Top 100 cool tech gadgets you can’t miss
From 5G smartphones and next-gen consoles to gadgets designed to listen to your heart, straighten your hair, light up in your hand, capture your memories and keep you connected, technology is playing a bigger role in our lives than ever this year.
Analysts say the trend is likely to continue under the Christmas tree with a bumper list of shiny new devices launched mere weeks before the big day, and some so popular they are selling out in record time (good luck, PlayStation 5 buyers).
To take the pain out of finding the best devices for your friends, family and yourself, we've rounded up the top 100 tech gifts to add to your cart in 2020, ranging from what you'll need in 2021 to gadgets that will just make life a bit more entertaining.
SAMSUNG GALAXY Z FOLD2
Folding phones first launched last year but in this model from Samsung they truly arrived. The Galaxy Z Fold2 is much more rugged and useful than its predecessor, features a larger front screen and, when opened, a bright 7.6-inch display you'd normally see on a tablet (albeit with a subtle fold down the middle). New features to let users take selfies with its rear cameras and use three apps at once make a better case for a folding phone, and the second generation hinge will now hold this phone open at a right angle so you can sit it on a flat surface to watch videos or shoot long-exposure photos.
APPLE IPHONE 12 PRO MAX
Apple's top model iPhone is not just one of the company's first 5G smartphones but features the company's most powerful camera to date. Behind that substantial, 6.7-inch screen lies a camera sensor that is 47 per cent larger than the other models and actually moves to accommodate bumps, jumps and shaking to save photos and video from blur. Its three lenses also deliver a slightly longer optical zoom, at up to 2.5x, it has a LIDAR scanner to focus on subjects in very low light, and its body is only slightly bigger than last year's model.
GOOGLE PIXEL 5
Google's fanciest phone is cheap compared to releases from its biggest rivals this year but it packs in plenty of tech advances. They include 5G for the first time, two rear cameras offering regular and ultra-wide views of the world, splash-resistance, more RAM, and a much larger battery than before, at 4000mAh. Google's smartphones often stand out due to software advances, however, and this year's new offerings include crash detection, better audio transcription, and night portrait mode.
SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE20 ULTRA 5G
There is an option for big-screen fans who aren't ready to fold their phone in two: the Note is back and bigger than before. The latest version of the original phablet delivers a 6.9-inch screen in a slender form, with three powerful rear cameras swiped from the S20, including a 108-megapixel wide-angle model, 8K video recording, and a 50x zoom range. The stylus in this Note is also 80 per cent faster to register on screen, potentially making your handwriting look neater.
HUAWEI P40 PRO+ 5G
There are five cameras on the back of this smartphone, each with its own special skill. Developed in conjunction with Leica, they include a 50-megapixel camera with substantial sensor, two telephoto cameras, including one with a 10x optical zoom, a wide-angle camera, and another to measure depth for accurate focus. The big downside is that users must overcome hurdles to download most apps through Huawei's AppGallery now the Google Play Store is no longer supported.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S20 FE
Samsung added a new member to its smartphone family this year, the Galaxy S20 FE or Fan Edition, and it's designed to offer some of the company's most advanced features for half the price of its top model. This smartphone comes with three rear cameras with ultra wide, wide, and telephoto lenses, a 32-megapixel selfie camera, large 4500mAh battery, and a bright, 6.5-inch screen. It doesn't have the same power or metal and glass finishes of its big brothers but the compromises are smaller than you might expect.
GOOGLE PIXEL 4A
It's priced more cheaply than the cheapest iPhone but Google's budget-friendly smartphone has enough advanced features to impress picky buyers. Its 12-megapixel camera uses artificial intelligence to snap portrait-style photos, and it's also capable of shooting in very low light and capturing the stars at night. Like models before it, the Pixel 4a features a rear fingerprint sensor, keeps its headphone jack, and remains pocket-friendly with a 5.8-inch screen. There's also a 5G model available for $200 more.
APPLE IPHONE SE
Apple's second Special Edition iPhone helped a lot of buyers upgrade and stay connected this year and it's still the cheapest iPhone on the market. The 2020 iPhone SE also has the smallest screen, at 4.7-inches, a 4G connection, and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner, which can be a good thing if you're wearing a mask. This smartphone is water-resistant, comes with a 12-megapixel camera, wireless charging, and operates apps with surprising speed.
OPPO RENO4 5G
This slick, 5G smartphone looks like it costs more than it does. The Oppo Reno4 comes in a slim form with a bright, 6.4-inch screen, an in-screen fingerprint sensor for security, and access to Google Android apps. It features two cameras upfront for portrait-style selfies, and three lenses on its back panel, with the main camera boasting a 48-megapixel resolution. Its body is plastic and apps have a boxy look due to Oppo software, but this is a solid budget option.
