Slick techno-gifts run the gamut these days, from the biggest companies down to niche producers. Here are some of our faves.
The Gift Guide, Part 1
And just like that, here we are in the midst of another Holiday Season. With the Thanksgiving holiday in the rearview mirror here in the US, most people are looking towards the big December holidays and that of course includes the driver of that gift-giving sleigh, Christmas.
But no matter what year-end celebration you’re buying for, you have a lot of potential giftables to pick from. So to help out in that arena, we’ve put together a three part guide, split into the categories of tech, collectible items, and (naturally) video games.
Below you’ll find part one of that, complete with pricing and links to where you can find whatever it is that we’re showcasing (when available). Wherever it’s applicable too, we’ll tag in any potential reviews we’ve done, just in case you missed ’em the first time around. It’s always nice to get a more detailed opinion, isn’t it?
So without further ado, let’s dig into our first suggestion (though this is in no particular order):
CRKD Nitro Deck
Now, you’re likely either looking at that name and wondering what the heck a “CRKD” is, or you’re recalling the sheer coolness of the Nitro Deck. If you’re in the former camp, then we think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by this Nintendo Switch accessory.
CRKD’s new offering is a controller for Nintendo’s current console, and one that’s meant to take the place of a set of joy-cons. It basically works as a cradle that you slide said console into. The Nitro Deck doesn’t come apart like joy-cons, but it serves up Hall Effect sticks, turbo options, rumble support, a passthrough for charging, and has a built-in stand. It also seeks to provide a heck of a lot more comfort than the Nintendo originals, which if you play for long periods in handheld mode, is just lovely.
The CRKD Nitro Deck is available in multiple colorways, including SNES and GameCube-esque varieties, and is available now via CRKD’s online shop. It’s priced in at $89.99 USD.
We called the Glowforge Pro a “printer unlike any other” in our review, and that’s pretty on the money. While the Pro is the top of the line model, the full series carries the same thought throughout, in that it engraves and cuts media with a finely tuned laser. No, we’re not kidding.
Now, that’s the highlight reel for the Aura that you see above, but different models of Glowforge have varying capabilities, and you can generally create a huge amount of items with this thing. Ornaments, signage, keychains, and even models are all possible, via a combination of printing (through the online suite) and then assembly/painting/detailing. And on top of the hardware, the company also has a full catalog of media you can order (like acrylic and leather), and a subscription service that allows users to access plenty more cool stuff.
If you have someone in your family who’s a hardcore crafter, or just likes to create cool stuff, then the Glowforge might fit the bill. As mentioned though, there are a few different models, and they’re priced pretty widely apart. The more general use Aura that you see above is tagged at $999 USD, while the top of the line (read: more powerful) Glowforge Plus is tagged at $4995. There’s also the unit that we took through its paces, the Glowforge Pro, which adds in an advanced cooling system for a total price of $6995.
Now, don’t scroll on just yet. We know you want to, because… tooth brush? Yes, while Evo is a line of toothbrushes, it’s also pretty dang nifty. And if you have someone on your list who’s both a Marvel fan (particularly the MCU) and uses an electric brush, then one of the company’s wares might be just the ticket.
Formerly existing in the professional space only, Evo made the leap to consumer products a short time ago with a Marvel-infused lineup. Brushes include Spider-Man, Iron Man, and now Black Panther models, and they’re all pretty slick in their own way. Aside from being powered and crafted by a company that knows what it’s doing, the line gets pretty high-tech.
We reviewed the Black Panther model, the BLP-1, which has a touch screen, a ton of modes, and even keeps track of when you need to change heads. Naturally, it’s also pretty cool looking on the shelf. Evo likes to say you won’t want to hide these brushes away in a cabinet, and we agree.
Spidey and Iron Man brushes are priced in at $99 and $89 USD respectively, while the Black Panther is at $199 for the collector’s (yep) and $149 USD for the “Gold” version. The Panther model is up for pre-order, but after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Evo says that it will be shipping before this Christmas.
ViewSonic VX1755 mobile gaming monitor
How mobile of a gamer are you? It seems to be ever more the norm for fans of almost any platform to be expanding their field of play, and going mobile via both a new level of dedicated handhelds and cloud-streaming abilities.
Depending on which way you go, you can rack up huge libraries of games, and serious horsepower for playing demanding stuff. But one thing remains pretty much the same across any and all ‘portables’, and that’s a lil’ tiny screen. Unless you’re playing on a laptop, it’s just something you have to put up with though. Or not.
Right along with the surge in mobile play, has come a surge in mobile monitors. And unlike their desktop brethren, these smaller and lighter units tend to be as unobtrusive as possible. They star slight form-factors, built-in or attachable stands, and limited cables. If you know someone who likes to take their gaming on the go, a mobile monitor might make a great gift pick, and one that your target might not ever have picked up for themselves.
And if you’re looking for a solid entry in the genre, then you might want to cast your gaze to the ViewSonic VX1755. This little guy isn’t so little, and has an eye towards gaming with a 17.2″, 1080p display (144hz refresh rate). It also sports both a cover that folds out and a built-in kickstand, so you’re good to game whether you’re at your dining room table or at your hotel room’s desk.
You can find the VX1755 here on ViewSonic’s own site, thought it should be available pretty widely, so you might be able to locate it at your favorite retailer as well. It’s priced in at $239.99 USD.
Steam Deck OLED
While we’re on the subject of mobile gaming, is there a bigger force in that area than Valve right now? Sure the Switch might’ve pioneered the ‘home and away’ console, but Valve’s Steam Deck has taken that ball and run with it.
