Constructed and customized to order by Etsy shop DragonTempl8, this elaborate role-playing table is the ultimate in tabletop gaming. I mean, just look at this thing. Featuring workstations with card and dice compartments for 8 players (7 + dungeon master), the table also includes RGB LED lighting to set the mood (with a setting for standard day/night light), as well as A SMOKE MACHINE to intensify the atmosphere and a 22″ flatscreen in the center! It instantly moved to the #1 spot on my Christmas list this year.
The table starts at around $8,700 and goes up from there, depending on customization. It measures 160cm x 160cm (62″ x 62″) with a 200cm (78″) height and is going to be the focal point of my home from now on. I’m not going to lie; at first glance, I did think it was the control console inside a TARDIS, which makes me want it even more.
Now all I’m missing is a group of friends that actually want to play role-playing games with me, and I’ll be all set. I’ve tried playing alone, and it’s… difficult. And don’t even get me started on trying to get the cats to play – they just steal the dice! It’s like they get way too into their rogue elf characters.
Board games are great gifts for anyone who wants to spend time with friends and family and disconnect from technology. They’re interactive, fun, and you get to tell everyone to put away their phones 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. From games with swashbuckling pirates to those with haunted mansions, we’re sure at least one of these will be a hit with friends and family.
Trekking Through History
Whether your gift recipient is a serious history buff or a more casual one, they’ll find something to like in Trekking Through History. In this game, players go on a three-day tour of human history in a time machine, visiting historical settings and trying to witness momentous events before the clock runs out. There, they’ll check off items on their itinerary to earn points and, importantly, Time Crystals that they can use to bend the space-time continuum on future turns. As a bonus, they’ll score additional points if they visit these historical events in chronological order. With colorful illustrations and easy-to-understand instructions, this game is perfect for gamers and non-gamers alike.
Fans of horror stories will adore Betrayal at House on the Hill, where three to six players explore a haunted mansion, uncovering its secrets and hidden rooms. At first they’ll work together, but midway through the game, someone will reveal themselves as a – gasp! – traitor! The turncoat will join the dark side while the rest of the team has to figure out how to beat their former ally. The third edition of the game comes with 50 different haunting scenarios, which is more than enough to keep your loved ones entertained for several fun and spooky evenings.
In Clank! Catacombs, you and your loved ones take on the role of treasure hunters exploring the catacombs of the skeletal dragon Umbrok Vessna. As you plumb the dungeon’s depths, you’ll uncover portals, shrines, ghosts, prisoners pleading you to free them, and, of course, treasure. You can grab the first prize you see and try to make it out alive, or you can go deeper for even more riches, but risk the wrath of the dreaded dragon.
Remember that movie (and book) We Bought A Zoo? Whether you do or not, here’s a game that helps your loved ones live out that fantasy. In Ark Nova, up to four players will compete against each other to plan and design the most successful zoo. They’ll have to build enclosures, acquire animal attractions from around the world, and support conservation projects to ensure the survival of animal habitats. With over 125 unique animal cards, your loved ones will almost never play the same game twice.
Marvel fans are sure to enjoy Marvel Dice Throne, a game where each player gets to be one of eight famous characters (Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Loki, Thor, Doctor Strange and Miles Morales’ Spider-Man). They then compete in a 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 2v2v2 or free-for-all battle where they play cards and roll dice in order to thwart the other players. In addition to attack moves, players can also activate unique abilities and upgrade their characters over time. Gameplay is relatively quick – just 20 to 40 minutes.
If your giftee likes gardening, Planted is the ideal game for them. In it, two to four players compete against each other to grow the best collection of houseplants. Not only will they need to acquire the right plants, but they’ll also need to feed and nurture them with the right combination of light, water and plant food. The game comes with 42 varieties of popular and exotic houseplants, each with their own requirements to grow. The plant parent that ends up scoring the most points wins. Planted was designed from the ground up to be beginner friendly and easy to learn, so even those who are new to board games will pick this up fairly quickly.