APPLE IPHONE 12 MINI
Apple's smallest iPhone isn't just about a smaller price but the iPhone 12 Mini is $650 cheaper than its big brother, the Max. This iPhone is instead focused on serving those with small hands and small pockets but big expectations. It features a 5.4-inch screen that goes right to the edge, ultra wide and wide-angle rear cameras, 5G connectivity, water resistance, and a tough Ceramic Shield front. It's also available in five colours.
APPLE MACBOOK PRO 13-INCH (M1)
One of the first computers from Apple's next generation makes a huge promise: 20 hours of battery life from just one charge. But refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro is not just good at managing amps. Its M1 chip also delivers a serious power boost when dealing with graphics-intensive jobs, like games and video-editing, promises more processing grunt for other demanding tasks, will wake from sleep almost instantly, and comes with some 2020-appropriate upgrades: a three-microphone array for better audio and a software boost to video captured by its FaceTime camera. A Touch ID sensor and Touch Bar also make it to the new model.
HP ENVY 15
From $2799, hp.com.au
It may be from one of HP's stylish ranges but this notebook is all about power. The HP Envy 15 features two 12-volt fans and a vapour chamber to cool it down and let users edit 4K video, retouch multi-megapixel images, and play high-end games. It also features a 4K resolution on its 15.6-inch screen, will support 6K video playback, and will run on a chip up to an Intel Core i9, depending on how much you're willing to invest. Also on board are Bang & Olufsen speakers, a fingerprint scanner, and additional keyboard shortcuts, including one that will mute your microphone.
MICROSOFT SURFACE LAPTOP GO
Microsoft picked an opportune year to launch a cheaper, cheerful laptop. The Surface Laptop Go is even lighter than Apple's MacBook Air at just 1.1kg, promises a 13-hour battery life, and comes with a 12.4-inch touchscreen. It packs in a full-size USB port and a USB-C connection for adding peripherals even without an adaptor, a fingerprint scanner for security, and a 720p camera for video calls. There are more powerful laptops in Microsoft's armament but this is a capable, highly portable, and budget-friendly option.
RAZER BOOK 13
From $1652, razer.com
This powerful laptop from gaming brand Razer is actually designed for gamers with office day jobs. Rather than focus on graphical power, the Razer Book 13 is a slender machine with notable screen: it measures 13.4 inches, has a tiny bezel, is covered in Gorilla Glass 6 for durability, and boasts a larger than usual aspect ratio so you can see more without scrolling. This Book also uses an Intel 11th generation processor, a vapour chamber cooling system for taxing tasks, and a high-definition webcam and four microphones for video calls.
APPLE MACBOOK AIR
Apple's thinnest, lightest and most popular notebook has made the biggest change since it slipped out of Steve Jobs' manilla envelope in 2008: it now uses the company's own computer chip and has ditched the fan. The addition of Apple's M1 chip promises a power boost and an upgrade to 18 hours of battery life, while the lack of a fan means this computer is now virtually silent (except for all your tapping on its Magic Keyboard). Its chip also comes with an eight-core GPU for greater graphics performance, and there are two models from which to choose.
APPLE IPAD AIR
From $899-$1329, apple.com/au
Apple's slender iPad is back this year and is now more colourful, powerful, and has one convenience most iPhone users envy: a Touch ID fingerprint scanner built into its on button. The fresh iPad Air sits in the middle of the Apple's tablet line-up, between its most basic model and the Pro range, and features a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina screen, a metal exterior available in five colours, a 12-megapixel rear camera, and is compatible with the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard Folio in case you want to use it to create something.
SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S7+ 5G
This is the first 5G tablet available in Australia so, assuming you have the right data plan, it's ready to stream high-resolution films and TV shows on the go. The Galaxy Tab S7+ is also capable of showing off content at its best thanks to a bright, 12.4-inch Super AMOLED screen with speedy 120Hz refresh rate, and an unusually long shape that suits wide-screen footage, as well as digital books and magazines. The tablet also has four AKG speakers, a faster Qualcomm chip, in-screen fingerprint scanner, and comes with a stylus for screen-writing of the literal variety.
MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO X
As you'd expect, Microsoft's latest Surface is built for business, with fun on the side. The updated Surface Pro X features a new ARM-based chip that promises up to 15 hours of battery life, while keeping this machine just 7.3mm and weighing less than 800g. It features a 13-inch display, 4G mobile connection, and up to 16GB RAM and 512GB storage. However, to get the most out of this machine, you'll need to add a compatible keyboard, which will set you back $220 or $430 for the model with a hidden, recharging stylus.
It's the baby of the iPad family (not counting the Mini), but the eighth version of Apple's standard iPad has grown up in many ways. Its screen now measures 10.2 inches, it uses an A12 Bionic chip for greater speed, it will work with the first generation of Apple Pencil to let users scribble on the screen, and it's compatible with the Smart Keyboard and its magnetic connection. This model also features a traditional Touch ID sensor on its front which, while it takes up space, does get around the issue of trying to use face recognition technology while wearing a mask.
