Preparing annual gift guides is hard, simply because we always see so much gear we want for ourselves! Here’s some of the new, exciting and usually expensive tech that’ll be on our Christmas lists.
Ableton Push 2
Danny Allen, Managing Editor & Publisher
Way back in 2012, a all I wanted for Christmas was an Ableton Push — a grid-based controller for music production and performance with Ableton Live software. The upshot: 64 backlit pads to play notes, samples or loops on a grid with chord or scale setup and support for after-touch and velocity. I totally bought one and have loved using it since (including to write the music for Gizmodos’ new podcast). Well, the new Push 2 model just got released complete with fancy extra features and interface enhancements. I want it. A lot. And this is awesome: Ableton will let Australians trade in an old Push for a 30% discount! Returned units get refurbished and given to music education projects for young people.
Bonus: Looking to get started with grid-based finger drumming? Check out Melodics — tutorial software that turns developing muscle memory into a game.
Ableton Push 2, from $1009 AUD
LG 49UF770T UHD TV
Luke Hopewell, Former Gizmodo Editor Who Worked Here When He Wrote This
When I bought my last TV in 2008, there was no such thing as 4K, no such thing as a “smart” TV, and no such thing as thin and light designs. Now that my old Sony 55-inch Bravia is getting a bit long in the tooth, I’d love a sexy new panel to bring me up to date. I have a helluvalot of gaming to do this Christmas, and a 4K TV would be perfect to do it on.
LG 49UF770T, $2399
Razer Naga Hex
Amanda Yeo, Early Morning Sub Editor
I got back into Dota 2 in a big way this year, and Razer’s Naga Hex has me making pathetic grabby hands at my screen. Aesthetically it might be polarising – most people either find it absolutely gorgeous or a hideous abomination – but I’m all about the practicality. Those six mechanical buttons by the thumb are perfect for item slots, which they should be considering Razer built this mouse with MOBAs in mind. They even released an official League of Legends edition (if that’s what you’re into).
It’s been out for a while, but in my opinion the Naga Hex still the best optimised mouse for MOBA gaming. It has markedly fewer buttons than the Naga, which means fewer buttons to remember and fewer misclicks, plus the interchangeable thumb rest can be swapped out for a larger one if I find my thumb slipping. I’ve heard a few reports of people finding the Naga Hex too cramped, but that should be perfect for me and my small hands.
Razer Naga Hex, $139.95
A Really Heavy, Durable Baking Dish
Alex Walker, Kotaku Australia Journalist
This isn’t the exact dish I’m after; I’d like something antique, maybe something gamer themed, but what I’d really like is a nice, fucking large, solid baking dish.
Hear me out for a second.
I’m going home slightly early for Christmas. This will thrill my parents. They love me to bits, for reasons unknown. And in turn, I like to do things that showcase my affection for them.
I’m a bit of an adventurous cook in the sense that occasionally I’ll see something and go YUP I’M MAKING THAT despite having zero experience or prior grounding in the recipe I’m going to make. That’s fun. It’s exciting. And my parents are shamefully exploiting this fact since I’m going to be stuck with them for like 7+ days or something.
But I don’t have a decent baking dish of my own. And by decent I mean the kind of thing that you’d be proud to still be using in 20-30 years time. Something huge and thick. Something you could make a massive pie in. Something sturdy to do a double bread and butter pudding in. Or a huge pie. Or a cake within a pie (yes that’s a thing). Or even a super nice ricotta and mozzarella frittata I made earlier this year that I really want to type now I write that sentence and damn I haven’t had something to eat yet.
I’m hungry now.
But anyway, I want a nice baking dish. But not any baking dish. And certainly not the one above. Bugger that plain crap. I want something solid. Something that lasts. And I want to make some pie.
Commodore Amiga 500 (and I don’t care)
Chris Jager, Lifehacker Editor
The Amiga 500 was the first computer I fell in love with. It had an intuitive operating system, was almost impossible to crash or kill and was the best games machine of its era (come at me, SNES fans!)
There are plenty of Amiga emulators out there, but it’s just not the same thing. I pine to play Xenon II on a bona fide machine with a Quickshot joystick. Time to hit the collector’s market…
Spandas Lui, Journalist at Lifehacker
After watching two dirt bikes zipped past me during a recent trip to a national park, I’ve been obsessed with getting one for myself. I love the idea of riding through all sorts of terrain on a motorcycle. Since dirt bikes are made to be thrashed around, it’d be so liberating to just get on one for some fun without having to worry about crashing it/dropping it/putting it through hell.
