The best online resources for cooking at all skill levels

A key part of adulting is learning to feed ourselves. Some might opt for restaurants or takeout for sustenance, but that can get expensive. The best option is to learn to cook your own meals. That might sound harsh, especially if cooking doesn't sound fun to you, but there are a plethora of resources online for cooks of all levels. Be it beginner how-tos or deep-dive YouTube videos, we hope this list of Engadget staff favorites will get you started on your path to culinary confidence. Oh, and if you’re ever confused about measurements, a tool like this recipe converter is a good reference to keep on your bookmarks tab.

Recipe sites

Serious Eats

If you self-identify as a nerd and you’re also into cooking, you probably already know about Serious Eats. The site rose to prominence several years ago under the helm of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who often takes a decidedly scientific approach to cooking. Lopez-Alt has since transitioned to a consulting role at Serious Eats (he has his own vlog, which is well worth following as well), but the site remains strong under new leadership. It offers tips on basics like food prep and storage, as well as a slew of how-tos and step-by-step instructions for everything from breaking down a chicken to kneading your own bread.

Try this: Quick and Easy Pressure Cooker Black Beans with Chorizo

NYT Cooking

This is the only recommendation on this list that requires payment — $1.25 a week or $40 a year — but I personally think it’s worth it. The site and accompanying app (for iOS and Android) is well organized and intuitive to use, with bright and colorful photos along with an ever-changing list of curated recipe recommendations and suggestions. I especially like the search function, where you can not only enter in the ingredients you have on hand, but also filter by the sort of meal you want to make iIs it for breakfast? A snack? Or dinner?) along with any dietary restrictions. If you don’t want to cough up the subscription fee, however, NYT’s YouTube channel is a great resource as well.

Try this: Spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric (YouTube)

The Kitchn

The Kitchn is a daily food magazine that’s been around since the mid-2000s, and it frequently serves up not just recipes but also fun features like a celebrity recipe showdown (check out this one that compares the pot roast recipes between Alton Brown, Ina Garten, Taste of Home and the Pioneer Woman). Of course, The Kitchn also publishes plenty of tips and tricks to help readers be a better cook. 

Try this: Maple Corn Cakes

YouTube channels

Food Wishes

“Hello, I’m Chef John, from Food Wishes dot com” is the familiar refrain that you’ll hear at the beginning of every Food Wishes video, and it never fails to warm my heart. His tone is so welcoming and cheerful that it cheers me up every time I hear it. A YouTube favorite (he has over four million subscribers), he’s also a favorite among a few Engadget staffers, and for good reason. Not only is he goofy and charming, his recipes are also almost always geared toward the novice chef, with clear and concise instructions. He also encourages viewers to experiment, use their senses, play around with food, and to think of cooking as art as much as science.

Try this: No-Knead Country Bread

Binging with Babish

Binging with Babish is a popular YouTube channel (over 9.6 million subscribers) that’s primarily focused on recreating foods from TV shows and movies. Some famous examples include the Krabby Patty from Spongebob Squarepants and ratatouille from, well, Ratatouille. But host Andrew Rea can cook “normal” foods too, and the popularity of his channel led him to host a spin-off series called “Basics with Babish” that’s geared toward the beginner.

Try this: Chickpeas

Food52

The Food52 website can be considered a one-stop shop for cooking enthusiasts, as there’s an online store along with recipes and a community board. But the real highlight for me is its YouTube channel, which features excellent shows such as Sweet Heat by Rick Martinez (the former Bon Appetit editor showcases recipes with both a sweet and spicy element), Big Little Recipes (focuses on recipes with a short ingredient list) and Genius Recipes, which, well, shows “genius” recipes created by notable chefs.

Try this: How to Make the Easiest Beefy Mac Rice Cakes

Dessert Person

Have a sweet tooth? Then look no further than Claire Saffitz’s YouTube channel, where she bakes up everything from apple pies to oatmeal pecan cookies. Her personality is a combination of cranky and lovable, which I adore, but more importantly, her recipes are excellent. She gives very detailed instructions and the results are almost always delicious. She makes a lot of savory baked goods as well, such as sourdough bread and quiche.

Try this: The Best Oatmeal Cookies

Maangchi

Maagchi has been referred to by The New York Times as the Julia Child of Korean cooking, and the description couldn’t be more apt. Not only does she have a friendly and bubbly personality, she does a wonderful job of demystifying Korean cooking and making it approachable to beginners and advanced cooks alike. From Korean classics like kimchi jjigae and bibimbap to sweet treats like Korean doughnuts, she makes it all seem within reach. 

Try this: Korean Street Toast (Gilgeori-Toast)

Dietary concerns or special diets

101 Cookbooks

For a site that is entirely dedicated to vegetarian cuisine, I highly recommend 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson, which has been an online favorite for decades. I’m a huge fan of her simple, straightforward recipes that are able to turn a carnivore like me into a lover of plant-based meals (a personal favorite is this cauliflower soup).

Try this: Chickpea and Rice soup with Garlic Chile Oil

Nom Nom Paleo

You don’t need to be on the paleo diet to fall in love with Nom Nom Paleo, a mini-empire that consists of a food blog, two award-winning cookbooks, and a podcast, among other things. The New York Times has referred to Michelle Tam, the creator of the site, as the Martha Stewart of Paleo, because of how accessible she makes it seem. After perusing her site and trying her recipes, you'll no longer think of the paleo diet as restrictive; instead you might find yourself eating more than ever. Tam has also tailored some of her recipes to fit Whole30 or keto diets as well.

Try this: Garbage Stir-Fry with Curried Cabbage

Clean and Delicious

If you’re not strictly vegetarian or paleo, but you still want a healthy diet, check out the Clean and Delicious food blog by Dani Spies. A wellness and weight loss coach, Spies believes in a balanced diet and “clean eating,” but without foregoing the foods you love. For example, there’s a recipe for lemon bars on her site, but it’s made with whole wheat flour and doesn’t have dairy or refined sugar. All of the recipes on her site reflect this philosophy; they’re either gluten-free, paleo, vegan or vegetarian and they are also often low-carb, keto, dairy-free or nut-free. I also like her Instagram and YouTube channel, where she also shares tips on mindful eating and healthy living.

Try this: Healthy Banana Bread Muffins (YouTube)

Staff recommendations

There are simply way too many food sites on the internet to list them all, but here are a few more that were recommended by our staff that you might find useful.

Chinese Cooking Demystified

This is one of the best YouTube channels for learning all the ins and outs of authentic Chinese cooking from people who actually live in China. It’s very detailed, well-produced and offers great advice on recreating these dishes in a Western kitchen. I also love that it teaches technique in addition to just recipes. To this day, I still come back to this video on how to stir-fry any vegetable.

Minimalist Baker

The blog Minimalist Baker features recipes that use 10 ingredients or less and only take about 30 minutes to make. Weekend Editor Igor Bonifacic is a big fan as well, mostly due to the site’s wealth of vegetarian recipes, like this curried cauliflower lentil soup.

Budget Bytes

Budget Bytes is a great resource for those watching their wallets, as each recipe gives you a breakdown of estimated costs for each ingredient. Commerce Editor Valentina Palladino said that the site is also really good for beginners.

Rainbow Plant Life

If you’re looking for vegan recipes, Rainbow Plant Life has a ton of them. Palladino loves the cashew cream recipe and appreciates that the site’s founder, Nisha, has a trove of vegan-friendly Instant Pot recipes to try as well.

Pick Up Limes

Another staple for accessible vegan recipes is Pick Up Limes. Palladino says that the Healthiest Ever Granola recipe is one of her favorites, and she likes that the Pick Up Limes website makes it easy to filter recipes by type of ingredients, preparation time, allergens and more.

