Holiday Gift Guide

Samsung Note 9

It’s simple to deduce that the Galaxy Note 9 is just a bigger version of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S9 with the addition of a stylus, but you’d have to experience it for yourself to understand the subtle differences between the two devices. To start with the obvious, the Note 9 does have the larger phablet display of 6.4 inches (2,960 x 1440-pixel AMOLED screen) that brings entertainment (movies and games) and productivity levels up. The camera sees some minor improvements from the Note 8, namely the dial 12-megapixel on the rear cam and 8MP for selfies. The internals get the usual upgrade, standards like wireless charging and waterproof design stay, while Samsung keeps iPhone users jelly with an audio jack and expandable micro SD memory support. Another joy is the beefier battery, giving the Note 9 a runtime of a solid 16 hours that involved a real work day of phones calls, web surfing, some gameplaying, a few YouTube vids and plenty of social media updates, making it a workhorse for content creators. The real piece de resistance to the Note 9 lies in the embedded S Pen. A mainstay since Samsung pioneered the oversized-phone-with-stylus category, the S Pen gets the biggest upgrade with Bluetooth capability. This means it broadens the stylus’ usage beyond writing and doodling. The S Pen can now, with a click of a button, serve as a camera remote, control your music and advance a presentation or slideshow. But getting back to what makes Note users so loyal to the line is that pairing the larger format and S Pen simply puts more tools for creativity and productivity at the hands of the user. Simply using it will stoke you to draw more on the large slate in your hand; jotting down notes across all apps will seem second nature, and your experience on your device becomes less passive (swiping and watching) and more active.


Herschel Supply x NBA Backpacks

Rep your squad on your back with the Herschel Supply backpack of your favorite NBA team. Using one of its classic backpack styles, the Settlement, the Superfan version features a screen-printed logo, while the NBA Champions version has an embroidered patch. Both backpacks have an NBA logo liner print inside and can accommodate up to a 15-inch laptop in the internal sleeve. The zippers are all-metal hardware and the external pocket has a built-in key clip inside. All 30 NBA teams available.

NBA Champions Settlement: $74.99

NBA Superfan: $69.99

adidas Harden Vol. 3

In a world of colorful signature shoes, James Harden’s signature Harden Vol. 3 stands out with its two-toned palette. Much like how a zebra’s black and white stripes would throw off predators when it’s running in a herd, the “Cosmos” colorway of the Harden Vol. 3 does the same to defenders, confusing and creating space for Harden to hit them with a stepback three or drive to the rim.

This year’s Harden Vol. 3 is based on the counterintuitive phrase of “Slow Down Fast.” As Harden himself explains: “Slow down fast doesn’t make sense, but my game doesn’t make sense. I don’t think you’ve ever seen anyone play this way. If you combine all my moves, you probably won’t ever see that [style] again but that’s what I bring to the table and that’s where we get that phrase from. Every year I try to figure out a way to create an advantage and creating space is, I think, one of the biggest parts of the game of basketball.”

The shoe utilizes full-length Boost for cushioning and energy return, an elastic lace band across the front to lock the foot in, and a tried-and-true herringbone pattern for traction on stop and gos.


LEGO Voltron

Ask and you shall receive. LEGO Ideas are sets inspired and voted for by LEGO fans, and the people have spoken for the Defender of the Universe. Eighties kids will remember the animated series featuring five robotic lions that join together to form the robot titan. LEGO kept true to all the fine details of the original diecast toy that was—and still remains—grail status to many a collector. Red, green, blue, yellow, and of course black lion (“and I’ll form the head!”) articulate like the original toy and are easily “transformed” into the robot parts to form Voltron, blazing sword included. The finished Voltron is made up of 2,321 pieces and is fully poseable and moveable—as much as the original toy—and is a must-own for any discerning and/or nostalgic Voltron collector.


Lenovo Legion C730

Gaming rigs need not be as big as Boban Marjanovic in order to pump out decent frame rates in the most demanding of games. The Legion C730 might be small in stature, but it can stand with the best gaming machines, thanks to its customizable parts (as tested: 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8700 chip, 16GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 and a 128GB m.2 PCIe SSD and 1TB hard drive). In addition to its roughly 9 x 13 x 9.5 inch cube size and relatively scant 19.8 pound weight, the C730 is designed for portability with a functional handle on the top, which is flanked by two transparent windows with an internal light setup that can be changed to your RGB whim.