I’ve been eyeing out ones from Kawasaki, but the Honda CRF230F seems like a pretty good option for my first dirt bike. It’s user-friendly and lightweight, which makes it extremely appealing for a small girl like myself. Do want.
Honda CRF230F, Under $5,920
Microsoft Surface Book
Campbell Simpson, Gizmodo Editor
I’ve been playing with the $2299-plus Surface Book a lot for the last month, and every day I use it, I want to keep it more and more. It’s so well built. The screen is absolutely beautiful, and very detailed for its still-compact size. It has just that little bit extra of processing power compared to the also-excellent Surface Pro 4. It can even handle a bit of gaming on the side.
More than just its specs, though, I just like the idea behind it — it’s not a tablet that can turn into a laptop, it’s a laptop that can turn into a tablet. That sits perfectly with the way that I work, and (very rarely) play. It feels like a bold experiment, and one that I want to back. Plus, if someone else is paying, I’ll go for the $4199 full-fat 512GB SSD, Core Intel i7, 16GB RAM, dedicated Nvidia GPU model.
Microsoft Surface Book, from $2299
Monster Sport Superslim Bluetooth In-ear Headphones
Music is a necessity for me when I work out, but I have yet to find a pair of headphones that can accommodate all sorts of different workouts. Monster’s iSport Superslim headphones are perfect in that they come with five different options for silicon ear tips sizes and three options for the ear hook, so they can be either as loose or tight as you want/need them to be. What’s more, with the Bluetooth option, I won’t have to worry about any clunky wire getting in the way (ever tried to do burpees wearing headphones?). With its 9m range, you can tuck your phone safely out of harm’s way while you workout. Its inline controls allow for volume adjustments on the fly. The battery lasts for over five hours, so I’ll be able to go about a week between charges (which is done via micro-USB rechargeable). These things are also water resistant, so I’ll be able to sweat all over them and give them a good wash afterward. And lastly — and most importantly — they sound great.
Outdoor Research Stormtracker Heated Gloves
Outdoor Research has taken the decades-old heated glove concept, and applied enough modern technology and outdoor smarts to make it really work. A lithium-ion battery in each glove delivers heat throughout your entire hand, using a flexible element running down each finger. The amount of heat is customisable: eight hours of moderate warmth, or two hours of gentle inferno for cold snaps. Sure, $US25 ($35)0 ($345) (MSRP) is painfully expensive for a pair of gloves, but the build quality and fit is fantastic, and the holy grail of dexterity and warmth is worth it.
Steampunk Sculptures by Susan Beatrice
Artist Susan Beatrice makes these intricately designed miniature sculptures out of old, discarded pocket watch parts — small enough to balance on a single finger, yet rife with exquisite mechanical detail. There’s a cat, a bunny rabbit, a mouse with a plate of niblets, a seahorse, a miniature violin, and (my personal favourite) the teensy dragon worthy of Daenerys Targaryen shown above. Beatrice only uses parts from non-working watches (“I would never destroy a watch that works”) and says these creations are her way of expressing her sense of time and mortality. I just think they’re lovely. She only has a few pendants available for sale at the moment (starting at $US99 ($137), but she takes commissions!
Audio-Technica LP120 Professional Turntable
I was re-reading Mario’s excellent the other day, and I decided I wanted to own music again — in a collector’s sense. CDs didn’t exactly feel right, so why not vinyl? I’ve never been much of a vinyl listener before, but I had a friend in college that swore by them. I think it’s more engaging with the music, actively flipping the record when hanging out with friends. And call me crazy, but I actually like all the pops, scrapes, and other analogue noise that pop up.
S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra SG
Most of my exercise comes from cycling, but in the past couple ofmonths I’ve been running more. Not crazy distances — a few six-mile runs a week, the occasional half marathon, that kind of thing. Thing is, roads and riverside paths get kind of boring, and now I want to take things off-road. Unlike cycling, which requires a completely different bike, when it comes to running the only change I need to make is to my footwear. Salomon’s S-Lab series are the favoured shoes of off-road ultramarathon runners the world over, so they will probably do me just fine. You can order a pair at Salomon’s online store for $US170 ($235).