Richard Bertinet’s White Bread Masterclass

Richard Bertinet’s video on white bread comes highly recommended for its sheer simplicity. It proves that all you need to make bread is bread flour, yeast and salt. Senior Reporter Dan Cooper says the video is also a sure-fire way of calming him down when stressed.

Half Baked Harvest

Editor-in-Chief Dana Wollman and Senior News Editor Billy Steele frequently trade Slack messages with dinner recommendations. (What’s for dinner? Ask a coworker, of course.) The answer from either person is often a Half Baked Harvest link. The site is home to a vast library of free recipes that, in our experience, tend to work as advertised. We’re fans of her nightly Instagram Story cooking demos as well, not to mention her tacos.

Joy the Baker

Wollman says she discovered Joy by accident through her warm, self-effacing Insta Stories, only to discover she has an equally clever blog offering a mix of sweet and savory baking recipes.

How to see everything you’ve watched on Netflix and other streaming services

Streaming is a curious beast. One minute you'll be enjoying the '80s vibe of Stranger Things and the next you'll be struggling to pick something from that overwhelming catalog. Sometimes, though, you'll stumble on something that you'd normally never choose — a Netflix suggestion from a friend or a recent addition that had escaped your glance as you navigated Amazon Prime Video's curated menus.

However, once you've watched that movie or TV show and moved on, it may drop back into relative obscurity, reducing your chances of remembering and paying that recommendation forward many months later. You may also have watched something, hated it and want to make sure it doesn't impact future recommendations. Luckily, many streaming services keep a running list of the things you've watched (if they haven't been removed from the catalog due to licensing agreements). Here's how to find them.

Netflix

Netflix
Engadget

Finding your viewing history on Netflix is a simple affair. Visit Netflix.com, ensure you're logged in and then hover over your profile name. Select Your Account from the menu. Now, scroll down to the bottom and select Viewing Activity. You should now be presented with a list of everything you've streamed on your account.

Alternatively, you can click here.

While you're there, you can decide how your history impacts Netflix recommendations. Clicking the X next to a title will ensure it's deleted from your Recently Watched or Continue Watching row, but it will also ensure that Netflix doesn't use a moment of streaming weakness against you. Once it has been removed, it won't appear in your list until you watch it again.

Apple TV+

Apple TV Recently Watched
Engadget

Apple's catalog of streaming originals might not be as broad as, say, Netflix or Disney+, but the iPhone-maker has a very comprehensive movie and TV store that can help fill the gaps. 

If you're looking to see what you've recently watched on either Apple TV+ or inside Apple's TV app generally, the company does provide a way to see your viewing history, but it's hidden away right at the bottom of the TV app itself.

Simply open the TV app on a Mac or iOS device and keep scrolling to the very bottom of the Watch Now tab. There, you'll see a small selection of your most recently viewed content. Select the 'See All' link to view everything you've ever watched on Apple TV (this may also include movies and TV shows from third-party apps you have installed on your Apple TV streamer.)

Unfortunately, Apple doesn't offer a dedicated 'Recently Watched' section in the TV+ web UI, opting instead for an 'Up Next' section. You can, however, clear what you have watched by heading to Settings and selecting Clear Play History. Alternatively, click here.

You can also remove individual movies and TV episodes from your Recently Watched list by long-pressing on the thumbnail of the content you wish to remove and selecting 'Remove from Recently Watched.' Perfect, if you've viewed something you told your significant other you'd wait for them to watch together.

Disney+

Disney+
Engadget

Disney+ may now be over two years old, but it's not quite yet caught up with the likes of Netflix and Amazon when it comes to features. Sadly, that means you can't currently see your viewing history on Disney+.

Like many of its rivals, Disney does offer a Continue Watching section, which may help surface movies or TV shows that you may have stopped viewing just as the credits began to roll. 

If it's something you feel very strongly about, you can head to the Disney+ website and hit the Give Feedback button at the bottom to, very politely, request that they add the feature.

Hulu

Hulu Keep Watching
Engadget

If you're a Disney+ subscriber in the US, there's a chance that you may have signed up for the Disney Bundle to get subscriptions to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu for a discounted price. Unlike Disney+, however, Hulu does allow you to properly maintain your watch history both inside its apps and on the web. 

It may not be immediately obvious, but Hulu keeps your viewing history inside the Keep Watching section, from which you can browse the movies and TV shows you've already streamed. To make things confusing, you cannot see the individual episodes of a show you've already watched in the Keep Watching section, so you'll need to select the Details page of a particular series and add it to My Stuff. This will also let you see how many unwatched episodes you've got left to stream.

To remove content, navigate to the Keep Watching page and click on the X to purge it from your watch history. On mobile, tap the three dots on the thumbnail of the selected show or movie and hit Remove from Watch History.

HBO Max

HBO Max
Engadget

As it stands, HBO Max doesn't offer a way to see everything you've watched. It does, however, automatically add movies and TV series that you haven't finished watching to its Continue Watching row on the home screen of the service. 

To remove a movie or show from your Continue Watching listing in your app or on the web, tap on your profile icon, then Continue Watching, and then Edit. Then, simply tap the X next to an individual item or Clear All to remove everything. When you're finished, hit Done.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Viewing History
Engadget

Unlike Netflix, Amazon doesn't make it easy to see what you've previously watched. In fact, it buries its listing inside a number of links that you wouldn't otherwise check.

If you want to go the manual route, ensure you're logged in on the Amazon website and click the Your Account link on the top bar. On the resulting page, scroll down to Personalization and click Improve Your Recommendations. Now, on the left menu, click Videos You've Watched.

The quicker method is to click here if you live in the US or here if you live in the UK.

Here, you can rate a TV show or movie so that Amazon can better understand your likes and dislikes or exclude that listing entirely. If you've found that both Netflix and Amazon have done a poor job of matching content to your interests, this is a good way to provide it with more insight.

Peacock

Peacock
Engadget

Peacock doesn't currently provide a way to see everything you've streamed on its service. It does, however, offer a Continue Watching section that will list all of the movies and TV shows that you have started but may not have completely finished. 

Paramount+

Paramount
Engadget

Paramount+ also doesn't currently provide a way to see everything you've watched. There is a Keep Watching section, though, that lists all of the movies and TV shows that you have started but may not have completely finished.

The best gifts for grads under $50

Gifting can be difficult at any time, but it’s been particularly hard over the past couple of years. You may still be working with a tight budget, but you also want to give that grad in your life something that can help make the transition to post-school life a bit easier (and more fun). The tech gifts that come to mind immediately — iPhones, smartwatches, game consoles and the like — are not exactly budget-friendly. But there are handy gadgets out there that won’t drain your wallet completely. Here’s Engadget’s list of the best tech gifts under $50 for new graduates.

Anker Nano Pro 20W

Anker Nano Pro 20W
Anker

Anker’s latest 20W charger will be a handy gift for any grad. More often than not, the new gadgets we buy today don’t come with AC adapters, so having an extra on hand can’t hurt. The Nano Pro can fast-charge the latest iPhones to 50 percent in only 25 minutes, plus it’s smaller than Apple’s own 20W adapter. It also has advanced features like a Dynamic Temperature Sensor, which keeps the charger from overheating, and a power tuner chip, which adjusts power output depending on the connected device. It may not be the trendiest graduation gift, but it’s one that your grad will likely take with them to work, on vacations and elsewhere.

