electronics and gadgets

It’s budol heaven at this Manila showroom of curated smart home gadgets

Steph Arnaldo
It’s budol heaven at this Manila showroom of curated smart home gadgets

Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Beware of budol buys here! The Nest MNL's showroom lets you try out the coolest gadgets yourself before you decide to add to cart.

MANILA, Philippines – Did anyone say “budol?”

If you’re easily budol-ed by Shopee, Lazada, and Instagram, we feel you – but have you also ever been fooled by flimsy gadgets and poor “expectations vs. reality” items? This scammy reality is all part of the online budol world and it happens, even to the best of us (but not like that stops us, anyway).

Don’t worry, though, because we’re here to teach you how to “budol responsibly” with the help of local business The Nest MNL, our latest budol wonderland discovery! It makes a huge difference to be able to see the gadgets for yourself, hold them, and even try them out yourself before deciding to add to cart. This is exactly the interactive and immersive experience The Nest gives its customers in person.

ENTRANCE. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Nest MNL is a curated treasure trove of smart home gadgets and gizmos that founders Michael Lim and Jo Wong have tried out themselves, and decided to bring in from abroad to the country.

The Nest MNL actually started out as an online shop in the pandemic, but because of the recent boom in demand for the real window shopping experience, Lim and Wong managed to open their first physical showroom in Tondo, Manila this year. Now, The Nest’s online inventory can be viewed on display at the cozy and well-lit showroom, beautifully presented on various open shelves for easy display and easy trial.

SHOWROOM. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The showroom is located on a small side street in Tondo, Manila. We immediately felt welcome as we walked in and were invited to either take a seat on the couch, admire the art, or take a leisurely walk around the showroom to try out anything we might fancy. It’s a chill experience if you want to browse on your own, but in case you need Michael and Jo, they’re there to assist you right away, especially if you want to see how an item works.

INVENTORY ON DISPLAY. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

If you’re gift-hunting for a friend’s wedding or birthday, doing your Christmas shopping in advance, or beefing up your wedding gift registry, this is the place. It’s also budol heaven for newly-married couples or families who are nesting and finding little but smart ways to improve their homes, both in style and function. Here, budols can turn into buys right away!

Curated just for you

According to Lim, they noticed in the past year that Filipino customers’ attitudes, behaviors, and purchasing decisions are changing; they are now “shopping more carefully.” The Nest MNL tries to set itself apart from other online shops through its showroom’s tried-and-tested appeal. If an item is expensive, you’d want to make sure that the product is the right fit for you (and if it actually works). This is why the brand always emphasizes that every item comes from a legitimate brand and with warranty, and that you can try it out yourself first.

SHELVES OF GADGETS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Nest MNL isn’t just a mish-mash of random items – the wide selection is personally curated by Wong, who makes sure that each product falls under his own standards of IG home aesthetic, quality, and relevance to consumers’ current needs. I noticed that most appliances are available in pastel millennial shades or sleek colors, and carry a classy, sophisticated, and compact finish – they look like they belong in any modern smart home or snazzy condo unit. Nothing looks cheap, tacky, flimsy, or baduy, even if they can be considered affordable dupes to higher-end gadget brands.

KITCHEN TOOLS.

“We made sure that we brought in brands not readily available in any Philippine market. These are high-quality products that improve quality of life and convenience at home. We try them first prior to releasing them in the market to ensure that the quality meets our standards. Every product must be useful, assist people in their daily lives, and provide comfort,” Lim told Rappler.

SOFA AREA. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

“Our love and passion for new technologies and innovations drove us to start this company in the middle of COVID-19. We began with just one shelf of items, but as people came to appreciate us, we expanded to our first ever physical store,” Lim added, stressing that a good, trusted relationship with your customers is key, as well as giving them that peace of mind that they can rely on your service and high-quality products every time.

What’s on our wishlist?

Entering the showroom was quite overwhelming at first – even if I wasn’t a hardcore gadget enthusiast, I felt like a kid at a candy store! For someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, I squealed at the shelf dedicated to kitchen tools and appliances, itching to try the baby pink ones. The rest of the shelves were organized according to other categories, like pet needs, home decor, mobile phone accessories, beauty, outdoor, and more – whatever your interests are, I think you’d find at least one cool gadget you’d want to take home.