Jedi Knights and the Rebel Alliance are the heroes in Star Wars, but sometimes it’s fun to play the bad guy. In Star Wars: Villainous, each player takes control of one of five Star Wars villains: Darth Vader, Asajj Ventress, Kylo Ren, Moff Gideon, or General Grievous. Their goal is to see who can accomplish their evil plans first. Each villain has their own unique goal; for example, Darth Vader wins if he defeats Luke Skywalker, while Gideon must capture Baby Yoda. This game is perfect for the Star Wars fan in your life, especially if they’re intrigued by the dark side.
Sail the open seas as swashbuckling pirates in Forgotten Waters, a story-filled board game that’s essentially a choose-your-own-adventure tale but a lot more fun. Three to seven players get to be pirates sailing together on a ship, each with their own goals and attributes. Your loved one will have a variety of missions to choose from, be it discovering a sunken treasure or hunting a legendary sea monster. The game comes with five scenarios already, but there’s a DLC you can get online that adds a new scenario and over 100 new events, which bodes well for the game’s replayability.
The Chameleon is a party game for three to eight players where one person is given the role of the Chameleon, while the rest tries to figure out who they are. A Secret Word is then revealed to everyone, except the Chameleon, who must play along so that they don’t get discovered. Each player will have to say a word relating to the Secret Word, while the Chameleon has to make an educated guess based on the available clues. This bluffing-deduction game only takes 15 minutes per round, which makes it ideal for parties or family gatherings.
Named after the Moorish decorative tiles of the Alhambra palace in Spain, Azul is a game where players compete against each other to create beautiful tiled mosaics. Two to four players take turns drafting colored tiles to their player boards with the goal of scoring as many points as possible while also preventing their opponents from doing the same. Extra points will be given to those who create particular patterns or collect sets of the same color. Easy to learn but tough to master, Azul is a great gift for those who are new to gaming or just anyone who enjoys strategic puzzles.
Perhaps you have a loved one who wouldn’t mind playing tabletop games, but isn’t into nerdy themes like fighting monsters or defeating zombies? Or maybe he or she is simply a fan of nature? Then Wingspan could very well be the gateway board game for them. This game has been on our list in the past, but we still recommend it as it’s a long-time favorite. In it, players are bird enthusiasts looking to discover and attract the best birds to their wildlife preserve. It comes with a super helpful quick start guide to help new players start playing without having to go through the whole rulebook (which, itself is pretty easy to understand).
The game is one of the most gorgeous we’ve seen, with beautiful pastel-colored egg miniatures, a dice tower that looks like a bird house, and thoughtfully arranged components; it even comes with a bird-decorated card holder. Plus, the game can be educational, as players learn a thing or two in the process about bird species, from the burrowing owl to the scissor-tailed flycatcher.
Computer monitors keep evolving rapidly, with new technology like OLED Flex, QD-OLED and built-in smart platforms just in the last year alone. That’s on top of big improvements in things like color accuracy, size and resolution.
The choice is nice but overwhelming, as there are a lot of products in this market and a lot of features. Buyers now have to consider things like HDR, brightness, color accuracy, type of display technology, input lag and more. And then there are the usual considerations like size, adjustability, inputs and so on.
To help you with all that, we’ve researched the latest models for all kinds of markets, whether you’re a gamer, business user or content creator. Read on to find out which model is the best for you and, especially, your budget.
The cheapest monitors are still TN (twisted nematic), which are strictly for gaming or office use. VA (vertical alignment) monitors are also relatively cheap, while offering good brightness and high contrast ratios. However, content creators will probably want an IPS (in-plane switching) LCD display that delivers better color accuracy, image quality and viewing angles.
If maximum brightness is important, a quantum dot LCD display is the way to go — those are typically found in larger displays. OLED monitors are now available and offer the best blacks and color reproduction, but they lack the brightness of LED or quantum dot displays. Plus, they cost a lot. The latest type of OLED monitor, called QD-OLED from Samsung, just came out this year. The most notable advantage is that it can get a lot brighter, with monitors shown at CES 2022 hitting up to 1,000 nits of peak brightness.
MiniLEDs are now widely used in high-end displays. They’re similar to quantum dot tech, but as the name suggests, it uses smaller LED diodes that are just 0.2mm in diameter. As such, manufacturers can pack in up to three times more LEDs with more local dimming zones, delivering deeper blacks and better contrast.
