It’s the most…wonderful time…of the year. Yep, it’s time once again for the holidays. Black Friday (month), Cyber Monday (week), and all of the other “shopping holidays” have their lists, but we here at Gaming Trend want to give you a list curated by our team. It showcases the best this year has to offer, and some safe bets for the gamer in your life. Some sites give you ten items to chose from, but we aim a little higher. Without further ado….
Amazon Echo Plus | $149
Sure, you’ll get better sound out of a Sonos Play, but at a fifth of the price, the Amazon Echo delivers a ton of sound, as well as Alexa-capabilities. The Plus also provides a baseline for home automation, allowing you to lightly step into that world. It will tie into a Nest Thermostat, can control your lighting, act as an alarm clock, take reminders, receive and send text and voice messages, and much more. There’s something awesome about saying “Alexa - time for bed” and having it lock all the doors, arm the alarm, turn off the lights in all the rooms, or dim them as you deem appropriate. If that’s not your thing, you can also just use these as solid whole-home music solutions -- perfect for parties.
NVIDIA Shield TV | $179
You can build low-cost arduino-based machines, fiddle with Fire TV, and fight with an Apple TV, but none of those will give you the simple and powerful capability of the NVIDIA Shield TV. Capable of running Plex natively for slinging media, as well as sporting apps for HBO Go, ABC, CBS, and pretty much anything else you can imagine, it’s the perfect device for home entertainment. Better still, it can run games from your PC remotely, or you can stream them via GeForce Now. There’s even a solid stable of great games that run natively including several of the Metal Gear franchise, Final Fantasy, Borderlands 2, Thief, and LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There simply isn’t a better all-around device.
Super NES Classic Mini Console | $79.99
Easily one of the hottest goodies of the holiday season, the Super NES Classic brings together some of the best games ever released on the Super Nintendo platform. As you can see in our review, we loved nearly every aspect of the system. After picking up some wire extenders, it’s hard to do better than this...if you can find one. Good luck!
Star Wars TITAN Xp CE | $1,138
If you are as excited as I am about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it just might push you over the edge to pick up these impossibly high-powered videocards. Whether you chose the Jedi Oder or the Galactic Empire GPU, you can’t go wrong. This will run everything on the market at Ultra, 4K, and 60fps, and that statement will likely hold true for at least a few years. Now, enjoy a laugh that these are listed as “Limit two per customer”.
OriginPC EVO15-S Laptop | $1600+
Several years ago I purchased an OriginPC EON15-X laptop (our review), and to this day I cite it as one of the best investments I’ve made. It’s powerful enough to run every game on the market at Ultra, but small enough to my portable VR rig. It’s an amazing laptop in every way, and now the team at OriginPC have managed to upgrade it. Sporting a GTX 1070 (notice the lack of an M for Mobile in there), as well as a full Intel Core i7 desktop processor, up to 32GB worth of DDR4 memory, up to 6TB of SSD or HDD options as you see fit, and somehow manage to stuff all of this in a chassis that is .79 inches thick and less than 4lbs. There are other laptops that are similarly powered, but often drastically more expensive and far heavier. The Florida-based team cares about the aesthetics, usability, and demand quality in every build. You simply cannot go wrong with one of these, and it’ll serve you well for years to come.
HyperX Alloy Elite keyboard | $109.99
We looked underneath the hood of this keyboard and came up surprised. HyperX has delivered a Cherry MX switch-enabled keyboard with a solid frame and mechanical precision, all at an amazing price. I did a video showcasing all of this amazing keyboard’s capabilities in my review, and this board continues to be my go-to for games like Destiny 2 on PC. There are plenty of mechanical keyboards on the market, but this one came up on top.
SteelSeries Arctis 5 | $99
The folks at SteelSeries make some incredible keyboards, but their audio solutions are top shelf as well. The Arctis 5 has a retractable microphone, a surprisingly comfortable profile and ear cups, and far more configurations than any other headset in this price category. The Arctis 7 pushes these features up a notch, and makes them wireless via a dongle, but the Arctis 5 is loaded for a $99 set. There’s even an Arctis 3 with bluetooth now. SteelSeries has the whole range of headsets covered, no matter what your needs.
HyperX Cloud Revolver Headset | $119
The HyperX team has been on fire lately, and their Cloud series of headsets are a great example of delivering premium audio at a reasonable price. Eric’s review of the Cloud Revolver revealed an excellent all-around headset, with excellent comfort capabilities, and crisp audio and microphone sound. It’s easy to recommend.
MSI GS73VR Gaming Laptop | $1799+
Before I took a rough tumble down the stairs and smashed it into literal pieces, I owned an MSI GT70. It wasn’t the lightest laptop by any stretch, but damn was it fast. MSI has continued the tradition of building incredible laptops, and this latest is likely their best one yet. Built not only for gaming, but also for Virtual Reality, this laptop sports a GeForce 1070 in the base model, a sleek SteelSeries keyboard, and all in a 5.3 pound 0.77” frame. Highly portable, this could be the desktop replacement you’ve been looking for.
ROCCAT Khan Pro Headset | $99
Extremely light, this wired headset feature braided cables, comfortable ear cups and head pieces, and shockingly good sound. In fact, it’s the only headset I’ve seen that can handle sound frequencies in the 40 kHz range. This results in some deep lows, excellent mids, and the cleanest high-end I’ve heard in any headset. In fact, the highs on the Khan Pro easily beat headsets at twice the price. It’s hard to beat these for the price.
