The Season of Giving is coming, and you want to surprise your tech-savvy loved one with some presents – but you’re not really sure what to get. Technology is confusing. Specifications, technical jargon, confusing product names are all but intelligible to anyone who does not do their homework. But you’re intending to play the family Santa this year – how are you going to do all that research to buy meaningful (and cool) gadgets for all your loved ones, all without emptying your bank account?
Here are five things you should do before heading out and swiping your credit card (or clicking “checkout”) this Black Friday.
1. What are your loved one’s deal breakers (and makers)?
Before jumping into this rather complicated endeavor, it will pay to ask yourself some questions and to list out the different preferences of your beloved gift-recipient-to-be.
1. What are their interests?
2. What do they need?
3. Do they like the latest and greatest or something that will last?
4. Do they need something more rugged or something more stylish and elegant?
5. And, as we all know: what’s their favourite colour?
And then, I’d ask a few more (harder) questions:
6. How much do I intend to spend on a gift for them?
7. Is the gift meant to impress or express existing emotions?
8. Is there an aspect you should look out for that matters especially between the two of you?
These questions help you look in the right direction in order to take the first step. For example, if I knew a friend who is quite the audiophile, who loves to thrash his equipment and thus constantly breaks his earphones, I’d Google right away for “audiophile” “earphones” and “kevlar”. Sure enough, several listicles appear, including my personal favourite IEM, the Shure SE535 that I’ve stuffed down my jeans pocket for years without so much as a scratch.
And then, I’d reconsider: this very friend had ‘borrowed’ an extra pair of earphones early this year and not returned it: he’d probably return it in pieces if I demanded for it back. He doesn’t like value propositions and thinks all cheaply made products don’t last (truth is no product lasts in his hands). So, with a little bit of a leap of joy inside, I click an order for Xiaomi’s Hybrid IEM, a kevlar-reinforced earphone raved by audiophiles that costs less than SGD25. (I’ve bought three for use as exercise earphones almost two years ago and I’m still on my first one)
2. Reviews, reviews, reviews
So, you’ve got your search terms, and maybe have narrowed it down to a handful of products.
The internet is rife with tech websites – some more informative, and some more tailored to your local experience. A bit of faffing about on the internet and you’ll find a website like VRZone.com that tailors news releases, reviews and opinion pieces to the readership preferences of the local consumer, plus a little more. Perhaps a favourite writer on each specific topic can also help you understand the jargon better: important aspects of a review like value propositions, subjective tastes in design, user interfaces and sound and visual quality should appeal to you.
Added points if you actually enjoy reading them!
3. Watch some videos
Of course, reviews are filled with jargon that we were trying to avoid. It’s not every often we find tech writers who write in an effective way, simply understood by casual readers. It does take effort to realise that not everyone understands their megapixels from ISO, their voltage from their wattage, and kbps from their kHz. Videos, however, explain them a lot more simply: presenters have to express the important bits in a very short time. Even if you don’t understand, it is a lot easier to consume a video than to read a review, after all. You might actually enjoy it, too!
You would also get to check out the tech as it would appear in real life: you get a better feel for its shapes, textures and colours as you check it in three dimensions in different lighting conditions. That’s really important if you’ve got picky partners or fussy friends!
4. Attend tech fairs
“But Ian, that’s only for geeks!” Yes, yes I know. Hear me out. I know they’re boring or even intimidating for people who aren’t the most familiar with tech. But where else can you find so high a concentration of products and specialists in a single showroom? If you come prepared with the information from point 1), you would easily be able to find a salesman who would be able to guide you in your purchase. What’s more, you would be able to compare across the different brands present and get a better feel (figuratively and literally) for your gift idea. You might also be able to get exclusive discounts and packages on your gift purchase!
One of the only downsides that obscure or older products might not be featured in these shows due to limited floor space. Keep your eyes peeled through the year: several shows dedicated to start-ups, underdogs, or even retro tech will allow you to experience these gadgets hands-on.
5. Just ask them (Duh)
Well, if surprising people is not your gig (just like me), just ask them what they need, or if they’d like a product you’re considering. Even though the feeling of having surprised someone you love is one of the best feelings in the world, when they go “Oh! Of course… I like it?”, you’d bash yourself for not doing more homework. Why not just ask them what they’d like for Christmas? Maybe it actually is something really simple and practical like a portable charger, a new wireless mouse. Or maybe it really was something niche all along, something you wouldn’t have been able to guess in a thousand Christmases, like a rare component for a personal project, or an obscure part for his desktop rig. You’ll never know – unless you ask.
12 Days of VRZone Christmas, where VRZone hosts 12 consecutive days of tech giveaways is coming up: stay tuned for more information on how to stand a chance to win attractive prizes!