LENOVO CHROMEBOOK DUET
Is it a tablet or a laptop? This two-in-one creation can serve as either. Unlike other devices of its kind, this tablet comes packaged with a keyboard case in the box that also has a kickstand for keeping it upright and on a desk-friendly angle. The Duet itself has a 10.1-inch touchscreen and uses Google Chrome OS software to give users quick access to apps and multi-tasking. This business-friendly tablet is also available at a discount for those willing to shop around.
Dyson's redesigned, reimagined hair straightener promises plenty of advancements to the well-loved personal styling gadget. For starters, it features a flexible copper plate that promises to gather the hair on the plate, and a heating system that measures its temperature 100 times each second to ensure it's not burning strands. But the most popular feature of this device is likely that it can be used wirelessly, and its four-cell battery will give you 30 minutes away from the power point.
OWLET SMART SOCK 3
Like a comfortable, discreet smartwatch for infants, the Owlet Smart Sock is designed to measure a wee user's vital signs and give parents less reason to wake their sleeping charge when checking on them. The third version of the smart sock now accommodates larger babies up to 13kg, and its sensors track a baby's heart rate, oxygen saturation and movements, sending information and alerts to the user's smartphone. The device will work for 16 hours on a single charge, and will track sleep trends so you can see how your bub's patterns are changing.
Whether you want to buy paint to touch up scratches on your walls, or match the room with a piece of furniture, this tiny gadget can assist. The Pico features a series of coloured lights, a sensor, and a processor that, when pressed to an item and activated, can record an exact colour match. The device can transfer that information to an app to compare with other colours, or you can order paint from the company directly.
BOSE SLEEPBUDS II
These earbuds are very different to others you'll see in stores this Christmas. They don't take calls or stream music; they're all about lulling you to sleep. The second edition of the Bose Sleepbuds feature a new design for a more comfortable fit, a lighter body to help you wear them all night, and 35 free tracks designed to help you drift off to sleep. You can also use an accompanying app to set an alarm delivered straight to your ears.
Who knew the revolution would start with a beer-making robot? The BrewArt BeerDroid is a smartphone-connected appliance that promise to create 10 litres of pub-quality beer at home automatically and without C02. The device is temperature controlled, will send alerts to your phone, and can be loaded with different beer flavours, including selections from a newly released Dry Hops range.
It's the first smartwatch in Australia legally allowed to measure heart rhythms, and this smartwatch is also the most likely to be confused for a regular, analog timepiece. The Withings ScanWatch was a traditional face and a slender body, but its lower dial shows progress towards your step count, while a tiny round screen on top shows notifications from a connected smartphone and your progress when conducting electrocardiograms and assessing your blood oxygen level. Its battery can also last for up to 30 days between recharges, and it will also score your sleep.
Fitbits are best known for one thing - step-counting - but this model adds many more health sensors. The low-profile smartwatch now features a blood oxygen sensor to measure your breathing, a temperature sensor to watch for signs of infection, and an electrodermal activity sensor to monitor for signs of stress, in addition to a heart-rate sensor, GPS chip, sleep, incline, exercise and step-tracking, and access to Amazon or Google voice assistants. The smartwatch, which promises six days of battery life per charge, also comes with a six-month subscription to Fitbit's premium service.
SAMSUNG GALAXY WATCH3
Samsung's third Galaxy Watch brings back something old and adds something new: the handy rotating bezel around its screen has returned, and there's now a blood oxygen sensor on board to measure your breathing. The Galaxy Watch3 is also slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, will measure everything from your heart rate to your sleep, and offers a shortcut to call for help if it detects you've fallen. The Watch3 is available in two sizes and with its own 4G connection so you can leave your phone at home and still take calls and send messages from your wrist.
This smartwatch has two sides to its personality: one is sporty, the other highly connected. The sporty side is powered by Suunto and uses the watch's heart-rate monitor, GPS chip, barometer and accelerometer to measure your moves in 70 pre-programmed exercise modes, from mountain biking to roller skating. Its other half is powered by Google's Wear OS software, allowing it to deliver up-to-date notifications, show off Android apps such as Maps and Calendar, and ask the Google Assistant questions. Its battery will only last the day, but it's a solid choice for the smart and sports-minded.
APPLE WATCH SE
If you're keen on using an Apple Watch but less eager to pay for the top model, there's an option for you this year. The first Apple Watch SE pleasingly includes most of the features in the Series 6 timepiece, including its larger screen, 50m water-resistance, pulse monitoring and low and high heart-rate alerts, as well as the compass, altimeter, and fall detection. This watch only comes in an aluminium finish, and also doesn't feature the blood oxygen sensor or electrocardiograph feature, but the latter is not available in Australia yet.
