It is that time of the year again where we present the Gadget of the Year 2019. This time we have moved from a newsletter to it’s own blog and been freed from the clutches of banking. If you like what you see and or have been forwarded this by someone else, be sure to subscribe so you can keep up to date with the latest gadget reviews.
Here is the list for 2019:
Mavic Mini ($350)
The King of drones, DJI, has done it again. They have pushed the envelope on design and functionality that has actually made me confine by Mavic pro to the electronic dustbin in the sky and move to this cheaper, smaller and lighter alternative.
In terms of features, it is missing obstacle avoidance and 4K video. That is, however, a small price to pay for the weight savings. Despite its size, it manages a shocking 30 mins flight time which is more than enough to capture those fun Dronies for your Insta.
The Mini is so small that when folded it can fit inside a jacket pocket easily meaning you are far more likely to want to drop it in your bag when you are out and about than the Mavic pro. At under $400 this is a steal for the amount of tech there is in this thing.
Apple Airpods Pro
The arrival of the Apple Airpods was met with a huge sign of scepticism from consumers who just saw it initially as yet another ruse to pry yet more money from the hands of Apple users. However, leveraging the know-how they have amassed from the Beats acquisition and learnings from the original Airpods, Apple has produced a truly wonderful product.
The Noise Cancellation is as good if not better than Bose in-ear headphones. Thanks to the vents on the side they do not produce that same in-ear pressure that is common with other Noise Cancelling products. The lightweight belies that generous battery that gives a few hours of talktime with full noise cancelling on.
So much has this changed the game that I do not even carry my Bose headphones around any more and will be swiftly selling them on Carousell soon!
So is it worth it? 100% yes. This is a MUST have accessory for anyone with an iPhone
Polaroid Snap Touch
Instant cameras make instant friends, or so goes the old saying that I just made up. Bringing one of these to any party will be sure to result in smiles and little momentos that people can take away. The film is quite expensive so the advent of the touchscreen and the ability to send photos to the camera via Bluetooth makes this gadget far more useable. You can view, edit and print only those pics that are “worthy” and junk the rest which means you have less anxiety about wasting film.
This makes not only a great present but also a great bringalong gift to your next Xmas party, will be sure to be a big hit
Lenovo X1 Carbon
After starting my new job I spent a lot of time researching the best laptop that balanced, speed, power and weight. I had considered a Macbook Air for a hot second but quickly realised that it was a complete ripoff for what it was. The last straw was them trying to make me buy USB to USBC converters because they didn’t want to include USB ports.
So Windows it was. I spent a lot of time toying between the excellent Dell XPS series and X1. The downside of the X1 is that you do look like a banker when in a meeting but the upside is everything else. The screen is crisp and clear and folds completely flat which is strangely useful when collaborating in groups. This year’s model also allows for a touchscreen with minimal weight additions. I have yet to experience any performance in day to day tasks, the processor feels snappy even when you have a tonne of tabs open
There are a few niggles. The microphone isn’t quite as sensitive as it should be, my iPhone is way better and the speaker, located under the laptop can be a bit quiet on some calls at times, a boost here would have been welcome.
Battery life is excellent, especially on low power mode, it seems to last forever. I would highly recommend getting a third-party USB-C charger for travelling as the stock charger is heavy and kind of defeats the point of having a super-lightweight laptop in your bag.
Overall, it’s an excellent machine and would highly recommend it if you are in the market for a new laptop for work or at home
Philips Hue strip light
Buying a lamp is annoying. finding one that is the perfect height, look, brightness, can be turned on and off easily is really tough. I eventually settled on the Philips Hue striplight instead of a traditional living room lamp and the experience has been awesome.
Firstly, the light is very bright but this brightness can be controlled very precisely. So you can set it at different levels for watching TV, or for eating dinner etc. The color is also fully customisable depending on your mood, setting it at a warm sunset hue makes a huge difference to the atmosphere of the room.
The entire setup is controlled either by the native Philips app or by Alexa and Google Home. You can set it so that it automatically turns on and off as you leave your house or even set it on a timer to turn on whilst you are away on holiday so it looks like someone is still at home.
Breville Smoking gun ($120)
In keeping with the tradition of sending out at least one kitchen gadget each year. This year was a tough choice, because actually the gadget that I have found the most useful has been the Thermo Pro digital thermometer. That is nothing new though so I felt bad putting it on here. So here is a gadget that delivers that “oh wow” moment for amateur cooks that is both inexpensive and easy to use. You can add different smoke flavours very easily and experiment with all different types of meats and drinks even. Use a glass cloche to reveal the dish at the table as the smoke melts away for a double “oh wow” moment.
Sonic Massage Gun ($200)
One of the best purchases of the year. Cheaper and quieter than the much vaunted Theragun and serves the same purpose. 5-10 mins of this has proved to be as effective as a 1 hour massage for general aches and pains. The first time anyone uses this, the effect is the same. Everyone wants one! The massage ball (and extra attachments) and the different power settings allows for highly accurate myofascial release. I have been using this along with a combination of yoga and stretching to help tightness afer a work out and from sitting at a desk all day. It is highly effective.
For the cost of a few massages, this product is well worth the investment and makes a great Xmas present. Just be sure to fully charge before giving it as everyone will want to test it out.
The Mirror ($1500)
This smart mirror is basically Peloton for everything else. Despite Peloton’s recent advertisement glitches, they have still redefined home fitness. They have brought home exercise from the Jane Fonda, video age to a connected, community experience. Mirror aims to do the same for other types of workout classes.
I really like this trend. Anything that reduces the barrier for people to start working out is great, but I hate these price points. I do wonder what will happen next year when Apple introduces its 3D sensing chip into the back-facing camera. At which point, we will have a high powered 3D sensor in our phone that can give live feedback on form as we workout. That should bring a whole slew of new companies to market that will take advantage of it.
1Password Gift Card
It still flabbergasts me, how people today complain about their security and privacy online and yet, use the same passwords on every single website. They don’t even have two-factor authentication on the most important service they use, email.
If this sounds like you or someone you know then, please, do them a huge favour and buy them a subscription to 1Password. This service secure everything from logins to medical information and private papers. It is important for a number of reasons,: (a) so that you can have secure passwords at the touch of a button (b) as our lives become more digital and you are doing estate planning. Having a digital vault with all your passwords is just like writing a Will. You can then hand that password over to your estate when they need to access your life online. Sounds morbid but it’s just good life hygiene.
Oh, and that brings me back to Gmail. I have read about too many people (and seen it with my own eyes) getting hacked. This could have been easily prevented by turning on Two Factor Authentication, so please do it now and not regret it later.
Wemo Smart Plug
Tthere are lots of brands of Smart Plug out there who all do an equally good job at making your home “smart”. Just remember to stick to one brand otherwise you will have a tonne of apps on your phone controlling different plugs.
I find these plugs especially useful for places like your home entertainment system where you have a lot of things plugged in and its a jumbled mess. Having the smart plug and being able to turn on and off appliances both using the app and voice commands is useful and handy.
Winner: Airpods Pro – hands down the best gadget of the year. Get them now before they sell out!