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Game

PSA: Buy Your Console Gifts Early. They Will Sell Out

The holidays are approaching, and I know what you’re thinking: One month is plenty of time to track down all the gifts you need to buy. Especially in the age of one-day Amazon deliveries, it’s never been a better time to be a last-minute shopper. Surely you’ll be able to log into your Best Buy account on December 15, buy a PlayStation 5, and get it under the tree in time, right?

Trust me: You’ll want to kick that mindset to the curb ASAP if you want to have a happy, stress-free holiday. Getting a new video game console before December 25 is no easy task this year. In fact, you might already be too late.

A serious shortage

Video game consoles are currently a hot — and hard to find — commodity. There are a few key reasons for that. First off, the video game industry saw a massive boom in 2020 as people turned to gaming to pass the time during Covid-induced social isolation. Consoles like the Nintendo Switch began selling out as interest in the industry grew. While that’s slowed a bit in 2021, games now have a larger audience than ever, which means more people trying to get consoles.

That popularity spurt also lined up with the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S last November. Shiny new consoles are always exciting, so they’re typically tough to get at launch. A scarcity crisis soon sprouted as scalpers gobbled up consoles and began reselling them for exorbitant prices. Retailers have yet to get that problem under control, and it still rages today — even with new hardware like the Nintendo Switch OLED model.

Both of those factors have been exacerbated by the biggest problem of all: The dreaded chip shortage. As you may know by now, key parts needed to power many electronics are in short supply right now — a supply chain issue largely spurred by the pandemic. Those chips are unfortunately crucial for creating new consoles, which has lowered supply significantly for a year with no end in sight.

All of that creates a perfect recipe for disaster. Everyone wants a new console, but manufacturers physically can’t produce them quickly enough. Even when they do, scalpers are able to swoop in and eat up the limited stock that is around. If you still haven’t been able to find a PS5 for your disappointed kid, that’s why.

What can you do?

There are no easy answers here. The first step is simply recognizing how serious the situation is. This isn’t a normal “hot holiday toy” situation where you simply need to go to a few stores until you track down a Tickle-Me-Elmo. Retailers get very limited supply drops, and there’s not much anyone can do to accelerate the process.

Knowing that will help you move without hesitation once you do find the console you’re trying to buy. Teach yourself not to think twice. You aren’t going to find an Xbox Series X for a lower price somewhere else. If you see it go on sale on Best Buy’s website, you shouldn’t spend a second pondering if it’ll come up on Amazon soon. The moment you see one, in-store or online, that’s your cue to jump.

That’s especially good advice for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those dates will likely be some of the last times retailers will have consoles in stock before the holiday. Outside some left-field drops in December, your window for success is closing. Don’t take that as an invitation to trample other shoppers at Walmart post-Thanksgiving dinner, but be prepared to add one to your cart the second you see it in the wild.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

The Best Gifts for Xbox Owners

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Let’s say you have a loved one on your holiday shopping list who managed to get their hands on an Xbox Series X. This is cause for celebration in and of itself. The best gift you can give to that person is a good accessory for their shiny new toy. Good thing there are plenty of to choose from for Xbox Series X owners.

Stealth 700 Gen 2: $150

The most important part of playing games with friends is being able to actually talk to them. Turtle Beach is synonymous with gaming headsets — and for good reason. The Stealth 700 Gen 2 is perfect for people who are looking to jump right into multiplayer without much hassle. It supports wireless connection directly to the Xbox, so it doesn’t need an adapter. It has about 20 hours of battery life, which is great for marathon gaming sessions. The Gen 2’s mic is also perfect to strategize with teammates or just fool around with friends. The high-sensitivity microphone gives perfect clarity and has a flip-to-mute function that is a lifesaver for those who forget to take their headset off before walking into the kitchen for a quick snack.

Xbox Elite Controller Series 2: $140

Xbox Elite Controller.