PET NEEDS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

There are too many interesting items to mention, so we’re just going to go through the stand-outs we checked out! One of the things that caught my eye right away was a huge Marshall speaker that was actually a refrigerator! The Marshall Fridge 4.4 Black (P39,999) is a one-of-a-kind investment for big Marshall fans who are in love with Marshall’s iconic and sleek rockstar design (complete with tunable knobs and brass faceplate), but also want a handy cooler for their beer and spirits that aesthetically fits in their man cave, bachelor pad, or studio.

MARSHALL FRIDGE. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

It’s completely functional, too: it’s got adjustable glass shelves that can fit cans and up to two-liter bottles, a freezer compartment, reversible door hinge, thermostat control, and more features.

FUNCTIONAL FRIDGE. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Wanbo T2 Max Global Version (P9,499) is a cool entertainment room appliance – this portable projector can display up to 1080P resolution and can project screen sizes from 40 to 120 inches at a 1.5- to 3-meter distance.

WANBO PROJECTOR. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The mini projector also has two speakers on both sides and HDMI, AV, and other inputs for easy plug-and-play connection to laptops and TV boxes. Perfect for Netflix and chill nights at home or spontaneous YouTube binge sessions with friends at the office (or anywhere, really). All you need is a blank white wall or cloth!

PROJECTED SCREEN. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Not all condo dwellers can fit huge exercise equipment into their units, so if you’re looking to reach your daily steps, the sleek and compact Xiaomi Walking Pad R1 Pro (P22,999) is the best space-saving option. It’s basically a treadmill for running and walking, but with a 2-in-1 design that lets you fold it up to 180 degrees when not in use.

XIAOMI WALKING PAD. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

You can use the armrests or not, and it comes with a LED panel to monitor speed, distance, and time, and an emergency safety clip. The treadmill itself feels sturdy, and its brushless motor helps to suppress the noise.

HALF-FOLDED. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Feeling sore after a workout? The Nest MNL’s massage gizmos gotchu! I tried the Repor Foot and Calf Massager (P12,499), which became an instant must-have for me. I put both feet into the leather compartments, and the snug massager did its magic, massaging the balls of my feet, the soles, and the top of my feet, and even squeezing my calves, with additional vibration and comforting heat.

FOOT AND CALF MASSAGER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

I paired that experience with the comfy Momoda Hip and Waist Massager (P6,499), which acted like a lower back and butt rest, but with the amazing abilities of a targeted lower back, waist, and buttocks heated massage that was really relaxing. It comes with a remote control for easy adjustment, and can easily be placed on your office chair, dining seat, or living room sofa for a quick massage fix any time of day.

HIP AND WAIST MASSAGER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

It’s giving Daft Punk energy, but make it zen! The Momoda Head Massager (P8,999) looks like a hi-tech prop out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s actually an all-in-one head massager that targets your eyes, forehead, nape, and the back and top of your head with slow heat and a slight squeezing pressure.

MOMODA HEAD MASSAGER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

I closed my eyes and took it all in – it felt a bit strange at first, but it was a novel head spa experience I could see myself enjoying at home after a long day. All three items – which make up the whole spa package, basically – are currently out of stock, but will be available soon.

XIAOMI FASCIA GUN MASSAGER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

If you want something more portable, the adorable Xiaomi Yesoul Fascia Gun Massager (P3,499) is your bet – this aesthetic massage gun comes in light green, pink, and blue, and has three level modes with four finger massage heads for different needs, like chest, back, buttocks, neck, spine, palms, soles, or just muscle relaxation. Just press it down on the desired spot and let it do its massaging magic!

MULTIFUNCTIONAL GRILLER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Let’s head to the kitchen and admire the Liven 3-in-1 Multifunctional Griller (P6,499), a 360-degree hot air convection appliance with built-in metal barbecue sticks for easy grilling and roasting. This nifty thing is great for kebabs, BBQ parties, KBBQ at home, grilled veggies, and even toast, because it provides even and fast heating without having to check on it constantly.

ZHENMI HOTPOT. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

For hotpot nights at home, check out one of The Nest MNL’s most mabenta items – the Zhenmi Intelligent Automatic Lifting Hotpot in a cute teal color.