Screen size, resolution and display format
In this day and age, screen size rules. Where 24-inch displays used to be more or less standard (and can still be useful for basic computing), 27-, 32-, 34- and even 42-inch displays have become popular for entertainment, content creation and even gaming these days.
Nearly every monitor used to be 16:9, but it’s now possible to find 16:10 and other more exotic display shapes. On the gaming and entertainment side, we’re also seeing very wide and curved monitors with aspect ratios like 21:9. If you do decide to buy an ultrawide display, however, keep in mind that a 30-inch 21:9 model is the same height as a 24-inch monitor, so you might end up with a smaller display than you expected. As a rule of thumb, add 25 percent to the size of a 21:9 monitor to get the vertical height you’d expect from a 16:9 model.
4K is nearly a must for content creators, and some folks are even going for 5K or all the way up to 8K. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need a pretty powerful computer to drive all those pixels. And 4K should be paired with a screen size of 27 inches and up, or you won’t notice much difference between 1440p. At the same time, I wouldn’t get a model larger than 27 inches unless it’s 4K, as you’ll start to see pixelation if you’re working up close to the display.
One new category to consider is portable monitors designed to be carried and used with laptops. Those typically come in 1080p resolutions and sizes from 13-15 inches. They usually have a lightweight kickstand-type support that folds up to keep things compact.
HDR is the buzzy monitor feature to have these days, as it adds vibrancy to entertainment and gaming – but be careful before jumping in. Some monitors that claim HDR on the marketing materials don’t even conform to a base standard. To be sure that a display at least meets minimum HDR specs, you’ll want to choose one with a DisplayHDR rating with each tier representing maximum brightness in nits.
However, the lowest DisplayHDR 400 and 500 tiers may disappoint you with a lack of brightness, washed out blacks and mediocre color reproduction. If you can afford it, choose a model with DisplayHDR 600, 1000 or True Black 400, True Black 500 and True Black 600. The True Black settings are designed primarily for OLED models, with maximum black levels at .0005 nits.
Where televisions typically offer HDR10 and Dolby Vision or HDR10+, most PC monitors only support the HDR10 standard, other than a few (very expensive) models. That doesn’t matter much for content creation or gaming, but HDR streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other services won’t look quite as punchy. In addition, most models supporting HDR600 (and up) are gaming, rather than content creation monitors – with a few exceptions.
Refresh rate is a key feature, particularly on gaming monitors. A bare minimum nowadays is 60Hz, and 80Hz refresh rates and up are much easier on the eyes. However, most 4K displays top out at 60Hz with some rare exceptions and the HDMI 2.0 spec only supports 4K at 60Hz, so you’d need at least DisplayPort 1.4 (4K at 120Hz) or HDMI 2.1. The latter is now available on a number of monitors, particularly gaming displays. However, it’s only supported on the latest NVIDIA RTX 3000- and 4000-series, AMD RX 6000-series GPUs.
There are essentially three types of modern display inputs: Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and HDMI. Most monitors built for PCs come with the latter two, while a select few (typically built for Macs) will use Thunderbolt. To add to the confusion, USB-C ports may be Thunderbolt 3 and by extension, DisplayPort compatible, so you may need a USB-C to Thunderbolt or DisplayPort cable adapter depending on your display.
Color bit depth
Serious content content creators should consider a more costly 10-bit monitor that can display billions of colors. If budget is an issue, you can go for an 8-bit panel that can fake billions of colors via dithering (often spec’d as “8-bit + FRC”). For entertainment or business purposes, a regular 8-bit monitor that can display millions of colors will be fine.
The other aspect of color is the gamut. That expresses the range of colors that can be reproduced and not just the number of colors. Most good monitors these days can cover the sRGB and Rec.709 gamuts (designed for photos and video respectively). For more demanding work, though, you’ll want one that can reproduce more demanding modern gamuts like AdobeRGB, DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 gamuts, which encompass a wider range of colors. The latter two are often used for film projection and HDR, respectively.
Both the Xbox Series X and Sony’s PS5 can handle 4K 120Hz HDR gaming, so if you’re into resolution over pure speed, you’ll want a monitor that can keep up. 4K resolution, HDR and at least 120Hz is the minimum starting point, but fortunately there are 27-inch displays with those specs starting at well under $1,000.