Starting at $1299

Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute

Dyson is so confident of its line of cordless vacuums that it has staked its entire company behind them. Beginning with the DC16 12 years ago, which morphed into the current “tubed gun” design, the latest iteration, the V10 Absolute, Dyson is now absolutely convinced a wire-free floor suction tool is the future. The V10 doesn’t stray too far from the original design—the most significant is the shift of the dust bin placement—but ups the suction power. The other big upgrade is the cleaning head; there are now two adjustable gates that you can select to corral larger objects like dog kibble, beads and most importantly, Cheerios (we dubbed it “Cheerios gates”). It also comes included with a soft brush head for hard floors that leaves your wood and tile floors—crevices and grout lines included—debris-free. There are three power settings on the V10, but unless you’re trying to deep clean shag carpet, the lowest setting should suffice. At low, you’ll also get about 60 minutes of cleaning time with it, making this a worthy vacuum for even the biggest OCD cleaners out there.


HyperX Cloud Mix

HyperX is no stranger to the NBA. It is, after all, the official gaming headset of the NBA 2K League, the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks, and boasts NBA players/gamers Gordon Hayward, De’Aaron Fox and Jonas Jerebko as company ambassadors. Much like the League is valuing versatility on the court, HyperX is doing the same with the Cloud Mix, a gaming headset that features Bluetooth, making it a headset that can go from gaming sesh to the streets and back. Taking the best parts of the Cloud Alpha, namely the 7.1 virtual surround sound, HyperX adapted it to the flatter, but richer, music playback, and adding Bluetooth for easier connectivity (looking at you, iPhone users), although it does come included with a standard audio cable with inline controls, a PC cable with separate 3.5 inch mic and audio jacks, and an audio extension cable. The Cloud Mix takes out the “gaming gear” aesthetic by making the boom mic removeable, replacing the signature red hit with a matte black finish that goes from the streets to your gaming battlestation.


Microsoft Surface Book 2

Attention Mac fans and creatives: Microsoft is doing its damnedest to woo you over to the Windows world with the Surface Book 2. The brushed aluminum body and bright PixelSense display is the first thing you notice once you open up the accordion-like hinge, but the real strength in the Surface Book 2 lies underneath the hood (more on that later) of the 2-in-1 laptop. Where it separates itself from the Mac pack is of course the touchscreen interface afforded by Windows 10 and removal—with a touch of a button—of the screen, transforming the Surface Book 2 into a tablet. A missed opportunity for Microsoft is not including the Surface Pen—a pen which unlocks the device into a drawing pad for creatives and note-taking for students and corporate set—which is a $99 option. Inside, the Surface Book 2 packs all the latest hardware—up to an 8th gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad core CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD—making it one of the most powerful portable computing experiences in the marketplace. Although not targeted as such, the Surface Book 2 also has gamers in mind, giving you the option if a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU that will handle most of the latest games at fairly good quality.

Starting at $1,199

DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Framing Nailer

DeWalt has made a nail gun that even Snoop from The Wire would be impressed with. The cordless nailer (model DCN6921M1, to be specific) cuts the hose of an air compressor (a necessary tethered evil with most nailers), making it much easier to wield on framing, decking and fencing projects. The 20V lithium-ion battery gives it enough power to adequately drive framing nails up to 3.5 inches in length and 0.131 inches in diameter, making it a viable replacement to the traditional hose and air nailer. The nailer accepts any 30-34 degree paper tape framing nails and is compatible with DeWalt’s line of interchangeable 20V battery pack tools.


Ring Video Doorbell 2

Answering the door will never be the same with the Ring Doorbell 2. You’ll get an alert on your phone when someone rings the bell, and you can interact with the visitor in 1080p HD video and two-way talk, even when you’re not home. The Doorbell even works with Alexa; Echo Show and Spot can display the video, while Echo devices without a screen can just play chimes like a traditional doorbell. The Doorbell 2 can be hardwired to existing low-voltage doorbell wires for continuous operation or be mounted wirelessly  (necessitating a battery charge every six months).


