The holidays are upon us again and this year, we’re kicking off our round of holiday gift guides with a twist. This year, each of our staff members will be introducing their own top picks for 2015 and what they think you should be on the look out for when shopping for love ones or for yourself – we all deserve a little something. This year, we at G Style looked at a lot of really great products ranging from smartphones to gear bags and everything in between. Each of us had our likes and dislikes so we figured we would get a bit more personal this year with our lists and give our readers the opportunity to get to know us a bit more on an intimate level based on our gadget recommendations.
I’ll try to keep this short and sweet. These are the gadgets and pieces of gear I’ve used all year that I think would make great stocking stuffers this year.
For the Gamer
Those who know me know I love to game. My gaming platform of choice is the PlayStation 4 so it’s no secret that for 2015, I again highly suggest picking up a PS4. 2015 has seen more than a handful of really great games as the software catalog only gets larger and larger. Not only that, there are tons of really good games coming soon that shouldn’t be missed and many of them are coming to PS4. Those who are shopping for one are in luck this year as the PS4 see’s it’s first price drop this year along with many new holiday bundles and special editions coming in November. If you’ve been on the fence about picking up a PS4, this is the year to do it.
If you already own a PS4, then pick up some of this years best games. Many of them are available locally at your favorite retail store as well as digitally through the PSN Store. This year, my recommendations are for games I’ve actually played and loved. These are games I have either fully beat or have continuously played all year. My recommendations for games this year are as follows:
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
For the Urban Explorer
Whether you’re just making a trek to work or you’re out and about in the city looking for new adventures with your buddies, as a tech geek, you probably carry a lot of gear with you. I would bet that even if its a quick trip down to the corner store to buy some milk, you still find a reason to bring your phone, headphones, camera, charger, or whatever. If this is you, than this list is for you. These are items no one should ever leave the house without and things that will come in handy no matter where you go.
Chrome Industries Victor Urban Utility Belt
The Victor Urban Utility Belt was actually released quite a while ago but is still a very popular item at Chrome. It’s something that I actually use a lot on trips and when I’m out and about in the city. There are times when I hate having things in my pockets because A, I’m wearing pants that have pockets so tight, I can barely fit a dollar bill, or B, pockets so large that sometimes stuff can fall out without me knowing. That’s why I use the Victor Urban Utility Belt. It’s kind of like a “fanny” pouch, but way cooler and you actually sling it around your shoulders and not around your waist. I use it to hold my smartphone, my wallet, a backup battery charger, a set of earphones, and my keys.
You can pick up your very own Victor Urban Utility Belt over at Chrome Industries for $68.00.
Grovemade Key Ring
The Grovemade Keyring is actually a new item I’ve been carrying around with me lately and for such a mundane item as a keyring, it’s actually seen quite a bit of use. Fashioned from a solid block of stainless steel, The Grovemade Key Ring is nearly indestructible, made to easily withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. Designed to hook quickly and firmly onto your belt loop, yet small enough to fit comfortably in your pocket, each ring features a built-in bottle opener for cracking into a beer or soda, no matter where you are.
The Grovemade Keyring is available on their site for $39.00.
Earlier this year, I was on a bit of a fitness kick where I really wanted to get into shape a lose a few pounds. My weapon of choice for keeping me motivated and in check was and still is the Fitbit Surge. For fitness buff, it tacks everything that is important – steps, heart rate, calories burned, and distance. It can log exercises, walks, and runs and with the built-in GPS, can track where your walks/runs took place and duration. I use mine on a daily bases, mainly for tracking steps and keeping time.
The Fitbit Surge is a bit more than your standard Fitbit, but includes extras like a full touch screen and GPS. You can buy the Fitbit Surge here for $249.95.
The Zipbuds Slide are the newest model of Zipbuds on that market. Unlike the original Zipbuds, these feature a new Zipperless Zipper design that makes the whole setup a lot more compact and clean looking. The zipper keeps the wires nice and tidy when not in use and keep the while thing tangle free. While it is a gimmick that no one else employs, its a gimmick that seems to work. The cables do seem to remain tangle free, even if you roll them up in your pocket.