Pricing and parts shortages
Though the pandemic has eased, monitor supply is still a bit tighter than pre-pandemic levels due to supply and demand issues. To that end, you may have trouble finding monitors at Amazon, B&H or elsewhere for the suggested retail price. For our guide below, we’re basing our picks on the MSRP, as long as the street price doesn’t exceed that by more than $25.
Best monitors under $200
The monitor with the best balance of size, refresh rate and color accuracy is Samsung’s $160 27-inch 1080p T35F. It’s good for business or light gaming and content work, thanks to the IPS panel and 75Hz refresh rate. Plus, it’s fairly attractive and modern looking. There are some things you don’t get at that price, of course – it can only tilt and has an HDMI 1.4 connection.
If you’re fine with a smaller display and are more into gaming, another solid option is LG’s 24-inch 24GL600F. It offers a high 144Hz refresh rate with AMD FreeSync support, a 1ms response time and low input lag. You also get HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, but like the T35F, there’s no height adjustment.
The $33028-inch HP U28 4K HDR monitor is a great all around choice, especially for content creators. The 60Hz IPS panel and factory calibration delivers excellent color accuracy and it’s a nice size for creative or business work. It comes with DisplayPort, HDMI and three USB 3.0 ports, along with a USB-C port with 65W of charging for a laptop or tablet. And it’s easy to set just right, thanks to height, swivel and pivot adjustment.
If gaming is more your thing, the $300 Gigabyte G27QC is a top pick. The 27-inch, 1440p curved panel has an ideal size and resolution for gaming, and it has a quick 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. You can connect via HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 connections and get HDR support – albeit, without DisplayHDR certification.
The $400 BenQ 27-inch 2K QHD HDR model is ideal for creative work, particularly photo editing and graphic design. While resolution is limited to 1440p, it covers 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut with a “Delta E” accuracy value of less than 3 for consistent color performance. You also get height, pivot and swivel adjustment (a full 90 degrees), with HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4 and USB-C daisy chaining and 65W power delivery.
The 32-inch LG 32UN650-W is a great 4K monitor for entertainment, creative chores and gaming. The 31.5-inch, 60Hz IPS panel covers an excellent 95 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut with 10-bit color, but also supports AMD FreeSync for gaming. It also supports HDR, albeit with just 350 nits of maximum brightness. It has HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 ports, tilt and height adjustments and even built-in speakers.
Sometimes speed rules over size and resolution, and the $500 24.5-inch 1080p ASUS ROG Swift PG256QN is fast. It maxes out at a 360Hz refresh rate (with NVIDIA G-Sync support) and 1ms GtG response time. At the same time, you get 1.07 billion colors with HDR support (up to 400 nits brightness) so you can see your enemies quickly and clearly. Other niceties include a fully adjustable stand, ASUS’s GamePlus Hotkey Enhancements and a large heatsink.
Gigabyte’s M28U 28-inch 144Hz 4K gaming monitor sure does a lot. It has an IPS panel with a 2ms (MPRT) response time, 94 percent DCI-P3 coverage, DisplayHDR 400 certification, 2 HDMI 2.1 ports and FreeSync Premium Pro support. It comes in a little bit more expensive than $500, but we've often seen it on sale for $480.
In this price range you can have resolution, color accuracy or brightness, but not all three. The one with the best balance is ViewSonic’s $1,000 ColorPro VP2786 27-inch 4K HDR Monitor. The true 10-bit IPS panel covers 98 percent of the DCI-P3 color palette with an excellent Delta <2 accuracy figure, and is certified for soft-proofing by the demanding Fogra print industry. At the same time, it offers HDR10 support, albeit with a limited 350 nits of output. It even includes a “ColorPro” wheel control compatible with Adobe or Capture One apps.
The best 4K gaming monitor under $1,000 is Dell’s G3223Q 4K 32-inch HDR 144Hz monitor because of the speed, brightness and compatibility. It has an IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms GtG response time, 95 percent DCI-P3 coverage and DisplayHDR 600 certification. Plus, it comes with a pair of HDMI 2.1 ports and is both FreeSync and G-Sync compatible.