Nanoleaf Light Panels – Rhythm Edition

Let your light shine with the tune of your soundtrack with these mood-setting light panels. The Nanoleaf Light Panels are thin (half an inch) modular triangles of LED light that can be connected together (up to 30 for each power supply) to your liking, forming a light installation. The included Rhythm module bring the panels to life, pulsating to music in real time. A companion app allows for customizable controls—be it “coloring” each individual panel or changing the way it reacts to music—and it can also be activated via Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.


AOS Bodycare

You already look and dress the part of an NBA player—and the game is well, a work in progress—but now you can primp and groom like one, too. AOS (Art of Sport) line of body and skin care products is designed with elite athletes in mind (Kobe Bryant and James Harden are just two of the athletes partnered with the brand) and are made with natural ingredients (no parabens, petrolatums or aluminum) and botanicals to create high-performance deodorants, hair and body washes and sunscreens for the pre- and postgame routine—the jumper and crossover will still be on you though.


iRobot Roomba i7+

The Roomba series by iRobot has introduced the sweeping robotic vacuum category and it remains the de facto standard, so much so that that the devices are often just called “Roombas,” even if they’re from another company. The Roomba i7 follows up on the previous flagship model, the 980, by improving the floor mapping, this time adding the ability to recognize multiple floor plans. Basically, the i7 will require a few cleaning sessions to “learn” the floor plans, but once it does, it can be moved from floor to floor to clean with a roadmap in place. Another improvement is the quieter operation compared to previous models. With smarter brains behind the i7, there is more surface area that gets attention, including edges and crevices, leaving the floor cleaner. Micromanagers and OCD users alike will delight in the i7’s ability to mark divisions in your home space to manage cleaning schedules via the companion app. Lazy users who used to fret over the constant emptying of the Roomba’s dust bin will see the new Clean Base—a larger collection bin that will empty out the i7’s dust bin into disposable bags every time it docks—as a godsend. Almost a prerequisite for any smart device, the i7 will connect with any modern smart home with its compatibility with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.


Philips Somneo

Waking up, especially in the sun-deprived winter season, is never easy, but the Somneo sleep-and-wake up light mimics the natural morning sunrise to gently nudge you from deep slumber. If a full-fledged solar storm still can’t wake you, it’s also equipped with a traditional audio alarm or radio to get you going. At night, the Somneo reverses the process, stimulating your body into rest mode with a sunset simulation, soothing nature sounds and a light-guided breathing wind-down exercise to lull you to sleep. While the Somneo will get you to slumber and back, it’ll still be on you to try to get your 7-9 hours of sleep a night.


TACKMA x Klutch Sports Group “The Game is Everything” Crew

If ball is life, then the game must be everything, right? This 100 percent French terry cotton crewneck sweatshirt features the mantra in vintage chenille lettering. The limited- edition sweatshirt is a collaboration between Klutch Sports, the agency headed by Rich Paul that represents many NBA players, including its most famous one, LeBron James, and TACKMA, a streetwear brand that centers around taking your shot, challenging the status quo and seeking no approval.


Beats by Dre Studio3 Wireless

It’s been a decade since Beats by Dre turned the utilitarian headphones into a fashionable tech accessory for the masses. The cans from BBD certainly weren’t the first to market, but much like Apple (who acquired the company in 2014) with the iPod and iPhone, they turned it into something that was desired and at the forefront. The Studio3 Wireless doesn’t stray too far from the original BBD experience: Everything about the headphones is swathed in luxe. From the packaging, to the carry case, to the smell—yes, much like the scent of new car—these headphones have the premium experience that founders and musical icons Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine envisioned when they ventured into creating headphones. The official headphones of the NBA, the Studio3 Wireless resemble a luxury automobile—fine matte finishes with gold chrome accents, while the parts that touch your body, the inner part of the headband and the ear cups, have a delicate leather-like hand to them. The Bluetooth Studio3, like most of the BBD catalog, is bass-heavy (Dr. Dre’s preference), but they’ve toned it down from previous iterations. BBD calls it Pure ANC, adaptive noise cancelling, and true to its name, it does adjust the noise cancellation when shifting from the office, to the busy New York City streets and subway, where we tested it. BBD promises 22 hours of playback on a charge and we found it lasted a full two weeks of commuting (2 hours a day). Lastly, it passed the comfort test. One hour wears are fine, but even marathon (we define that as two movies or four hours) sessions did not cause any ear fatigue.