HOME OFFICE GEAR
TWELVE SOUTH CURVE
Laptops are handy on the couch but do not make the greatest desk mates. This curvy piece of metal can make portable computers easier to use, however, by elevating a MacBook off a desk to an angle that's easier to see and much more flattering for video calls. The Twelve South Curve also features non-slip material on its arms, is compatible with MacBooks of all sizes (as well as other notebooks) and is available in two colours - matte white and matte black.
NANOLEAF TRIANGLE SMARTER KIT
These innovative and interactive light panels could suit anyone who didn't realise they'd need TV studio lights in their home office this year. The Nanoleaf Triangle starter kit features nine triangular panels that can be installed in different patterns on your wall, can show whatever colour you choose in an app, and change along with the rhythm of music played nearby. The panels are installed with double-sided tape, linked together with plastic connectors, can be moved as needed.
WD MY PASSPORT SSD
Up to two terabytes of data can be slipped inside a wallet using this device; a much smaller, more stylish take on portable storage. Western Digital's latest My Passport gadget has ditched the severe edges and bulk and is about the size of a business card, albeit chunkier. This drive is also fast, with read and write speeds of up to 1000 megabits per second, shock-resistant for drops up to 2m, and offers 256-bit encryption for secure transfers between your office and home office.
SAMSUNG ODYSSEY G7
The thing about having a second screen is that it's hard to go back to a single display. This monster monitor from Samsung will not only address that problem but could create an even higher standard. Available in 27 and 32-inch sizes, it features a substantial curve, a QLED panel for bright colours, a resolution 1.7x greater than full high-definition, and a refresh rate of 240Hz. There's a chance the recipient of this screen could be tempted to play games on it, of course.
It may look like an alien spider that escaped from a sci-fi epic but this Mesh Wi-Fi router could answer a household's tricky connection issues. The router uses its antennae to connect as many gadgets as possible, sending six streams simultaneously to demanding gadgets around your home. The router also boosts the Wi-Fi signal and features a built-in Ookla Speedtest facility to help identify any issues.
APPLE HOMEPOD MINI
Apple's first HomePod smart speaker was big and expensive, but its follow-up is the opposite. The HomePod Mini is only just larger than a tennis ball and costs less than half that of its bigger brother. Despite its size, it delivers enough volume to fill a room, uses computational audio to ensure songs sound balanced and clear, dual passive radiators for bass, and easily links with other HomePod Mini speakers to create stereo sound. Users can also set up Intercom to make announcements on other speakers and Apple devices, and use it to ask Siri questions.
ARLO ESSENTIAL XL SPOTLIGHT CAMERA
This well-connected camera delivers a lot of useful information without asking a lot from users. Arlo's Spotlight camera is, of course, named for the bright light embedded above its camera that can be used to surprise unwanted guests outside your home, and record video in colour even after night falls. The wireless camera, which will operate in all weather and has a six-month battery life, will also deliver motion alerts to a user's smartphone, and can be integrated into Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa platforms.
AMAZON ECHO DOT WITH CLOCK
Amazon's cheapest smart speaker recently received a new, well-rounded look and, for an extra $20, you can get a model with a LED clock on it face. The new Echo Dot features Dolby processing, dual-firing tweeters, and a 3-inch woofer in its ball-like form, can be linked with other Amazon speakers for sound around your home, and will answer questions, stream podcasts and radio stations, and let you control other smart home devices. This model also features a mute button, for added privacy.
ECOVACS DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI
More a gift for a household than just one person, this robotic cleaner should be appreciated nevertheless. This model doesn't just work as a vacuum cleaner but is capable of mopping floors too, and will recognise the difference between surfaces to employ the best cleaning strategy. It also uses a camera, a laser and artificial intelligence to identify obstacles to prevent damage or getting stuck and, oddly, you can also stream video from its camera to your phone, in case you want to check its work or check in on a pet.
GOOGLE NEST AUDIO
Google's smart speakers get a new look and a new sound in this model, which is 75 per cent louder than the model it replaces and much more upstanding in appearance. This Nest Audio speaker is designed to deliver tunes, and comes packed with a 75mm woofer and 19mm tweeter to ensure your hear more detail from your songs, and compatibility with a wide range of streaming services, including Spotify and TuneIn. Of course, it can also be used to control other linked devices, such as lights and televisions, and will provide web search results.
APPLE IPHONE LEATHER WALLET
Smartphones usually replace wallets rather than become them but this creation for Apple iPhone 12 models bucks the trend. The iPhone Wallet is essentially a stiff-sided leather pocket with space for your credit cards or ID that attaches to the back of an iPhone 12 with its MagSafe magnetic ring. Their magnetic attraction is surprisingly strong, ensuring it shouldn't detach unless you twist it.