Teenage Engineering Rhythm Pocket Operators
These crazy little gadgets are insane amounts of fun for the musically inclined. They are essentially miniature synthesizers that let you program sequences of sounds into delightful electro masterpieces. There are three different Pocket Operators — the PO-12 is for constructing beats, PO-14 is for bass lines, and PO-16 is for your melodies — but they each have a sequencer and its own set of sounds and effects to tweak. The great thing about these is that they really encourage experimentation. There is a learning curve for sure, but that’s part of the fun! If you’re getting started, I’d recommend the rhythm based PO-12. If you like it, you can buy the other ones and sync them together and go crazy! • Michael Hession
Playstation 4 Uncharted Bundle
I am not a gamer, but once upon a time in another life before I discovered guitars, I really really really really liked video games. Now I am old, and I live in NYC in an apartment where I can’t really play electric guitar, so I might as well play video games again. I don’t really have a good reason for choosing the Playstation 4 over the Xbox One, except that it’s what my friends have and I’m told the games are better. Also, I hear Uncharted is a fun series, so sure, this bundle looks like a good way to get started.
Clarisonic Mia 2 Facial Sonic Cleansing System
When I first heard about the Clarisonic, I had serious doubts. Who drops bank on a fancy brand-name electronic to clean her face instead of using a washcloth and, like, St. Ives? A duchess? Then I went home last Christmas and my mum had one. Guess what? My mum is a genius. Washing with the Clarisonic felt like I’d reached a new and lofty level of hygiene. As it sloughed my dead skin, it gave me a fleeting glimpse of purity. Renewal was truly possible. Life had another setting besides “filthy beyond measure.” I don’t know if the Clarisonic really makes any difference in terms of how my skin looks, but that doesn’t matter. This is an A+++++++ tool to temporarily ward off internalized shame about the decrepitude of flesh.
Yo-kai Watch for Nintendo 3DS
When we covered New York Comic Con this year, one thing was crystal clear: The yokai are coming. What’s being described as “the next Pokémon,” Yo-kai Watch follows a kid who uses a Ghostbusters-like watch to neutralise trouble-making ghosts — or yo-kai — in their town. I unapologetically embrace colourful, cartoon-y games aimed at people a third my age, especially considering its rave reviews that made it and its sequel fly off Japanese shelves. Even if you’re a casual gamer, but if you love Japanese stuff, this game plops you right in the middle of a town in Japan, wacky ghosts based off Japanese myth galore. $US39.99 ($55)
To the Center of the Bedding! Bed Set
If you’re an Earth science nerd, it’s not enough to just live and breathe on a tectonically active world. You feel compelled to surround yourself with material reminders of deep time and our planet’s inner workings. What better way to do so than to snuggle up every night under a gorgeous rendition of Earth’s interior? Sure, the crust is a little thicker than it ought to be, and geologists might quibble over the exact location of the upper lower-mantle boundary, but props to the designers for throwing in an amber-encased mosquito and a trusty shovel pillow. Those are nice touches. The quilts come in twin ($US189 ($261)) and Queen sizes ($US219 ($302)), while the pillows and shams are sold separately ($US19 ($26)-34). One or all items can ordered at The Land of Nod.
Atlas NT370 Nitrile Gloves
Forget socks or clementine oranges: what I want to find balled up in the toe of my stocking is a few pairs of Atlas nitrile touch gloves. Intended for gardening, these minor miracles are indispensable in the field, and I always welcome another set. The grippy palms protect my hands, yet are thin enough that I can do high-dexterity tasks like splice wire. The stretchy, breathable body dries fast after getting submerged, and can even handle getting tossed in the laundry with the rest of my field gear if I go grabbing at smelly fish guts. They come in bright colours to make it easy to find a dropped glove, but best of all, they come in a variety of lady-friendly sizes so I don’t need to constantly whine that all my gear is built for someone six times my size. •
UE Boom 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Adam Clark Estes
We’ve said it a million times, but the UE Boom is the best Bluetooth speaker out there. The rugged little cylinder of sound lets you take your music absolutely anywhere, even on a boat. You don’t need to worry about dropping it in the water, either, since the second generation of this great gadget is completely waterproof. It’s fun and useful, and if you get one, I’m sure you’ll soon find it indispensable.
The New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual
A few years ago, a pair of graphic designers made a discovery in the basement of the design firm Pentagram. In a locker, beneath “someone’s crumpled gym clothes,” there was a rare original copy of the 1970s manual that defines every sign, map, and colour you see in the subway system, as designed by the late Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. They set in motion a plan to re-issue the manual via Kickstarter — with the MTA’s permission — and ended up raising more than $US800,000 ($1,104,955). I missed the original Kickstarter campaign, OF COURSE, but lucky for procrastinators like me, there’s a smaller (and cheaper!) “compact” edition available online now for $US54.95 ($76). I want it because it pulls together a bunch of great stories: Of the evolution of subway system, of two great graphic designers who had a huge impact on our world, and of course, of the extremely unlikely fact that it was rediscovered at all!
