Hark the herald / TechRadar sings / Bring us some tech that truly blings!
We’ve been good girls and boys here at TechRadar, spending the last 12 months casting judgement over all that was good, bad and ugly in tech, so that you can spend your hard-earned cash on the truly lustworthy gadgets that have graced the store shelves over the past year.
And now it’s our turn to get lusty. We’ve been noting down the things we’ve been most looking forward to seeing under our Christmas trees all year – and these are the fruits of that labor. So if you’re lacking inspiration for what to put at the top of your own Christmas list, check out our editors' personalized selections based on the gadgets they most want this festive season.
Gerald Lynch: Associate Editor
Western Digital My Passport 4TB PS4 Hard Drive First things first: I need to sort out my overflowing PlayStation 4 library. Between mandatory disc installs, giant downloads and PlayStation Plus freebies, I’m now constantly juggling the games that I can have loaded up on my console at any one time. As I’m running a PS4 Pro and 4K textures are increasingly becoming more storage-hungry, its 1TB built-in drive just can’t cut it. And as I can’t be bothered going through the hassle of opening up my console and installing a bigger internal drive, this 4TB plug-and-play USB 3.0 option from Western Digital should be more than enough to satisfy my completist urges.
Destiny 2 I was never very good at it, but I sank more hours into the first Destiny game than I care to admit here. It was a beautiful title, with a mysterious and exciting world to explore, and some of the best online shooting action ever seen on a console. But it had its faults, namely around storytelling and its initial end-game offering. I’ve heard only good things about its successor, Destiny 2, which takes all that was learnt from the original sci-fi shooter and ramps things up to 11 for the sequel, while also putting a bit more care in to how its narrative hangs together. I can’t wait to jump back in with my old Fireteam at Christmas, and catch up on all the action I’ve missed since release. Now where did I park my Sparrow...
Marantz NR1608 As no-one coughed up for my wishlist pick last year, I’m still on the hunt for a new AV receiver to meet my 4K / HDR demands. This slimline number from Marantz appears to tick every box for me. It’s low-profile, which is perfect for my small AV stand, but still manages to squeeze in 8 4K HDCP 2.2 HDMI inputs, Wi-Fi streaming and Dolby Atmos support. Relatively affordable, its only downside is a single HDMI output port, which may scupper my future projector/OLED tag team ambitions for the future.
Jon Porter: UK Home Technology Writer
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics card I recently upgraded my monitor to a beautiful AOC Agon AG352UCG. It’s an ultrawide beast, which means that I’m seeing more of my games than ever before. The problem, though, is that the massive increase in resolution from my old 1080p monitor means my old GTX 970 is struggling to put out enough frames to make the most of the monitor’s 100Hz refresh rate. During a recent play-through of Wolfenstein 2 I even had to turn the settings down to ‘low’, heaven forbid.
So a new graphics card is on the... well... cards, and the pick of the bunch right now is the fantastic Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti. Now I just need to find a family member generous enough to afford its price tag.
Xbox One Controller + PC Adaptor When I can I like to do my gaming on a PC, but the genres of games I like are far better played with a gamepad than a mouse and keyboard.
I’ve been using my trusty wired 360 controller for close to 10 years now, and I think it’s time for a change. Our friends over at PC Gamer reckon the DualShock 4 is the best PC gaming controller, but I much prefer the ergonomics of the Xbox One pad.
I’ve already got three of them, but one more would make it a nice neat four, and then I can keep it as my dedicated PC controller while the others live in the lounge with the Xbox.
12-month Netflix subscription This is another instance of ‘Jon buys one expensive thing that means he has to buy lots more expensive things’. Earlier this year I finally bought a 4K TV, which inevitably means I need to upgrade all my streaming subscriptions.
Netflix has the most amount of 4K content of the streaming bunch right now, which means it’s a pretty important service to have. The problem is that its 4K-tier commands a price premium and this, combined with recent price rises in the UK, means a little help from Mr Claus is increasingly necessary.
John McCann: UK Phones Editor
Beasts of Balance This augmented reality kids game may look basic, but boy does it get really fun, really quickly. You’re tasked with stacking up different animals, splicing them together via your iPad or Apple TV to make some highly entertaining hybrids.
It’s a mix of Jenga and Tetris as you try to cram as many beasts onto the platform as possible, while you play havoc with their genetics. Oh, and you can go head-to-head with a friend or family member to see who can play God the best.
