glennzb's 2020 GADGET GIFT GUIDE

Author
glennzb,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Nov 2020, 6:06AM

glennzb's 2020 GADGET GIFT GUIDE

Author
glennzb,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Nov 2020, 6:06AM

Quite proud of myself this year; my Christmas list is almost out on time. Well, almost.

Anyway, these are my favourite gadgets of 2020 and if you're very well behaved and read this all the way through, I might even give you the chance to win one of two copies of Norton 360 Premium to help you keep the cybercrims away - that's worth over $200! But you have to promise not to just skip straight to the end...

 

1: NANOLEAF SHAPES

These are modular lighting panels that are easily connected using Linkers - electronic clasps that allow you to create any geometric design you fancy - and I do man any. Use as many or as few shapes as you like - there are even Flex Linkers so you can extend your Shapes around corners. A single controller unit (included with each "Smarter" kit) can run up to five-hundred panels, so you can cover a fair amount of wall space (or even the ceiling I suppose).

Shapes are fully programmable, capable of displaying up to sixteen-million different colours, can react to music and you can even use them to mirror or highlight your computer screen. 
They come in Triangles, Mini Triangles and Hexagons, with the promise of more shapes to come. They're also fully Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit compatible.

 

Click here for more information on Nanoleaf Shapes.

 

2: SONOS ARC

I've tried a fair few soundbars and speakers over the years and put simply, the Arc is the best. It brings you into the action when required, leaves you as an impartial observer if that's more appropriate. 

If your source content has been recorded in Dolby Atmos - and much of what's being streamed these days is - you'll really find yourself in the middle of things.

There's even a Night Sound setting to soften loud sound effects if you're getting your SciFi fix while someone else in the house is trying to sleep. 

The best thing about the Arc? It lived up to all my expectations. The hype was justified. It looks so good, especially in white. Add a couple of Sonos One SL speakers for rear surround sound and you'll be at the centre of a home theatre experience you'll never want to leave.


Click here for more information and pricing on the Sonos Arc.

 

 

3: GOOGLE NEST WIFI

If there's one tech lesson we've learned from 2020, it's the importance of a decent WiFi network at home.

 

The Google Nest router takes what was already working pretty well with the original Google WiFi system and beefs things up considerably - which might seem surprising given this thing isn't much bigger than a softball. The claim is the Nest router offers up to 25% more coverage at up to twice the speeds of its 2016 predecessor and the really good news is, like the original, this is a mesh-capable device and it's fully backwards compatible with those original Google WiFi systems.

The Google Nest Wifi experience makes mesh networking laughingly easy. Plug in the extra router where you need it, switch it on, find it on the Google Home app and it will pretty much do the rest for you. With just two Nest routers I have all the WiFi I need in every corner of my house; from my deck upstairs to my security cameras out the front.

If you're looking to upgrade your router, get this one. If you're looking to change ISP's - go with Orcon and you'll get one for free. This isn't an ad, it's an honest recommendation. In terms of range, ease of use and plain old good looks, Google Nest WiFi is the best I've used.

 

The Google Nest WiFi router is available from leading retailers for $299.

 

 

4: SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 20 ULTRA

Right, it's Phone of the Year time... this one really does do it all.

 

When I first held the Note 20 Ultra side by side with my S20 Ultra, it was easy to see there'd been a subtle shift. Both handsets are about the same size and yet the Note is more elegant. It's slimmer and because the corners are more square, it seems easier to hold. 

To say the Note 20 Ultra is everything the S20 Ultra is and more isn't technically true - but the few things Samsung has stripped away have undoubtedly made it even better. Add in an improved display and a world of new S-Pen features and there's no question this is the 2020 power-user's dream phone.

 

Click here for more information on the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

 

 

5: DYSON CORRALE

When this device arrived for me to review I became the most popular person in the house... for the first time ever. I live with three people who have a lot of hair. I have none.

 

Cordless hair straighteners is a great idea. Even I can figure that out. Given most of us aren't ambidextrous, I'm guessing it's usually a lot easier to style one side than the other without the cord getting in the way. I've also been reliably informed by my willing test subject there's great advantage in being able to move from one room to another mid-straightening - the light is just better in there apparently.

The Corrale styles faster. It heats up to each of its three temperature settings in seconds rather than minutes and thanks to Dyson's floating, flexible heating plates, you can apply heat evenly to a whole tress of hair in one pass, saving time and causing less damage.

It's amazing for curling and waving and all that too. Apparently.

Look, there's a lot of technical hair stuff going on here. Rest assured if the lady (or long-haired gent) in your life unwraps one of these Christmas morning you're guaranteed to be in her good books till at least New Year's.

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the Dyson Corrale hair straightener.

 

 

6: SONY WH-1000XM4

Somewhere along the way we all gave up comparing Sony to everyone else and just accepted its noise-cancelling technology is about the best you can get.

 

That was true two generations ago and it's no different with the WH-1000XM4 headset.

What is different is it's a bit slimmed down, a bit lighter and a bit more comfortable.

Oh, and don't worry - the battery life is still completely insane.

There are a few other new little features you'll probably never use but the main thing is, these headphones sound great and with the ANC on, you won't even hear the world ending around you.

Ladies and gentleman, the winner, and still champion of noise cancelling; the Sony WH-1000XM4.

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the Sony WH-1000XM4 headset.

 

 

7: TWELVE SOUTH AIRFLY PRO

If you can't afford a whole high-end bluetooth capable headset like that, this might be the solution.

