2018 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide
November 23, 2018
All my recommendations from last year’s 2017 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide still hold, so if you are in the market for a notebook, TV, headset or Webcam just refer to it and buy the latest version of each of these.
For 2018, I decided to focus on gadgets I never purchased before.
Drone for aerial photography: DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
The Mavic 2 Zoom is amazing. Its flight and videos are incredibly smooth. It auto compensates for strong wind on its own which is key for kite surfing. It’s incredibly easy to fly and essentially takes off, returns home and lands on its own. It can fly for 30 minutes while shooting gorgeous 4K videos. It has a 2x optical zoom which is the reason I picked it over the Mavic 2 Pro. With the Mavic 2 Pro I appeared so small in many of the videos when it was flying at safe distances that it was often hard to tell I was the one being filmed.
At $1,179 on Amazon as of this Thanksgiving Day it’s far from cheap, but if you love taking action shots it’s totally worth it. You can see below a video I made kite surfing in Cabarete at various distances, elevation, speed and altitude. The wind was a bit light that day and I could barely stay upwind so could hardly pull any tricks, but it still made everything look epic.
Even unintentionally recording the drone’s flight home made my modest house in Cabarete look ridiculously good.
This is not to say the drone is perfect, far from it. The Active Track function loses you relatively often if you change direction quickly. The drone does not have a launch and forget mode like the Skydio R1. Even with Active Track enabled you will have a much better outcome with someone at the controls updating the zoom, elevation and reacquiring you when it loses you. Because you can’t just set it to track you and then put the remote away – if you touch the sticks you will move the drone – it’s not ideal for tracking you while skiing. The only way to shoot skiing videos is for a friend of yours to stay with the remote and phone while the drone auto tracks you. Once the drone is safely landed that person can then ski down. For skiing videos that you can make on your own, I would recommend the Skydio R1 instead. However, the Skydio is way less versatile and not appropriate for kitesurfing as it does not handle strong winds well.
Also make sure you get the optional insurance as it’s very easy to destroy the drone while taking action shots. The Mavic 2 Zoom lost me while tracking me kiting and just sat in the air motionless unbeknownst to me. When I switched directions to head back, I hit it with my kite’s front lines and the drone met its unfortunate demise at the bottom of the ocean as you can see below.
Fortunately, I had bought the warranty and DJI replaced the drone.
Video Game: Red Dead Redemption 2
In the same genre I found Shadow of the Tomb Raider underwhelming. The game is gorgeous, but I did not like Lara’s selfish attitude. The game is poorly paced. The game mechanics which were amazing in 2013 are starting to show their age and stealth is inconsistent and unsophisticated.
Portable Speaker: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Charge 3
Media Streaming Device: Amazon Fire TV Cube
It has twice the storage as the 4K Stick, built in Ethernet support and more importantly with its built-in speaker allows you to control the Fire TV and all your home entertainment by voice. It’s also way easier to setup than my Logitech Harmony Elite.