DJI OM 4
Whether the recipient is a new parent, keen YouTuber, or adventurer, DJI's new phone gimbal will be a welcome gift. The fourth edition has a more advanced motor to adjust for bumps and jumps, delivers shortcuts to special effects like Hitchcock-style zoom, and it attaches to smartphones quickly with a magnetic disk you can fix to any handset. The gimbal also folds down in a surprisingly small, portable form.
TWELVE SOUTH BOOKBOOK VOL 2
One of the quirkiest accessories for Apple's new MacBooks look like actual books. This creation from Twelve South, available in two colours, looks like a fusty, leather-bound tome but is actually a hard-sided laptop case that zips up to protect its charge. This edition also comes with a separate pocket for storing documents, can be used to protect the laptop even when it's open, and will accommodate both 13 and 15-inch MacBooks from 2016 onwards.
BLUE YETI X MICROPHONE
You don't have to start a podcast to be interested in high-quality voice recordings and this plug-and-play microphone from Blue will meet all kinds of demands. It has different recording modes for streaming video broadcasts, conference calls, ASMR recordings and, yes, podcasts. The microphone also features an audio monitor that will let you immediately check and adjust your audio level, and it connects to a computer by USB.
OTTERBOX + POP SYMMETRY
We all know someone with a cracked phone screen but, if applied early enough, a case like this one from Otterbox may prevent it happening to more friends. This iPhone 12 case combines two plastic protective layers covering all sides of the smartphone with extra grip from the Pop handle that slides between two fingers while holding a phone. The case is available in three colours, including fetching Daydreamer Pink, and for the Samsung Galaxy S20 series.
BOSE QUIETCOMFORT EARBUDS
The audio specialists at Bose have achieved the improbable: they've transferred the much-loved active noise-cancellation technology from headphones to earbuds. The company's QC Earbuds are larger than most but their size is a small trade-off for the peace they deliver. Four microphones outside and inside monitor external sounds to cancel them, and can dull sounds from the noisiest neighbours. Wearers can also hear more out the outside world instantly by tapping the left earbud, and they're optimised for taking phone calls, automatically homing in on the sound of your voice and dulling distractions around you.
SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS LIVE
Perhaps better known as "ear beans," the design of Samsung's newest earbuds certainly catches attention. They look much more discreet when in place, however, as the Galaxy Buds Live are designed to fit within the folds of the wearer's ears rather than protrude like many of their rivals. Despite their low profile, these buds deliver full sound, can be controlled with a tap on their side, and will work for six hours per charge. Their noise cancellation is minimally effective but they win the fashion and form stakes.
GOOGLE PIXEL BUDS
Google's latest earbuds are thoroughly wireless, surprisingly discreet, and offer a reliable connection and fit. The company's second edition earbuds are much more sophisticated than its first, with a circular design that doesn't protrude much, sound that automatically adapts to the wearer's surroundings, and touch controls for everything from song playback to volume. The plastic wings on these earbuds also help keep them in place during exercise, and they're sweat-resistant.
Hidden by the hype of the iPhone 12 announcement, Apple quietly launched these budget-friendly, mostly wireless earbuds from Beats. Flex earbuds are designed for all-day wear and when they're not in your ears, they can be worn around your neck, with the magnetised earbuds connecting to one another. These sound machines can play music for twice as long as most models, at 12 hours, and feature controls on their cord for volume, playing songs and answering calls.
LG TONE FREE FN6
LG's new earbuds might look familiar - like AirPods in a dark shade - but they have a unique selling point. These Bluetooth earbuds arrive in a case that not only recharges them but disinfects them, with UV lights promising to remove 99.9 per cent of bacteria in a 10-minute charge. The earbuds also use signal processing to simulate a surround-sound experience, they're water-resistant, and will pause playback automatically when you remove them.
SONY ALPHA 7C
This surprisingly small camera is designed for people interested in photography and disinterested in carrying a lot of gear. The Sony Alpha 7C shrinks the full-frame camera again, creating a rangefinder-style shooter capable of capturing detailed, 24.2-megapixel images, and fitting in an electronic viewfinder and flip-out touchscreen.
The new top model in Nikon's mirrorless range is a 45-megapixel monster. The second Z7 camera employs two image processors for sharper autofocus, plus a faster shooting speed of 10 photos per second and bigger buffer to record more of them. It also promises better lowlight shooting and 4K video capture at 60 frames per second.
Adored by street photographers, Fujifilm updated its retro X100 camera line with a model that hides more modern amenities while keeping its manual controls. The X100V comes with a hinged touchscreen for tough angles and discreet shooting, an updated 26-megapixel image sensor, water-resistance, and a faster 23mm lens.
