We at Engadget spend a lot of time thinking about the best tech gifts for anyone and everyone in your life. But during that process, we often can’t help but think about the things we’d like to receive as gifts. We encourage everyone to treat themselves in some way while scrambling to find gifts for those they love, and it’s about time we take our own advice. Here, we’ve compiled a list of gadgets on our staffers’ wish lists with the hope that it may inspire you to splurge a bit on yourself this year.
With a price starting at just under $3,000, I don’t expect anyone to ever buy me a Vestaboard. But that won’t stop me from dreaming. Capable of displaying up to 132 characters, the Vestaboard is an updated twist on the traditional split-flap sign board you used to see at airports and train stations. Each cell can display 64 different characters or colors and thanks to support for WiFi and a companion app, you can create new patterns or messages right on your phone. But most importantly, whenever the display refreshes itself, you’ll hear that iconic clack clack as the flaps whirl around inside. It’s a nostalgic blend of old-school tech and modern convenience.Even though I probably will never own one, the Vestaboard (and Oat Foundry’s alternative) still puts a smile on my face. — Sam Rutherford, Senior Reporter
LEGO Galaxy Explorer set
This year, the Lego Group turned 90 — and while the company didn’t start making Lego bricks as we know them until 1958, Lego still released a few special sets to commemorate the occasion. As a child of the ‘80s, I played with a host of old-school, iconic Lego sets, including many spaceships — so the brand-new, $100 Galaxy Explorer set immediately caught my eye. It’s basically a larger, more complex version of a one Lego released in 1979 that includes more than 1,200 pieces, instead of the 338 found in the original model.
That makes it a lot more intriguing to nerdy adults like me who still love the chill mood that comes with putting together a Lego set. And the design captures the vibe of ones I built when I was a kid, before Lego was mostly known for licensing Star Wars and Harry Potter. The gray / blue color scheme is a classic, and the astronaut mini-figures have the uncomplicated, slightly smiling face and bright yellow coloring that was used on almost every figure Lego made for decades. What can I say? I’m a nostalgia junky, and a throwback spaceship that’s bigger and uses modern building techniques is just the right mix of old and new for me. — Nathan Ingraham, Deputy Editor
Razor EcoSmart Cargo
I’ve been fascinated by micromobility (if we must call it that) for years, but a lot of the offerings are lackluster at best. It doesn’t help that e-scooters aren’t legal here in the UK unless you rent one as part of a special trial, limited to a handful of select providers. But when I saw Razor’s EcoSmart Cargo, the wheels of my imagination began to spin like an excited hamster on its exercise wheel. Not only is it a remarkably stylish offering, but its rear rack can take either an extra passenger, or a decent chunk of cargo.
With a 300-pound carrying weight, elegant design and quick speed, it’s the sort of scooter that would do plenty of things in my weekly routine. Not to mention that, looking like it does, it might pass under the watchful eye of local law enforcement who might not spot what’s going on. Not that I’m advocating you should do that, of course, I’m just saying it’s an interesting potential benefit, you know? If there’s a downside, it’s that range of 16.6 miles, which would mean I’d likely need to recharge it after every other trip or so, but I’d forgive that if it saved me time. — Daniel Cooper, Senior Reporter
Babboe Curve Mountain
During August and September, I borrowed a Babboe Curve-E as part of a long story about cargo cycling (read it here!). The Babboe is the SUV of bicycles, with a beefy forward box that can take loads of up to 220 pounds, or four kids at a time. And boy, did my kids love riding around in the Babboe, asking to go in it at every possible opportunity no matter the weather. Unfortunately, the Curve-E’s relatively milquetoast rear hub was no match for the hills in my local area, reducing its efficacy. After all, this bike was primarily designed for the flat roads of the Netherlands, not the steep hills of the UK.
That’s why my fantasy gift pick would either be the Babboe Curve Mountain, or the smaller two-seater City Mountain. Both of those bikes ditch the puny rear hub motor (boo, hiss) for a 36v, 250W Yamaha mid-drive motor. (Mid-drive motors are far more powerful for a number of reasons, but they’re also significantly more expensive as a consequence.) Certainly, both are priced for the sort of people who use “Summer” as a verb – with the cheapest model priced at around $4,500. But maybe, given the look on my kids' faces when we rode around on it, that’s a price worth paying (if I had that sort of money, at least). — D.C.
Moen smart water leak detector
The things that get me excited as a new homeowner are decidedly not things I thought I’d ever get excited about a year ago. Case in point, this water leak detector kit from Moen that I’d absolutely love to get as a gift. Potential water damage is something I have to think about now and these smart sensors are designed to detect when water goes into places it’s not supposed to go in a home.
The sensors are small enough to go almost anywhere like your basement, under your kitchen sink or near your washing machine and it will send alerts to your phone if it detects excess moisture in that area. They come with screws and mounts so you can install them pretty easily anywhere and this pack comes with a 48-inch extension disk, allowing a sensor to reach into a tight space. I particularly like that these sensors primarily work with WiFi and Moen’s companion app, but even if your WiFi goes out, they’ll still alert you via an audible chip and a flashing light on the sensors themselves. — Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor
MacBook Air M2
When we were asked to figure out what we’d really like for the holidays, it didn’t take long for me to add the Air M2 to my list. I mean, it’s certainly a fantasy purchase, give the eye-watering cost of the new machine, especially since everyone screams about how bad the base model is. It’s only when you get to the 512GB model, with 16GB RAM, that the MacBook Air M2 goes from gorgeous, expensive toy to a powerhouse worth screaming about. But it’s exactly the sort of machine that I’d like to get my hands on, if only to test those performance claims for myself. Not to mention seeing if it really can replace far more expensive machines for creative tasks, including image and video editing. — D.C.
Jerky of the Month Club
If there’s one thing I enjoy more than the surprise and excitement of getting something other than a bill in the mail, it’s eating whatever is inside the envelope — especially if it turns out to be edible (coincidentally, we really need to start calling “packing peanuts” something else). That’s why receiving a subscription for Jerky.com’s Jerky of the Month Club is at the top of my holiday wish list this year.
Jerky’s monthly subscription is an easy way to get access to the company’s ever-changing catalog of limited-edition flavors. With a monthly subscription, Jerky will send two pouches of more traditional meat products — teriyaki, cracked pepper, BBQ, and the like — along with one off-the-wall flavor to keep things interesting. These selections are the results of the company’s R&D process. Whenever Jerky comes up with a new flavor profile, they’ll make a small batch and then distribute it to select customers (aka the “Taste Testers”) and collect their feedback. The Jerky of the Month club gets me access to those flavors without the added work of having to both form and convey opinions about them. — Andrew Tarantola, Senior Reporter
Slough House series
I don’t suppose any show which airs on Apple TV+ can be described as an underdog, but certainly Slow Horses arrived without much fanfare. Despite it featuring Oscar winner Gary Oldman, it was still enough of a surprise that I felt compelled to tell everyone how good it was. And as someone who’s got… more than a few John LeCarré books on his shelf, something I’m actually hoping to get this holiday season is the book series Slow Horses was based on.
Slough House is a (far as we know) fictional branch of the security services where agents too useless to be in the field, but who know too much to be fired, are parked. The series has already stretched to nine books, with the first four optioned by Apple for adaptation. And if the books are half as good as the TV series, then they’ll make for gripping reading when I’m looking for something to keep me warm through the darkest months of winter. — D.C.