The Cooler, Cheaper Christmas Buying Guide

You don’t need to spend big to bring the Christmas cheer to loved ones

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We could fill this guide with thousand-dollar iPhones and the like, but that would simply be stating the obvious – who wouldn’t want those as gifts? Gifts need not be expensive to show that you care but they have to be cool enough to give you that warm fuzzy feeling. Here’re are some cool gift suggestions that you may or may not have thought about.

Cyberpunk 2077 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

At the time of writing the game has yet to be released, but it’s almost worth paying just for the hype. The game has already so many brand-led collaborations, ranging from energy drinks to a smartphone [link]. Everything that we know of the game so far points towards a title that won’t trip up because of some fatal compromise. So even if the plot turns out the be a bit of a damp squib it looks like an Action RPG experience that’s unlike anything that we have out there right now.

From S$74.90

Google Nest Mini

For less than $100, the Google Nest Mini has plenty to offer with its combination of speaker and voice control features. The best part about this is that it’s quite the pretty nifty gadget to have at your disposal long after the novelty has worn off, serving as a convenient command hub for your smart home operations. For the money, the Nest Mini is not going to blow your mind with its sound quality, but then again it doesn’t have to. As long as it’s a good enough accompaniment when you have some tedious house chores to get through.

<em>Google SG Store</em> , S$79

Amazon Fire HD 8

Hold up, isn’t this a little long in the tooth? Yes, but not really. For its age, the Amazon Fire HD 8 is perfect for children and the elderly. The display is large enough for them to view and operate the tablet comfortably, while the hardware is still powerful enough to run basic apps well. Amazon’s Appstore gives you a decent selection of apps, but if that’s not satisfactory there’s the option of sideloading the Google Play Store app (not officially supported but works well enough) to bring it closer to a full tablet experience. The best thing about this deal is that it’s cheap but it never feels that way.

<em>Amazon</em> , from US$90

UV Phone sanitiser

If we’re going to bother with good practices like social distancing, masks and hand sanitisers, let it not be lost on us that our mobile phones have been objectively been proven to be more of a dumpster fire than our washroom when it comes to cleanliness. Nothing beats giving your phone the good ol’ alcohol wipedown, but a phone sanitiser is a convenient alternative that gets you pretty close and starts a habit of keeping your devices clean regularly. If you’re willing to splurge, then Phonesoap Pro has a quick clean feature (5 minutes). Otherwise, there’s a cheaper one here on Lazada that includes a UV test paper to reassure you that it’s legit.

<em>Lazada</em> , $42.90

imuto Power Bank PD 45W 27,000mAh

The perfect gift for road warriors who are so reliant on their laptops, iPads (who uses any other tablet, seriously) and mobile phones. And Nintendo Switch, of course. With a 27,000mAh capacity it’s bigger than your iPhone, but not that much more so, and you can charge three different devices simultaneously if need be. Aside from two regular 5V/2.4A ports, it has a USB-C that port can be used to charge high drain devices like your Macbook Air.

<em>AmazonSG</em> , $73.99

Sony WH-1000XM3

The Sony WH-1000XM3 was superseded by the XM4 this year but no matter, there’s still plenty of life left in this two-year-old headphone. The WH-1000 series is the flagship over-the-ear, wireless headphone featuring all the bells and whistles, such as Bluetooth connectivity and active noise-cancelling. At $325 we’re stretching the boundaries of affordability, but it represents good value for the feature set. The fast rate at which Sony replaces its flagship noise-cancelling headphones means that you have a pretty good kit for a pretty good price.

<em>AmazonSG</em> , $325.35 excluding delivery

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

The venerable FujiFilm Instax ranks high on the list as one of those things which highly desirable but often not seen as a need. In my book at least, that makes them great gifting material. Retails at $149 (but you can get them as low as $69) the Mini 9 is great for all manner of occasions ranging from kids’ parties to wedding receptions and all points in between. The Instax is all nostalgia; there’s something incredibly nostalgic about having an actual picture in your hand. Not to mention that immutable urge to shake the film right after it pops out of the camera as though it’s going to help.

<em>Hachi</em> , $79 (ValueClub price)

Anker Soundcore life note true wireless

Bluetooth earbuds (not the true wireless kind though) can be had for less than $50 but it’s not often a good experience. The Anker brand knows how to strip their devices down to essentials without feeling like they are factory seconds and the Soundcore Life Note is no exception. For about $99 you get a pair of AirPods styled earbuds with some nice quality of life features like splash resistance (IPx5), fast charging (1-hour playtime in 10 minutes), and CVC 8.0 Noise Reduction to improve call quality.

<em>Lazada</em> , $99.90

Ring Fit Adventure

I’m pretty sure most of us have friends that claim to be willing to exercise if they had a certain something to help them save time, etc. Give those with a Nintendo Switch a gentle shove with the Ring Fit Adventure. The idea is to work in some squats while kicking some virtual animated butt. While designed for the long-form adventure, you do have the option for quick minigames if you’re strapped for time (no pun intended, really), so there is no excuse (either that or their excuses become more ludicrous) for missing leg day.

Various, S$129 on average

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Gimbal

The gimbal is another perfect example of a non-essential gadget that’s nice to own. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 is a relatively affordable gimbal that helps you do those movie-style sweeping shots with minimal hand judder. It’s perfect for those who love taking videos on their phone but find it hard to justify paying anything to up their video game because they don’t see themselves as ‘professional enough’. There’s a whole host of additional features thanks to well-designed apps that integrate well with the physical button set on the handle.

<em>AmazonSG</em> , $134.10

Victrola Journey

The nasty side of me wants to laugh at the pretentiousness of carrying a hip-looking portable vinyl player around with you, but in all honesty, this is unquestionably clever and cool. For the money, what you get is a Bluetooth speaker that doubles up as a three-speed turntable. Many hardcore audiophiles look at vinyl with reverence, but there’s also a lo-fi charm to it as well (albeit totally different setups) – and it certainly looks lo-fi here, so expectations for sound quality has been suitably tempered. You don’t want this as a serious vinyl listener, but the fun value at gatherings certainly exceeds the asking price. The listed price on Amazon SG is a little on the high side but if you have ways and means, it can be had for as low as US$45 (sale price) excluding shipping.

<em>AmazonSG</em> $179.54