By many accounts, 2016 was a terrible year. Unemployment is rising in Singapore, war is forcing refugees to leave their homes and an incoming American president just called for a nuclear arms race on Twitter.
We joke about having world peace each year but this Christmas, as the world becomes a more dangerous and unpleasant place to live in, that’s a wish that we couldn’t have been more serious about.
There, sorry, we had to start a fun story this year in such a sombre mood. We just thought we couldn’t ignore what’s been going on around us during a usually happy time.
As usual, we have put together a wishlist from the Techgoondu team of the gadgets we hope to find unboxing this holiday season. Besides hoping for a better 2017, here are our gadget dreams.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (¥16,280)
Each year, our editor Alfred pings us Goondus for a no-holds-barred Christmas wishlist. Well, less of a list than that the one object we really want under our Christmas tree if money was no object (no, we never ever got the things we asked for, because, you know, real life…).
I was going to say Sony’s most ridiculous product in years, the opulent S$3,999 Sony NW-WM1Z Walkman. I imagine this Walkman must have been designed by someone who’s been staring at a gold bar for far longer than is healthy.
I wanted to list that because it’s just so incredibly absurd you can’t help but shake your head when you read about it, and yet I help fawning over it.
Ultimately, I woke up from my daydream and realised, hey, there’s another unicorn that I’d possibly want under the tree, and that’s the 32GB Japan-only edition of Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite.
Retailing at ¥16,280 (about S$199), this version of the Kindle Paperwhite not only has more storage for books–it’s essentially for manga readers in that market–it also comes with new software that sees a performance boost for faster page turns.
This software update is ostensibly coming to all Kindle Paperwhite devices, but that eight-fold memory increase is Japan-only. Other than that, this is essentially the same device that’s sold by Amazon elsewhere. -Alvin Lai
Microsoft Surface Studio (US$2,900-US$4,199)
I have been a fan of Microsoft’s Surface devices from the very beginning, and have been using the Surface Pro 4 since its release in Singapore last year.
This year, Microsoft showed everyone that it is not done innovating by introducing its first every desktop – the Surface Studio. It comes with a gorgeous 28-inch touch screen that is able to be adjusted at different angles thanks to its “zero gravity hinge”.
At the lowest angle, the screen mimics a drawing board that, as the name suggests, makes it comfortable for creative professionals to draw on. You can pair the Surface Studio with the Surface Dial (US$99), a Bluetooth accessory that can be placed on top of the screen to allow you to access menus and controls with your other hand while drawing at the same time.
As far as I am concerned, the Dial is a form of technological sorcery on Microsoft’s part.
At its max configuration, you get a quad-core i7 Intel Skylake processor, 32GB of RAM, 2TB of hybrid storage and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M graphics card. With its price tag, this is not a device aimed at the average consumer.
I may not be a creative professional, but I would be lying if I said that the Surface Studio is not enticing. The commercial for the Surface Studio, which is an absolute masterpiece, had me wanting to splurge on a desktop that allows me to unleash my talent for drawing stick figures. Can’t wait for it to come to Singapore. – Nigel Chen
Google Pixel XL (from US$769)
Two things that I truly value on a smart device are battery life, followed by its imaging capabilities. The Pixel XL pulls both off with aplomb.
What good is a smartphone if you cannot use it for your journey home? The 3,450mAH cell delivers great stand-by performance, while offering enough juice to get home with moderate to heavy use.
On the camera front, my Galaxy S7 edge produces very decent shots as they are, but the Pixel XL promises to do so with a more neutral colour palette, at the same time delivering reliable performance that fumbles less under tougher conditions.
Sure, its design shares more than a few similarities with HTC’s own phones, and waterproofing on the Pixel XL is a little lacking compared to the 2016 flagships.
I attribute this to the short developmental time-frame Google had following Huawei’s decision to bow out from the project, which probably necessitated some digging around the HTC parts bin to make the deadline.
While I will gladly look forward to receiving a Pixel XL in my proverbial Christmas stocking, I am already looking forward to its successor. The potential of the next Pixel is surely bright, with a lengthier design cycle that will allow its engineers to display their full potential. – Desmond Koh
Edelkrone SliderOne with Motion Module (US$600)
This year I have bought the camera that I have been waiting for and got a smartphone that has ticked all the right boxes when it comes to imaging and photography.
