The Christmas holiday period is almost over and while there are still plenty of leftovers hiding in every corner of our fridge, some semblance of normality is ready to return. But as the new year edges ever closer it’s time to cast our minds back to Christmas Morning and the days that followed all in the name of science. Or more accurately, to see which of this year’s tech gifts have proven to be winners and which turned out to be a bust.
As a family of four that includes two kids under 12, you can get that there was plenty of tech lurking under the tree this year. Having a dad that writes about tech every day helps when it comes to convincing him to buy you a new gadget come Christmas time, I imagine. And this year was no different.
But as is always the case with these things, some of those gifts have gone down better than others. Whether it’s a gift that was explicitly requested or something that my wife and I chose as a surprise, we have some successes and some failures to report. Thankfully there were more of the former than the latter, but that doesn’t mean that everything was a universal
To understand which winners and losers we had, we first have to take a look at the entrants. Starting with my oldest. At 11, he’s into all of the things you might expect including computers and games. He’s my boy, after all. To that end, we got him a couple of main tech gifts including an Apple Watch and a new wireless headset. The former is self-explanatory, while the latter was for gaming on his Xbox Series S and the family PS5, plus his Switch Lite and hand-me-down 2015 MacBook Pro.
His 9-year-old brother thankfully has less expensive tastes and prefers less techy gifts. One gadget-adjacent gift was a Meccano space kit that turns into a variety of things and while not quite under the purview of this piece, I’m pretty sure that there’s a healthy cross-over between people that read TechRadar and also like space stuff and Meccano.
The final one was actually a gift to myself. As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time at my desk which means I get a lot of use out of my accessories. My go-to mouse has long been a Logitech MX Anywhere 3. For Christmas I upgraded to the mouse everyone seems to rave about, the MX Master 3S. Spoiler: this one might surprise you.
40mm Apple Watch SE – Winner!
My son has seen me wearing various Apple Watches over the years including the OG Apple Watch, Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch Ultra, and the Apple Watch Series 5 that I always come back to – it just does what I need it to. So with this in mind, it was always likely he’d want one of his own. And half his class at school seemingly having one probably didn’t hurt, either.
The obvious buy in this case was a 40mm Apple Watch SE in Midnight with a similarly dark band. It runs watchOS 10 like a boss and is nice and fast, too. The lack of an always-on display doesn’t bother him although I did keep my eyes peeled for an Apple Watch Series 7 or Series 8 deal this Black Friday just in case one was too good to refuse.
All of this being said, he loves his new Apple Watch. He even reminded me of a feature I’d long since forgotten – Walkie Talkie – and it’s now a lot easier to summon him from his bedroom when dinner is ready as a result. This being a Christmas winner is no surprise to me, but you never know how these things will pan out.
Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max – Winner!
When the oldest boy spent his gaming hours on the PS5 he used the first-party Pulse 3D wireless headset. But that doesn’t work with his Switch Lite nor the Xbox Series S that he claimed when we upgraded to an Xbox Series X in the living room. And the same goes for his MacBook Pro when he’s dabbling in Python coding, too. So he needed a true cross-platform headset and we settled on the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max, a headset that ticked all the boxes.
This headset works with everything you’ll find thanks to Bluetooth support, something that isn’t a given. It also has a feature that makes it easier to use the headset when you’re wearing glasses, making it more comfortable, which is great. The long 40+ hours of battery life helps, too.
Space Meccano – Winner!
This one is cheating a little, not only because it doesn’t really fit the remit of this piece but also because it was always going to be a winner. My youngest is pretty easy to buy for so long as whatever you buy him is space or rocket-related and you’re good to go.
So, predictably, this Meccano set has been well received. It’s also great because it’s something we can do together, too. A big thumbs-up from all of us, even if I’m now finding out my eyesight perhaps isn’t as good as I thought it was!
Logitech MX Master 3S – Flop!
This one might be a surprise to some people reading this, especially those who are die-hard MX Master fans. That group of people is normally pretty loud when extolling the virtues of Logitech’s best pointing devices, and with good reason. The buttons and configuration options are great, but there is one glaring issue – it’s just so damned big!
There’s a reason I’ve always gravitated to what is often called the “laptop mouse.” They’re smaller, designed to live in a bag most of the time. But with hands that are best described as diminutive, I find that they’re perfect for everyday use. The MX Anywhere range of devices offers much of what the MX Master does, but in a smaller package. I thought the MX Master 3S might work for me, but alas, it doesn’t. It’s like using a whale as a mouse, so that’s going back to Amazon and the MX Anywhere 3S is back on my desk. Where, I suspect, it’s going to remain.