lifeproof.

Lifeproof’s water-resistant cases, which can be taken into the pool or to the beach, is available for a variety of popular phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S3/S4/S5/S6, as well as the iPhone 6/6s (and Plus variants) and most iPads.

Like most ruggedised water-resistant cases, the Fre has a membrane over the screen which some may not like as it makes the touchscreen a little less responsive.

Lifeproof actually has another case called the Nuud which uses a special seal instead of a screen protector to prevent water from entering the case. You’ll be able to use the touchscreen like normal and still take the phone for a dunk in the water.

The Nuud is a tad more expensive as it goes for US$89.99 (RM389).

Track yourself: the Garmin Vivofit 2 is a pretty full-featured fitness tracker
Track yourself: The Garmin Vivofit 2 is a pretty full-featured fitness tracker.

Garmin Vivofit 2
Price: RM445

Fitness bands are a big thing these days – if you don’t want to pawn your liver to buy a smartwatch, there are actually a number of more affordable smart bands that can be used to track daily activity and sleep.

While there are more stylish options out there like the Fitbit Flex and the Jawbone Up – both of which warrant a look if you are looking for style over function – our pick for fitness bands is the Garmin Vivofit 2.

The Vivofit 2 has a nice large screen which doubles as a pretty good digital watch and, best of all, the replaceable batteries last for a year or more.

One of Garmin’s unique innovations is the Move bar, which will remind you to get up and move about at regular intervals.

Fitness tracking features are pretty much the same as most other fitness bands.

Upgrade your audio: the Rode VideoMic Go is an easy and relatively cheap way of upgrading the quality of your videos
Upgrade your audio: The Rode VideoMic Go is an easy and relatively cheap way of upgrading the quality of your videos.

Rode VideoMic Go
Price: RM450

The VideoMic Go is a good gift for those just getting serious about video recording on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

As we all know the built-in microphones on any camera are not that great – they tend to produce rather tinny audio and will often pick up the noise the lens makes as it focuses.

The VideoMic Go has no such issues – as it’s an external microphone, it has a Rycote Lyre suspension system for isolating vibration and won’t pick up any sound from the lens.

Plus, it has a more directional audio pickup that will significantly improve the audio in your video recordings.

However, as the VideoMic Go runs off power from the 3.5mm stereo port, you need to make sure that the person you’re gifting this to has a camera with such a port and it’s capable of supplying sufficient power.

Most modern cameras made since the last two years should meet the requirement, but if in doubt, you could opt for the larger and higher quality standard Rode VideoMic which uses a battery.

Both have their pros and cons – the VideoMic Go works as soon as you plug it into the camera but has comparatively lower sound quality, while the standard VideoMic has excellent audio but it’s heavier and needs to be switched on before you shoot (or risk recording video without any audio at all).

New Nintendo 3DS
The new Nintendo 3DS should appeal to kids and serious gamers of both sexes. 

New Nintendo DS
Price: RM939

Updated just last year with head-tracking 3D technology, the New Nintendo 3DS is a handheld gaming console with an already huge library of games.

This device has been a mainstay of Nintendo’s handheld console lineup for years and the latest iteration not only improves the 3D experience, but adds a number of features that users have been demanding, such as a second joystick and extra shoulder buttons.

In fact, the beauty of Nintendo’s 3DS is that it appeals to kids as well as serious gamers of both sexes, thanks to an extensive library of first- and third-party games.

Game preferences are of course very subjective but if you want to bundle a game with the console, may we suggest Super Mario 3D Land (suitable for kids or adults who like platformers), The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (for puzzle and light RPG fans), or Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (for hardcore Japanese RPG fans)?

Smart watch: the Gear S2 is a sleek looking device with some nifty functions
Smart watch: The Gear S2 is a sleek looking device with some nifty functions.

Samsung Gear S2
Price: RM1,399

Smartwatches are probably the hottest gift items this year and of the lot, the Samsung Gear S2 is probably the most stylish one around.

The Gear S2 and its slightly more expensive sibling, the Gear S2 Classic, feature round faces with a rotatable bezel for easily navigating and accessing the smartwatch’s features.

While it doesn’t run on Google’s Android Wear operating system (opting instead for its proprietary Tizen), it does everything you’d expect of a modern smartwatch.

You can receive (and reply messages using the classic T9 input), check your heart rate, track your step count, and even monitor your water and coffee intake.

The Gear S2 Classic has all the same functions but instead of the modernist design of the Gear S2, it has a more classic design with a leather band and costs RM1,599.

