FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 04, 2023
List-making ideas: New video games and other holiday tech gifts
Can you spot gifts – digital or others – that you want?
Find a local performance, display or other holiday event announcement that sounds like fun.
Look for people or a charity helping the less fortunate. Who benefits and how?
Tech devices and accessories that you give or get this season can be practical as well as cool. Check out new games, digital gadgets and electronic tools.
"Starfield," a three-month-old game for Xbox Series X and Series S consoles and Windows PCs "presents the mystery, wonder and terror of space," says a New York Times review. It's from Bethesda Game Studios, creator of "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" and "Fallout" games. It's “the biggest launch the Xbox Game Pass service has ever had," The Times adds. That paper also recommends "Star Wars Jedi: Survivor," released last spring and improved since then to fix visual performance bugs. "The lightsaber combat feels smooth and dynamic, the story is as cinematic as ever, and the scenery is beautiful," says a review.
A world-building strategy game called "Terra Nil" (for PC, Mac and Linux) is set on a ruined planet and challenges players to create tools for undoing an ecological collapse wrought by humans, to reintroduce a sustainable amount of biodiversity and climate, and then to remove all traces of being there.
For playing games with voice chat or for online classes, JBuddies Play headphones from JLab ($35) have a retractable boom mic. When watching streaming shows or listening to music, the microphone stick retracts into the earcup to transform the accessory into normal-looking Bluetooth headphones. If you play a lot of PC games, a more comfortable mouse with fast response times, a precise sensor, more customizable buttons and pretty lights is a worthy upgrade. The Basilisk V3 model from Razer ($50-$70) is comfortable for most hand sizes and grip types, has plenty of buttons, and offers customizable underglow lighting. (It's not compatible with Mac computers, though.)
Here's more to consider asking for or picking up as a present for someone on your list:
- A $17 waterproof shower phone holder from Oceavity attaches to a wall with 3M tape to bring TikTok into the bathroom.
- Install LED strips around your PC setup, media cabinet or on a nearby wall with a $14 set of KontrolFreek Gaming Lights. They draw power from a USB connection. Instead of a single long roll, it comes with six 18-inch multicolor LED strips (nine feet in all). The product offer 20 colors, 20 effects, eight brightness levels and eight speeds that users can adjust through a control panel.
- Speaking of LED strings, Photo Clip Fairy String Lights ($12) have 50 LEDs on a 17-foot string with clips for small photos between the lights – a cool way to hang a personal wall display.
- You can get a Radclo brand mini-drone with camera for as low as $35 with a coupon, or for $55 from Amazon.
TikTok content tool: Creators can complete their set-up with a $40 ring light from Vlogging, which has an overhead phone mount with a flexible arm for close-ups.
Portable speaker: A Clip 4 Eco mini-speaker from JBL ($40-$45) lets you enjoy playlists and podcasts without a power outlet via wireless streaming from Bluetooth-enabled devices. A built-in carabiner clips onto bag straps and belt loops. It allows up to 10 hours of use on a each charge and is waterproof. Available in gray, blue or green.
Portable charger: The Nano Power Bank from Anker ($50) has a built-in USB cable that fits most phones and tablets. Handily, its battery status is displayed.