Audi A5 Coupe I had a lot of fun driving this car up and down the country earlier this year, but it’s Audi’s in-car tech which is the really impressive feature here.
Its huge digital dashboard makes you feel like you’re piloting a spaceship rather than winding your way through the concrete jungle, plus there’s a heads-up display that projects vital information such as your speed, the current speed limit and navigation commands onto the windshield, enabling you to keep your eyes on the road.
55-inch LG B7 OLED TV I bought a PS4 Pro this year, but it’s still connected to my Full HD TV. It’s time I upgraded to 4K, and the LG B7 would be the perfect Christmas gift.
The B7 looks great, it’s super-slim, and LG’s OLED 4K HDR UHD panels are just fantastic. Even its smart TV interface is good – and just think how good Crash Bandicoot will look.
Phil Hall: Cameras Editor
Nikon D850 The last 12 months have seen some fabulous cameras pass through the TechRadar office, including the Fujifilm X100F, Sony Alpha A9 and Alpha A7R III, but my pick of the bunch has to be Nikon’s D850.
It packs in a stunning 45.4MP full-frame sensor, and that amount of pixels normally suggests sluggish performance – but not with the D850. Nikon has equipped it with a highly sophisticated 153-point AF system and 7fps burst shooting speed, while the handling is sublime. It’s pricey, so it might have to be a joint Christmas and birthday present, but the D850 is the most complete DSLR out there right now.
Wahoo Kickr I'm a keen cyclist, and the winter months often mean limited miles out on the open road, but the Wahoo Kickr smart trainer looks like it could be the next-best thing.
Anyone who’s sat on a normal turbo trainer knows what a soul-destroying experience it can be as you churn out the miles in your spare room or garage, but the Kickr can be easily hooked up to your smartphone or PC/Mac, and via a compatible app such as Zwift you can ride a host of virtual courses, and even join virtual group rides. All the time the Kickr is collecting speed, distance, cadence and power data as you ride, so you can save your rides and upload the info to Strava.
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless I’ve been lucky to travel a fair bit the last 12 months, but it’s made me realize that I need a decent pair of headphones. I’ve got a pretty good pair of in-ears, but I hanker after a pair of wireless cans, and Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless headphones would be a perfect Christmas gift. They look the part, while the sound quality promises to be fantastic.
Joe Osborne: Senior Editor
iRobot Roomba 980 I want nothing more than to leave the world of sweeping and vacuuming behind me, and the smartest, most powerful Roomba yet would be the best way to do it. We had one in the TechRadar New York office for our Holiday Gift Guide photo shoot, and it proved a test of my willpower to not take it home and give it a whirl. Alas, like everyone else, I too must buy my own damn tech – but this thing costs nearly a grand. So, to the wish list it goes!
iRobot Brava Jet Considering I dream of the day I no longer have to sweep and vacuum my house, it should come as no surprise that I long to never mop it again either. So, in comes the iRobot Braava Jet. Once my dreamed-up Roomba sweeps the floor, the Braava can come in and mop it, which means more time for me to spend with family (read: play video games). At this point, all I need is a dusting Roomba, and I’d never have to do chores again. Get on that, iRobot, will ya? While you’re at it, can you get to working on a waste-removal Roomba and a laundry Roomba? I’ll be waiting.
Maingear Drift Since building my own gaming PC years ago for a TechRadar feature, I’m arguably in dire need of an upgrade. Since I honestly can’t be bothered to go through the building process again, and honestly wouldn’t assemble anything nearly as nice to look at as the pros at a boutique builder like Maingear, I’d love to have one of its Drift systems in my office. Considering its incredible lighting and manageable size despite housing full-size components, this is definitely one of my dream machines. Throw one of those new Nvidia Titan Xp Star Wars Edition graphics cards in there, and I’d be golden – err, well, red (long live the Empire).
James Peckham: UK Phones and Wearables Writer
LG OLED E7 TV Money is no object in this list right? Currently ranked as our best TV in the world right now, the LG OLED E7 55-inch is my dream set thanks to its improved brightness, contrast-rich pictures and thin design. I’m currently sporting a simple 32-inch Samsung Full HD TV in my living room, and I feel this 55-inch would be a game-changing way to enter the world of 4K. Now, who wants to buy me one?