Not only does the portable give owners access to a ton of PC games through their Steam libraries, but it does so with an ease of use that’s second to only the aforementioned. And while the Switch might be a little more conducive to ‘pick up and play’, it ain’t playing the stuff that the Deck is.
And now that there’s an OLED version of Valve’s baby, the Switch doesn’t even boast the better screen.
Just launched, the Steam Deck OLED (same imaginative title as the Switch OLED, we note), comes in 512GB and 1TB configurations, with a built-in 7.4″ display and 3-12 hours of play time, depending on what you’re running. And on top of all of that, it’s also got that nice 1280 x 800 HDR OLED display. It’s a big step up from the original Deck’s which launched last year with an LCD screen, and should make compatible titles look even better.
Is it worth the upgrade if you have one of those older models? Eh, that’s debatable, but if your giftee is a PC fan who doesn’t have one at all, then the Steam Deck OLED could be a home run. Units are in stock now, and you can grab one here via Steam’s online marketplace. The 512GB version is priced at $549 USD, while the 1TB is a hundred bucks more at $649.
We had a few reviews up this year for audio solutions, and depending on what your’e looking for, we might have a quality pick for you. While the NACON Rig is a headset, Creative’s Pebble provides for a solid desktop solution.
NACON Rig headset
We’ve reviewed a few headsets marked “Rig” over the years, but Nacon’s RIG 600 Pro HX’ have some features that make them fairly unique among those. The RIG offer dual band connectivity, with both 2.4ghz and bluetooth supported, and as such you can use them with a multitude of sources, including every major gaming platform and your mobile phone.
On top of all the options, the RIG also has a terrific 18 hours of play time after a full charge (via USB-C), and is fairly lightweight. It also connects to a dedicated app for tweaking, has an omnidirectional mic that flips down, and will also allow you to hear what’s happening around you thanks to the open back design.
Creative Pebble speakers
With the above in mind for headsets, you might alternatively be looking for something to give a little desktop punch to your listee. Like with the headsets, there’s an obscene amount of desktop speakers out there, both in the form of bars and L & R setups. We reviewed one of Creative’s options, the Pebble Pro’s, late last year and loved ’em.
The Pebble Pro is a small, stereo set that’s meant to sit right at the sides of a monitor without taking up a gigantic footprint. But even with the tiny size, we don’t mean to say that their output is diminutive. On the contrary, the Pebble Pro’s deliver a meaty 2.0 sound that’s great for gaming, music, and even a little desktop movie watching.
These guys are kind of loaded too, coming stocked with a surprising bit of bass, plus a special technology that nudges vocals to the front of everything else. Oh, and RGB lighting. But don’t worry if you’re not the type for that, as it isn’t obnoxious, and includes a small illuminated ring around each speaker’s base.
The Pebble Pro set is priced at $59.99 USD and is available now via a whole bunch of online shops, as well as Creative’s own.
Storage expansion for consoles
Modern console players, no matter the platform and sometimes to their chagrin, mostly have one thing in common. You probably already know where we’re going with this, and yes, it’s storage.
Traditionally something only PC players have had to worry about, there never seems to be enough room on consoles these days. And with seemingly every big studio game taking up oodles of space, it’s a headache trying to figure out what you can live without having on your hard drive.
So while it’s far from the sexiest choice as a gift, finding storage under the tree is always a nice thing. Now, that’s not to say that it’s easy thing to buy, since it’s also been complicated in the PS5/XSX era.
The modern gaming era further complicates matters with both internal and external drives. Some games, specifically newer titles for current consoles, will demand internal hardware only to run off of. So if you’re, for example, buying storage for someone who has an Xbox Series X, then you’re probably going to want to get an (officially licensed) internal card so they can actually run their games.
But if they have one of those already, then you might alternatively want to boost their experience with an external unit. That’ll give your list’s game-fan a place to shift the stuff they don’t want to delete, and as a nice little bonus they can also run last-gen games off of it.
We’ve highlighted some Seagate stuff here, but there are loads of internal and external options out there, including from the popular WD Black series.
Cync Full Color Dynamic Effects Hexagon Panel Light
We briefly touched on RGB lighting above, when we talked about the Pebble Pro speakers, but what if you want to really light up a room? Adding lighting effects and strips to a room or gaming setup is pretty common these days, and isn’t at all difficult.
Aside from mouse/keyboard and monitor-mounted stuff, there are plenty of options, especially in the strip-lighting departments. If you’ve never used those, they’re incredibly versatile, and can add a little color to shelves, desks, and just about anything else. Going one step beyond those though, we recently got a look at GE’s Cync system and were pretty impressed with the multitude of options.
The overall line from the company is pretty deep, with cameras, bulbs and more all included, but it’s the lighting specifically that we took interest in. Each “Cync Full Color Dynamic Effects Hexagon Panel Light” box set includes a 7 pack of… hexagonal panels to that end.
Users can install those panels how they fancy, and the box comes complete with mounting hardware and a wall-guide so you don’t mess up the placement. But there’s not one pattern for them, so don’t get the wrong idea. You can make designs, add more sets to expand the system into larger shapes, and just make ’em into a straight line across the room if you prefer.
These aren’t just static light-ups either, as the Cync system allows for light shows, sync with music, and interaction with an app. That’s actually how you set up the Cync, and it’s also via that app that users can control individual “light segments”, set colors, and even add timers so they can pop on and off at specific times.
One set is priced in at $119.99 USD, and GE has a locator to see where you can grab one. Find that here.
Did we give you some food for thought? Did we miss something? Let us know your own can’t miss gift idea in the comments below!