GOPRO HERO9 BLACK
The world's best known action camera took a big leap forward this year, with a colour screen up front, a battery boost, a jump to 5K video and 20-megapixel photos and, perhaps most importantly, the best digital stabilisation on the market. The HyperSmooth 3.0 feature in this camera can make a bumpy bike ride look less like a bad documentary.
DJI POCKET 2
This upstanding camera is capable of capturing professional quality home movies, even if they involve chasing a kid around the yard. The second Pocket camera uses an even better gimbal that adjusts for pan, tilt and roll, and it will also capture 64-megapixel photos and 4K video. New software also tracks subjects more accurately and there's a mini control stick included.
GOPRO HERO9 BLACK MAX LENS MOD
Action cameras have a lot more options this year, including this curiously innovative lens from GoPro. The Max Lens Mod connects to the front of the latest GoPro camera and not only delivers a much wider view, at 155 degrees, but it unlocks other features including even smoother video recording and horizon-levelling that keeps video horizontal even if you flip the camera upside down.
PEAK DESIGN TRAVEL TRIPOD
San Francisco camera gear makers Peak Design have created one of the world's most compact tripods, which is useful even if you're not allowed to travel very far this year. Even the heaviest version of this tripod, made of aluminium, weighs only 1.54kg and the legs tuck in tightly to its ball head. Hidden extras include a smartphone mount and a hex tool to change mounts.
SONY GP-VPT2 SHOOTING GRIP
This camera grip is designed for bloggers, influencers and those who just want to improve their photography, and delivers easy access to photo and video recording, as well as custom settings and a camera's electronic zoom. The grip physically connects to the bottom of a compatible camera, including the RX100 VII, but connects to its features using Bluetooth, and can also be used as a tripod.
SQUAREHOOD MK II
There are a lot of accessories for Fujifilm's X100 camera series, and many that suit its retro looks, but this lens hood stands out for its practicality as well as its design. The second version of the Squarehood, made in Sweden, has a pleasingly compact, aluminium form that doesn't block the camera's viewfinder while also reducing lens flare and providing protection from knocks.
KELLY MOORE KELLY BACKPACK
One for stylish photographers, this newly launched leather backpack doesn't telegraph its expensive cargo even though it does keep it safe, in a well-padded compartment. The bag, which can be worn as a backpack or converted into a messenger, is also capable of carrying plenty of camera gear, including a camera with grip attached, three lenses, and a laptop up to 13 inches in size.
There's a reason these Sony headphones have a cult following. The awkwardly named WH-1000XM4 headphones are exceedingly comfortable over users' ears, and deliver industry-leading active noise-cancellation that will quieten just about any environment. The fourth generation headset also pauses automatically when you remove them, can detect when you're talking and turn off the silence, and features even more generous padding.
BOSE NC 700
The long-awaited successor to Bose's QuietComfort headphones not only offers silence but style as well. These over-ear headphones are available in Soapstone, with gold stems, and feature generously padded ear pads, touch panels with volume and playback controls, quick access to your phone's voice assistant, and impeccable sound quality. Naturally, they also come with active noise-cancellation, refined in noisy plane environments but useful anywhere.
SENNHEISER HD 560 S
This freshly released headset doesn't silence outside noise or promise ridiculous bass levels: it's one for audiophiles. These headphones feature an open-back design to let sound through, a lightweight body for long listening sessions, and angled audio drivers to recreate the sound you might hear in a music studio or from a hi-fi stereo. They're designed for natural and accurate music playback so listeners can hear exactly what the artist intended.
JABRA ELITE 45H
These wireless headphones will let you cut the cord cheaply but they're not cheaply made. Jabra's most accessible headset will deliver marathon listening sessions as it's capable of playing music for 50 hours on a single charge. The lightweight headset, available in colours including blue and gold, also delivers balanced sound, an app you can customise it, and highly padded on-ear cups.
TURTLE BEACH STEALTH 600 GENERATION 2
It's important to hear opponents creeping up behind you and this gaming headset will give you that tip-off without a cord attached. Turtle Beach's second generation Stealth headset is compatible with the PlayStation 5, and will connect wirelessly using a tiny Bluetooth dongle. It features a boom mic that automatically mutes you when retracted, substantial foam padding, and 50mm speakers.
SONY PLAYSTATION 5
It might be hard to secure one for Christmas due to record sellouts but Sony's next-generation console is worth the hunt. This high-powered machine delivers speedy loading times for games, supports 8K content for the first time, and a 120 frame per second refresh rate to show fast action. One of the biggest updates to this machine is in its controller, however, which now supports cutting-edge haptic feedback, features adaptive triggers and 3D sound
XBOX SERIES X
Twice as powerful as the model it replaces, the Xbox Series X uses its power and new solid-state drive to let players quickly pick up a game where they left off, changing the ways to play. The chunky new console also delivers 4K gameplay and Dolby sound for a next-gen look and feel, and will let players access a huge number of titles with an Xbox Games Pass subscription.