AOC Agon AG271QG 27” Gaming Monitor | $699
I don’t make many monitor recommendations as the tech changes so quickly, but there’s a player that has been consistently impressing me over the last few years -- AOC. Their newest high-end monitor, the Agon, comes in at a eye-popping 27”, with G-Sync support, and 1440p, with a 4ms response time and 165hz refresh rate. That should check off just about every tickbox for an NVIDIA user, delivering the best possible image quality that isn’t 4K. If you need 4K in your life, there’s always the Agon AG352UCG -- it’s 35”, curved, 4K, and only drops to 100hz on refresh.
Philips Momentum 326M6FJSB 32” Gaming Monitor | $379
If you are on the AMD side of the house, you are only too happy to drop the more expensive G-Sync tech in favor of FreeSync. This monitor is huge at 32”, features a 5ms response time, 100hz refresh rate, and at 1440p resolution. That’s a steal for the price, but Philips has a few other tricks up their sleeves to differentiate themselves. Featuring a Low Blue mode (reducing harmful blue light output), and “Ambiglow” (backlighting to reduce eye strain like the Loominoodle above), this is as easy on the eyes as it is the wallet. Philips stands behind the product as well, offering advance replacement on a four year warranty. It’s good to see a company that believes in their product, and wants to earn my business. If you are an AMD fan, this is the monitor for you.
Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Headset | $149.99
When I game, I don't want to deal with any more cords than I have to. Turtle Beach agrees, and the Ear Force Stealth 700 embodies this. Rather than having to plug a wire from your "wireless" headset, the Stealth 700 uses the Xbox One's built in wireless (the PS4 just needs a dongle) protocol to connect. Incredibly comfortable, even over long gaming sessions, the discreet audio dials lets you adjust the in-game volume, as well as that of your own voice. It also lets you mute by simply swinging the boom mic upwards. With active noice cancelling, it is a fantastic mid-range headset that works on console and PC.
Plantronics Rig LX Headset | $149.99
An exceptional wireless headset for the price, the Plantronics RIG 800 series (LX, HD, and HS, Xbox, PC and PS4 respectively) is a very satisfying combination of comfort and features. This lightweight headset quickly outclassed my faithful Astro A40, and the Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound makes it ideal for VR. Full review forthcoming
Xbox One X | $499.99
RECOIL Starter Set | $109
Battle anywhere with the RECOIL laser tag set. The battery powered portable laser tag set comes with two guns, AR integration, and its own wifi router, allowing you to challenge anyone anywhere. Potential add ons include grenades and extra guns, and different types of guns, allowing for sixteen people to play at once. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Upright Go Posture Trainer | $99.95
Invest a little in yourself this holiday season with the Upright Go. This kickstarter-funded posture improving device pulled in over $1 million, and will help you improve your posture by delivering a small, cellphone vibration-like buzz whenever you start to slouch.
Gunnar Optiks Glasses | $25 - $99
Review - As a migraine sufferer and someone who spends a great deal of time working in front of a computer, these are an absolute godsend. With more blue blocking than any other glasses out there, as well as being impossibly lightweight, I cannot recommend these enough. There’s even an option for prescription glasses. If you are a gamer, and office worker, both, or anything in between, these are a must have.
FanFit Gaming Neon Lights | $79.99
Overwatch, Minecraft, Piranha Plants, Batsignals, Pokeballs, and classic NES controllers, these neon lights are an awesome backlight for any gaming space. The FanFit team are gamers just like us, know that we appreciate high quality gear, and it shows in the quality of these lights.
Huawei Watch 2 | $246
I’m always on the lookout for cool wearables, and Huawei has a great Android-based watch this holiday season. Local storage means streaming music without your phone, and the built-in GPS and heart rate monitor lets you run without any other devices strapped to your body. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and compatible with iOS and Android. It’s also the highest-rated smartwatch of this year.
VIDEO GAMES GUIDE
Super Mario Odyssey | $59.99
From a big band jazz theme song charting on iTunes to an official cereal out earlier this month, you’ve probably seen Nintendo’s newest Mario game in places you probably weren’t expecting. Beloved by our editors (who gave the game a perfect 100 in our review). It’s a Mario game unlike any other, with new character Cappy sharing the spotlight as Mario travels to different lands. Numerous enemies and NPCs are at your control thanks to the all-new capture mechanic, and you can take the game on the go thanks to the power of the Nintendo Switch. Filled to the brim with gorgeous scenery, sights and sounds, Super Mario Odyssey is a treat for your loved ones this holiday season.
Destiny 2 | $59.99
Review -- The latest entry in Bungie’s massively popular shared-world shooter has players fighting against a Cabal Emperor who kicks them from the Last City, and takes the Traveler’s light.You’ll experience an epic campaign, take part in fast-paced PvP combat, and much more. With the recent release of Destiny 2’s first expansion, The Curse of Osiris, players have even more to do, with more coming in the months and years ahead.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus | $59.99
Review -- In an age where story-focused, single-player only games seem to be a rare find in the AAA space, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus stands as a shining beacon of extremely high quality. As B.J. Blazkowicz, you’ll fight Nazis in an alternate timeline, and interact with the most over-the-top, loveable casts in gaming history.