Gadget of the Year 2020

Thanks for taking the time to view my 2020 gadget list.  This year the list is heavily influenced by WFH gadgets as the COVID pandemic has changed our lives completely. You will also note that for the second year in a row there is no iPhone.  Once again Apple has produced an OK incremental upgrade but isn’t worthy of being on the list.  

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Aveine Smart Aerator

$299One of the key household purchases that indicate you are truly an adult is when you buy a decanter for the first time. Even if you have no idea what it means to “let it open up”, you will gain an immediate air of a wine expert when you say those words. This gadget will take you to a whole new level, allow precise aeration that actually looks like it works to make the experience more enjoyable. Of course its also connected to an app! Given that you are no longer going to as many restaurants you may as well treat yourself!

Buy Now

Wine Save Pro

$38During the pandemic, alcohol sales soared. Everyone was finding themselves pouring glasses at odd hours, sometimes even during conference calls (yes I am talking to you). Being forced to finish a bottle because its open is one of the surest ways to make your WFH morning experience way worse than it needs to be. Coravin pioneered the space with a wine saver gadget that costs more than a small car. This which does essentially the same thing by squirting Argon gas into your bottle. It will extend your bottle life for days and means you can have just one more without feeling too guilty. (Disclosure: I got a free bottle to review)

Buy now


THE most hotly anticipated console of the decade. Expected to trounce Microsoft in sales given their existing 140mln user base and better title release slate. The PS5 has launched to huge disappointment from fans around the world arising from global shortages. The PS5 features super fast SSD so no more long load times between levels, blistering graphics that are 4K enabled and big upgrades to the controller. You will now feel the difference between guns for example as the controller provides haptic feedback 

Sony Wireless Lamp Speakers

Its a speaker, its a lamp, its just a really pretty piece of kit that you can put on your side table and not be classed as too much of a geek

Buy Now

Infrared Faucet

It used to be that you knew you were in a fancy restaurants if they had infrared operated taps. Today its common place outside but no in the home…yet. With COVID today there is a greater need to reduce the amount of contact you have with surfaces when washing your hands. This is just a super convenient and cheap gadget that will make life that much easier 

Buy Now

LG Widescreen Monitor

$200A comfortable WFH set up is key to not going completely mad. Today there are plenty of cheap widescreen monitor in the market that relieve the insanity of the small screen monitors. Get one and don’t look back

Buy Now


$30We are all watching more TV than we should. But Queen’s Gambit and Fauda have been standout 2020 TV shows. If you don’t have a Smart TV then get the latest Roku. Absurdly good value for money and allows you to instantly watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO etc all powered by the Roku stick. When we start travelling again you can also stick in your carry on and plug it into any hotel TV. 

Buy Now

Wake Up Therapy Philips

$126As we start to go back to work and our alarm clocks become more important. Buy this nifty gadget to help kickstart the production of Vitamin B to give you the best start in the morning. It’s like having your very own personal sunrise next to your head.

Buy Now

Google Mesh WIFI

$200 for 3
Personally I am tempted to go old school and buy a desktop PC that is wired into my router. Because if WFH is going to a somewhat permanent feature, why are we using laptops again? Regardless, everyone has had bad experiences of WIFI connection issues. If you have thick walls or a larger house it can be very sketchy getting signal. Invest in a mesh network to extend your WIFI signal across your house, money well spent

Buy Now

Nanit Baby Monitor

$250 Babytech has been huge over the last two years. Nanit uses AI to tell you a lot about your baby, if its asleep, awake, who went in to tend to them etc. If you are into data to track your baby’s development and be assured that things are on track or not this is a great investment.

Buy Now

Jabra Bluetooth Headset

$220 Airpods are great for taking conference calls but I do find that they won’t last for a marathon of conference calls and because the microphone is so far away, you tend to find that you are shouting a little if you aren’t in total silence. Jabra has a solution, with this wireless headphones that has a boom microphone, giving you much more control and more natural speech than just using Airpods alone. I admit it doesn’t look the coolest but it will save your voice and the ears of your listener.

Buy Now


$89 each / $289 for three with WIFI module
Another benefit of WFH has been how much everyone has been cooking. Anyone that has made a large roast or steak knows just how tricky it can be to properly cook the meat through. Having a wired thermometer is fine if its on the griddle but using an oven it can be a pain. Enter Meater, wireless thermometer that you stick in the meat whilst in the oven and alerts your app when the meat is ready, easy!