The sounds on these are also incredibly good with very good range between the highs and lows. Bass is pretty deep for such little drivers and if you get the correct ear tips in, they really cut out the outside noise when you have your music playing. The Zipbuds Slide are also pretty affordable at just $79.95 (or here with Amazon Prime for $49.95).
JBL Pulse 2
When it comes to portable speakers, the JBL Pulse 2 is my absolute favorite. I loved the original Pulse and the new one is a vast improvement over what was already a pretty solid speaker. The JBL Pulse 2 has been refined in both aesthetics and sound with several physical improvements. In the audio side of things, new passive radiators help produce more bass that you can both see and feel. On the design side of things. the light show is vastly improved and now instead of a limited number of colors to choose from, you can now seemingly choose any color you want via the new JBL Prism color sensor lens.
The JBL Pulse 2 is available now for $199.95.
Escort Passport MAX 2 Radar Detector
If you’re the type of person who spends a lot of time in their car or likes to take road trips instead of flying, you need a radar detector, specifically the Escort Passport MAX 2. This radar detector not only warns you of both radar and laser, but it’s also GPS and Bluetooth enabled, allowing you connect to their online database to grab speed limits, traffic camera location, and other traffic related warnings. If you opt for the subscription service, you also get real time police warnings from other users. If you need something even more advanced, check out the new Escort Passport MAX 360 which adds directional alerts.
The Escort Passport MAX 2 is $599.95 while the Escort Passport MAX 360 is $649.95.
For the Kids & the Kid in You
We can’t forget about the kids this holiday season. Though G Style is mainly geared towards adults, I’m sure many of you out there have families and you need a little help with what to get the kids. Since we’re a gadget blog, these are recommendations from some of the products I’ve looked at over the past year.
If you’re a parent and have kids who are super glued to their tablets or smartphones all day, it’s your duty then to pick up a pair of BuddyPhones by onanoff. These are sound limiting headphones for you children that help protect their ears from the damages loud sounds can cause. These limit sound up to 85-decibels no matter how loud they try to crank the volume. The BuddyPhones will keep their ears protected while giving you some peace and quiet of your own. You can get a pair for $24.95
While not specifically designed for kids, the Microduino mCookie project is a set of “Small, stackable, Arduino-compatible electronics for makers, designers, engineers, students and curious tinkerers of all ages.” It’s the all ages part that interests me the most because young kids have brains like sponges and if they can get into programming early, who knows what they can accomplish and create later in life. It’s best to give them a head start and the mCookie can do that. These are small, programmable modules that can be used to create a multitude of things and can even be combined with LEGO. Their website is jammed full of ideas you can follow along with in the hope that these basic projects can help spark that imagination and drive in children to create more advanced builds.
The basic Microduino mCookie kit starts at $99.00 with more advanced kits costing more.
Ever wanted to learn how to play the guitar? I know I did. It’s one of the few things in I swear I’m going to learn each year, but keep putting it off because of how difficult it is to start. Well not anymore. The jamstik+ is a smartguitar for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
The jamstik+ is an upgraded version of the original jamstik that features Bluetooth connectivity and a new magnetic pickup for for more closely mimicking the speed and precision of an electric guitar. The jamstik+ is a learning guitar that you use in conjunction with the jamstik apps on the iPhone/iPad. These apps take you through a variety lessons that can get you up and playing with just a few lessons. I’m actually trying this out now and I’m able to do more in just 2 lessons than I’ve ever been able to do in my whole life. Not only that, I got my son into trying this thing out now so we’ll see if he starts to pick this up just as quickly.
The jamstik+ retails for $299.99 and though that might seem like a lot, it’s really not when you consider how much a real guitar costs and those can’t teach you how to play.
That’s pretty much it for me. While there were a ton of other products I would recommend, these are my tops that I looked at these year. Most of these gifts would be great for the geek that you love and the inner geek within you. For more gift ideas, stay tuned this week for recommendations from the rest of the staff.