Buy Nano Pro 20W at Amazon - $20

Google Chromecast with Google TV

Aa Chromecast with Google TV plugged into the back of a TV.
Google

Whether they’re still mooching off their parents’ subscriptions, or have finally sprung for their own Netflix account a streaming device is a great gift for a recent grad. The latest Chromecast with Google TV makes the original Chromecast experience much better by adding a physical remote to the mix, along with the new Google TV interface. The remote makes it easier to navigate and the on-screen menus, and the software will serve up TV and movie recommendations based on subscriptions you have. The Chromecast with Google TV supports services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max and more, and it’ll stream in 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Plus, you can still cast even more content from your smartphone or tablet to your TV.

Buy Chromecast with Google TV at Walmart - $50

8Bitdo Pro 2

An overview photo of the 8BitDo Pro 2 gaming controller lined up neatly next to a variety of compatible game platforms.
8BitDo

We’ve been fans of 8Bitdo’s affordable, multi-platform controllers for quite some time, and the new, $50 Pro 2 is no exception. You can use it with the Nintendo Switch and on Windows, macOS, Android and Raspberry Pi, and you’re able to map functions to buttons using its companion smartphone app. The Pro 2 also adds new bumper buttons under each arm, something the previous version did not have. In general, 8Bitdo’s controllers are more ergonomic than, say, relying on a keyboard and mouse when playing PC games. They’re also a dramatic improvement over the Switch’s Joy-Cons which, if we’re honest, aren’t the most comfortable controllers to use for long stretches of time. The Pro 2 charges up via USB-C, but you can also remove the battery pack and replace it with AA batteries if you know you won’t be able to charge up frequently.

Buy 8Bitdo Pro 2 at Amazon - $50

RavPower 16,750mAh portable charger

RAVPower 16,750mAh portable charger
RAVPower

A portable changer is truly a gift that keeps on giving and RavPower’s 16,750mAh brick is strong enough to charge up smartphones and tablets alike. That’s enough to top off your iPhone 11 Pro Max 2.5 times or an iPad Air once. It has two iSmart output ports so you can power up two devices simultaneously, and its indicator lights will give you an idea of the brick’s remaining power level. Even with a larger-than-average capacity it’s surprisingly compact, measuring 5 x 3.15 x .9 inches, and its built-in flashlight can help you find lost items in a pinch.

Buy portable charger at RavPower - $36

2022 Tile Mate

2022 Tile Mate
Tile

While we often recommend AirTags to Apple users to keep track of their things, Tile’s trackers are another great option that’s more universal. Unlike AirTags, these tiny Bluetooth trackers work with Android devices as well, and are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. Also, the latest Tile Mate has a built-in keyring hole, so your grad can unbox it, hook it onto their keys, set it up in the mobile app and get going. With a Bluetooth range of 250 feet, these trackers can help them locate their lost stuff quickly, plus they can add their contact information to the Tile – just in case someone else finds their things first. We also like the Mate’s IP67-rated design, which should protect it even when it’s exposed to the elements on rainy days.

Buy Tile Mate at Amazon - $25

Logitech Pebble

The Logitech Pebble mouse in light blue sitting on a desk next to a keyboard.
Logitech

Whether your grad will commute to their first office job or work from home, a wireless mouse is a must-have when on a computer all day. Logitech’s Pebble is a solid option because, not only can it easily disappear into a bag thanks to its slim profile, but it will also run for up to 18 months on its single AA battery. It’s not an accessory they’ll have to worry about charging up each night. We also like its ambidextrous design and its relatively quiet nature — unlike other mice, it makes little noise when you’re clicking and scrolling away. You’ll also have the option to connect it via Bluetooth or USB receiver, and there are a handful of fun colors to choose from.

Buy Logitech Pebble at Amazon - $30

Greens Steel Beast insulated tumbler

Beast insulated stainless steel tumbler
Greens Steel

It’s important for grads, busy with job applications, internships, new jobs and side hustles, to stay hydrated. Green Steel’s Beast insulated tumblers are good for hot and cold drinks, plus they’re made of 18/8 food grade steel that’s dishwasher safe and they come with metal straws and a splash-proof lid. And regardless of which size you get (20-, 30- or 40-ounce), they’ll all fit into standard sized cup holders. A 20-ounce model has been my morning companion almost every day for the past year or so and it still looks fresh. We also recommend Yeti’s Ramblers if you’re willing to drop a bit more on your grad’s new favorite mug.

Buy Greens Steel tumbler at amazon - $29

Bodum Chambord French Press

A Bodum Chambord french press on a table with milk and two coffee cups.
Bodum

If your grad is a coffee (or tea) lover, elevating their brewing game can make a big difference in their daily lives. Bodum’s Chambord French Press is a simple, affordable vessel that will be a step up from your standard drip coffee machine or aging teapot (while it’s marketed as a coffee maker, it could be used as a tea press instead). The container is made of borosilicate glass and you can get the frame in either plastic or stainless steel. Instead of paper filters a french press uses a plunger and mesh filter that pushes coffee grinds and tea leaves down, infusing flavor into the water above. That should save you money over time and creates less waste.

Buy Chambord French Press at Amazon - $38

Tribit XSound Go

A Tribit XSound Go speaker sitting on a white table with a person using a smartphone in the background.
Tribit

There are plenty of Bluetooth speakers out there, but Tribit’s XSound Go stands out for its simplicity. Measuring 6.7 x 2.2 x 2.3 inches, it’s nearly pocketable and can stay on your desk all day long while you work and then transition to a backyard party with ease. It’s IPX7 waterproof so it’ll withstand a dunk in the pool, and its 24-hour playtime lets you use it all day long without interruptions. It has good sound quality with deep, but not overpowering, bass and it includes a built-in mic with which you can take calls. Just pair it with your smartphone or tablet, choose your tunes and let the speaker do the rest of the work.

Buy Tribit XSound Go at Amazon - $48

Repel Windproof Double Vented travel umbrella

A woman in the rain huddled under a Repel travel umbrella.
Revel

Hear us out — a good umbrella is an unexpected yet invaluable gift. Few things are worse than getting stuck in a downpour on your way to work, especially if you use public transit to get there. Repel’s windproof travel umbrella is just the right size — not too big or too small at 11.5 inches in length — and its nine reinforced fiberglass ribs prevent it from being blown inside-out easily. We also like its single-button design, allowing you to open or close it with one hand. Repel’s umbrella is one of those practical gifts that your grad will be glad to have at the most crucial times, and they’ll save money in the long run by not needing to buy a new, cheap umbrella every time the skies open up.

Buy Repel umbrella at Amazon - $32

  

Bauhutte Motorized Gaming Bed: Play First, Sleep Later

The Bauhutte BGB-100FA Electronic Gaming Bed is a motorized bed designed to be used with the rest of its insane line of gaming furniture (seen above, sold separately), allowing a user to adjust the angle of incline for both their back and legs to achieve maximum long-term gaming comfort (and presumably help prevent bedsores from never leaving your bed). Needless to say, I must have one.

The bed includes two motors, one for lifting the back of the bed up to 60-degrees of incline and another for raising your legs and feet up to 35-degrees to keep your blood circulating during late-night gaming sessions. Honestly, I kinda like it when my legs go numb. Then I get up and try to walk and pretend I’m a zombie. My wife hates it, but she watches a lot of scary zombie movies and is likely fearful for her brains.

The bed, which is basically a very small version of a Tempur-Pedic Adjustable Bed you’ve probably seen in commercials, costs $674. That’s not bad. Unfortunately, it’s only available in Japan, which I wish I’d known before I ordered one and dragged my old bed out to the curb and set it on fire. Now how am I going to explain that to my wife? SPOILER: with a whole bunch of lies.