Dell’s P3223QE 4K USB-C Hub monitor is productivity-oriented, thanks to the wired Ethernet connectivity and USB-C ports that offer up to 90W of power delivery for laptops. It’s a 4K IPS panel with a 178-degree viewing angle and 350 nits of brightness and support for a billion colors (8-bit + FRC). It offers height, pivot, swivel and tilt adjustment, a VESA mounting interface and DisplayPort/HDMI inputs.
In general, monitor compatibility issues with MacBooks and Macs are a thing of the past, though you can still experience issues with things like refresh rates, particularly on M1 Macs. If you’d prefer to stay within the Apple family, the most cost-effective option is still the $1,600 27-inch Apple Studio Display. It supports 5K resolution (5,120 x 2,880) with up to 600 nits of brightness, so it can handle creative chores with ease. It even includes a 12-megapixel UltraWide camera that keeps you in frame via Center Stage, along with a three-mic array.
The best third-party option is LG’s $700 UltraFine 4 display, also sold on Apple’s Store. With a 24-inch 4K panel, you not only get very high resolution but also 500 nits of brightness (albeit, without HDR capability). It’s color-accurate out of the box, making it great for video- and photo-editing work on a Mac or MacBook. Finally, it supports Thunderbolt 3 with daisy chaining and power delivery, all of which is very useful for Mac users who may want multiple displays.
Ultrawide 21:9 monitors are a great option for some types of content creation, games (particularly driving and flight sims) and productivity work. The best model this year is LG’s 34GP950G-B, a 34-inch 3,440 x 1,440 curved monitor. The curved IPS panel supports HDR10 with 400 nits of brightness and maximum (via overclocking) 180Hz refresh rate. It’s also G-Sync and FreeSync compatible (the latter over DisplayPort only).
For the best balance of performance and price, LePow’s 15.6-inch, 1080p $200 C2S is a solid option. It offers decent brightness (220 nits), solid contrast and a very respectable 96.1-percent sRGB gamut coverage. You get a generous selection of ports (one mini-DisplayPort, one mini-HDMI port and two USB-C ports, along with a headphone jack. The metal stand is solid and practical, and it even has built-in speakers of decent quality.
ASUS still holds the prize for best luxury monitor, but it discontinued the previous mini-LED $4,000 ProArt PA32UCX monitor and replaced it with the $5,000 PA32UCG-K display. It uses the same mini-LED tech, but ups the ante with 1,600 nits of brightness via 1,152 backlight zones, an HDMI 2.1 port, 4K 120Hz resolution, 10-bit, 98 percent DCI-P3 coverage and an impressive 85 percent Rec.2020 coverage. Oh, and it’s one of the few monitors out there that supports Dolby Vision, along with HDR10 and HLG.
You’re probably doing it wrong if you’re using a $5K monitor for gaming. However, it does support AMD FreeSync (good for gaming creation) and has a 5-millisecond response time, very respectable for a display essentially designed for professional colorists. And to that end, color accuracy is calibrated to Delta E < 1 and it’s a true 10-bit panel delivering billions of colors. To verify that, it even comes with an X-rite i1 Display Pro color calibrator, normally sold separately for around $500.
On top of this model, ASUS now makes several slightly less bright and less expensive variants, namely the $4,180 PA32UCX-PK, (plus -P, and -K variants with slightly different features), offering 1,200 nits of brightness and a 60Hz (not 120Hz) refresh rate. Specs are nearly identical otherwise.
Priced to bust wallets at $550, the LEGO Avengers Hulkbuster set is the toy giant’s largest Marvel set to date, with an impressive 4,049 pieces. For reference, that’s $200 more but only 277 pieces more than the LEGO Daily Bugle set. Those extra 277 pieces must really be expensive ones.
The set will be released on November 9th and is also the largest LEGO mech set, standing over 20.5″ tall with an optional Iron Man figure that goes INSIDE the mecha. It features light-up arc reactors in both hands and chest, as well as several other new LEGO elements like special glow-in-the-dark and gold bricks. The whole upper body is articulated for posing and includes a Tony Stark in Mark 43 suit minifig. It is currently listed in the coveted spot #3 on my Christmas list.