I will be upfront here: This is my favorite controller I have ever held in my clammy gaming hands. The Elite Series has been the pinnacle of gaming controllers since it was introduced back in the Xbox One days. The adjustable-tension thumbsticks alongside the shorter hair-trigger locks allow me to keep up with my friends who are more skilled than me. The customizable paddles also help out with games that require more buttons than a normal controller offers. I also have to praise the weight; this thing has heft. It sits in the hands at about 15 grams, making it feel important and not toylike as some other controllers feel.

Xbox Rechargeable Battery and USB-C Cable: $25

The worst thing to happen while playing games is for the controller to die. Instead of burning through normal AA batteries, it’s time for an upgrade. The Xbox Rechargeable Battery and USB-C cable combo isperfect for people who never want to think about controller battery life again. The rechargeable battery fits easily into any Xbox controller and can be charged with the USB-C cable. The charging even works while the controller is being used so there is no reason why anyone would experience a dead controller again.

Seagate Storage Expansion Card: $220

Seagate Expansion Cards.

When building a game library, one should never have to worry about storage space. The Xbox Series X has about 800GB of memory to play with once you factor in the system files. While this is certainly significant, it can disappear quickly. The Seagate Storage Expansion Card looks to remedy this by giving Xbox owners an extra 1TB to use. Players will no longer have to play the dreaded “What do I need to delete?” game. Instead, Xbox owners can fill their storage with as many games as possible.

Xbox Design Lab Controller: $70

Xbox Design Lab Controller.

Perhaps the Elite Controller isn’t really calling to you. Maybe you or whoever you are buying for wants something more personal. Fortunately, Microsoft allows you to customize your very own Xbox controller. Virtually every part of the controller is customizable, and you can add a metallic look to them as well to make the controller nice and chrome-y. Best of all, you can engrave the controller with a name or even inscribe a nice little message on it.

Xbox Series X Replica Mini Fridge: $100

Xbox Series X Replica Mini Fridge.

While gaming into the wee hours of the night, it’s important to make sure you are also fully charged. Of course, the battery life on your controller is important, but don’t forget the battery life on your stomach. The Xbox Series X Replica Mini Fridge is ideal to keep your favorite meals nice and cool as you are playing your favorite video games. This fridge looks exactly like the Xbox Series X and can help shape the theme of your gaming room. It looks really nice right next to the Xbox Series X as well.

Xbox Game Pass: $10/month

Xbox Game Pass.

Saving the best for last, the Xbox Game Pass is an essential accessory for any Xbox owner. The Xbox Game Pass opens the floodgates for players who are looking to get as many games as they can for as cheap as possible. With a library that is constantly updating, especially with a huge collection from publishers like Bethesda, anyone can find a game — or nine — that they will love to play. Xbox Game Pass also gives players a chance to play some of the newest games on day one, like Forza Horizon 5. This makes the Xbox Game Pass an absolute must for every Xbox owner.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

The Best Gifts for Mac Users: Holiday Gifts for Apple Fans

It’s the time of year to start looking for gifts for all the important people in your life. If you’ve got a loved one who’s a Mac obsessive — or you just want to get a great Mac accessory for yourself — our round-up of tip-top Mac gifts will have you sorted this holiday season.

We’ve put together a range of goodies that’ll work for even the most demanding of Mac users. From mice and keyboards to Thunderbolt docks, microphones, and webcams, there’s something here for everyone.

Logitech MX Master 3 for Mac

Apple’s Magic Mouse is great for MacOS gestures, but its low-profile shape can become uncomfortable to use after a while. The good news is there’s a much better alternative that’s designed specifically for Mac users: The Logitech MX Master 3 for Mac.

This superb wireless mouse is comfy to use and features a clever scroll wheel that automatically switches between precise ratchets and free-flowing movement, depending on how hard you spin it. On the side, there is also a thumb wheel that scrolls your pointer horizontally.

Even better, the mouse comes preloaded with built-in MacOS shortcuts. In Photoshop, for instance, the thumb wheel adjusts your brush size, while the thumb buttons undo and redo actions. Press and hold the button at the foot of the thumb rest, and you can even perform native MacOS gestures — just swipe the mouse as you would on an Apple trackpad while pressing the button. When it comes to Mac mice, there’s simply nothing better.