Buy Now

Ring Light

If your home office has poor lighting it will make you look ill and tired. Not really what you want when trying to look your best for that important zoom call. Invest in a simple and cheap ring light to banish dull washed out skin to a thing of the past

Buy Now

Jabre Bluetooth Conference Speaker

One of the benefits of WFH has been Zoom dinners. I am not sure about you, but I have actually really enjoyed them. Catching up with people from around the world over video is acceptable and is a really positive tailwind from this pandemic. One issue is that your phones speakers will just not cut it. So buy a tripod for your phone so the viewer can have a wider view and invest in a decent bluetooth conference speaker to put on the dinner table for perfect speaker and sound. 

Buy Now

Razer Chair

If you don’t want to spend the cost of small car on a fancy Aeron chair then look no further. If you think about what demographic knows what it takes to sit in a chair for a hours on end and still be comfortable? Gamers! And who better to design a gaming chair than the experts at Razer. Not fully released yet but put your name down and be the first in the queue

Buy Now

Facebook Portal

Ok after the scandals and your Zoom fatigue you are going to tell me “you want me to have a screen just for zoom and give my data to Facebook?, are you crazy?” But hear me out. If your desk is big enough, this is a really interesting device. Firstly the array of microphones and speakers make it a far better device for doing calls on than your laptop. Second and most importantly, the camera itself uses AI to track your movements. So that you are always centred. This has been shown to reduce zoom fatigue and provide for a much more natural conversation. The reviews have been surprisingly good so take a look and then give it a try

Buy Now

Arlo Video Door Bell

The WIFI connected door bells continue to get better and better and this is the first year that I am including one here. It is definitely a close call between the Nest doorbell and this, both are excellent. However, Arlo has some interesting AI features (can distinguish between dogs, people and packages) also stops some intruder warnings automatically when you are at home using geofencing. These things are charged with battery packs so no need to rewire your house

Buy Now

Smart Heater Switch

During lockdown one of the most shocking things was just how much my electric bills shot up. I managed to get my bills down from $500 to $150 and one of the ways was investing in a connected hot water switch. There is no need to keep your hot water switched on all the time. Realistically you mostly shower at the same times each day. Having it on a timer but also being able to control it on data at any time has resulted in huge cost savings. This device literally paid for itself within a month! Not to mention the pleasant glow you will have from saving the environment

Buy Now

WINNER of Gadget of the Year 2020: Playstation 5

Gadget of the year 2019

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)

Mavic Mini

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

Apple Airpods

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

Polaroid Snap Touch 2.0

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

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

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)

Breville Smoker

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)

Sonic Massage Gun

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)

The Mirror

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

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

Wemo Mini 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!

Gadget of the year 2018

Arlo Camera

Arlo Camera system (US$430) A lot of people are a big fan of this new breed of indoor security cams but the hidden charges in these products stem from the monthly subscription for storing video in the cloud. Arlo offers 7 days of free cloud recording which is better than competitors and the camera is pretty much the same IMHO.

Ambi Climate
Ambi Climate  (US$129) If you ever sleep with air con and feel hot when you get to bed and freezing cold in the morning, this is the must-have gadget for you that will pay for itself multiple times over. The temperature you “feel” in your room is a function of humidity, actual temperature and outside temperature and your body heat. All of these factors change during the night, typically for the cooler and that’s why you feel cold when you wake up. Ambi Climate (an HK based startup) adjusts your aircon with AI through the night to make sure it’s always the perfect temperature. Saving money and shivering bones.  

Bose Quietcomfort 35

Bose Quietcomfort 35 (US$350) I always used to hate on those people that boarded flights with huge cans on their heads. I mean seriously, how good could this so called noise cancelling be to sacrifice looking cool? Well I know I am seriously late to this game but with the introduction of the best-selling Quietcomforts in wireless meant that I finally took the plunge.

Yes it is amazing and yes I can’t take a flight without them and yes you were right the whole time. Just buy them  

Airpods (US$129)

The second year this makes it to the list because they simply are the best headphones for daily use. Right now these are the one reason that I am not moving to Android.  However, Airpods 2 are coming out in April so maybe hold fire. They aren’t like to be a huge improvement but if like mine, your battery is getting weak then better to wait a few months.


Aaptiv (~US$60/yr)

Having tried a bunch of app-based workouts this is by far the best one.  Firstly they are fully audio-guided, so you don’t need to watch a video. It can multitask so during breaks you can still use your phone if you really need. Has everything from HIIT workouts to stretches to mediation.  All with varying durations to fit in the time that you have.