[via TechEBlog]

Top 10 gadgets – from projectors to TVs you need to keep yourself entertained in case of a lockdown

Just when we thought life was reaching a semblance of normalcy, the Omnicron variant slowly crept into our lives. It’s been slowly driving us back into the comforts of our home…although I don’t think the homebodies are really complaining. Could another lockdown be a possibility in the near future? We don’t know, but it’s better to always be prepared. Hence, we’ve curated a collection of innovative tech designs that’ll keep you thoroughly entertained as the pandemic moves on to the next level. From an FHD projector that lets you watch Netflix on a massive 200-inch display to a shapeshifting TV that turns into a virtual fireplace – these product designs are the futuristic and techy additions you need in your home to completely master any upcoming lockdown. Enjoy!

1. The Freestyle

In stark contrast to most projectors, the Freestyle comes in a sleek cylindrical form that looks like a mix of a spotlight and a smart speaker. In reality, that is almost exactly what it is, though it substitutes the spotlight for an LED projector. The Freestyle’s body can swing 180 degrees, making it trivial to place the projector anywhere and still get a good view. The projected image can go from 30 to up to 100 inches with a Full HD resolution. Despite the more compact size, the Samsung Freestyle is actually packed with features you’d see in bigger projectors. Those include autofocus and automatic keystone correction, both of which give the projector its advertised freedom.

2. The N1

The N1 can project sound waves at a certain amplitude or loudness, but it can also decide how loud the audio remains over a certain distance. By doing this, it can make the sound waves traveling to your ear loud, but make them soft the minute they cross your ear. Mounted on the top of the N1 are two cameras that track your face, locating the placement of your ears. It doesn’t matter if you have long hair, a thick beard, glasses, or even a face mask… the device can beam audio to your ears in real-time.

3. The 77W

The 77W’s display unit sits on a stone-textured base and comes with a wooden sleeve that can move up or down (as can the display itself). This allows the TV to assume 3 modes – a TV mode, a concealed mode, and a fireplace mode. The concealed mode allows the display to descend downwards into the wooden sleeve, hiding most of that black box behind a textured wooden panel… but the other two modes allow the 77W to truly shine… either as a high-definition television for watching the news, videos, sports, and entertainment content or as a fireplace that peeks from below the wooden panel, playing a looped high-definition video of burning logs and crackling flames.

4. The Jireno CUBE4

For under two Benjamins, the Jireno CUBE4 makes pretty lofty promises. Sure, it isn’t a 4K multimedia device, but then again, it delivers an absolute bang for its buck. The projector comes with a compact design that’s reminiscent of the Anker Nebula Mars 2, with its handle on top that lets you carry it around the place, so you can bring the party to your friends’ houses. Although it’s marketed as a portable projector, the one thing it lacks is an internal battery, so having a power-source nearby is a must. On the design front, the Cube4 has an all-aluminum body that, aside from giving the projector its premium aesthetic, also helps with heat dispersion, allowing the projector to stay cool at all times – a feature further reinforced by the CUBE4’s potent inner cooling system.

5. Iván Antón’s Apple TV 2021 Concept

Designer, Iván Antón has come up with an Apple TV 2021 concept, which comes with a wall plug built-in. Now that’s full marks for the compact build, but the practicality is debatable until we have something like this to use. Taking nothing away from the vision, I’m impressed with the concept of Apple TV’s ability to interact with Siri without the need for a remote. Furthermore, the new concept also integrates the MagSafe charger into the Apple TV unit, so the compatible remote can now be charged conveniently by sticking it to the back of the set-top box.

6. The Light Speaker

Designed with a multisensorial experience, the Light Speaker from Transparent appeals to your eyes as much as it does to your ears. Styled to look less like your conventional speaker with front-firing drivers or like the ubiquitous smart speaker with a cylindrical fabric clad, the Light Speaker champions a lantern-inspired design… and in true lantern fashion, also comes with a light on the inside that flickers as the speaker’s drivers vibrate, creating a hauntingly beautiful audiovisual allure. In its lamp-shaped avatar, the Light Speaker rubbishes the notion of what a Bluetooth speaker should look like. Taking on an appearance that looks aesthetic even when the lamp isn’t on, the Light Speaker is a compact little number that comes with a handle that can be detached if needed.

7. The HiBed

Equipped with a built-in 4K projector that can be synced with a series of devices to binge-watch movies/TV shows on a 70-inch retractable screen, the HiBed is the epitome of in-bed relaxation. A built-in surround sound system with invisible speakers makes the bed feel more like a movie theatre. For lazy bums like me actually traveling to a multiplex to watch a movie is totally out of the question now! Its intelligence makes it more than a bed, serving as a space you can escape to with music from any of your favorite sources! Oh, and did I forget to mention it comes along with Wifi?

8. The Chroma

VAVA makes a few really compelling arguments on behalf of its cutting-edge projector. For its compact size, the VAVA Chroma can project a display that measures anywhere between 80 inches to 150 inches diagonally. While most projectors require a dedicated spot and careful placement and orientation, the Chroma is an ultra-short-throw projector and can directly be placed against a blank wall, while it projects an image upwards onto the wall. As far as the image itself goes, the Chroma uses the world’s most advanced ALPD® 4.0 laser technology and a Red, Green, Blue Plus triple laser light source to produce a sharper 4K UHD image with HDR10, up to 106% Rec. 2020 color range, exceeding the color range of top movie theater projectors.

9. The Harman Kardon Turntable

The Harman Kardon turntable designed by URUSS Design carries a distinct retro-futuristic flair and unique form factor to keep music lovers more than interested. Just look at those internals inside a crystal-clear housing that encapsulates the mechanics of the record player in the most majestic manner. It’s like a celebration of the timeless record player era and the untouchable art of creating music. This piece of rare beauty stands in a corner on an equally impressive tripod – instantly attracting onlookers with a profound magnetism. For an instance, I too got drawn to the charismatic design of this record player that is in a league of its own. As the music plays, the record spinning inside is visible as elegantly as one could ever imagine!

10. The Collector

Codenamed the ‘Collector’, this futuristic vision from the mind of Liu Tianchen aims at bridging the worlds of electronic music and actual instrument-playing together. The rather slick-looking electronic drum kit features six adjustable pads and two pedals mounted on a folding frame. The kit comes with a folding stool too, and two drumsticks, giving you a near-authentic drumming experience. The difference, however, is in the fact that the Collector doesn’t rely on a pre-existing bank of drum sounds, but instead, gives the artist the flexibility to collect and build their own banks, either by purchasing samples online or making samples of their own. Then, working just like any good MIDI controller, the Collector lets you create beats using these samples in a way that closes the gap between actually jamming on a real-life drum kit, and just simply pressing buttons on a MIDI controller.

The post Top 10 gadgets – from projectors to TVs you need to keep yourself entertained in case of a lockdown first appeared on Yanko Design.

Horror Movie Vinyl Figures That Look Knitted: Killer Crafts

Created by vinyl figure producer Handmade By Robots, this series of collectible vinyl figures features horror movie villains in the style of knitted dolls. They’re not knitted though, they’re plastic, and I’m not sure I’d want any of them staring at me from a bedroom shelf at night, no matter how cute they are.

Available in Ghost Face, Pennywise, Hannibal Lecter, and Leatherface varieties, the $14 toys sit approximately 5″ tall and are just the thing to add a little horror to your everyday life. Me? My everyday life is already filled with enough horror. Just getting out of bed in the morning is enough to make me scream. Especially if the floor is cold, and the floor is always cold.

My grandma knit me a doll for a birthday when I was a child, and, if I’m being completely honest, it looks even scarier than any of these do, and it was supposed to be a friendly bear. It looks more like a zombie bear now. Time has not been kind to Honey. None of my dogs have been either.

The books and movies we’re gifting this year

Having somehow made it through a second year of global pandemic and political unrest, give the loved ones on your holiday shopping list the greatest gift of all: an alternative to doom-scrolling. In Engadget’s 2021 Media Gift Guide you’ll find a diverse selection of books — fiction and nonfiction alike — as well a host of streaming content suggestions that will keep their recipients entertained through the holidays and beyond. If you’ve got a book, show or movie that you think would make the perfect present, tell us all about it in the comments below!