Logitech MX Keys

Logitech MX Keys Mini charges via USB-C.

The perfect pairing for a great mouse is a brilliant Mac keyboard, and Logitech’s MX Keys is just that. It’s the ideal gift for any Mac user stuck on a MacBook’s older butterfly keyboard or for anyone who is left unsatisfied by Apple’s Magic Keyboard.

Each key is dished slightly so that it comfortably fits your finger with each press. There’s a built-in backlight and full numpad, plus a row of function keys too. It can switch between three different devices — no need to use multiple keyboards for multiple Macs — and if you install the Logitech Flow app, you can copy and paste files directly from one Mac to another. There’s even a smaller MX Keys Mini if you want to ditch the number pad.

If you’re looking for a mechanical keyboard to match with your Mac, try the Keychron K8. It’s superbly comfy and reliable and can switch between multiple devices in a snap. And with its satisfying mechanical switches, it’s a great option for someone who spends all day typing on their Mac.

Satechi Aluminum Laptop Stand

The Satechi Aluminum Laptop Stand for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

If you know someone who spends a lot of time hunched over a MacBook, do their back a favor by getting them a MacBook stand that raises their device to a more comfortable height. The Satechi Aluminum Laptop Stand does exactly that.

What it does well is combine style and substance. Its aluminum frame comes in silver or space gray to match your existing Apple devices, and its simple hinge is unobtrusive and unassuming. It looks great and will fit right in on your desk.

It’s solidly built and clever, too. Because it works on a single hinge, it folds down flat and is easy to slip into a backpack. There are rubber strips on the top and bottom, helping to keep the stand in place and prevent your MacBook from slipping. It’s fairly priced, so won’t break the bank either.

Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C Hub Adapter

The Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C Hub Adapter.

Apple’s latest MacBooks have finally restored some of the port variety that the company’s laptops have been missing for so many years. While they added HDMI and an SD card slot, you still don’t get any USB-A ports. And if you use an older MacBook, all you have are USB-C ports.

A USB-C hub can go a long way to fixing this problem, and Anker’s PowerExpand+ is a great choice. It adds seven new ports, including HDMI, SD card, microSD, two USB-A slots, and two USB-C ports. One of those USB-C slots supports up to 100W of power delivery, so you can juice up your MacBook via the PowerExpand+ if all your other USB-C ports are in use.

You get all that for $35, which is an excellent price for the frustration it prevents and the expansion options it brings.

CalDigit TS3 Plus

The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock.

If you’re looking for some more serious port expansion, a Thunderbolt dock will be right up your street. Our favorite — by some distance — is the CalDigit TS3 Plus.

Why do we love it so much? It sounds strange, but one of its biggest draws is simply its reliability. When you’re plugging a host of different devices into a Thunderbolt dock, you want them to work properly 100% of the time. That’s surprisingly unusual in the Thunderbolt dock world, but CalDigit’s offering never skips a beat.

It offers a ton of ports (15 in total), including five USB-A, three Thunderbolt 3 (including one that provides 87W of power delivery), audio in and out, an SD card slot, DisplayPort 1.2, Gigabit Ethernet, and more. If you need to connect something to a Mac, chances are the CalDigit TS3 Plus can handle it with ease.

Elgato Wave:3

With so many of us working from home these days, either permanently or temporarily, sounding your best on work calls is essential. The built-in mics inside Apple’s MacBooks are fine, but if you want to go to the next level, the Elgato Wave:3 makes for an excellent gift.

Part of its appeal is how easy it is to get set up and running. For instance, instead of needing to monitor and adjust levels, the Wave:3 has a built-in feature called Clipguard,  which helps combat sudden peaks in volume that can produce rasping or unpleasant sounds. You can tweak levels if required, but it’s nice knowing Elgato’s mic has your back from the off.

Outside video calls, it’s our favorite microphone for streaming, thanks to its Mac companion app that lets you blend audio inputs while your show is live. That makes it a great all-rounder that excels in a number of different fields.

Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro

Logitech Brio
Brad Bourque/Digital Trends

Apple has been dragging its heels in recent years when it comes to webcams, and we had to wait until the 2021 MacBook Pro before we saw the first 1080p webcam grace the company’s portable Macs. If you’re stuck on a 720p MacBook (or know someone else who is), you might be looking for a better webcam to help you look your best on video calls.

If it’s quality you’re after, there are none better than the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro, which is one of the best 4K webcams you can buy. It offers ultra-sharp 4K resolution running at 30fps, or if you need smoother footage, it also runs at 1080p 60fps and 720p 90fps. There are further customizations for the field of view, ranging from 65 degrees to 90 degrees — depending on what you want to capture.

There’s much more, including RightLight 3 tech that corrects your lighting, HDR image capture, and omnidirectional microphones with noise cancellation. It’s a brilliant gift for someone who needs a webcam that can do it all.

iFixit Essential Electronics Toolkit

The iFixit Essential Electronics Toolkit for repairing electronic devices.

For all the great things you can do with a MacBook, you’ll be hard-pressed to repair it if it ever breaks. Apple packs so much inside its laptops that finding your way around the components, cables, screws, and glue can be a real nightmare. If you’re a tinkerer, there’s a secret weapon that can make things much easier: iFixit’s Essential Electronics Toolkit.

Produced by the famous repair company and used in all its product teardowns, this toolkit contains everything you need to pry open a MacBook and dig into its high-tech internals. You get 16 screwdriver heads of different shapes and sizes, tweezers, a suction handle, a spudger, and more.

Put together, these tools should make light work of the booby traps you often find inside Apple devices. If you’ve been dying to repair your Mac or know someone else who is, this kit makes for a great holiday present.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Among Us physical game editions release dates tragically late for gifts

If you know someone who loves Among Us and you’re looking FAR in advance for the perfect holiday gift this year, InnerSloth has your back. They’ve created several versions of the game Among Us with discs and physical boxes and everything that’ll make the entire situation a much more physically gift-friendly experience. The products are called “Among Us – Ejected Edition”, “Among Us – Imposter Edition”, and “Among Us – Crewmate Edition.”

The most expensive of the packages is “Among Us – Ejected Edition.” This version is available in four different sorts – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. This version includes a bunch of gear from designer Hannako Lambert, including: Crewmate fleece blanket, Red Imposter beanie, “1 of 12 special Mira HQ Holographic Access Cards”, Crewmate vs Imposter lanyard, Purple Crewmate with Crown plush, and retail exclusive steelbook (to hold the Among Us base game disk (plus DLC).

This package also includes an Imposter Syndrome Sticker Sheet and Spinning Into Space enamel pin, both by Cynthia Her. This package also includes a Folded Skeld Map poster designed by Cannon Kissane. You’ll get approximately 6 downloadable PC/phone wallpapers designed by Amy Liu with this package. The Among Us – Ejected Edition will cost you approximately $90 USD!

The Imposter Edition has just SOME of the stuff included with the more expensive package. Here you get the wallpapers, the holographic access card, enamel pin, lanyard, Purple Crewmate with Crown plush, Imposter Syndrome sticker sheet, and Folded Skeld Map Poster. You’ll also get the Among Us base game plus DLC, but this time in a 3D lenticular case as designed by Hannako Lambert, and it’ll all cost you around $50 USD.

The most basic packaged version will cost you $30 – that’s for the Among Us – Crewmate Edition. This version of the game includes the holographic access card, the Folded Skeld Map Poster, the wallpapers, the sticker sheet, and the Among Us base game with DLC and 3D lenticular case.

All of these versions of Among Us appeared in imagery at the Maximum Games store this week. The expected Release Date for these Among Us physical editions is fairly unfortunate, if you’re the sort of person that gives gifts to friends and family before the end of the year – December 31, 2021.

The good news there is THAT date generally indicates that the release date isn’t 100% set just yet – it’s just an indicator that we’ll see the release happen before the end of the year. It might be earlier, it might be later – we’ll just have to wait and see!

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