With the popularity of both LEGO and The Avengers, I’m sure the set will be a hit. Although how many people will be willing to dig $550 out of their wallets to buy one remains to be seen. Of course, there are probably a lot of LEGO and Avengers fans out there that are richer than I am. Most of them, actually.
Modeled after the band’s ninja star logo, the Pro-Ject x Metallica Ninja Star Turntable is a record player in the form of a throwing star, complete with pointy edges. As far as record players go, it’s certainly one of the more aggressive-looking ones I’ve seen. And isn’t that what you look for in a turntable?
Just go ahead and put your wallet back in your pocket because the turntable costs a pretty penny – $1,599 to be exact, presumably priced to help the band recoup its losses from the illegal downloading of its music off Napster circa 2000. Something I know absolutely nothing about because it’s not like I was a broke college student at the time or anything.
The turntable features a mirror finish metal top plate and glass platter, perfect for playing translucent vinyl records like the red one in the photo. Don’t have any translucent vinyl? Start collecting! You just dished out $1,600 for a record player; surely you can drop a couple of extra hundred on vinyl. Me? Money’s a little tight right now, so I’m afraid I’ll be sticking to my first-generation iPod.
Unveiled at Comic-Con 2022, Mattel has created an official Jurassic Park toy of the t-rex eating lawyer Donald Gennaro as he attempts to hide inside an outhouse. A classic cinema moment for sure. The $80 playset includes a 3.75″ Gennaro action figure, a significantly larger t-rex, along with destructible outhouse with lighting and sound effects, sure to provide hours of lawyer-eating fun.
Between Gennaro getting eaten on the can and Dennis Nedry getting spat on by the dilophosaurus, it was nice seeing those jerks get their just desserts. Sure, you could argue that nobody deserves to be eaten by dinosaurs, but you would be wrong. Those guys did. Plus several other people I know.
Unfortunately for those seriously interested, the playset appears to have already sold out, so expect to pay a pretty penny for one in the resale market. Or just cross your fingers and hope to pick one up at a garage sale in ten years. That’s what I’m doing. Either way, I’ll be saving myself a small fortune.
It's hard to be a new parent even during the most idyllic times. So what can you do to help? How about gifting a new dad something to make their lives a bit easier. Maybe they just need a breather from the hellstorm of diapers and sleep training. Or perhaps they want a better way to distract their screaming spawn. Here are a few options to consider.
Apple's entry-level iPad is one of the most useful devices for any new parent. It can be your child's gateway to video chatting with their grandparents (and with the new Center Stage cameras, they’ll always be in frame), or a life-saving distraction during long car rides. It could be a new dad's way to catch up on their favorite show while stuck dealing with mealtime. Or it could be a way for growing kids to read interactive stories and play games. The iPad can be whatever you want it to be. And paired with a decent case, it can be durable enough to survive life with tiny humans. (And if it does break, at least it's far cheaper to replace than an iPad Air, or a typical laptop.)
There's no question that we love Jabra's lineup of wireless earbuds. The Elite 85t delivers solid active noise canceling, a slim and light design, and excellent sound. And best of all, they cost around $200 and you can often find them for around $150. No matter which smartphone you have, the 85t are an excellent way to catch up on podcasts while trying to rock a baby to sleep. And they'll be even more useful during the rare bit of downtime for new parents. They're perfect for rocking out to your favorite tunes, or pair them to your TV or set-top box to enjoy late-night movies without making much noise.
This relatively cheap rattle is deceptively useful. It has a light-up face to keep babies interested, multiple textures for them to explore, and a mirror on the bottom for them to learn their own faces. It was a secret weapon during my child's first-year tantrums, so much so that I've gifted it to every new parent I know. It's not high tech at all, but it's a reminder that they’re called classics for a reason.
Sonos' most portable speaker is an excellent choice for new parents, especially if they’ve already bought into the Sonos ecosystem. It's small enough to throw in a bag, giving new parents a way to play some tunes during a picnic. It relies on Bluetooth, so pretty much any device can connect to it. But the best part is that it also works over Wi-Fi with an existing Sonos setup. So if you start playing some songs on your larger Sonos speakers, you can easily pipe that over to the Roam and bring it to your backyard. And since it's from a brand that's known for excellent sound quality, you can expect everything to be much richer than other cheap Bluetooth speakers.