Fiction

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Books and other media for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

NYT bestselling author, Rebecca Roanhorse — the literary force behind Star Wars: Resistance Reborn — has done it again. Her latest fantasy series, Between Earth and Sky, takes readers on an epic journey of trauma, healing, vengeance, and eventual redemption. The first book in the series, 2020’s Black Sun, weaves a masterfully engrossing — and markedly inclusive — tale that eschews the common Arthurian Legend retellings in favor of a unique fantasy world inspired by pre-Columbian America cultures. If you’ve got a fan of fantasy on your holiday shopping list, pick up Black Sun for them before the sequel, Fevered Star, drops next April.

Buy Black Sun at Amazon - $13

Age of Madness trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

The ending of Game of Thrones was nothing short of a slap in the face to fans. I mean, really, all that and Bran wins? GTFOH. If you’ve got a fan of George “Double R” Martin on your holiday shopping list, do them a favor and turn them on to Joe Abercrombie’s Age of Madness trilogy. Set in a world in which the seeds of industrialization have just taken hold even as the age magic and mysticism stubbornly refuses to be uprooted, AoM tells a tale of mighty nations at war while the powerful elites who rule them vie for control over both their countries’ external fates and their courts’ internal politics. Packed with captivating characters, political intrigue, incredible reversals of fortune and stunning betrayals, Age of Madness is a grimdark masterpiece where everybody, for once, gets exactly what they deserve.

Buy Age of Madness trilogy at Amazon - $35

1414º by Paul Bradley Carr

Books and other media for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Whether we like it or not, this is Jeff Bezos’ world and the rest of us just live in it. Our current slate of 21st century techno-robber barons have achieved unfathomable wealth and unassailable power; but as Paul Bradley Carr’s latest novel, 1414º, illustrates, you can’t spend that money or wield that influence when you’re dead. If you’ve got a fan of high-tension whodunnits and techno-thrillers on your holiday shopping list, 1414º will be a surefire hit.

Buy 1414º at Amazon - $5

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells

Books and other media for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Martha Wells can’t stop, won’t stop, dropping Murderbot hits. The reigning queen of hard sci-fi released Fugitive Telemetry — the sixth book in her Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Alex Award winning series — earlier this year and let me tell you from experience, it is a banger. Our self-aware SecUnit anti-hero is back in another standalone adventure, this time on the trail of a vicious murderer aboard Preservation (space) Station. If the sci-finatic on your holiday shopping lists enjoys space intrigue and robotic mysteries, you can’t go wrong with Fugitive Telemetry.

Buy Fugitive Telemetry at Amazon - $12

Undying Mercenaries series by B.V. Larson

The year is 2052 and Earth finds itself unwillingly annexed into a galactic empire it didn’t even know existed and is presented with a simple choice: provide our new alien overlords with a viable commercial product or face extermination. Thus, Earth’s mercenary legions are born. Armed with alien-made weaponry and a mysterious technology that allows soldiers to be reconstructed after being killed in battle — like reloading from a previous save point but far more gooey — Earth’s legions set out across the stars to fight the wars that the galaxy’s elder races are too self-important to fight themselves. Already 16 books deep, author B.V. Larson continues to lead the genre of military sci-fi from the front, so if you’ve got a fan of Starship Troopers, Aliens-style space marines, or Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow on your holiday shopping list, congrats! You can cross them off now.

Buy Undying Mercenaries series (16 books) at Amazon - $110

Nonfiction

Young girl reading a robotics book in a library. Okayama, Japan
JGalione via Getty Images

Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter, and Beyond by Ashley Jean Yeager

Far from a household name, astronomer Vera Rubin’s pioneering research helped convince the scientific community of the possibility that dark matter — the mysterious materials that make up a vast majority of the universe but cannot be observed — actually exists. In Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter, and Beyond (not to be confused with Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter, a collection of Rubin’s own essays), author Ashley Jean Yeager takes readers on an inspiring biographical journey through the astronomer’s early year before examining the challenges she faced working in an often hostile, male-dominated field, and her eventual vindication and professional triumphs — looking at you Vera C. Rubin Observatory. If you’ve got a younger someone on your holiday shopping list who’s interested in pursuing STEM, this could well be the book that puts them on a path towards scientific greatness.

Buy Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter, and Beyond at Amazon - $15

N-4 Down by Mark Piesing

During the Zeppelin’s heyday, airships weren't just a means of the well-to-do to slowly get to distant destinations in comfort and luxury, they also offered a new means of (albeit pokey) exploration. N-4 Down by Mark Piesing takes readers on a thrilling, nail-biting adventure of the largest arctic rescue operation in history as famed Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, rushed to save the surviving crew of the airship Italia, which crashed during its attempt to land men at the North Pole in 1928. The history and aeronautical buffs on your holiday shopping list are going to absolutely love it.

Buy N-4 Down at Amazon - $15

Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert

For the last 10,000 years, humanity has had an unprecedented and largely destructive impact on the environment around us. But as climate change increasingly wreaks its own havoc on us in return, humanity must now work to reverse or at least mitigate the harm that we have caused. In Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert examines just what we can do to make things right with Mother Earth and avoid a catastrophic climate crisis.

Buy Under a White Sky at Amazon - $13

The Quiet Zone by Stephen Kurczy

Books and other media for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Green Bank, West Virginia is, technologically speaking, stuck in the 1950s. And for good reason! This bucolic Appalachian town is home to the ultra-sensitive radio telescope at the Green Bank observatory, which necessitates that basically every device that can emit a radio signal — everything from iPads to microwaves — be heavily restricted. In The Quiet Zone, journalist and author Stephen Kurczy, embeds himself in Green Bank to give readers a firsthand look at what life could be like without our precious digital tech. The Quiet Zone is the perfect gift for the aspiring luddite on your holiday shopping list.

Buy The Quiet Zone at Amazon - $13

Streaming

Young woman watching tv on her laptop in bed at night.
thianchai sitthikongsak via Getty Images

Given the myriad COVID-induced supply chain challenges that retailers are girding for this upcoming holiday season, finding physical copies of these titles could prove to be a bit of a challenge. So, perhaps consider gifting the book worms on your holiday shopping list the Kindle Paperwhite and a subscription to Amazon Kindle Unlimited? Virtually every one of the books listed above are available on the digital service along with millions of others as well as magazines and periodicals.

But there’s only so much one can read during those long winter nights so why not curl up on the couch with a nice cup of hot cocoa and watch some sterling examples of our new Golden Age of Television? If you’ve got a Trekkie on your holiday shopping list, you really can’t go wrong with a subscription to Paramount+. The $5 - $10 a month service unlocks a plethora of Star Trek shows including the Emmy award-winning Picard and the hilarious Lower Decks.

For the cinephile on your list, assuming you can’t get your hands on the upcoming Criterion 4K collections, an HBO Max subscription works just as well. For $10 a month, you’ll give the gift of a massive movie selection as well as popular weekly news and interview series like Pause with Sam Jay and This Week Tonight with John Oliver, not to mention incredible documentaries like Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street.

Got someone with small children on your gift list? Throw them a bone with a Disney+ subscription. The service hosts nearly the entirety of Disney’s massive, decades-deep archives along with new family-friendly series and episodes arriving daily.

The best digital gifts to send your friends and family

In a world where so much of our lives revolve around digital services, giving someone a virtual gift no longer has a stigma attached to it. For gadget-lovers who seemingly have everything, or someone getting an exciting new piece of hardware this holiday, digital gifts can help them get even more out of things they own and love. This year, we’re including time-tested music and TV streaming services, some game subscriptions and practical options like learning services to keep your brain both calm and limber just as the new year gets here.

