The holiday season has beset us yet again – the endless jingle of Christmas tunes a constant reminder that we’ve got limited time and a long list of friends and family to snag gifts for.
Fret not: here’s a comprehensive guide, arranged by category and price-points so you don’t emerge from on Boxing Day with your bank balance in the red.
We’ve listed some options from different categories: personal audio, wearables & fitness, PC accessories, smartphones and home & lifestyle. We’ve also arranged them into three general price points: top-tier, mid-range and budget. These are some of the gadgets that have impressed us throughout the year (and some so good we’ve carried them from previous years!), and we hope they’ll spark joy in your and your loved ones too. Happy shopping!
For your top dollar, some of the best audio equipment comes from legacy names like Sennheiser, Bowers & Wilkins and Bang & Olufsen. Top-tier audio is tricky with an innumerable combination of audio players, amps, digital-to-analogue converters and even cables, ear tips and connectors. As a rule of thumb, it’ll be best to ask any serious enthusiast for their wish-list as options often get finicky.
Frequent fliers will appreciate a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and the market has plenty of great-performing options. Sony’s WH-1000XM3 is an all-round performer, while the Jabra Elite 85H provides weather-proofing and better microphone quality for those who take calls often. The Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC sounds fantastic while proffering ANC – a good compromise for those who might be audiophiles.
and the AKG N60NC (SGD 449) is a very capable alternative for those who prefer an on-ear design.
At the same price tier, the AirPods Pro (SGD 379) offers an amazingly portable form-factor and astounding comfort while being a top-tier flex piece.
Silence while travelling isn’t, and shouldn’t be a luxury few can afford. The JBL Live 650BTNC (SGD 249) is a neat solution with a rugged build,
Away from the ANC options, the true wireless JBL Tune TWS (SGD 149) offers no-frills wire-free convenience with a decent sound.
Wearables & Fitness
The Apple Watch Series 5 (SGD 599) is the undisputed ruler of the wearable world, but users need to pair it with an iPhone. Android alternatives exist: the Garmin Fenix offers top-tier performance in a luxurious finish.
But forking out that amount of money isn’t within the means of many, and the Fitbit Versa 2 (SGD 318) and Apple Watch Series 3 (SGD 299) comes in a notch under.
For that marathon runner in your life, the Garmin Instinct (SGD 499) is a battle-proven gadget that enthusiasts will appreciate. Accurate GPS and multiple navigation options are packed in a rugged, rubberised chassis.
Don’t fret if you’re not a marathon runner – Withing’s Steel HR Sport (SGD 329) is a classy analogue-meets-digital contender, and perhaps one of the more stylish pieces of tech we’ve seen this year. A sleek red-handed dial indicates the step progress for the day, while a sub-display at 12 o’clock shows other vital information like heart rate.
We particularly loved the JBL Fit Jump (SGD 115) for its solid fit and great sound. The Fit family of exercise-oriented wireless earphones also offer options for swimming (SGD 135) and one for running (SGD 95).
Xiaomi’s budget range of wearables also slots it comfortably into the most restrictive budgets. The Mi Band 4 (~SGD 35) offers a vibrant touch-screen colour display, along with all-day heart rate monitoring, activity and swim tracking, and up to 20 days of battery.
If you’re going for the best of the best, the ZenBook Pro Duo (SGD 4,998) might be the ultimate gift to impress your loved one.
Noblechairs makes a great gaming chair that we’ve particularly enjoyed. The Icon series starts at EUR 369 (SGD 557) for the PU-leather configuration and goes all the way up to EUR 999 (SGD 1,509).
Desktop speakers and other PC-oriented audio gear also slot in perfectly into this category.
Nothing says “I Care” to a desk-diving professional more than Logitech’s MX Vertical Ergonomic Mouse (~SGD 135).
While not exactly a PC accessory, portable speakers like the JBL Flip 5 (SGD 179) is also a fun option to consider.
Otherwise, a neat backpack for your tech-loving loved one might be another good option to consider.
