The Walkman. Cathode ray tube televisions. CD players. Tamagotchi. The march of technology is ever-changing and constant.
Today, smartphones, wireless peripherals, media-focused gadgets, fun gizmos and active lifestyle equipment rule the tech roost. This means plenty of choice but also potential challenges when deciding on a particular piece of tech to get.
Here are some gadget recommendations to potentially consider, whether it be a gift for friends and loved ones or a reward for your own self.
Amazon Blink Video Doorbell
Want to add some security to a home without having to pay high upfront costs as well as monthly monitoring fees? Then Amazon’s Blink Video Doorbell makes for a great gift due to the lack of such commitments. The Blink Video Doorbell can be installed either wired or wire-free — it can run for two years on a pair of AA batteries — to give its users a sneak peek of whatever is going on at the front door. On top of a live view video, it also comes with two-way audio functionality to chat with whoever’s outside. In addition to syncing with your smartphone or tablet, it can also pair with Alexa if you want the digital assistant to send alerts or answer the door for you. It does not come with the extra features of a fully-fledged home security service but it’s a great way to add some safety without breaking the bank. The Blink Video Doorbell itself starts out at just $49.99 but you will need to pair it with the Blink Sync Module for on-demand video and audio. It’s also compatible with a wide range of Blink accessories such as additional outdoor cameras and a solar panel mount.
OnePlus Buds Z2
While Apple might not have been the first to the wireless earbud game, one can’t deny the influence that its AirPods have over the market. Today, there are a lot of rivals eager to take the wireless bud crown, including the latest budget entry from OnePlus. Following the mixed reaction to the OnePlus Buds, the extra effort is noticeable from OnePlus Buds Z2. At the top of the list is improved control, with more options for playing, pausing and skipping via simple taps. The Z2 also comes with active noise cancellation in case you want to silence the world around you a bit. The Z2 also uses the same 11-millimeter drivers seen in the more expensive OnePlus Buds Pro so audio quality is better compared to the original OnePlus Buds. Battery life is also stellar at up to 38 hours of use when ANC is turned off. Synergy is especially good for folks who use a OnePlus smartphone but it can still be synced with other phone brands. Mic performance is excellent to boot in case you have to take a call while wearing the buds. Add fast charging as well as some water resistance and you have a solid budget alternative to the more expensive Apple Airpods or the high-end Sony WF-1000XM4.
For serious videographers who use a large mirrorless or DSLR camera to shoot video, a quality gimbal is a must-have to get those slick panning shots that are as smooth as butter. The Scorp is Feiyutech’s flagship gimbal line, boasting solid build quality, a selection of features and shooting modes. Its 5.5-pound payload also means it can accommodate the heaviest cameras from brands Sony, Canon, Nikon and Panasonic plus some pretty chunky lenses. The Scorp features a more ergonomic handle compared to my OG DJI Ronin, making it more conducive to shooting from various positions. Balancing is also easy and a magic wheel provides nice control of its three-axis and focus. Add battery life of up to eight hours and quick charging and you’ve got a workhorse for long shoots, whether it be weddings or an extended excursion to the great outdoors.
Xprit 8.5” Premium Off-Road Tunnel Hoverboard
It’s 2022 and we still don’t have Marty McFly’s hoverboard from Back to the Future. But how about an off-road wheeled hoverboard with built-in speakers? The Xprit 8.5″ Premium Off-Road Tunnel Hoverboard boasts some chunky tires to take on rougher terrain such as a well-kept dirt trail or lawn grass. In terms of capacity, it can support weights up to 90 kilograms or just under 200 pounds so its payload is solid. The range on a full charge is 9 kilometers or just under 5 miles, making it ideal for quick jaunts at a park or in the city. A built-in Bluetooth speaker lets you play some tunes if you want to vibe while riding or perhaps scare some cougars of the literal kind with Metallica music. Splurge a bit more and you can get the Infinity Wheel Design version with some extra bling in the form of wheel lights.
WD Black P10 Game Drive
As someone who has tested the P50 and the D30, I can vouch for the performance of Western Digital’s WD Black high-speed drives. So imagine my surprise when my niece — who does not read my articles — gave me a 5TB WD Black Game Drive for Christmas. It was the first Christmas present she’s ever given me using the money she earned from her first part-time job. I think I’ve got something in my eye. It was the perfect gift, too, as I was running out of space on my PlayStation 5’s laughably small internal drive (She knows me so well!). Seriously, Sony… Anyway, I connected this to my PS5 and it recognized it right away. Like the Xbox Series X, you can’t play games directly off the drive but you can at least move games between both drives more quickly instead of having to re-download games again. You can also play PS4 and Xbox One and 360 games off the drive. Naturally, the drive works for PC games as well. It’s not as fast as the SSD-based P50 and D30 but is a more affordable option for consoles.
This article will continue to be updated through the year as we test more gadgets that perform well and prove to be worth adding to the running list.
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Like this content? Support local journalism with an RGJ digital subscription.