Apple One

Apple One
Apple

If you know someone with multiple Apple devices, chances are good they’re already paying for a little bit of iCloud storage, and maybe a few other Apple services like Music or Arcade as well. If that’s the case, consider gifting them an Apple One subscription. In a single monthly charge, Apple offers a combo of Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and either 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB of iCloud storage. If you spring for the $19.95 Family plan, that 200GB can be shared with five other family members. The $29.95 plan adds subscriptions to Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+ too. At this point, all of Apple’s offerings are pretty good – Arcade has a load of fun games with no ads, TV+ has Ted Lasso, and Music is second only to Spotify in the streaming world.

Buy Apple One starting at $15

Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Microsoft

Getting an Xbox Series X or Series S this holiday season is likely going to be difficult. But if you know someone who managed to get their hands on Microsoft's latest console, Xbox Game Pass is an outstanding addition to their new console. A $15/month subscription offers more than 100 games that can be played on the Xbox or PC, and they can be streamed to phones and tablets as well.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes a number of other perks, including Xbox Live Gold. That's usually $10 a month on its own, and it's a requirement if you want to play games online. It also includes EA Play, which opens up access to more games for the Xbox and PC. Perhaps the best part of Xbox Game Pass, though, is that it offers access to first-party Xbox Game Studios titles the day they're released, so you don't even have to purchase them. For an Xbox owner, it's a no-brainer. If the person you’re shopping for is a PlayStation owner, PlayStation Now offers access to hundreds of streaming games for $60/year (or $10/month), while Nintendo’s Switch Online unlocks online play and a large selection of NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis and N64 games for $50/year.

Buy Xbox Game Pass at Microsoft - $15/monthBuy PS Now (12 months) at Amazon - $60Buy Switch Online (12 months) at Amazon - $20

YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / YouTube

There's something for everyone on YouTube — and there are also enough ads to make watching it pretty painful. Shrewdly, YouTube offers a solution. A $12/month subscription removes the ads, but there are a number of other benefits as well. If you're watching on a phone or tablet, you can download basically any video and save it for offline playback. Videos also can play in the background, which means you can switch to other apps without stopping. This comes in handy for picture-in-picture, or if you just want to hear the audio while you switch away to send a text message.

Premium also comes with a subscription to YouTube Music, the company's competitor to Spotify and Apple Music. It's a pretty solid service, and it does a few things that Apple and Spotify can't offer. For example, all of YouTube's music video content lives alongside its standard streaming catalog, which means users can build playlists that combine videos uploaded to YouTube alongside official artist releases. For $12, the combination of a better YouTube experience and a full-fledged music streaming app is a pretty good deal.

Buy YouTube Premium - $12/month

The Disney Bundle

The Disney Bundle, showing logos and images of popular shows.
Disney

Disney's $14/month video bundle that includes Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu is a great digital gift for basically anyone who likes good entertainment. The appeal of Disney+ is well-known at this point: it includes basically all of Disney and Pixar's classic animated films, alongside basically everything in the Marvel cinematic universe, the entire Star Wars saga, and new original shows like WandaVision, The Mandalorian, The Bad Batch and more.

Hulu offers a vast slate of current and classic TV shows, a solid rotating selection of feature films, and a growing roster of originals. Those include The Handmaid's Tale, Little Fires Everywhere, Veronica Mars, Shrill, Pen15 and plenty more. ESPN+, meanwhile, offers a host of live sports, including MLB games every day of the season, a wide variety of soccer leagues, golf, tennis and college games across multiple sports. Add in ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary library and a smattering of originals and the Disney bundle ends up being a great option for almost anyone — and it’s only $6 more than Disney+ on its own.

Buy Disney Bundle - $14/month

HBO Max

HBO Max
HBO Max

HBO Max might not have the best app we've ever used, but it does have one of the biggest and best video libraries you can find. Its collection of original shows and films is still unrivaled in a lot of ways, from classics like The Wire and The Sopranos to newer hits like Mare of Easttown and Succession. The service also has a huge movie library, and lately it’s offered a number of movies at the same time as their theatrical release. For example, The Matrix Resurrections is going to hit HBO Max just a few days before Christmas and will stream there for a month. Speaking of new HBO content, Curb your Enthusiasm is coming back to HBO for an 11th season this fall. And if you're a DC fan, HBO Max has all of the classic Batman movies (including the Dark Knight Trilogy and Michael Keaton's two films) as well as more recent films like Aquaman, Wonder Woman and, of course, the infamous Synder Cut of Justice League. Oh yeah, it has Friends, too.

Buy HBO Max starting at $10/month

Headspace

The Headspace app seen on smartphones.
Headspace

Chances are good that, after the year we've all had, you know someone whose mental health could use a little bit of a boost. The Headspace app is a great option for adding some peace and quiet to the day. It features a wide variety of guided meditations, including sessions for beginners as well as specific exercises that focus on reducing anxiety, learning breathing techniques, increasing your compassion and so on. It also has sleep tools like soothing music and "sleepcasts,” while other audio programs center on focusing, moving more, and starting your day. For $13/month or $70/year, Headspace can be a great tool to bring someone much-needed peace of mind.

Buy Headspace - $13/month

Endel premium subscription

Endel
Endel

Endel is a unique app in the focus and mental wellness space. In a nutshell, it plays algorithmically-generated soundscapes for a variety of different scenarios. Whether you're actively on-the-go, want to get some work done, need to relax, or get some sleep, Endel will produce a soundtrack to help you achieve your goal.

If you give it permission to collect data from your phone (and Apple Watch, if you have one), it can adjust its soundscapes based on things like your heart rate, time of day, location, weather, and so on. Endel is also frequently adding scenarios — recently, the company added study and recovery, and it also has something called an AI Lullaby that was created in partnership with Grimes. At $10 per month or $60 per year, it's a solid relaxation tool, and I've also found it to be particularly useful as a soundtrack when you want to just sit down and focus on a craft, like writing or art.

Buy Endel Premium - $10/month

Codecademy

Code Academy for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Code Academy

If you know someone interested in making a jump into coding, or a coder looking to augment their existing knowledge, a subscription to Codecademy could be a big help. A $240 annual subscription (or $40/month) opens up a huge catalog of courses, including things like a career path for front-end engineering, learning JavaScript or Python, digging into development or data science and many other options. Along with these courses, Codecademy also connects you with a large community for support and feedback, gives you real-world projects to test your skills on and offers completion certificates. It's a bit of an investment, but helping someone you care about invest in themselves is very much in the spirit of the holidays.

Buy Codecademy - $240/year

Skillshare

Skillshare
Skillshare

In the same vein as Code Academy, Skillshare is a great option if you know someone who wants to jumpstart their abilities in a creative field. The service offers thousands of classes in topics like animation, creative writing, graphic design, photography, web development and music, as well as courses to improve skills like leadership and management, marketing or business analytics. A $180 annual subscription (or $32/month, each with a free month included) unlocks ad-free classes with unlimited access to everything Skillshare has to offer. The subscription also includes access to Skillshare's community and offline courses for your phone or tablet. Finally, a subscription includes some perks of its own, like 20 percent off Squarespace and 15 percent off Adobe Creative Cloud.

Buy Skillshare - $15/month

Parallels Toolbox

Parallels Toolbox
Parallels

Parallels Toolbox is a great gift for the tinkerer in your life. You know, the kind of person who wants to tweak and optimize everything they can on their computer, so that everything works just right. For $20/year, Parallels Toolbox offers a surprisingly wide variety of utilities for macOS and Windows, including shortcuts to see your clipboard history, capture screens shots, convert video files, download audio from websites, resize images, and and many more. Most of these things can be done using built-in utilities or other apps, but having such a wide variety of quick and useful tools right in one place can be a major productivity boon, especially for the power user in your life.