We loved the Neweex Backpack (USD 129), which offered a ton of space especially on gym days or for day trips. In addition to a 15-inch gaming laptop, the Neweex Backpack easily packs a change of clothes, along with shoes, toiletries and my multitude of gadgets. It’s robust, water resistant and has nifty features like an external USB port for power bank pass-through, along with a built-in cable lock.
If you’re looking for something more minimalist, the Code 10 Backpack (USD 139) is a durable, sleek option for frequent travellers.
The market is awash with options if you happen to pinch pennies. I’ll rattle a few of to spark off some inspiration: desk mats, power banks, portable speakers, laptop bags.
The Minix Neo Storage (SGD 120) USB-C hub will offer convenience to your dongle-loving MacBook-owning friends.
Otherwise, the Tecware Phantom (SGD 55) RGB mechanical keyboard is a surefire way to bring some festive, clicky and tactile joy to your loved ones, if you ask.
Home & Lifestyle
If your loved one has an insatiable appetite for cooking and baking, nothing frankly beats a KitchenAid. It comes with a wide range of attachments that turn it into pasta rollers, meat mincers, or more regular dough kneaders.
A Dyson Airwrap or vacuum would also seal the deal, although we’d exercise caution if gifting appliances used for chores. We enjoyed the Philips Shaver S9000 Prestige (SGD 599) in particular: shaving in the morning never felt so luxurious and smooth.
If your loved one is an avid gamer or keen Netflix addict, Philips Hue Play (SGD 99) adds an ambience with 16 million colours that will spice up any room. Its compact, user-friendly design, along with compatibility with Razer Chroma is further augmented with the ability to sync lighting effects with on-screen content – be it music streamed on Spotify, videos on YouTube or Netflix, or other games.
Google’s Nest Hub (SGD 189) slaps a screen on top of regular Google Assistant capabilities. This means that it can cast YouTube videos, relay the feed from the baby monitor or surveillance camera, or show visual instructions for that recipe you’re trying.
At SGD 65, the Google Nest Mini takes after its predecessor the Google Home Mini. It’s an unobtrusive smart speaker that now has touch-sensitive controls to make it easier to tweak the volume of.
Smartphones & Tablets
After a lukewarm spate of releases last year, Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro (SGD 1,649) has been very well received with vast improvements made in terms of photography. A new third ultra-wide lens, along with Night Mode and Deep Fusion makes it a top contender this year.
Those who prefer phones in the Android camp might want to consider the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
We weren’t the biggest fans of Google’s Pixel 4 devices in particular this year, but that doesn’t make them terrible options by any stretch of the imagination. They’re still improved from last year’s Pixel 3 smartphones, and boast some of the best camera performance on a smartphone anywhere.
Oppo’s Reno2 follows up the brand’s iconic all-display design with a remarkable package. Four cameras bring an ultra-wide perspective, Ultra Night Mode to spruce up your creative options, while 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM ensure it keeps chugging along throughout the day. And – yes, it has a 3.5mm audio port.
Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad (SGD 499) ticks all the bells and whistles this year, bringing Smart Keyboard support alongside Pencil compatibility, Apple’s powerful iWork suite, and powerful multitasking. The iPad Mini 5 (SGD 599) is also a pretty good choice for those who love reading
For iPad users, the Paperlike (SGD 44.52) screen protector is a great first step on a journey of creativity on drawing apps like Adobe Fresco and Procreate.
Cases from Otterbox would pair perfectly with clumsy friends, or perhaps loved ones who move around a lot.
We particularly enjoyed its Symmetry series (SGD 64.90) that sports some vivid designs. The Commuter series (SGD 48.90) combines a hard shell with a silicone slipover within for added protection. For those who love using Popsockets, the Otter+Pop brings convenience and protection at SGD 79.90.
Mobile gaming fanatics might enjoy Razer’s cooling Archtech Pro (SGD 49.90) cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. They come in Razer’s Black/Green combination, Pink and White, which means it’s easy to match and find a nice combination for anyone.
The Arctech cases sport a proprietary material, Thermaphene that dissipates heat to prevent throttling during heavy use.
What are some unique gifts you are planning to get for your loved ones? Did we miss anything in our list that you think everyone has to know? Let us know.