With my new toys in my camera bag, what I would love to have is the ultimate camera accessory – the Edelkrone SliderOne with Motion Module.
The Slider One and Motion Module work together to slide the camera along a rail so you can take smooth, dramatic video footage that shows movement from side to side.
It can also take time-lapse sequences with the slide motion module to create a very interesting time-lapse video, all controlled by a smartphone app.
For budding animators, it could also help you capture stop motion sequences. This gizmo is compact enough for my travels too so I can bring it everywhere to create jaw dropping movie clips. At US$600 (S$869), it is not cheap but it is certainly a full featured tool I love to own. – Wilson Wong
Dell XPS 13 (from S$1,799)
Dell’s award-winning XPS 13 laptop had left other PC makers in the dust when it made its debut in early 2015. Nearly two years later, the ultra-thin machine with an almost borderless display still holds its own against rivals – even the likes of Apple and Razer.
The high-end version (S$2,599) is well-endowed with topnotch specs, including a 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM and a 512GB solid state drive. That’s on top of a gorgeous quad-HD 3,200 x 1,200 pixels display that delivers eye-popping images and pin-sharp text.
Tipping the scales at just 1.2kg for the non-touchscreen version, it’s great for mobile warriors like me too. And yes, it comes with two USB ports and an SD card reader that I can use for transferring videos from my car’s dash cam. No adapters needed. – Aaron Tan
Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum (S$249)
Since I’ve hooked up my PC to my TV in the living room, I’m hardly using my study at all. For a couch potato gamer like me, a good wireless gaming mouse makes all the difference in enjoying my PC games.
I would love a wireless gaming mouse that offers low latency, excellent battery life, precise control and plenty of customisation. One such mouse is the Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum wireless gaming mouse.
With a dots per inch range of 200-12,000 DPI, the G900 promises high accuracy and tournament grade performance. This should help aiming in first-person shooter games which demand laser sharp accuracy.
The G900 offers 11 programmable buttons – great for playing MMO RPGs which require plenty of buttons to cycle through potions, spells and weapons every other second.
What I like about it is the customisable lighting that suits your theme and mood – it’s so bling but so pretty. Of course the lights will deplete the battery – without the pretty lights, the G900 should last 32hrs on a single charge versus 24hrs with the lights.
At S$249, this mouse isn’t for the casual gamer, but for a gamer who demands a solid performance in gaming while splayed out on the couch, this will definitely delight. – Yap Hui Bin
LG G6 Signature (S$12,999 for 65-inch model)
I spend a lot less time on the TV now, given the many screens we have today. However, when I get started with a new Netflix action series or fire up Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar movie, I’d wish for an amazing TV to show off all the contrast, vibrancy and action in sharp 4K detail.
There’s nothing quite like an OLED TV and the LG G6 Signature is the best of the lot. The price is crazy, thus it’s on a fantasy wishlist instead of my living room, but the superior quality of OLED shines through in the video content you see on screen.
The famous “perfect black” backgrounds are there. As are the smooth, natural motion associated with the technology. And there’s now more stunning contrast with HDR (high dynamic range) as well (read our review).
The G6 Signature doesn’t just show off attractive pictures on screen. It is beautiful to look at even when switched off. Thin like a floating piece of glass, it is the standard that others should aspire to now. -Alfred Siew
Apple Airpods ($238)
It doesn’t feel awkward to stick these Airpods into the ears but it did get some people staring when I walked into the train. I’ve had a few pairs of Bluetooth headphones but this is the first where I’d no problem pairing with any of my devices. Okay, all my devices are made by Apple.
That’s what so great too. I don’t have to actively go to Settings to pair the Airpods with the device. All the devices automatically discover the Airpods and it’s done.
I’ve had the Airpods for a few days, using them to listen to podcasts on my iPod while running or walking. They are very light, stay comfortably in my ears and very easy to get them on and off. Take either one of them off, and the podcast or music pauses. Put them on, and it unpauses. It works with Siri and non-Apple devices but I haven’t had a chance to give it a full review yet.
Airpods come in a nice little white casing. Charge them through the outlet on the white casing. Battery life is 24 hours. Go to the Apple site to buy online. Be prepared to wait for 6 weeks to get them. – Grace Chng
UPDATE at 25/12/2016 2pm: Story has added Grace Chng’s wishlist.