Sonos One

The inclusion of Amazon Alexa capabilities is a natural fit in the Sonos One, giving one of the best whole-home speaker setups hands-free control. The One consolidates all your music—Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, internet radio and other assorted services—into one app and inobtrusive speaker for room-filling sound. No matter how loud you have the music, the microphone on the One can pick up your voice commands (no need to shout over the sound) to pause, skip, rewind or control the volume. It might be dubbed the One, but Sonos makes it easy to expand your system. Everything from its portfolio works synergistically together: Add another One for stereo, a subwoofer for more bass, or a soundbar to up the TV-viewing experience.


Casio G-Shock G-STEEL

Casio’s line of G-Shock watches has always placed an emphasis on being rugged timepieces that can take a beating whilst staying dependable. The G-STEEL line keeps that same philosophy but marries it with premium and luxurious materials for dressed-up toughness. A carbon bezel surrounds the scratch-resistant sapphire glass, which sits atop a stainless steel housing for a shock- and waterproof (up to 200 meters) watch. The watch itself is kitted with a countdown timer, stopwatch, calendar, and an internal battery that is charged via solar power. The GSTB100XA-1A also comes equipped with Bluetooth, allowing you to connect the watch with the G-Shock Connected app to receive time from an internet time server.


Apple iPad Pro

The goal for Apple has always been to turn the tablet that could into the computing device that does. The latest iPad Pro takes a big step toward that vision. On the surface, the things that jump out about the iPad Pro is the stunning Liquid Retina display (our opinion: it’s the best picture in the tablet world), its weight (at 1.4 pounds it won’t cause too much hand stress for long one-handed sessions) and the flat box-like edges (iPhone 5 lovers can rejoice). Inside, the A12X Bionic chip promises desktop level performance, making even intensive tasks like video-editing possible on an iPad. Even gaming (something not usually associated with an iPad) can be accomplished as we were able to get a match of Fortnite going at a reasonable 30 FPS. One can use the iPad Pro as a tablet and be very satisfied with the experience, but it gets fully unlocked with the (optional) Smart Keyboard and updated Apple Pencil. The former makes daily computing tasks involving data input that much easier to do, while the latter opens up an array of creative possibilities for drawing and editing (side note: We once saw legendary Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield sketch shoe designs on the fly with an iPad and were amazed at what he conjured on the screen). New to the upgraded Pencil is a magnetic charging feature: Just dock the Pencil onto the side of the iPad Pro and it’ll wirelessly charge. The last upgrade to the iPad Pro is the switch to USB-C for its singular port, opening the iPad to an array of peripherals, an additional monitor (up to 5K resolution) and cameras, making it a possible computing device replacement for creatives like artists and photographers.

iPad Pro: $799 (starting price)

Smart Keyboard Folio: $199

Pencil: $129

Microsoft Xbox One X Robot White Special Edition Fallout 76 Bundle

Bundles can sometimes be Faustian bargains: You are forced to take on something you don’t want in order to secure something you don’t want. In the case of the Xbox One X Fallout 76 bundle, you’re not shaking hands with the devil. In this case you’re getting a top-of-the-line Xbox One X with 1TB of storage in a never-before-seen white—robot white, to be exact—chassis and the highly anticipated Fallout 76 game. Included is a matching white controller to play the ninth edition of the Fallout series. Fallout 76 is the multiplayer prequel to the post-apocalyptical game, with a world four times the size of the last game, Fallout 4.


Philips S9000 Prestige

Shaving is a chore. There’s no way to gloss the daily grind of having to shear your face of growth, especially when you’re armed with a tool that requires several passes, leaving your face as scuffed up as an NBA floor after the final buzzer. The S9000 Prestige won’t make it less a chore, but it will be a more pleasant experience. Turning it on, the first thing you’ll notice about the S9000 is the sound, or lack of it. Instead of sounding like a swarm of angry hornets at your face, you’re greeted with a soothing hum of the motor (even at the highest of three power settings) and circular action of the tri-head neon-precision cutting blades (which require a slight learning curve: circular passes instead of the up and down of typical foil shavers). The shaver cuts as close as any electric shaver can get and requires minimal passing to get your face smooth-to-the-touch. Even hard-to-reach nooks like the lower neck (by the Adam’s apple) and underneath the nose are covered with the pivoting head. The entire unit is waterproof for shower shaves, and comes equipped with a trimmer head. Clean up is as simple as popping off the rotary head and running it under the sink tap. A full charge of the S9000 can net you close to 60 minutes of shave time (there’s a battery indicator light on the base) and recharging requires a simple plug, but we’re holding out hope that Philips improves on this one day with a wireless charger.