Mazu 12-Piece Unlocking Lock Pick Set Key Extractor Tool + Transparent Practice Padlocks
Esther Inglis Arkell
As someone who was raised on young-adult mystery novels in which the characters had to get into old abandoned buildings and extract themselves from handcuffs, I’ve always wanted to be able to pick locks. When I found out that Richard Feynman taught himself to pick locks and then crack safes at Los Alamos, my decision was made. This lock pick set comes with a practice padlock made of transparent plastic, so you can see what you’re doing as you try to unpick your first few locks. After that, I plan to move on to all the locks in my house, then the neighbouring houses. Who knows? Maybe I can work my way up to cars. My point is, treasure 2015, because it’s the last year that anyone will ever be safe.
Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 IV Digital Camera
Once Sony stopped trying to push MemorySticks down our throats and instead focused those efforts on more useful features, its compact digital cameras became some of the best in their class. For years Sony’s RX100 MKII has been my faithful shooting companion on vacations, at trade shows, and anywhere my smartphone’s camera falls short — but it’s finally time for an upgrade. The aesthetics of the RX100 line haven’t changed much over the past four revisions, but the latest model introduces important upgrades on the inside including faster autofocus, 4K video recording, and high-speed video recording up to 960 frames per second for some wonderful slo-mo footage. It’s also the most expensive of the RX100s to date, but compact enough to be worth carrying everywhere, and far more capable a shooter than your phone.
Shapes of Cities Posters by Yoni Alter
We’ve all seen those posters that commemorate a city’s most famous buildings, but no one does it quite as elegantly as Yoni Alter. For the Shapes of Cities series, the London-based designer draws a handful of notable structures, assigns each a vibrant colour, and layers them like pieces of tissue paper onto an impossible skyline. But there’s one more crucial detail for architecture nerds: The buildings are to scale, making the various shapes and sizes all the more fascinating to contemplate. More than 50 cities are available — Alter’s adding more all the time — and they’re affordable enough to buy several, thanks to a deal that allows you to purchase three prints for $US116 ($160).
Le Creuset 7-1/4-Quart Round Dutch Oven
You know what a nice thing to get is? A sincerely felt compliment. An even nicer thing to get is one of these: a great dutch oven. This La Creuset is beautiful (I especially like it in the flame colour), it lasts forever, and — due to the cast-iron lying underneath that ceramic — it holds cooking heat incredibly evenly. The real virtue here, though, is its versatility. It cooks just as well on the stove as in it, and swaps between the two easily. • Ria Misra
Patagonia Merino Air Base Layers
The most comfortable base layers yet are woven into a unique 3D pattern from a synthetic/merino blend that facilitates optimal moisture wicking, temperature regulation and breathability. That pattern opens up the weave, increasing trapped air space without adding weight, making Merino Air both incredibly warm, and also able to remain comfortable once you’re indoors. Seamless construction eliminates the potential for chafing and the fabric’s hand is incredibly soft. Merino Air will improve the comfort of anyone going outdoors in cold weather; they make a perfect gift whether you’re giving them to a mountaineer or your mum. Crew shirts and bottoms ($US129 ($178) each) and hoodies ($US149 ($206)) for both men and women are available on the Patagonia store here.
Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera
The company known for making instant pictures a thing has joined the new century with the Snap, a camera that allows you to hoard your pictures digitally and also print them out in small, cute 2×3 prints. Best of all, the “ZINK zero ink” feature means you don’t have to constantly replace toner. All you need to buy for the camera is new paper, which runs cheaper than Polaroid film in my childhood. An instant picture at a party or reunion is like a magic trick. And with a 10MP sensor and a micro SD card slot that can be expanded to 32 gigs, the Snap isn’t a bad digital camera on its own. The fact that it can produce real-time pictures and has a reasonable pricetag makes me want one very badly.
Heritage Time Capsule Composite Cylinder
Tell me friends, are you tired of time capsules that leave your priceless treasures nothing but a soggy mess after time capsule soggy-ness.
DodoCase Durables Sleeve for iPad Air 2
I kind of hate the idea of putting my constant electronic companion in a big, bulky, hard-to-handle case, but I still want to protect it from scuffs and falls. This three-layer sleeve is my ideal alternative. The soft cotton pocket keeps my screen scratch-free, while the outer layer of waxed canvas keeps the electronics safe from diet soda spills. It comes in three stylish colour schemes, all of which wear well with time. Each case is $US69.95 ($97) and can be ordered directly from DodoCase.