Image result for tassel lightning cable
Tassel Lightening Cable

Tassel Lightening Cable (US$60)

Because even gadgets can look cute. Great stocking filler

Image result for dyson airwrap

Dyson Airwrap (US$550)

Using some mind-bending physics to curl hair instantly and with less fuss.   Makes me want to grow my hair just to use one


Air Fryer (US$83)

Another example of mind-bending tech that uses almost zero oil to “deep fry” various foods from fries to even “baking” cakes in minutes. Uses some fancy physics tech that I don’t really understand. Finally, you can have guilt-free chicken wings and sweet potato fries!  You have to see it to believe it.

Image result for bolt portable charger
Bolt charger

Bolt Portable charger (US$30)

Super-fast charger for iPhone and USB devices. Simple

Phillips connected lightbulbs

Phillips connected lightbulbs (US$50)

Because walking into your house and saying “Alexa turn on my lights” and your lights turn on or “Alexa it’s Movie time” and all your lights are dimmed perfectly makes me feel like I am in the Jetsons.

Razer microphone

Razer Microphone for game streamers (US$199)

Because all those mums that told you that you amount to nothing if you played video games all day were dead wrong. A guy called Ninja plays Fortnite and makes more money than you

iRobot Mop

The iRobot Braava Robot Mop (Yes, Mop!) (US$178)

We asked for Autonomous cars and we got Autonomous…mops. Well it’s a start. At least we don’t have to choose between the killing the Grandma or a kid just yet.

AI, voice connected, heated Jacket (US$495)

My favourite men’s clothing supplier (ex Nasa design engineers making functional men’s clothing) have made an AI, voice controlled, heated jacket. The project blew Kickstarter apart and is now actually shipping. If I didn’t live in one of the hottest cities in the world I would definitely buy one

Surface Book 2

Microsoft Surface Laptop (US$688)

As most of you know I have been a huge Apple aficionado for decades now.  Everything in my house is Apple, until this year.  I looked at replacing my Macbook air and was appalled at how expensive the MacBook pro was and how once you had paid almost US$3k for the machine you then were forced to buy a bunch of converter cables as it has USB C ports, not USB.  I deleted my basket and bought the pro version of this (the difference is that it’s more powerful and the screen detaches which I like). Having a touchscreen laptop is a game changer and the laptop is zippy and great to use. I haven’t missed Mac OS once. Now I realise how easy it was to extract myself from Apple..what will be next?

Pixel 3 (US$770)

Outside of the very cool efficiency tools that they provide on Pixel, for me, the camera in low light conditions is mind boggling.  Google fully leverages their AI tech to turn the single camera into a photo taking machine that is more powerful than a US$10k DSLR and let us know even start on the poor quality pics that iPhones take in comparison. Click the link to see what I mean

Gadget of the Year 2016

Gadget of the Year Winner – DJI Mavic Pro

US$1,000 with all the extras

There are occasions when you play with a gadget that opens your mind to not only the possibilities of what you can do with it but also what others can too. 


The minute you hold the Mavic pro in your hand you realise you have something special, it’s so small and well designed compared to other drones that you spent the first few mins just staring. 


I have travelled with mine to the UK and US and confirm it is VERY portable. However, it isn’t until you fly it and wonder at the technowizadry that it really comes into its own. I found it amazing how (a) it stays so still despite it being windy (b) how crisp and detailed the video is with almost no lag (c) the slick controller which fits right over your smartphone making flying intuitive and fun. Being able to get footage or pictures that would previously cost hundred’s of thousands of dollars a few years ago at a fraction of the cost makes you look at the world in a different way.  


But I think the big difference that may make DJI succeed where GoPro failed is that they understand that it has to super easy to edit and upload footage taken from a drone.  Their app is intuitive and easy to use. You don’t end up with GB’s of unused video sat on your hard  drive (like I do with Go Pro) If you want to see my first drone footage ask me and I can send the link.


Oh and of course, Dronies are the new Selfies (link & link)


Note: If you get this remember to check out the no fly zones and don’t fly in crowded areas.  If fly in the US make sure you register with the FAA otherwise you could get arrested.