Console warfare: the Playstation 4 is a great buy for any gamer, with an ever-growing list of games
Console warfare: The PlayStation 4 is a great buy for any gamer, with an ever-growing list of games.

Sony PlayStation 4
Price: RM1,549

The PlayStation 4 is the clear winner in the next-gen console wars, as it has been outselling all the other devices month after month.

In other words, the PlayStation 4 is the console to get if you want to make your kid (or gamer spouse) really happy.

Backed by an ever-growing library of games which look great, the PS4 is a great choice and relatively cheap compared with a gaming PC, especially because the 500GB model just got a price cut.

If you want to make it an even better gift, you should consider special editions of the console such as the recent Star Wars: Battlefront version. It’ll cost a bit more but will certainly score bonus points with your loved one.

The Note 5 comes in pearl white, black sapphire, gold platinum and titanium silver.
The Note 5 comes in pearl white, black sapphire, gold platinum and titanium silver.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Price: RM2,699

For some, size is everything when it comes to smartphone screens. If your loved one is one such person, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 is the Android smartphone for him or her.

The Galaxy Note 5’s large 5.7in Super Amoled screen is gorgeous especially with its QHD (1,440 x 2,560 pixel) resolution.

One of the big features other than the screen is the stylus, which allows you to perform a variety of cool tricks like cropping your photos and drawing much easier than using your fingertip.

The stylus, called the S Pen, will allow you to start taking notes even when the screen is off. The 16-megapixel camera, which can be accessed at any time and even when the phone is locked by double pressing the home button, can record 4K videos.

You can also broadcast videos live from the Note 5 to your contacts or the public via YouTube Live.

The phone also supports fast wireless charging, taking only two hours to reach full charge. However, the wireless charger has to be purchased separately.

If you want a smaller smartphone, you can also consider the Galaxy S6 Edge which has a 5.1in screen and a recommended retail price of RM2,599.

Rosy: the iPhone 6s is expensive but still one of the more desirable smartphones on the market
Rosy: The iPhone 6s is expensive but still one of the more desirable smartphones on the market.

Apple iPhone 6s
Price: RM3,199 (16GB)

Say what you will about Apple, but you can’t deny that the company’s products still retain a cool factor and as such are pretty desirable as a gift.

The latest model, the iPhone 6s and larger 6s Plus are pretty expensive and look much like their predecessors, but the new models are almost totally different on the inside. The aluminium body is more robust, the screen is more scratch resistant, the processor is faster, and the camera is high resolution and captures 4K videos.

On top of that, it now features a 3D Touch display that can tell the difference between a tap and press. It’s pretty revolutionary – pressing down on the icon of most apps will bring up a context menu that will allow you to quickly access certain functions without having to open the app first.

The 12-megapixel camera is also pretty good, and now allows you to shoot stills called Live Photos, which captures videos just before and after the still and sets it in motion when you press down on the photo.

Fast lens: the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 has a wide maximum aperture and is one of the sharpest lenses available for APS-C cameras
Fast lens: The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 has a wide maximum aperture and is one of the sharpest lenses available for APS-C cameras.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens
Price: RM3,588

Possibly the most desirable zoom lens to have if you have an APS-C sensor camera is the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art which is responsible for a few world’s firsts. It’s the first zoom lens to have such a wide constant maximum aperture and it’s also one of the sharpest lenses out there.

While it’s certainly not cheap (street prices are much lower) it’s actually pretty reasonably priced for such a lens.

In fact, many tests show that it is right at the top where it matters most – sharpness at any aperture.

As it’s a third-party manufacturer, Sigma makes this lens in Canon, Nikon and Sony APS-C camera mounts.

Flying camera: the DJI Phantom 3 Standard produces some excellent video
Flying camera: The DJI Phantom 3 Standard produces some excellent video.

DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter
Price: RM4,028

You may call it a rich man’s toy or an essential tool for the serious filmmaker, but the DJI Phantom 3 is one of the coolest and best quadcopters.

There are a few editions of this drone but even the Standard version, which is the most affordable, is good enough as it has a 2.7K camera on a three-axis gimbal.

The camera produces stable high-quality video and works with your smartphone.

It also has a nifty and very welcome feature – when the quadcopter runs low on battery or goes out of wireless range, it will automatically turn around and land close to you.

Judging from the number of adverts we’ve seen utilising drone footage, we’re more inclined to think of it as a serious filmmaker’s tool, but boy is it fun to play with!

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Science & Technology , Christmas , gift , guide


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