2019 Gift Guide: Tech – Design Milk


When it comes to the most desired gifts, tech gear regularly ranks high in the “want it” department. But unless your recipient has made it crystal clear about which exact device they prefer, shopping for tech gifts can devolve into a dizzying comparison of specs and prices. That’s why we’ve gathered a selection of tech gift recommendations below representing elevated design balanced with everyday practicality – tech intended to be used daily and appreciated for its looks, feel, and functions, whether on or off.

Beosound Stage \ $1,750
Bang & Olufsen’s first soundbar took a long time coming, but they’ve made the wait worth it with a design delivering the audiophile quality, plug-and-play output delivered via HDMI ARC (or Chromecast built-in, Apple AirPlay 2, and Bluetooth streaming). An array of four woofers in an eleven-driver setup hides behind the KVADRAT fabric front, with a Dolby Atmos ready three-channel system wrapped with natural aluminum, bronze tone aluminum, smoked oak wood finished in Scandinavian fashion.

Courant Carry \ $150
Did you happen to catch the story warning why you should never use airport USB charging stations? Give one of these fast wireless charging and wirelessly rechargeable Qi-certified power banks to the person with upper echelon frequent mileage status and tell them, “stay safe, my friend.”

Slash Objects Rubber Deskmat and Mousepad \ $72 + $32
Consider this pick a tech-adjacent recommendation, a terrazzo flecked rubber desk mat and mouse pad set that with splash any work surface with color and texture while also delineating your work surface with a softer and safer spot to use your favorite tech devices upon.

Cambridge Audio Alva TT Turntable \ $1,700
Setting up a turntable for the uninitiated can prove challenging, which makes the all-in-one Alva TT a great gift for someone who wants to enjoy vinyl but doesn’t care for delving into the world of cables and pre-amps. The minimalist deck comes equipped with Bluetooth aptX HD for wireless audio streaming, which means it can be placed anywhere instead of being leashed to speakers and other componentry (the option to connect to a pre-amp is there too).

Pablo Pixo \ $250
If the task at hand is to bring a little light and joy to the workspace, we think the 360° swiveling light design of the Pixo is a top lighting pick with a design that elevates it into the realm of “gift-worthy” (also available in a wall-mount version and in a variety of colors). Its 6W LED energy efficiency is pragmatic, but so too is its welcome integration of a USB port at its base for charging mobile devices.

Apple AirPods Pro \ $249
Count us as skeptics turned converts, the new AirPods Pro are amongst our favorite travel accessories of the year. Not only has Apple improved the previous AirPods with active noise cancellation delivering an impressive degree of crowd noise dimming tech in a very compact form factor and also added a “Transparency mode” for those moments when ambient sounds are welcome, but the fit has also improved, noticeably more comfortable for a wider range of ear canals. The charging case is only a little bit wider, but these “pro” editions deliver all of the simplicity and convenience of the previous AirPods but with better sound and fit.

Microsoft Surface Pro X \ Starts at $999
If your intended holiday gift recipient is a technological first adopter type who travels often, and harbors a penchant for Windows, the slim and lightweight ARM-based Surface Pro X currently offers the ultimate expression of portable computing in the most elegant form factor. Beyond its beautiful 2,880 x 1,920 resolution display, our favorite detail is the inclusion of a small integrated stowaway dock for the new Surface Pen Slim, a feature that tends to evoke delighted oohs and ahhs the first time its revealed, but genuinely appreciated for its functional ability to keep the stylus tucked somewhere safe.

Sonos Move \ $399
It was only a matter of time before network audio specialists Sonos took their speaker game outdoors, and the Move debuts as a surprisingly large and in charge weatherproof portable speaker intended to easily transition from indoor use to the outdoors, all without being leashed to any cables or wires, or loss in clarity or volume. An integrated handle makes the battery power unit ergonomic and comfortable to carry around, with two Class-D digital amplifiers powering the Move’s tweeter and midwoofer for more than sufficient output, whether enjoyed indoors or out. We also greatly appreciate Sonos making the rechargeable battery user replaceable. Sonos remains the simplest and most elegant multi-speaker ecosystem available today, and the Move is ideally gifted to someone already invested in their products, but would also make a fancy introductory model.

PUNKT AC01 Alarm clock \ $165
The Swiss company is renowned for their aesthetically executed line of anti-smartphones intended to appeal to users seeking only the essential features of staying connected, rather than being overwhelmed by options. Similarly, their line of analog alarm clocks are minimalist objects of design, distilled to its most important features: time, alarm, snooze, and light. Give this solid aluminum and scratch-resistant glass alarm clock to the person who subscribes to the school of Dieter Rams and Marc Newsom, and tell them you thought it was “about time” they had an alarm clock designed to last a lifetime.

IKEA FYRTUR blackout automated roller blind \ Starting at $129
On a scale of 1-10, roller blinds would normally rank a “2” on the gift scale. But IKEA has done something notable, delivering automated battery-operated blackout shades at a considerably more affordable price compared to the competition and also made them smart home compatible (once integrated with their TRÅDFRI gateway). Surreptitiously install one of these on the night before Christmas and expect some wide-eyed delight when the windows open the next morning.

NuType F1 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard \ Starting at $100
Touted as a portable mechanical keyboard designed to sit and fit across a wide range of laptops, we’ve found the F1 wireless keyboard so ASMR-satisfying in use, it has won a place on our desktop too. The short travel Kaihua choc switches are 42% shorter than the standard mechanical switches, producing a most agreeable clickety-clack. We swear our productivity has improved because of the tactile and aural feedback, and the keyboard’s ability to pair with up to three different devices via Bluetooth, makes this a solid gift choice for someone whose workflow jumps from device to device.



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