Six great gadgets for tech-loving family members this Christmas

  • From the new Fitbit to the super useful Vinpok Split monitor to a clever new car air purifier, we have something for all the family
  • Some double as terrific devices for work and play
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2018, 11:32am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2018, 6:23pm

Let’s face it, who doesn’t love gadgets these days?

From kids playing games consoles to mums keeping track of their exercise goals on their smartwatch, we have all got our favourite devices and are usually eagerly awaiting the next one.

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But with so many new products being released all the time, it is hard to know what the latest must-haves are.

For those of you still scratching your head on what to get yourself or your family this Christmas, here are six great functional gadgets that you might want to consider.

Fitbit Charge 3

The Fitbit Charge 3 is the latest fitness tracker from Fitbit and is the perfect gift to help family members track their health and activity around the clock.

Crafted from aerospace-grade aluminium and Gorilla Glass 3, the device is lightweight and feels comfortable on the wrist. It also sports the best battery lifespan for a Fitbit wearable yet, topping seven days under normal usage.

The device is water resistant up to 50 metres so it can be used both in the pool and in the shower. The watch band can be swapped with a variety of straps ranging from sporty and comfortable to classy.

To keep its size down, the wearable does not come with a built-in GPS sensor but works with your phone’s GPS to collate statistics such as pace and distance during outdoor runs and rides.

There are no physical buttons; you activate the bright touch screen display by tapping the touch-sensitive stud on the left, which vibrates to offer tactile feedback. The monochrome interface is clean and intuitive, and like all Fitbits, historical data can only be viewed from the app.

The Charge 3 comes with Fitbit Pay, though support for Hong Kong banks is not yet available.

Price: US$149.95 / HK$1,298

Vinpok Split

The kid at university will probably benefit from the Vinpok Split, a portable 15.6-inch touch screen monitor that weighs just 630 grams (1.4 pounds).

This versatile USB-C monitor works with all laptops that come with either a built-in USB-C port or HDMI port, giving you a multi-monitor system for school projects or work. An included lightweight magnetic stand doubles as a protective cover and works surprisingly well once you figure out the right way to fold it.

The Vinpok Split is not just about (school)work either and can be hooked up to gaming systems such as the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, or even Android smartphones equipped with USB-C. In our tests, the device worked with the Samsung Note 9 and BlackBerry Key 2.

For laptops that only come with USB-A ports and no HDMI, such as Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, you will need a third-party HDMI adaptor.

The device’s full-HD matt display is ideal for both work and play, while its plug-and-play functionality belies its compact form factor. A toggle on the left allows its backlight to be adjusted up to a maximum of 280 nits of brightness, more than enough for indoor use.

Price: US$199

Sony WH-1000XM3

For the dad who has to deal with rush-hour subway travel or regular business trips abroad, the Sony WH-1000XM3 noise cancelling headphones offer much-needed relief from the noise of the city (or plane).

In our tests, the headphones arguably edge out Bose’s QC35 in terms of superior noise cancellation and features, as well as being equally comfortable. Sony touts the XM3 as highly capable not just at blocking vehicular noise or the background drone of jet engines, but also at blocking out voices and other background sounds in general.

Noise cancellation aside, the product excels as a pair of Bluetooth headphones thanks to built-in amplifiers and 40mm drivers for high-fidelity music playback.

Track playback and volume controls are accessed via touch control on the ear cups, while a “Quick Attention” mode lets you place your hand over the housing of the right earcup to instantly hear surrounding sounds and conduct a conversation.

The headphones are charged by the same USB-C cable as new smartphones, though it probably isn’t a big deal to forget the cable – not when a single charge gets you 30 hours of battery life.

Price: US$350 / HK$2,890

Creative SXFI Amp

Perfect for young ones who love their music and games, the SXFI Amp is Creative’s widely acclaimed headphone amplifier that creates a holographic audio experience with nothing more than a pair of wired headphones or earphones.

The device itself comes in a compact anodised aluminium chassis and is bundled with a USB-C to USB-C cable that plugs into your smartphone or consoles such as the Nintendo Switch on one end. Plug in a pair of compatible headphones on the other side, and she is all set to go.

The SXFI Amp is equipped with an audiophile-grade digital analogue converter (DAC) paired with a signal digital signal processing (DSP) chip to create sound-processing magic.

The sound is even customised to individuals based on their physical attributes. This is done during set-up with photos of the left and right ears, as well as a frontal shot of one’s face, captured by the SXFI app.

Compatible headphones are also required for optimal performance, though Creative also offers two generic modes that should work with most headphones or earphones.

Price: US$150

Xiaomi Roidmi P8S Car Air Purifier

This air purifier may be just what the doctor ordered for family members sensitive to dust or odours.

The Roidmi P8S installs unobtrusively behind the headrest of a rear seat and is designed to keep the air in the car pristine by pushing it through a three-layer user-replaceable filter. A built-in laser sensor continuously tracks particulates and displays the real-time information on its small OLED display.

The device’s operational status can also be viewed from the Roidmi app, where you can even enable a “mirror flip” function to view the display in the rear view mirror. The device plugs into your car’s 12-volt accessory outlet, and the plug helpfully comes with an integrated USB charger.

With newer cars typically coming with multiple plugs scattered around the vehicle, the lengthy cable provided by Roidmi allows for flexibility in deployment.

The Roidmi P8S incorporates a centrifugal fan drive system that can move up to 70 cubic metres of air per hour through its three intake vents to refresh the air within a typical vehicle once every two minutes. Despite that, the device is whisper quiet in automatic mode and could not be heard with the radio playing.

The strap to deploy the Roidmi P8S took some getting used to but stayed snugly in place once properly secured.

Price: US$229

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam is the smart TV soundbar for the entire family and can be wall-mounted under the living room television or placed atop the console table.

The compact soundbar is designed not just with your TV in mind but can also serve as a highly versatile speaker for radio and music playback. With its gentle curves and a fabric grille to hide the multiple full-range woofers, tweeters and passive radiators, the Beam should be a classy addition to practically every living room.

Once set up and hooked up to your home network either wirelessly through Wi-fi or the physical Ethernet port at its back, the Sonos Beam should automatically appear as an available device for supported apps such as Spotify and compatible devices such as the iPhone.

Built-in speech enhancement delivers excellent dialogue clarity, though bass was a little lacking unless you buy the optional Sonos Sub. The device also comes with a variety of TV-friendly capabilities, such as “Night Sound” which enhances quiet sounds and suppresses louder ones – great for catching up on your movies at night without waking the kids.

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Price: US$399 / HK$4,690 (