Splatoon 2 My Nintendo Switch isn’t even a month old yet – I finally gave in and snapped up the Super Mario Odyssey edition in the Black Friday sales – so I’ve yet to expand my cartridge collection for the console. So far I’ve just played the flagship Mario game and Stardew Valley, and while I plan to pick up Breath of the Wild early next year, I really want to get Splatoon 2 in time for Christmas. That first game was such a surprise hit in my house on the Wii U, and offered a truly new multiplayer experience, so while Splatoon 2 seems to be more of the same, that’s exactly what I want for my Switch.
Apple Watch 3 Despite being almost constantly weighed down with a wearable on my wrist I’ve yet to fully test out the latest Apple Watch 3, and I’d really like one this Christmas. So far the LTE functionality seems to be very limited, as only a few apps are compatible right now, but that’s almost certain to change in the coming months – and I’d like to get in there early by grabbing the latest wearable from Apple.
Cameron Faulkner: Associate Editor
Zotac Magnus EN1060 A chunk of my precious gaming time is spent deciding where I want to play: on the couch or at the computer desk?
One of my new year's resolutions for 2018 is to spend less time at the desk and more time on the couch, so to make that a success I’ll be needing the Zotac Magnus EN1060 to set up my TV.
It’s a small PC – far more compact than an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, but I’d say just as capable, if not more so. With that, it’s amazing that it can easily fit into just about any entertainment center, which will magnificently bring my entire gaming library into reach while I’m sprawled on the couch.
Teenage Engineering H For the uninitiated, Teenage Engineering crafts some affordable, must-have synthesizers that make for pretty great stocking-stuffers. But beyond that, the list goes on, with the company’s latest product piquing my interest even more.
Its H speaker is a uniquely constructed smart speaker that’s currently only available in China. The top of the stack is a flat, removable LED-injected slate that acts as the speaker’s remote. It’s touch-sensitive and designed to support a batch of predictable gestures, but the H also works with your voice.
We’re not sure if it will ever come to other parts of the world, but it’ll be up against the Google Home and Amazon Echo, which might beat it in terms of sheer functionality. But when it comes to looks, the Teenage Engineering H is the one I want to have in my home.
Waterfield CitySlicker case for Nintendo Switch I value my Nintendo Switch more than any other tech product I own, so you can bet your bottom dollar that I want to dress it better than I dress myself.
For that, I’ll need the new CitySlicker case for the Nintendo Switch. Waterfield’s products are hand-crafted, and even though they’re made from leather, come in a variety of styles and colors. This case in particular combines leather, nylon and mesh in such a manner that the Switch can snugly fit inside, as can USB-C and HDMI cables and even an external battery for topping the console up.
Cat Ellis: Downloads Editor
Cherry MX Board 6.0 I’m on track to finish the first draft of my novel before Christmas (yes, really!) so I’ll be ringing in the new year with the first round of editing. A mechanical keyboard would make redrafting a pleasingly clacky experience, and this all-metal board’s closely spaced keys make it great for long periods of typing. It would be ideal for gaming too, in the unlikely event that I have time for such frivolities.
Lenovo ThinkPad E470: Working at a desktop PC is always more comfortable than slumping over a laptop, but you don’t always have that luxury. In fact, I wrote almost all of my novel on a Lenovo Ideapad 110S that I picked up for under £100 last Black Friday. It’s been a faithful companion, but I’ve spent so long hammering its poor little keyboard that the bottom row is now starting to fail. The ThinkPad E470 is a huge step up – possibly overkill – but it came top in our round-up of the best laptops for writers, and the idea of a spill-resistant keyboard is very appealing for writing at wobbly cafe tables; there have been some near-misses.
Focus@Will I gave this concentration-boosting music service a spin during a spell of writer’s block, and although I can’t say for certain that it was responsible for getting me out of that slump, I certainly felt more productive with my personal upbeat electro soundtrack. A subscription is $9.95 per month, which is much less than I could spend on coffee for the same effect.
Matt Hanson: Computing Editor
Alienware AW3418DW gaming monitor I’ve recently reviewed this brilliant 34-inch ultra-wide gaming monitor with G-Sync, and now I’m struggling to go back to my old 27-inch standard widescreen monitor that maxes out at 60Hz. Everything feels so cramped and sluggish. So I would really like one of these for myself, please Santa. I promise I’ll be a good boy and clean up my desk.
Dell XPS 13 The Dell XPS 13 has been sitting at the top of our best laptops list for ages now, and while there have been some amazing laptops in 2017, none has been able to dislodge it. A new and improved version has just been released, with improved innards that makes it better than ever, so I think it’s now time for me to put it on my Christmas list. I need a handy, powerful and portable laptop to take with me when I’m commuting, and the XPS 13 definitely fits the bill.