CHANCOO JUICER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

I make fresh fruit juices and smoothies often, so I also gravitated towards the retro Chancoo Portable Juicer (P4,799), which is as cute as it is convenient! It can do 10-second juicing and break ice easily. It also juices in a hand carry cup or mason jar with a cup and straw for easier drinking.

PINLO JUICER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Similar to this is the Pinlo Portable Juicer (P1,299), a cheaper alternative that’s smaller but provides more portable transport with its simple plastic bottle.

ZMI POWERBANK. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Nest MNL also has the world’s “most powerful” power bank on hand – the ZMI Powerpack Number 20 (P4,499) is a heavy-duty power bank that can charge your laptop up to 75% in an hour! It can also fully charge an iPhone 12 in an hour at lightning charging speed. The power bank itself can recharge fully in two hours at 25,000 mAh and won’t overheat. As an on-the-field writer, this power bank sounds like a dream. It may be a bit bulky and heavy, but it’s very useful for campers, out-of-town vacations, and other out-of-office professions.

XIAOMI GIGA LOUNGER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Another camping essential could be the Xiaomi Electric Giga Lounger (P6,999), an inflatable lounger with a built-in electric air pump, so no need for noisy vacuums, air pumps, or your lungs for this! Just one touch and the battery-powered lounger will inflate in seconds to its ergonomic curve design for maximum comfort. On a full charge, it can inflate up to 25 times! It’s also pretty lightweight and easy to bring around, as it deflates into a compact size.

DIVOOM PIXEL ART BACKPACK. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Want to stand out? The Divoom Pixel Art Backpack (P6,499) is also a statement favorite, with its DIY Pixel Display at the back, which you can customize with a real-time drawing on the Divoom app. Aside from its style points, the bag’s got comfort down pat, with ventilated padding, adjustable shoulder straps, spacious storage for a 13” laptop, and different compartments and pockets inside. 

HITH FOOT SPA. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
LEVITATING LAMP. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Other cool finds we saw was the Hith Foot Spa Massager, a portable and collapsible foot spa container you can take anywhere with you and is rechargeable; the Yeelight Sunset Projection Light (P1,499) for ambient lighting or an illuminating glow to any corner with its 360-degree rotation of lights and halos in different shapes, sizes, and colors; and the Levitating Lamp, which features a beautiful floating magnetic moon in warm white, white, or warm yellow shades for mood lighting.

YEELIGHT PROJECTION LIGHT. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
MORPHY RICHARDS FAN. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Nest MNL also carries several fans that are beautiful, compact, and adjustable, like the Daewoo Circulation Fan, Morphy Richards Rechargeable Fan, and Viomi Smart Circulation Fan (P8,999) which is silent but strong in its wide-area air supply with adjustable speed and LED display.

VIOMI FAN. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
AUTO TRASH BINS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

We also saw automatic Upelle Selene Sensor Trash Bins (P4,299) in round and square shapes, available in bronze, silver, or black; a set of standing vacuums and robot vacuums like the Roomba; and kitchen tools like a pancake maker, adorably pink breakfast machine, coffee grinder, air fryers, wine openers and stoppers, and even a sleek rice dispenser. Check them out, plus the other finds we spotted here!

AIR FRYERS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
MORPHY RICHARDS BREAKFAST MACHINE. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
MOJAE COFFEE GRINDER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
MORPHY RICHARDS AUTOMATIC RICE DISPENSER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
VIOMI WET AND DRY VACUUM CLEANER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

MIFFY WIRELESS KEYBOARD MOUSE SET. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
BEAUTY GIZMOS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

XIAOMI SOOTHING PRESSURE AND DETANGLING COMB. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
SMART FINGER VEIN SAFETY BOX. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
SMART FROG FOLDING CLOTHES DRYER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
MORPHY RICHARDS INVISIBLE HUMIDIFIER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Curious to see more? The Nest MNL’s Instagram page has all the details you need, plus handy step-by-step videos to show you how each item’s used, and what makes it unique, cool, and convenient.

This isn’t all you’ll see from Lim and Wong, though – currently, they’re gearing up for a restock of many items, the arrival of new ones, and a second physical store in Greenhills soon. The owners’ future plans include expanding the business by opening more retail shops or branches. All for the love of budol! – Rappler.com

The Nest Manila’s showroom is open from 9 am to 8 pm daily and is located along Guerrero Street, Tondo, Manila.

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.