Christmas gadget gift guide 2019
Gadget gifts are more sophisticated than they've ever been this Christmas.
There are robotic lawnmowers for the great outdoors and robotic maids to vacuum and mop indoors.
And who doesn't need a folding phone, next-level camera, smart sunglasses, and scribbling android?
These are just some of the 35 must-see products in our ultimate gadget gift guide for 2019, ranging from the super sophisticated to seriously useful, budget-friendly additions.
Merry Christmas (and we hope you get some)!
TECH FOR BIG SPENDERS
Samsung Galaxy Fold
It's the tall poppy of the 2019 smartphone market: a phone that opens up like a book to reveal a 7.3-inch folding screen. Despite early hitches, Samsung has successfully pulled off the first of these next-generation phones, and packed it with six cameras, two batteries, a small screen upfront, and created a genuine conversation starter.
Apple MacBook Pro
Apple has gone big with its new pro-level MacBook. At 16 inches, it has the biggest Retina screen of a MacBook to date, comes with a generously sized trackpad, six speakers, three microphones, and a redesigned keyboard that should please even the fussiest touch typists. There's also a fingerprint scanner that doubles as an on button, and a Touch Bar for convenience.
Sony A9 II
Sony has won over plenty of pro photographers with its advanced mirrorless range and this high-achieving, sporty shooter is bound win over a few more. The second A9 camera can capture 20 photos per second, features five-axis in-body stabilisation, has a 24.2-megapixel sensor, and can track a subject as it moves in front of the camera lens.
DJI Mavic Mini
This drone is so small and light, it's like a flying smartphone. The DJI Mavic Mini weighs just 249g, letting it scoot beneath some Australian flight restrictions and making it easy to manoeuvre. It steals some of the fun 'dronie' shortcuts from more advanced models, and is capable of capturing compelling high-definition video from above.
Cameras don't get much more advanced than this beast from Fujifilm. While its price tag is substantial so is the technology inside it. It uses an image sensor that is 1.7 times larger than full-frame, an advanced in-body stabilisation system, and captures 102-megapixel photographs with the kind of dynamic range that could make you swear off flash for good.
TECH UNDER $100
Tech21 Custom Case
One way to make sure you can pick your black, rectangular smartphone out of a line-up is with a customised case. The new offering from Tech21 lets gift givers add a premade artwork, their own photo, or words to the back of a protective case. The service only costs an extra $5 and it's available for many different models.
Belkin rock star Headphones
A much cheaper alternative to Apple's new AirPods Pro is this creation from Belkin that plugs directly into an iPhone's Lightning jack for instant personal audio. The rock star headphones feature ear buds that sit inside a wearer's ear canal and block a lot of external noise and come with three tip sizes.
Phone companies are not known for helping people find their keys, pets, and backpacks but Telstra is giving it a shot. The company's innovative Locator tags use Bluetooth or wi-fi connections to pinpoint the items they're tied to and prevent you tearing your house apart for them. A $10 monthly subscription fee applies, though.
Nomad Modern Strap
This high-quality band can instantly upgrade an Apple Watch. Nomad has created it from vegetable dyed Horween leather in an understated tan colour, and it promises to improve with age. The band, which slots into 40mm Watches, also comes with a solid stainless steel latch for security.
EFM Eco Case
Smartphones aren't known for being ecologically friendly but the latest iPhone 11 cases from EFM are pleasingly different. The new models are mostly made of plant materials, along with 15 per cent recycled plastic. Despite their unusual ingredients, the company promises they can protect phones from drops up to 2.4m off the ground.
TECH FOR KIDS
This Aussie-made smart media player puts kids in control. Birde is a small connected speaker that, when tapped with a small disc called a "Seed," can play music or audiobooks preloaded or streamed to the device. Each Birde arrives with a bundle of content, including The Wiggles, StoryBots and Play School songs, and more titles and accompanying books can be bought separately.
Artie 3000 Coding Robot
This kid-friendly robot not only teaches kids to code but gives them a practical demonstration of what that coding can do. The Artie 3000 is loaded with a felt-tip pen, fed instructions on connected computer, and draws whatever he's programmed to do on a sheet of blank paper. Artie is loaded with designs and comes with several pens for extended play.
Created in Australia, the new version of the Moochies smartwatch is designed to give children access to important contacts without handing them a full smartphone. The watch can be programmed to call or be called by approved contacts, and will deliver video calls to its small screen. A 3G SIM card is installed in the device, which is also waterproof and allows for GPS tracking and a SOS calls.
Sphero Mini Activity Kit
This robotic ball combines play with coding. The kit features enough traffic cones, plastic planks, connectors and bowling pins to create an obstacle course, and lets little users navigate courses using a smartphone app, program the ball, or even steer it using their facial gestures.
Razor E-Prime Air
This battery-powered scooter is lightweight, easy to fold and carry, and fast enough to compete with some cyclists. Designed for riders aged 14 and over, this battery-powered Razor has a top speed of 24km/h, delivers up to 35 minutes of ride time per charge (or about 12km), and only weighs 10kg. Throttle and electric brake controls are on its handles.
TECH FOR SMARTER HOMES
Like a robot vacuum cleaner for your backyard, this smart device can be programmed with an app, automatically maps your yard, and uses weather information to work out how often it needs to trim your lawn to your specifications. Flower beds and other no-go zones can be protected with a wire barrier.
Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 950
Proof that the closest thing we have to robotic maids are now smarter is this new model from Ecovacs. The Deebot Ozmo 950 is equipped to identify and clean carpet, tiles, and wooden floors alike, as it can vacuum, sweep and mop surfaces. The device can also climb obstacles up to 2cm high, can work for up to 200 minutes on a single charge, and can be controlled with commands to Amazon or Google smart speakers.