The Apple Watch is great for working out — but it can also be a handy tool for new parents. It's a simple way to keep tabs on texts and other notifications when your hands are full with a baby or baby-related ephemera. It lets you start and stop podcasts when you can't reach your phone. And — here's the kicker — it's also a perfect way to distract youngins and de-escalate shouting matches. It turns out, having a tiny screen on your wrist that can display photos is pretty useful! And it's also a relatively safe device for babies to fiddle with, thanks to its touchscreen. (Of course, you can take your pick of any competing smartwatch for Android users, but we'd recommend Samsung's Galaxy Watch 4.)
Action cameras are great for vacations and high-impact sports, but they can be just as useful for new parents. It's the sort of thing you can strap onto a hat when you go out for a light hike with a little one, or just leave it running in your backyard to capture their first steps. Sure, we've all got smartphone cameras, but it's tough to leave those running for extended periods, and they're still a bit distracting if you're dealing with a child. A camera like the Hero10 Black, on the other hand, is something you can just set, forget and discover little video treasures later.
Keeping up with a new baby can lead to aches and pains in muscles that dad never knew he had. The Theragun Mini can give him the opportunity to get a massage without leaving the house. While there are much bigger and more powerful Theragun machines, the Mini is a good size for beginners and those who want to take its muscle relief power wherever they go. It has a single button that dad can use to change the massage gun’s speed and its ergonomic design makes it easy to reach different parts of the body. And arguably the best part is its 150-minute battery life — while that might not seem like a long time, it truly is when you consider the fact that you don’t need to use it for more than a few minutes each day to feel the results. With that schedule, dad could use the Theragun Mini every day for a month or more before needing to recharge it.
It’s hard to keep up with comics when kids are around, but Comixology makes it easy to catch up on your favorite releases. If you know a comic nerd who’s eager to see what the X-Men are up to, or who just wants to catch up on long-running graphic novel series, it’s worth sending them an Amazon gift card that they can use with Comixology. It’s particularly useful for anyone who has an iPad or a decent Android tablet. Not surprisingly, bright and portable screens are one of the best ways to appreciate comic art!
A perfect gift for any gamer dads in your life, the Laugh and Learn Controller is basically a baby-proofed version of a modern gamepad. There's a joystick, directional pad, and array of buttons for kids to fiddle with. But like any good distracting toy, it also lights up and makes sounds to keep them entertained. It's not exactly complex, but it's inexpensive and effective. That's particularly true for parents of little ones who always gravitate to their expensive console controllers.
Coffee, tea or another caffeinated beverage is an essential for many new dads and Greens Steel’s insulated tumblers can keep their drink of choice hot or cold for hours. While we all appreciate that luxury, it’s especially important for parents who often find themselves sipping tepid coffee hours after they brewed their first cup because they got distracted with kid duties. These tumblers are made of 18/8 food grade steel and they have a double wall vacuum that maintains temperatures for up to 12 hours. And regardless of which size you get (20-, 30- or 40-ounce) they all fit into standard-sized cup holders, so dad can bring his drink with him when he runs out for an emergency diaper restock.
Over-ear noise-canceling headphones typically offer the most comprehensive set of features we want for our listening pleasure. The best of these wireless options combine stellar audio with powerful active noise cancellation (ANC) and other handy tools to create as complete a package as possible. Of course, some companies do this better than others. For Engadget’s best wireless headphones guide, we tested out a number of different models with a variety of features, including noise cancellation and sound quality. Plus, our favorites span a range of prices so you can decide how much you’re comfortable spending.
Best overall: Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony’s 1000X line has been our top pick for best wireless headphone for a long time now. Until another company can pack in as many features as Sony, and do so with a stellar mix of sound and effective ANC, the crown is safe. With the WH-1000XM5, Sony redesigned its flagship headphones, making them way more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The company also made noticeable improvements to the active noise cancellation, adding a separate V1 chip in addition to the QN1 that was inside the M4. There are now eight total ANC mics as well – the previous model only had four. This all combines to better block ambient noise and high frequencies, including human voices.
