While we’ve been running tech-oriented gift guides for the past couple of weeks (check out our smartphone guide here and our smartwatch guide here) and we have more to come, this is our general, “neat stuff” guide. It’s packed with a bunch of goodies that I think you’ll like, or like to giveaway.
Mangasia: The Definitive Guide to Asian Comics ($40) is a robust, deeply authoritative examination of the birth, evolution and popularization of manga. Tracing manga’s roots back to 19th-century Japan and tracking its growth in China, Korea, Indonesia and Mongolia, comic book art critic and writer Paul Gravett’s latest lives up to its name. Beyond the writing, the book is packed with more than 1,000 reproductions of comic art from across Asia, many of it rare.
Fitness trackers range from complex smartwatches to subtle wrist bands or clip-ons. Motiv ($199) does one better with its fitness ring. Available in seven sizes and either rose gold or slate grey, the titanium-wrapped ring pops onto a finger or thumb where it will measure heart rate, activity, sleep, steps, calories burned and more. A double twist of the ring auto-syncs it with your iPhone (Android is on the way) and you can even swim with the device that has 165-foot waterproofing.
There’s something nostalgic about the original Blade Runner’s use of the Atari logo in background shots. And surprisingly, the game company – which in reality has already died multiple deaths – is still around to pop up in Blade Runner 2049. Riding on the fantasy of the movie and the nostalgia of the brand, The company created a limited-edition Atari Speakerhat ($100. The hat features the same Kanji logo found in the movie, but also a pair of robust bluetooth speakers built into the underside of the brim. Don’t try to understand it, just sit back and enjoy the eye-watering bass.
This stylish, Swedish-made timepiece would fit in neatly with any high-end dress watch, but it has a secret or two tucked away behind its double-domed sapphire crystal. The Kronaby Apex ($625) uses Bluetooth to stay in touch with your phone of choice and can deliver subtle messages to your wrist or be used to activate pre-programmed commands with the push of a button or crown. You can see more on our smartwatch gift guide.
Augmented reality isn’t quite ready for mainstream gaming, that is unless you count Lenovo’s Star Wars Jedi Challenges ($199). This augmented reality toy combines a intricately detailed Star Wars lightsaber, smartphone-powered headset and the ability to turn your living room into a Jedi training center complete with life-sized holograms to duel, a holochess board and miniature table-top strategy gaming. Read more about it’s creation right here.
Razer’s surprise entry into the world of smartphones brought with it a phone with the fastest refresh rate on the market and twin speakers that deliver Dolby Atmos sound. That means better gaming, better music and better videos, all in a device you can slip in your pocket. The Android-powered Razer Phone ($699) will likely only improve with time as the company continues to expand on its features. View more phone suggestions in our smartphone gift guide.
The one-sixth scale, fully operationally, fully playable Centipede is a painstakingly detailed recreation of that 1980’s classic arcade machine down to the Atari-licensed ROM used to power the game and the tiny light-up marquee. You can read more about Replicade’s Mini Centipede ($120) in our feature.
This golf-ball-sized robot isn’t just an adorable, automated addition to your desk toys, it can also teach coding. You can code the Evo ($99) robot to play sounds, light animations, detect objects, even play little games. The coding is done on a computer or tablet and then loaded by holding the bot to your computer or tablet’s screen.
Virtual reality gaming continues to grow and evolve. The latest step forward, for HTC Vive and its headset, is the release of trackers that can be attached to your body or special peripherals to essentially bring them into VR games. You’ll need a HTC Vive headset for these to work, but what they deliver is a greater sense of immersion. Right now there are three available. The Hyper Blaster Bundle ($150) includes the tracker, gun and a game. The Racket Sports Bundle ($150) includes ping pong and tennis racket handles along with a tracker and a game. You can also pick up the trackers on their own for $100 each and Rebuff Reality is selling strapsfor attaching the devices to your body for $25 a pop.
I believe a big part of Nintendo’s many successes is that it started as a game and toy company. While the rest of the world continues to obsess over the guts of their electronics in designing gaming systems, Nintendo still sees their creations as toys: charming creations designed to entertain. The Nintendo Switch ($300) is that rare sort of gaming platform that I easily recommend to anyone looking to play without hesitation or equivocation.