PS4 Pro (without VR)


I was very tempted to include the PS VR Headset with the PS4 Pro.  See below on VR as to why I didn’t include any of the VR headsets this year. In the meantime if you have a 4K TV and don’t own a PS4 then get this, if you already have a PS4 it’s not worth the upgrade TBH (Link)


iPhone 7 plus

The long anticipated iPhone came out and mostly it didn’t disappoint. One thing I would add to what you have probably already read is that


(a) more annoying than no headphone jack is that lack of good lightening headphones available so watch out for them in emails in 2017.  Apple’s standard headphones are still horrible, if you have a pair then throw them away immediately

(b) the camera is as impressive as I thought it would be and worth the upgrade from iPhone 6 all on it’s own

(c) get the biggest memory you can afford it fills up quick

(d) get the plus, you will get addicted to the bigger screen

(e) buy an iRing its ugly but SUPER useful




We all have someone in our lives, whether it’s a parent or another loved one that can’t use gadgets but want to see photos of your life but can’t figure out downloading photos. We have had digital photo frames for a while but this is a “real time photo frame”.  You can either send photos directly via the app, use dropbox or use the live video chat function.  Great present for parents (link)




I am in kind of two minds about these things. I had actually ordered one but decided that a portable charger (below) and a normal suitcase was actually way better. However if you really have road warrior gadget geek in your life whose suitcase is battered then this would make a great gift.



Iceworks Charger


If you need a portable charger then look no further, it has a built in Lightening and USB cable which is actually way more useful than it looks. This is a must have travel accessory.



Coravin wine System


If you have anyone in your life that likes nice wine but doesn’t want to have an entire bottle at a sitting then this is a must have accessory.  They have a patented system that pierces the cork and allows you to pull a glass replacing it with inert gas so the wine doesn’t spoil and you can have the a glass at a time.  Originally I had this in the email as they just released a plastic version but the mid-range model in the picture is now 40% off so it is actually cheaper than the low end model.



Polaroid instant printer


Party time. Let anyone connect and print with their iPhone.  Don’t bother giving out party favors, give them a picture instead and it will be much more appreciated. (link)


Osmo Coding


Kids can learn to code with a simple iPad app and some physical pieces.  My SF friends who are parents are going nuts about this toy. Given that a 1st year code in the valley earns more than a junior banker I am not surprised! (link)

Jaybird wireless headphones


For the third year in a row the best wireless workout headphones go to Jaybird, nothing comes close…again (link)

360Fly camera


With the advent of VR, YouTube 360 etc it also makes sense that they are starting to make 360 cameras as well, this one consistently comes out on top and can take your so called sports footage and ramp it to a whole new level (link)



I must say that I am guilty of this, walking around with headphones in, partly to cancel out the noise of the world and partly to listen to a podcast, book or be on a call.  The idea of smart noise cancellation is not new. Anyone who has the clunky Bose headsets for travel can tell you how blissful it is.  This takes that idea one step further.  The app has a bunch of pre-set environments that you can control and personalises it just for you.  Hat tip to AG




Things I still love….

In this section we have gadgets that are still v cool but not released in 2016 that I would still recommend buying


Annova Sous Vide – best cooking gadget ever (link)


Amazon Echo – Its slightly less useful if you don’t live in Amazon prime country but I use this everyday, awesome intelligent Speaker (link)



A word on VR

I have tried almost all the VR gadgets and been impressed to a lesser or greater extent.   The most amazing is Microsoft Hololens.  Technically its AR but you get the picture.  This to me really feels like how we will experience our compute in the coming years. However, its very expensive and aimed at the commercial user for now but they are doing amazing things and here you can truly see the power of VR for everyday use (link)


For consumer use the HTC Vive is by far the most impressive.  However you need to a pretty serious gamer to want one. Not only is there a tonne of sensors that need to be installed around the room but you need a US$1000 PC to make it work.  For a smartphone company to have pivoted this hard into VR deserves some applause. 


In all likelihood you will end up buying the PS4 VR (PSVR) with the PS4 Pro. They were codenamed Morpheus and Neo and so in theory should go together and odds are the first VR that most people will buy is still likely to be Sony. But it’s just not quite good enough to recommend yet. There isn’t enough content nor is the quality of the things like the controller good enough.


So sorry VR Sadly you will have to wait until next year to make the list.

Billy’s Gadget Blog

After almost 18 years in banking one thing that I learnt is that despite me pouring my heart and soul into researching and investigating interesting companies for my clients to buy, the most read emails that I ever did were my gadget recommendations.   After leaving banking, the first question I got was always “that is great but what about your gadget emails?”.  So here it is, a blog dedicated to my most read emails. 

I hope you will share this with your friends and get them to subscribe so we can spread more love and compassion in the world through the use of technology.  Enjoy

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton