The Year In Tech: Tech toys we wanted in 2016
Technology doesn’t always have to be serious. They can also be fun and entertaining without compromising the function. That’s why we’re listing down the tech toys you should get (either for yourself, a friend, or young relatives) that will make the holiday season more exciting and kick-start the holiday cheers this December.
1) Sony PlayStation VR
Leading the list is the PlayStation Virtual Reality or PS VR, one of the hottest items to grab and wear this cold holiday season.
While VR has yet to be defined as truly a game-changer rather than just a fad (like the 3D television), there is no doubt that the technology is the trending gift idea for Christmas. Compared to the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, the PSVR’s resolution of 1920x1080 lags considerably behind, but Sony’s VR headgear can still provide an impressive graphic output that doesn’t compromise the virtual reality experience. Along with its seamless synergy with the PlayStation 4 and growing library of games, the PSVR is worthy if your 13th month pay. (READ: Unboxing the PS VR)
Price: P22,900 for the base package
2) Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Classic Mini
The “most nostalgic gaming console ever” has returned to your favorite game shop, all ready to conquer memories and precious gaming time this Christmas break.
The NES Classic Mini has an updated hardware which allows you to hook the console to an HDTV, and is pre-loaded with a whopping 30 classic games such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. It’s the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who’s up for ready to ride the nostalgia train.
Price: P5,495 at Datablitz
3) DJI Phantom 4 Drone
The drone trend has finally started picking up this 2016 thanks to a plethora of options that range from budget-friendly to hardcore quadcopter pilot.For the serious drone users who are looking for an upgrade, among the best in the market right now is the DJI Phantom 4 drone, which is equipped with a 4K camera and can record 120 fps slow-mo videos.
It has a seriously scary price tag but has the features to back it up. Setting the Phantom 4 apart from its peers is its Obstacle Sensing System, which allows the drone to avoid objects during flight whether it’s on manual or auto-pilot mode. It also has a useful follow mode, which lets you track subjects and is 25% faster than its predecessor, the Phantom 3. A sophisticated dream of a drone, all in all.
Price: Around P52,000 at Lazada
4) Spectacles by Snap Inc.
In the digital age of selfies, Snap Inc., the tech company behind Snapchat, has impeccable timing in coming up with a device for millennials and millennials at heart, the Spectacles.
The eyewear can take 10-second HD videos in a circle frame. The videos can be uploaded to the user’s Snapchat account by syncing the device to his mobile. While the sound quality of the Spectacles needs loads of improvement, Snapchat’s new gizmo is still a great device to record short bursts of memories in first person perspective.
Here's a big caveat: The device is only available in the U.S. at the moment through a Snapbot vending machine. So the best way to avail the Spectacles is to ask a friend or relative from the U.S. to get one for you and pray that they get lucky.
Price: $130 if you can find them in a Snapbot vending machine. There are some units on Amazon available at inflated prices.
5) Razer Stargazer webcam
Video game live streaming has now evolved from a harmless hobby to a lucrative career, with hundreds of players bringing in the fans and sponsors by just playing games. If you want to be the next gaming sensation, you have to start with some epic peripherals. The Razer Stargazer may be just that.
The unique webcam offers the highest frame rate optimized at 60 frames per second and noise-cancelling audio, offering streamers and their audiences quality streaming. The best part? It has an instant picture-in-picture feature, meaning you can superimpose your face on an ongoing game as you livestream.
It lets users log in to their computer just by looking at it, or access programs through hand gestures. Other cool features? It also has a 3D scanning feature where game developers can easily port scanned objects and designers can prepare files for 3D printing. Speaking of 3D Printing...
6) PuzzleBox 3D Printer “Box2”
Why buy a toy when you can make one yourself? With the growing popularity of 3D printing, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a regular appliance in the house. Is it that time yet? Nope. These things are still prohibitively expensive for anyone but privileged hobbyists. Still, the tech is so cool – imagine bringing to life your ideas from your brain to the computer screen and straight into your hands as a tangible object.
One suggestion: the Pinoy-made PuzzleBox 3D Printer “Box 2” which has a resolution of up to 100 microns, meaning it can print accurate and precise parts for anything your imagination can think of. With many similar products going for twice the price or more, this P40,000-product is a good start for the aspiring 3D-printing maven.
Price: P40,000. Order via PuzzleBoxPH
7) Impossible I-1 instant camera
Although it doesn’t look as sleek as its peers, the I-1 is among the best in the instant photography category. The camera’s ring flash makes sure that it can take good-looking photos in any environment.
It can work as a stand-alone point-and-shoot, and can be controlled via iPhone. Once connected via Bluetooth, you can control aperture, shutter speed, exposure – practically everything you can control in a camera. It's a Polaroid for the new age.
Price: $299 at Amazon
8) 2nd-gen Intel Compute Stick
The second generation of Intel's flash drive-sized computers come with the spec improvements – a faster processor, more memory, and more USB slots – that help it fulfill the promise of its predecessor.
A budget PC both in price and size, the Windows 10 device is ready to be plugged into any HDMI-equipped TV or projector, and voila, instant computer. You won't be able to edit videos or run the latest videogames on it, but if you just want to stream movies or music, browse social media, or show presentations, the compute stick suffices.
Price: $109 for the entry-level model to $500 for the top-tier versions
9) Tile Slim and Mate Bluetooth trackers
Are you the type who keeps forgetting where they put their keys or other important objects? Tile's Bluetooth object trackers are for you then.
These devices allow you to find objects within 100 feet of your iPhone or Android device via Bluetooth. If the object isn't within that radius, the app will inform you of where it was last seen. You can also mark an object as "lost" which allows your item to be found by other Tile users. If they come within Bluetooth range of your lost object, you'll get a notification alerting you of the object's location. Cool, yes?
10) LEGO Flybrix
Drones are fun. LEGO bricks are also fun. What happens when you combine the two together? You get Flybrix.
Flybrix are DIY kits that include all you need to make your own flying drones, from the propellers to design plans, LEGO bits, and the program you need to fly the device. When you were young, you probably made LEGO helicopters and pretended to fly the devices. With Flybrix, you can actually make them fly.
Price: $189 to $249 form the Flybrix website
Which tech toys are you eyeing this year? List you recommendations in the comments or on X. Let us know! – Rappler.com
Chris is a PR practitioner in a top-tier advertising agency in the Philippines. He usually spends his free time duking it out in a football field, hanging out in hole in the wall places, or exploring every nook and cranny of his neighborhood in Makati.