SEAGATE GAME DRIVE
Some of this year's next-generation consoles won't accept games discs, forcing players to rely on whatever storage comes with them for their entire games library. This addition from Seagate, developed with Microsoft, can make that allowance more generous, though, adding an extra one terabyte on solid-state storage for the latest titles, and will allow players to access games directly without delays.
PLAYSTATION 5 MEDIA REMOTE
Sony's new games machine can also work as an entertainment hub, with access to streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ built into the console. This $50 addition will save gamers the annoyance of having to use their controller - and relearn what its buttons do - to play, pause, rewind, fast-forward and even select the right service. It's also a smart gift idea for someone who you know secured a PS5.
SENNHEISER GSP 370
This wireless gaming set has a unique claim to fame: it promises to power on for 100 hours on a single charge. The over-ear headset can be used with games played on PCs and Macs as well as PlayStation and Xbox consoles, and comes with a USB Bluetooth adaptor. It features padded ear cups for noise cancellation, a boom microphone that mutes sound when you lift it, and a handy volume control knob on one side.
TWELVE SOUTH AIRFLY
If your car stereo has a headphone jack, it can stream music from an iPhone using this humble dongle. The Twelve South AirFly acts as a missing link between phone and non-smart systems, connecting to the phone and transmitting your songs to the car. It will also work on plane screens, treadmills, and with handheld game machines.
BELKIN CAR VENT MOUNT PRO
One of the smarter uses of the iPhone 12's new rear magnetic ring is this car mount that connects to a standard air vent and lets users mount their handset by just placing it on top. It will hold any iPhone in the new range firmly in place, and in portrait or landscape orientation.
NAVMAN MIVUE 1100 SENSOR XL DC
This dashcam is designed to capture accidents in challenging light - when they most often occur - by using a larger image sensor and redesigned lenses. Two cameras feature in this kit, to film from the front and the rear, with their results shown on main unit's 2.7-inch screen.
NEXTBASE 622GW 4K DASHCAM
This Nextbase car gadget shares more features with advanced cameras than you might expect. The 622GW not only captures 4K video at 30 frames per second but uses image stabilisation to make it more watchable, and features video modes that digital enhance footage taken in bad weather and at night. It will also play back footage in slow motion.
AMAZON ECHO AUTO
Those who remember Knight Rider might appreciate this Amazon gadget more. Echo Auto connects to your car stereo with Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable and uses your smartphone's internet connection to let you ask Alexa to play music, read the news, or make calls through your car's speaker system. It features eight microphones and is powered by a vehicle's 12v outlet.
HIMO ELECTRIC SCOOTER H1
Part e-scooter, part bike, and able to fold down small enough to fit inside a backpack, this 14.5kg vehicle will stop pedestrians, if not traffic. The HIMO H1 lets riders sit rather than stand while it zips around at up to 18km/h for a range of about 30km per charge. It will launch at the end of November.
This advanced e-bike, designed by an Australian firm servicing bike couriers, has some serious grunt. While it only uses three gears, its rear motor gets up to speed quickly, it will run for eight hours on a charge, it uses hydraulic brakes and has a built-in electronic lock. Keen cyclists can rent to own it.
SEGWAY NINEBOT KICKSCOOTER MAX
So popular it is sold out in some stores, this e-scooter has a reputation that precedes it. Enviable features inside the Kickscooter Max include pneumatic, self-healing tyres, a dual braking system, enough power to climb reasonable hills, water-resistance and typical range of 65km.
MATE X BIKE
This striking and substantial e-bike won plaudits after an online campaign and is now available for preorder in Australia. The Mate X has tyres big enough to go off-road, eight gears, disc brakes, full suspension, bright front and rear lights, and even a turning indicator on its handlebars.
XIAOMI MI ELECTRIC PRO 2
Xiaomi's popular, top-of-the-range scooter just got an upgrade and this model adds a brighter light for nightriding, a new low-speed pedestrian mode, and a free spare tyre. It's still the most powerful in the company's range and will cover 45km on one recharge.
JBL PARTYBOX ON-THE-GO
This 7.5kg speaker is one of the most comprehensive party musicmakers on the market. It can pump out 100 watts of sound, synchronise its LED lights to the music, connect to two wireless microphones for a spot of karaoke, and it's splash-proof. Even its shoulder strap sports a bottle opener.
SONY SRS-XB23 EXTRA BASS
This tube-shaped speaker could suit outdoorsy types. Sony promises the XB23 can withstand dunks in seawater, is built to survive drops, will play music for 12 hours on a charge, and comes with a handle for easy carriage. It also packs in two speakers with passive radiators for more bass.