Arlo Pro 3
The Arlo Pro 3 is much more than a smart security system: it can actually tell the difference between people, parcels, and cars passing by. The package arrives with two internet-ready video cameras that can be installed wirelessly to the outside of your home, and they come with two-way audio, a spotlight, and a siren built-in. They can identify the type of visitors outside your home using artificial intelligence and alert your phone.
Google Nest Mini
Google's second Mini is still the cheapest way to test whether smart speakers are right for you and - for added peace of mind - it comes without a camera. The Nest Mini comes with double the bass this time around, its colourful exterior mesh is made from recycled plastic bottles, and it will play anything from podcasts to songs, news to weather forecasts.
Ring Door View Cam
Best known for smart doorbells, Ring has created a subtle option for apartment dwellers. The Door View Cam can be installed through an existing peephole, adding a camera, sensor and button outside the door and hiding its battery behind it. The device will register motion and sense knocks at the door, and send smartphone alerts to connected users.
TECH FOR AUDIOPHILES
Bowers & Wilkins PX7
If you want to enjoy all the extra flourishes in your favourite tracks - even the digital ones - these headphones provide it. Audio specialists Bowers & Wilkins have packed these flagship headphones with 43.6mm drivers to deliver obvious sound clarity and defined bass that you won't hear on other headsets. You can also go wireless for up to 30 hours on a single charge.
Apple AirPods Pro
Almost a no-brainer for music obsessed iPhone users in your life, the new AirPods Pro ear buds are likely to be well received. They bring active noise cancellation to Apple's wireless headset and do so without sitting too deeply inside ear canal. The Pro models also offer hidden controls on their stems that can be used to bring back the noise or pause playback.
Sennheiser Momentum 3
Possibly the smartest headphones on the market, Sennheiser has packed more than just high-end audio into its new flagship cans. The Momentum 3 headset is one of its most comfortable to date, comes with three levels of noise cancellation, automatically pause music when you remove them, automatically turn off when you fold them, and a Tile feature so you can find them remotely with a smartphone app.
Beats Solo Pro
They look just as colourful and stylish as other Beats headphones but these models are much more advanced when it comes to audio. The on-ear headphones don't just deliver bass but a much fuller, clearer sound, and add active noise cancellation to their repertoire. They fold down into a small, commuter-friendly pouch, and offer 22 hours of playback with one charge.
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100
These understated, thoroughly wireless ear buds do more than you might expect. They're tiny, weighing just 5.9g each, but they're packed with four microphones to identify and cancel distracting noise, they turn off automatically when you remove them from your ears, they're sweat-resistant, and they'll work for six hours on a charge.
TECH FOR ACTIVE TYPES
The world's best known action camera brand is trying something different with this action camera that features two wide-angle cameras - one on either side - and can combine footage for an epic 360-degree, 6K video or simply swap between them to cover all angles. The hardy, waterproof camera also features Max HyperSmooth for stunning stabilisation.
Apple Watch 5
From $649, apple.com/au
The world's best-selling smartwatch got better this year with an Always On display that lets you see the time and updates whenever you need, as well as a built-in compass and features to monitor your heart rate, the noise around you, and even women's menstrual cycles. A 4G version is also available as are titanium options.
Sony RX0 II
This is an action camera serious photographers will appreciate. While it has a tough, compact body like some of its competitors, the Sony model also features a hinged screen so you can film yourself, a one-inch sensor for top image quality, a wide-angle Zeiss Tessar T lens, and Eye AF that automatically detects subjects' eyes and finds sharp focus.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Cellular
Samsung's new smartwatch lays down a serious challenge to Apple, thanks to a bigger screen, a better running coach app, automatic swim detection, and an independent 4G connection so you can use it when your phone is away. The border around its circular screen will also work as an invisible dial, and Samsung promises a future electrocardiogram feature.
Fitbit Versa 2
You can talk to this Fitbit smartwatch and, for the first time, it will answer back. The Versa 2 adds access to Amazon's Alexa for quick web searches, as well as new sleep-tracking features that give your nightly slumber a score. The device will also deliver notifications from your phone, and track your steps, workouts, swims and pulse.
TECH FOR LIFE HACKERS
DJI Osmo Mobile 3
Gimbals became a lot smaller and significantly cheaper this year, and this is the best example of the trend. The third Osmo Mobile now folds up into a small package and folds out to hold smartphones in place while they record super smooth video from multiple angles. It can even be used to capture panoramas and time lapses.
Logitech MX Master 3
Adding this mouse to your desktop set-up can be a genuine timesaver. The third MX Master mouse feels like it floats across the desk thanks to three soft rubber pads, and it comes with two scroll wheels, five programmable buttons, and an ergonomic form to keep your hand comfortable.
What's more of a life hack than combining sunglasses and sound? These innovative specs feature directional speakers in each arm that can play songs from a connected smartphone, and can also be used to accept phone calls or summon a virtual assistant. The Frames come in two styles, Alto and Rondo.
Kindle Oasis 2019
Friends with more books than will fit in their bookcases may appreciate Amazon's latest Kindle that offers a screen that most closely resembles an actual page. The 2019 Oasis has "colour adjustable" lighting behind its seven-inch, electronic ink screen, which also serves to make it even easier on the reader's eyes.
Kelly Moore Steph 2.0
Photographers who travel are likely to appreciate this new take on an old favourite Kelly Moore bag. The second version of the Steph looks like a handbag but functions like a camera bag, with a padded insert capable of carrying a substantial camera body and up to three lenses.