Epson FastFoto

The days of film photography might be relegated to hobbyists, enthusiasts and purists, but for people of a certain age—most pre-2K folks who have their memories preserved in film prints—there usually remains albums and boxes of irreplaceable photos to properly archive. True to its name, the FastFoto will make quick work of digitizing the old prints—it can accommodate from stamp-sized prints up to 8.5 inch by 120 inch panoramas, and can even preserve polaroids (with or without the white borders)—scanning them into digital formats as fast as one photo per second. The feed tray can handle up to 36 prints at once and the Epson software will automatically color-correct photos (or you can leave them as-is for full nostalgic value), fix any flaws like creases or tears, and detects and scans any handwritten notes on the backs of photos. When not digitizing photos, the FastFoto can also serve as a competent document scanner that can catalog all your endless paperwork and receipts.


Logitech Craft + MX Master 2S

Peripherals like a mouse and keyboard are often ignored and replaced only when necessary—stray cups of coffee or hurls across the room in fits of rage come to mind—but they should never be taken for granted and are as important as the computer and display. As a longtime specialist in the keyboard/mouse realm, Logitech understands this. Their Craft is for the user who wants to be productive in style. The heavy—you’re not throwing this far—keyboard comes wrapped in an understated matte grey that matches well with, say, an iMac or Surface Studio, but the piece de resistance is the dial on the top left (sorry lefthanders), which offers fine-tuned control via a touch, tap or turn. A touch will bring up a menu, a turn will navigate and scroll, while a tap will make a selection. This is a boost in productivity, especially in menu-driven creation applications like Photoshop. The full-sized keyboard is backlit and connects via Bluetooth.

Housed in the same matte grey and silver scheme, the MX Master 2S is the perfect complement to the Craft. The first thing you’ll notice is the ergonomic design that makes you forget that it’s even there (again, except for lefties), and the second thing you’ll appreciate is the precision when navigating the mouse across any surface, even glass. The standard vertical scroll wheel on the index has tank-like treads for fine control and can be shifted with a press of a button to ratchet scrolling (more tactile) or a free spin scrolling to fly through long docs or pages (the wheel goes into free spin mode automatically). There’s even a horizontal scroll wheel on the thumb and two customizable buttons next to it. Paired together, the combo will add productivity to your daily computing and make the computer something you’ll replace instead.

Craft: $199.99

MX Master 2S: $99.99

adidas Crazy BYW

Adidas brought back a ‘90s silhouette, but gave it a modern tech twist with the Crazy BYW. Taking the concept of a rounded sole, to mimic the contours of the human foot, adidas came up with the “Feet You Wear” tech. Its most notable turn came when it found itself onto the KB8 III, the signature shoes of Kobe Bryant, who was with the brand at the time. The Crazy BYW remixes it up with “Boost You Wear” tech, keeping the same ethos of the foot-like outsole, but injecting Boost into it. Along with the distinguishing outsole. adidas made sure to keep the same lines of the shoe and even made sure to include as an easter egg the famed FYW mascot on the toe outsole.



Folks always say that they’re feeling a particular beat or track, but they’re not literally feeling a thing—unless they’re listening to it through the SUBPAC M2X, best described as a wearable subwoofer for your entire body. When listening to music—particularly bass-heavy tracks—through the M2X (it’s a rechargeable backpack-like device that you connect to your music player and headphones), it pulses “sound” through your body which you “hear” through haptics (imagine your vibrations from a videogame controller) and bone conduction (the subtle soundwaves travel through your bones and are picked up through your inner ear). For audiophiles, the M2X brings another level to music enjoyment; for gamers, especially VR enthusiasts, it will lend another layer of immersion to the gaming experience; for athletes, the M2X can help during training sessions where music is used as a tool to help focus.