Even 2020 work-from-home veterans may have overlooked an upgrade to their computer's sound and Logitech's solution is comprehensive. This 2.1 speaker system includes two wireless speakers that can sit upright or on their side, and a downward-firing subwoofer for deep bass.
You're unlikely to confuse the purpose of this party speaker: it comes with LED lights, a full deck of music controls, and arrives with two microphones. The newly launched 60-watt machine uses a 6.5-inch woofer and 2.25-inch tweeter, can play tunes for 20 hours on a charge, and has an option to boost the bass.
ECOXGEAR ECO PEBBLE LITE
Hikers, campers and fishers may appreciate this speaker that is capable of delivering enough sound to keep its owner entertained and featuring enough protection to survive the outdoors. The three-watt Pebble Lite is so waterproof it can float, and will stream songs for seven hours at a time.
This thoroughly modern take on the Rubik's cube, by the company itself, lights up and connects to a smartphone for a very good reason: it promises to teach you how to solve the cube in an hour, and deliver more games after that.
TOBI ROBOT SMARTWATCH
This kid-friendly smartwatch is less about placing calls than it is about putting a game machine on their wrist. Tobi can snap selfies, play games, count steps, and features a clock, stopwatch, and alarms.
MAGIC ADVENTURES GLOBE
Leapfrog collaborated with the BBC to create this smart globe that will play videos about a country's language, geography, animals, and culture when a child taps it with the stylus. There are also quizzes and mystery games in this smart toy for kids aged five to eight.
A more innovative take on the night light, Wow! Pods feature characters from the Marvel, DC and Disney universes inside a hexagon. Their compartments light up when you pass a hand over them, breaking an infra-red beam. More Disney characters, including the cast of Frozen, arrive in December.
HASBRO THE CHILD ANIMATRONIC EDITION
He's the real star of The Mandalorian and the advanced yet adorable animatronic version of this baby Yoda is already selling out in some stores. Touching the top of his head activates one of 25 sound and motion combinations, and he'll take a Force nap if you lay him down.
SAMSUNG HW-S61T SOUNDBAR
The subtle S61T Soundbar is designed to blend into its surroundings, even though it has two woofers and tweeters, a central speaker, and two side-firing horn speakers built into its frame. This system can also stream music from a phone and respond to Alexa or Bixby commands.
Eleven drivers, eight woofers, and three tweeters have been packed into this curvy, Dolby Atmos soundbar from Sonos to make your home entertainment system sound more like a movie theatre, and add more bass and volume than the company's last model. It will also stream music, radio stations and podcasts, and music from Apple devices.
CHROME CAST WITH GOOGLE TV
Google's new Chromecast device is still a budget-friendly way to upgrade an old TV but this model brings voice commands too. After plugging the control unit into your telly, you can launch YouTube and Netflix with dedicated buttons or just press the Assistant button and ask for them.
FOXTEL VOICE REMOTE
That microphone button on Foxtel's top remote control finally came to life this year when the pay-TV provider added spoken commands to its service. The Bluetooth remote control can respond to requests to rewind recordings, find football games, and find movies with your favourite actor.
AMAZON FIRE STICK TV LITE
This discounted version of Amazon's own TV streaming gadget - which also undercuts Google - can still give an old TV access to streaming services like Stan and Kayo in high-definition, and its remote control supports Amazon Alexa so you can name your show or ask for suggestions.
One of two TVs to get Sony's "Ready for PlayStation 5" stamp, this screen could be another upgrade for a keen gamer. The LED TV will support 4K games content at 120 frames per second, and comes loaded with a games mode designed to minimise lag. It features Android TV software for when you want to lean back.
SAMSUNG FRAME TV 2020
Televisions don't get much more subtle than this. Samsung's newest version of The Frame TV is almost undercover as it's now available in a 32-inch size and, as before, its bright, QLED, 4K screen can be used to display art when it's not screening shows. It also comes with a wall mount, and access to Amazon, Samsung and Google voice controls.
HISENSE 100L5F LASER TV
If your idea of a big screen is bigger than most, this short-throw projector that comes with a 100-inch canvas should meet requirements. It uses a laser that will support 4K and HDR video, can automatically correct its picture to suit the angle of the screen, and can be loaded with streaming apps.
TCL X915 QLED TV
The top TV in TCL's range offers an 8K resolution, Quantum Dot display technology for bright colours, local dimming technology for accurate backlighting, and doesn't cost as much as its some screens from its rivals for a 65-inch or 75-inch display. It also uses Android TV software to deliver streaming services.
SAMSUNG Q800T QLED 8K SMART TV
You won't find a lot of 8K content to watch on this 8K screen. That's why the Q800T is designed to upscale videos to match its resolution. Samsung's flagship TV, available in 65, 75, and 82 inches, also features full-array backlighting, a 200Hz refresh rate, and speakers that fire up and out.
Originally published as Top 100 cool tech gadgets you can't miss