Buy Parallels Toolbox - $20/year

1Password

The 1Password app seen on a laptop screen.
1Password

If you know someone who doesn't use a password manager, do them a huge favor and get them set up with 1Password this holiday season. It's one of the best options available: it works on unlimited devices and is available on pretty much any platform you can think of. Naturally, it features two-factor authentication for additional security, and gives you 365 days to restore any passwords you may have deleted. It's $36 a year for an individual, or $60 a year for a family of five. That family membership can be particularly useful if you need to share account passwords between members of a household securely. It's not the flashiest gift, but I wager that once you get someone on board, they'll wonder how they went so long without using it.

Buy 1Password - $36/year

Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan

Adobe Photography / Lightroom plans for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Adobe

For the budding photographer in your life, Adobe’s photography plans are a natural fit. Adobe has been in this game for years, and Lightroom remains an excellent tool for managing and editing photos anywhere you are.

The company offers a few different plans: For $10/month, you can get both Lightroom and Photoshop, along with 20GB of cloud storage to sync images and edits across your devices. For the same price, you can also get Lightroom only, but with a whopping 1TB of storage. If the person you're gifting this to has been really good, you can spend $20 and get them both Photoshop and Lightroom alongside 1TB of storage, which is ideal for anyone shooting photos in RAW. The plans with Photoshop also include Photoshop for the iPad, so keep that in mind if you're getting this for someone who loves Apple's tablet.

Buy Adobe CC Photography plan starting at $10/month

The best board games to gift this holiday season

Board games are a great gift for anyone who wants to spend time with friends and family without staring at the TV. They’re interactive, fun, and you get to tell everyone to put away their phones and tablets for a while. But instead of pulling out the same old classics like Monopoly and Scrabble, we recommend giving some new titles a try. Here, we’ve compiled a list of games that you might not have heard of, but will still make excellent gifts this holiday season. Some are perfect for fantasy and video game nerds, while others are likely to be a hit with the whole family.

Trails: A Parks Game

The Trails board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Keymaster Games

Trails is a great little board game for anyone who loves hiking or even just the idea of it. In Trails, players hike on picturesque nature paths while gathering resources, taking pictures and encountering wildlife, earning points along the way. Whoever gets the most points wins. The art in this game is beautiful, featuring 11 national park illustrations from the Fifty-Nine Park Print series. Trails makes an especially great game for nature lovers, as a portion of every game sale is donated to the National Park Service.

Buy Trails at Target - $20

Sleeping Gods

The Sleeping Gods board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Red Raven Games

If your loved one is a fan of open-world video games such as Skyrim or No Man’s Sky, Sleeping Gods could well be the perfect board game for them. In this cooperative game, you and up to three friends play the part of Captain Sofi Odessa and her crew, who find themselves lost in the Wandering Sea. With a game atlas of connecting maps and a thick choose-your-own-adventure style storybook, players will have to explore the land to uncover its secrets, fight beasts, complete quests and make game-changing decisions. It all adds up to an engrossing and immersive experience sure to please anyone who loves a good story.

Buy Sleeping Gods at Amazon - $85

Marvel United

The Marvel United board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / CMON

MCU fans will definitely appreciate it if you give them Marvel United, a game where the player and their friends have to work together to defeat the forces of evil. They can take on the role of one of seven heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow, each with their own unique powers and abilities. To win, players must choose their cards carefully and also collaborate with their partners to combine each other’s actions whenever possible. They’ll have to fight off henchmen, rescue civilians and, of course, take down one of three super villains: Red Skull, Ultron or Taskmaster. If X-Men is more their style, you could get them the Marvel United: X-Men version instead, where they get to play as characters like Professor X, Cyclops and Storm.

Buy Marvel United at Amazon - $35

Canvas

The Canvas board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Road to Infamy

Canvas is perhaps one of the prettiest board games we’ve ever seen — it’s so lovely that we almost want to hang the cover on a wall. It’s apropos because in Canvas, players are painters in an art competition. They collect art cards, layering them on top of one another to create their own unique “painting.” As they do so, certain icons will be revealed or hidden, which will determine the resulting score, depending on the objectives for that round. It might sound confusing, but Canvas is a beginner friendly game that should make a great gift for art lovers of all stripes.

Buy Canvas at Amazon - $45

Space Invaders

The  Space Invaders board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Buffalo Games

Space Invaders is an enjoyable dexterity game for the whole family, even for those who don’t remember playing the classic arcade title of the same name. In this game, players have to work together to defeat descending aliens plus the UFO mothership before their health runs out. But instead of smashing buttons, they’ll take turns launching battle tokens with a mini catapult, and each player has a special ability they can deploy as well. It all adds to a bunch of silly fun that anyone aged eight and up can partake in.

Buy Space Invaders at Target - $20

Summer Camp

The  Summer Camp board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Buffalo Games

Another excellent family game is Summer Camp, which will have your loved ones recalling fond memories of canoeing, making friendship bracelets and roasting marshmallows. In this game, players are racing against each other to earn merit badges in different categories such as adventure, arts and crafts, cooking, friendship, outdoors, games and water sports. They’ll want to buy the right cards, build the best combos and beat their opponents across the finish line to get the most points possible. It might not be as fun as actually being at summer camp, but hey, at least they won’t get eaten by mosquitos while playing.

Buy Summer Camp at Target - $25

Summoner Wars 2nd Edition

The Summoner Wars 2nd Edition board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Plaid Hat Games

If your loved one isn’t new to the world of tabletop gaming, then consider giving them Summoner Wars 2nd Edition, a tactical dueling card game that pits them against a rival to see which one will reign supreme. Players take on the role of powerful summoners that each control a large army of units in the form of cards, which are then placed in a head-to-head board. They also choose one of six different factions, each with unique attacks and moves. Some wield dark magic that can drain enemies, while others utilize brute strength to force their way through. If they’re really into combat games with a lot of tactics and strategy, Summoner Wars would make a thoughtful gift. The only downside is that you'll have to gift this a bit late as it comes out on January 12, 2022.

Buy Summoner Wars at Amazon - $49

Wrath of the Lich King: A Pandemic System Board Game

The World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Pandemic Game board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Z-Man Games

For those who are really into World of Warcraft but might not have a lot of board gaming experience, Wrath of the Lich King: A Pandemic System Board game is the perfect introduction to the pastime. Based on a WoW expansion of the same name, players will take on the roles of legendary characters such as Thrall, Varian Wrynn, Sylvanas Windrunner, Tirian Fordring and Jaina Proudmoore, all of which will be familiar to anyone who’s ever played WoW. They’ll travel around the frozen continent of Northrend, completing quests and setting up strongholds in order to defeat armies of the undead and, eventually, the Lich King himself.

Why the long name? Well, the game utilizes similar mechanics found in Pandemic, a much beloved board game about eradicating the world of diseases. Those who are already familiar with Pandemic should be able to learn the game quite easily as a result, though Wrath of the Lich King has enough differences that it won’t feel like the same thing.

Buy Wrath of the Lich King at Target - $60

Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game

The Cuphead Fast Rolling Dice Game board game for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Cuphead

One of the most popular video games in 2017 was Cuphead, a run-and-gun style video game that features a hand-drawn 1930s art style. If you know someone who loved it when it came out, they might be interested in this card and dice version of the same game. Players play as Cuphead, Mugman, Elder Kettle or Ms. Chalice, and will attempt to defeat a gauntlet of bosses by rolling dice. Players can roll the dice as many times as they want per round, but there’s one problem: the time limit. It all adds up to a chaotic experience that really emulates the insane adrenaline rush of the original video game.