Nintendo Switch I’ll be honest, I’d hardly play it. Between the backlog of games on my PC and PS4, and with both platforms getting loads of games in 2018 that I need to play (God of War, Dreams, Far Cry 5, Read Dead Redemption 2), the Switch would barely get a look in. That’s why I want Santa to give it to me for free. Then I won’t feel guilty when it sits there collecting dust. I do want to play Zelda though.
Emma Boyle, Staff Writer
PS4 Pro: I know, talk about getting to the party late. But now that I’ve finally bought myself the Nintendo Switch I’d been after for so long I need another console to covet. My standard PS4 is now four years old, and although it’s in pretty good shape I feel like I've had it for long enough to justify an upgrade; people have cars for less time. And since I bought a TV able to handle it in last year’s Black Friday sales, why not go 4K? It may not be as powerful as the new Xbox One X, but I just can’t bear to miss out on some of the PlayStation-exclusive games coming in 2018. Spider-Man in 4K is my New Year’s resolution.
Kindle Oasis They finally did it. Amazon finally created a Kindle I can read in the bath without experiencing a feeling akin to holding a bag of money over a rising fire. As the newest member of the Kindle family, the Oasis is the most feature-packed and best-looking. Unfortunately, that means it’s also the most expensive. The main thing stopping me picking one of these up is that I already have a perfectly functioning Paperwhite that I love. I can justify many things, but if I’m not careful I’ll accrue a Kindle collection that will require its own bookshelf. So if an Oasis were to appear wrapped beneath my tree with no credit card statement or personal blame attached I would be one happy bookworm.
Andrew London, Staff Writer
LG C7 OLED Series (2017) Ever since OLED technology appeared on the scene it’s been something I’ve hankered for. There's been many an afternoon when my wife has lost me in a department store, only to find me standing drooling over the blisteringly expensive OLED TVs. With the LG C7 OLED you not only get a 4K HDR picture, you get all the benefits of an OLED screen at a price that doesn’t break the bank. I know wishlists aren’t about scrimping, but there’s a very good reason why the C7 is top of our best TV guide.
Nvidia Shield (2017) What’s the point in having a 4K HDR TV if you’re not going to pipe in content that really flexes its muscles? That's right, there isn't one – you’ve bought yourself a very expensive paperweight. There are a good number of ways to get 4K content into your TV, but few offer as much as the Nvidia Shield. A streaming box with a definite focus on gaming, you can use it to stream HBO Now, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Kodi, Plex, Disney Movies Anywhere, Hulu, Sling TV, Crackle, EPIX and many, many more. Want. Definite want.
Parrot Bebop 2 Power I’ve always wanted to fly. From dreams when I was little, to watching the X-men taking off in my weekend morning cartoons, to the wonderful flying sequence in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, it’s always been something that I’ve wanted. More than that. Like it’s something I should be able to do, if only I knew the trick. Well, it seems the trick might be strapping a VR headset to my face that gets a direct feed from a drone. That’s what the Parrot Bebop 2 Power offers. Sure, it’s not real flying. And sure, the motion sickness is an issue. But it’s better than nothing.
Marc Chacksfield, Global Managing Editor
Apple MacBook This is something I’ve had my eye on for a while, but because I use a MacBook Pro for work it’s felt like one of those things that, if I bought it, wouldn’t feel like an amazing ‘new toy’. But the new MacBooks (not Pro) look superb – their design is super-sleek, and I don’t need anything with too much grunt. With a new keyboard, updated processor and not-too shabby battery life I’m seriously tempted.
Nintendo Switch It feels as if everyone in the office has got one and now I really, really want one. My gaming needs have drastically changed since becoming a father. No longer have I got the time to ‘switch’ on my PS4 and wait for the myriad firmware updates because, frankly, I’d much rather spend it making my son giggle. But, I do still have a hefty commute to work and the Nintendo Switch is something I’d gladly ‘switch’ my aging PS Vita for. The only problem is that it'll almost certainly reignite my addiction for Skyrim.
Samsung Galaxy S8 In a bid to stop paying extortionate monthly phone fees, I opted not to upgrade my phone this year. But, while I’m very happy with the OnePlus 3T I’m using, I still very much want a Samsung Galaxy S8. The iPhone X nearly tempted me over to the Apple side, but the S8's bezel-less (and notch-less) display is simply stunning, and the improved battery life and camera make this the gadget that got away for me.