 

The Twelve South AirFly Pro is my favourite kind of gadget; brilliant for its simplicity.

Here's the concept; plug this into anything to make it bluetooth enabled.

That's exactly what the AirFly Pro does, with a minimum of fuss but with maximum reliability and sound quality. Best of all, it works either way; sending or receiving bluetooth signals from pretty much any audio device.

The AirFly Pro could well be the perfect solution to a problem you didn't even know you had... until next time you're stuck with in a plane with faulty headphones that is.


Click here for more information on the Twelve South AirFly Pro.

 

 

8: AMAZON ECHO AND ECHO DOT

While there's not a dramatic difference in performance between last year's edition of these entry-level, Alexa-enabled speakers, physically, they're a world apart - or a globe apart, anyway.

 

For whatever reason, Amazon has decided to make its speakers spherical and while they may take up slightly more shelf space, they do look pretty cute.

And to be honest, there's a noticeable improvement in sound quality and sheer volume - especially with the new Echo. Ask Alexa to set the volume to ten and prepare to have your eyebrows blasted off. Not bad for a $179 speaker.

The far-field mic array has also received a decent tweak - Alexa will still follow your instructions, even if you do play your rock anthems at ten.

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the Amazon Echo.

Click here for more information and pricing on the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock.

 

 

9: HUAWEI WATCH GT2 PRO

It was love at first sight the second I opened the box. It's obviously just my opinion but the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro might just be the best looking smartwatch I've ever seen.

 

It's a lot to do with the colour. It comes in black, (doesn't everything?) but luckily I was sent the Nebula Grey version. This means a grey-brown leather strap, a titanium case and sapphire glass. Everything about this watch whispers premium build.

The back casing has also been upgraded to a more skin-friendly ceramic.

If I've learned one thing from Huawei's recent line of smartwatches, it's how great the fitness tracking is.

There really is an incredible number of activities you can monitor - the usual running, walking, cycling and gym workouts of course along with just about anything else, from squash to kite-flying (I'm not making that up). Huawei has now added golf and skiing too. I don't golf or ski but from what I've read, the golf option does a pretty good job of measuring your swing at the driving range so that sounds genuinely useful.

It'll last you a week on a single charge without any issues at all - much longer if you're not regularly tracking workouts or have some other features disabled. Best of all, there's a new charging puck; completely wireless and magnetic so it no longer requires you to place the watch a certain way round to charge. Far more convenient.

As a fashion accessory, the Watch GT2 Pro is perfect. As a sports and health tracker, it's up there with the best of them.

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro.

 

 

10: OPPO RENO4 5G

This is one of the new class of phones offering most of the flagship features at a more affordable mid-tier price.

 

If you're done with those overrated, glass-backed handsets that basically mean you're risking a cracked phone front and back, the Reno4 will be right up your street. The "Reno Glow" finish on the back cover looks and feels a bit like frosted glass but it's much lighter and far less susceptible to fingerprints...

The rear-facing Ultra Clear Triple LDAF camera is one of the less obtrusive camera modules around right now but it certainly has plenty of tricks up its sleeve - mostly to do with low-light shooting.

The selfie-cam rises to the late-night shooting task too. Great selfies are just my minimum expectation from any OPPO phone - they've built their brand on it - but the Reno4's combination of 32MP main sensor and 2MP dedicated bokeh lens really does provide some absolute crackers. 

This is one of those phones I've found so easy to use; it runs well, has great battery life and totally over-delivers in the photography department - especially at night.

 

Click here for more information on the OPPO Reno4 5G.

 

 

11: DYSON V11 OUTSIZE

Basically the same vacuum as last year, just bigger. So better.

 

A 25% wider cleaner head. Yes, this year's first stroke of genius from the boffins at Dyson was to take that already amazing, auto-sensing, High-Torque head and stretch it... quite a bit. This means a significant time-saving of course, as you're covering more floor area with less strokes. It's still as manoeuvrable as ever, still knows the difference between carpet and hard floors - it's just wider.

The second big innovation of the year is the other reason the Outsize is called the Outsize. The bin now has a generous 1.9 litre capacity - 150% bigger than before.

This is why using any Dyson product is always such a joy; design, design, design. 

That's why he'll absolutely love it this Christmas.

Was that sexist?

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the V11 Outsize cordless vacuum.

 

 

12: SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS LIVE

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live have certainly made a splash in an overcrowded market. Nothing else looks like them. Why Samsung didn't just call them Galaxy Beans is a mystery because now it's only a matter of time before someone else replicates the shape and steals the name for themselves.

 

There's a lot going on for something so small; three built-in mics, Voice Pickup Unit, air vents, bass duct and of course, the 12mm speakers themselves. They really are about as tiny as they can be, any smaller and I'd honestly be worried about inserting them in my ear holes and never seeing them again.

I have found these to be about the most comfortable earbuds I've ever used - primarily because they weigh nothing and there's nothing hanging out anywhere.

Samsung hasn't just come up with something different for the sake of it, the Buds Live are genuinely great earphones too. They sound great and have more features than I can use. They'll work with any Android or iOS device - laptops too - but if you have a Samsung handset, these are definitely the best you can buy.

 

Click here for more information and pricing on the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.

 

Right, here's your chance. Click here to complete your entry to win one of two copies of Norton 360 Premium by Norton LifeLock. Entries close December 13, 2020 and I'll announce the winners the next day in this review. Good luck!