Buy Cuphead at The Op - $50

The best tech toys for kids

It may have been another long year, but the holidays are finally approaching — and, with supply chain issues plaguing retail, it’s best to get your shopping done sooner rather than later. This year we’re all a little burnt out on screens, so the best gifts for kids are things they can hold. But, since this is Engadget, we’re always looking for that tech angle. This year’s crop of tech toys for kids is mostly grounded in the real world, with a few electronic twists to surprise and delight.

Miles Morales in Winter Suit Funko Pop

Funko Miles Morales in Winter Suit for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Funko

It’s always good to grab a few stocking stuffers, and Funko makes figures from what feels like every pop culture property on earth. Around here we’re partial to the video game ones, of course, and what’s more festive than this adorable Spider-Man all dressed up for the cold weather? It’ll look great while also adding a bit of geeky holiday cheer to someone’s bookshelf or desk.

Buy Miles Morales Funko Pop at Amazon - $11

Hasbro Lightsaber Forge

Kidds with the Hasbro Lightsaber Forge for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Hasbro

For kids who aren’t old enough to build their own lightsaber at Disney’s Galaxy Edge, this kit from Hasbro might be the next best thing. Not only is it way more affordable, but it’s also quite durable, allowing kids and adults alike to reenact their favorite Jedi versus Sith battles with gusto. Best of all, a child can rebuild their lightsaber again and again using different parts, so they can have a customized weapon that fits their mood each day.

Buy Lightsaber Forge at Walmart - $15

R2-D2 Tamagotchi

Star Wars™ R2-D2™ Tamagotchi for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Maybe taking care of a small creature was just too stressful for your kid, and you’ve had to console them many a time when the little ghost floating above a tombstone appears. Well, now Tamagotchi has a special astromech droid they can take care of instead, one they have to clean and play a variety of mini-games with. If they don’t take care of little R2, the Jawas will take him away which might still be a bummer but hey, maybe they’ll sell him off to a local moisture farmer with a thirst for adventure.

Buy R2D2 Tamagotchi at Amazon - $20

Spin Master Purse Pets

Purse Pets for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Spin Master

Kids are cute, but also weird and quirky, so why not get the child in your life something that reflects the more wild side of their personality? Purse Pets are basically living bags that can hold stuff but also blink, purr and even blow kisses at a child when it’s happy. It’s a real eye-catching accessory, one that will have them feeling like they’re on the runway — especially when you activate the Purse Pet’s runway music.

Buy Purse Pets at Amazon - $25

Mattel Samantha Cristoforetti Barbie Doll

The Samantha Cristoforetti Barbie Doll for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Barbie first went to space way back in 1965 and, while she’s had plenty of spacesuits over the decades, none have been as realistic as this one. That’s because this one is based on real-life space explorer Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut who was once the record holder for the longest space flight by a woman. Your kids can reenact her various scientific experiments in space with the doll, then cheer on the real-life Cristoforetti next year as she commands ISS Expedition 68.

Buy Samantha Cristoforetti Barbie Doll at Amazon - $30

Smart Tech Sound Action Tunnel

Brio's Smart Tech Sound Action Tunnel Station for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Brio

It feels like an unwritten rule that every child has to have one of those wooden train and track sets. Why not spice things up a bit by adding in this tech-enabled station that signals the included train to stop and flash its lights, just like the real thing. If your kid is a railfan you can even use the free Smart Tech Sound app to change the sounds to those from famous systems like London, Paris or Berlin.

Buy Smart Tech Sound Action Tunnel at Amazon - $45

Enchanting Hedwig

The Enchanting Hedwig (owl from Harry Potter) for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

We were all super jealous of Harry Potter when Hagrid presented him with a lovely snowy owl who would become his mail carrier and friend. However, in real life owls can be pretty messy and aren’t as affectionate. So why not get your loved ones this interactive, life-sized replica instead? She loves to be petted and while she can’t fly, she can safeguard letters for you, only releasing them to people who have the secret code.

Buy Enchanting Hedwig at Amazon - $40

Got2Glow Fairy Finder

Got2Glow Fairy Finder for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

The Got2Glow Fairy Finder may look like a slightly fancier mason jar, but it has a special electronic twist. When you open the lid, a fairy will “fly” inside and show up on the front screen. What kind of fairy? It depends on how a child holds the jar and how bright the room is. There are 100 different magical creatures to collect and trade with their friends, so it should keep your kids active and busy for a while.

Buy Got2Glow Fairy Finder at Amazon - $50

Hot Wheels Mario Kart Vehicle Pack

Hot Wheels Mario Kart Glider Vehicle Pack for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Mattel

Your child may not be old enough to drive a real car, but chances are they’ve taken a few spins around Rainbow Road in Nintendo’s Mario Kart video games. And even if they haven’t, they’ll still enjoy playing with the whimsical vehicles from the series, recreated in 1/64-scale so they can fit in the palm of a kid’s hand. All the favorites are here, from Mario to Yoshi and even the often-forgotten Waluigi. Some of the karts even include gliders so kids can simulate some of the more treacherous jumps like Peach’s Castle.

Buy Mario Kart Vehicle Pack at Amazon - $55

LEGO Adventures with Luigi Starter Course

LEGO Adventures with Luigi Starter Course for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

We’ve been a big fan of the Mario LEGO sets since their launch, but now it’s time for his brother to have a little time in the sun. It’s just like having a Super Mario game you can physically build and hold in your hand, complete with platforms, a see-saw and blocks. Luigi will even react to the course thanks to a small LCD screen embedded in his chest, and he’s fully compatible with the other sets so you can build a whole world for him to explore.

Buy Adventures with Luigi starter set at Amazon - $60

LEGO Boba Fett’s Starship

LEGO Boba Fett Starship for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
LEGO

You can still call it the Slave I if you want, but the most important thing about this Firespray-31-class spacecraft is who it belongs to: the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy, Boba Fett. He even has his own show coming out at the end of December. We know that’s a long time to wait, but your family can at least spend part of that time putting together this 593-piece kit that even includes a tiny minifig Boba and Din Djarin from the Mandalorian.

Buy Boba Fett Starship at Amazon - $50

Peek-a-Roo

A child with the Peek-a-Roo doll for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Spin Master

There are toys that laugh, eat, burp and even poop, but there aren’t a lot that give birth. That’s probably because it’s pretty weird, but Spin Master’s Peek-a-Roo also makes it pretty adorable. This plush panda will react to being petted and spoken to by a child and, if the toy is treated well, it produces a tiny baby from the pouch in its stomach. The baby toy will continue to live there once born, popping up whenever its mama is happy.

Buy Peek-a-Roo at Amazon - $60

LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
LEGO

Advent calendars are a great way to get your kid excited for the holidays, but sometimes the little gifts inside aren’t so great. Why not go full-on nerdy with this Star Wars calendar, which has a smattering of tiny sets your kid has to build alongside minifigs of characters like Rey, Luke Skywalker and a holiday-themed Poe Dameron? The kits will hopefully keep them busy so they’re not asking you how many days are left until the big gift-giving occasion.

Buy LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar at Amazon - $59

VTech KidiZoom PrintCam

VTech KidiZoom PrintCam for the Engadget 2021 Holiday Gift Guide.
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Kids love cameras but, with everything digital these days, there’s a little less tactility, which kids also love. Printcams tend to be too expensive for many adults, never mind children, which makes them a no-go — until now. The VTech KidiZoom prints photos for as little as a penny, so it’s not a big financial deal when your child takes 100 photos of their feet. Just make sure you keep them stocked up with fresh paper.

Buy VTech KidiZoom PrintCam at Amazon - $75