The 1000XM5 still has all of the features that typically make Sony’s top-of-the-line headphones showstoppers. That includes 30-hour battery life and crisp, clear sound with balanced tuning and punchy bass. A combo of touch controls and physical buttons give you on-board access to music, calls and noise modes without reaching for your phone. Speak-to-Chat automatically pauses audio when you begin talking, and like previous Sony headphones, the M5 can change noise modes based on your activity or location. Plus, this model offers better call quality than most of the competition. The only real downside is that they’re $50 more than the WH-1000XM4 at full price ($400).
Runner up: Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2
I’ll admit I didn’t expect Bowers & Wilkins to make the year's best headphones list, or even be in contention for a spot. However, the company’s revised Px7 headphones impressed me during my review. The Px7 S2 are pricey at $399, but Bowers & Wilkins pair impressive audio quality with solid ANC performance. In fact, the Px7 S2 are my favorite headphones right now in terms of sound. There’s also a more refined design that doesn’t look overly plasticky and the headphones fit comfortably even after hours of use. Call quality, ambient sound and automatic pausing aren’t the best here, but they get the job done. At the end of the day, the design, sound quality and noise cancellation make the Px7 S2 a strong pick in the current true wireless headphone field.
Best budget: Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT
Audio-Technica has introduced affordable wireless headphones in the past, and while they didn’t offer active noise cancellation, they’re still worth considering. The company’s latest is the M20xBT, a Bluetooth version of the A-T’s popular M20x wired cans. For just $79, you can expect a comfy fit and up to 60 hours of battery life. Bluetooth multipoint connectivity allows you to connect to multiple devices at once and physical buttons provide reliable on-board control. The design isn’t as refined as the company’s pricer models like the M50xBT2, but you get the bulk of what makes Audio-Technica’s cheaper options so good.
Another solid option: Bose QuietComfort 45
The Bose 700 was one of our top wireless Bluetooth headphones last time around, but the company recently revived a workhorse with the QuietComfort 45. The design is mostly unchanged from the previous QC models, which could be a deal breaker for some. Once you get past that though, the QC45 combines Bose’s excellent active noise cancellation with clear and balanced audio. You can expect up to 24 hours of battery life on a charge and a comfortable fit that doesn’t get tiresome during long listening sessions. We’ve already seen them on sale for $50 less than full price, which makes the QuietComfort 45 even more compelling.
Another solid option: Technics EAH-A800
Back at CES, Panasonic announced the EAH-A800: a new set of active noise canceling headphones under the iconic Technics brand. While most of the features are what you see on any number of headphones, one figure stood out. The company says you can expect up to 50 hours of battery life on the A800, and that’s with active noise cancellation enabled. These are currently in my stable of review units for detailed analysis, but I have already tested them on a long flight. The ANC is impressive and they’re comfortable enough to avoid becoming a burden after several hours. Sound quality is also quite good (there’s LDAC support, too) and there are enough features here to justify the premium price tag.
Another solid option: Master & Dynamic MW75
While Master & Dynamic is known for its design prowess, the company’s over-ear headphones were due for a refresh. With the MW75 that debuted in June, the company opted for a look that takes cues from its MG20 gaming headset and mixes them with a combo of aluminum, leather and tempered glass. The company’s trademark sound quality returns with multiple ANC modes and ambient sound options for a range of situations. At $599, the high-end looks don’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for something beyond the pure plastic fashion of most headphones, M&D has you covered.
Another solid option: Sennheiser Momentum 4
I’ll be honest, I had a hard time choosing between the Px7 S2 and the Momentum 4 for the runner-up spot this time around. However, Bowers & Wilkins gets the edge in terms of design even though the Px7 S2 and the Momentum 4 are very evenly matched on sound quality. They’re the two best-sounding sets of Bluetooth headphones I’ve tested this year – and it’s not even close. Sennheiser does have an impressive 60-hour battery life in its favor and improved ANC performance. Those two items alone might be enough for you to overlook the very generic design.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Streaming is a curious beast. One minute you'll be enjoying the '80s vibe of Stranger Thingsand 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.
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.
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'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+ 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.
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.
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
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.
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 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+ 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.