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2022’s best gadget buys (aka. descent into tech-fueled bankruptcy never looked so good)

It's a new year, and that means it’s time to look back on all the gadgets we impulsively bought over 2022.

While some may have become daily essentials for the author, others may have ended up as expensive paperweights. So, as we reflect on our tech consumption-fueled spending habits and descent into bankruptcy, let's at least find solace in the fact that we can learn from our mistakes and make better gadget choices in the future.

Trust me, these picks are worth breaking the bank for (just a little bit).

Let’s start with the basics: Boundaries.


Just as sports are way more interesting with rules (imagine a soccer match without offside violations), having a desk mat establishes a clear visual reference point for your work area, thus making a huge difference towards creating a clutter-free (or -less) workspace. 


Sure there are many viable options on the market that will do the trick, but MOFT’s is not your typical, easily wrinkled mat. 


For starters, the Smart Desk Mat is not just a mat — it is packed with fiberglass and metal, so rest assured your desk will be covered with a sturdy, clinically flat mat right off the box. It is adjustable to various angles, making it suitable for typing on a laptop, drawing on a tablet, or holding up a book or document. 


Dubbing it “smart” is also more than a marketing gimmick as it sports built-in NFC tags. These tags allow the users to quickly and easily access certain smartphone functions simply by tapping it on the desk mat. For example, the NFC tag can be programmed to automatically launch a specific app, connect to a Bluetooth device, or turn on a setting.


Besides, it also includes a range of modular accessories, such as a tablet holder, MagSafe wireless charging pad, phone holder, Apple Watch holder, book holders, cable organizers, memo holders, and a leg/wrist cushion.


A small caveat emptor: since this desk mat cannot be curled into a compact cylinder for travel, like the normal mats do, in case you happen to work in more than one location, plan accordingly (or simply buy two, if that’s what you prefer).


Apple’s flagship AirPod Max (APM) is unbelievable, as well as paradoxical — in an amusing way.


Unlike in-ear monitors or true wireless earbuds, comfort plays a bigger role than sound quality when it comes to over-ear headphones. As delightful as my beloved Yamaha YH-L700A is, a near-sighted person like me could never enjoy it to the fullest, owing to unbearable strain when the eyeglasses have been pushed against my skull for a prolonged period. 


Yet, despite the APM being on the heavier side, at 385g, fatigue and discomfort have never been a problem throughout my experience with the headphone. The deep memory-foam cushions provide a gentle yet effective seal around the ears, while the stainless-steel headband and anodized aluminum ear cups distribute a great weight balance as a whole. 


Another paradox chimes in when speaking of its sound. Albeit lacking support for high-definition Bluetooth audio codecs, such as aptX and LDAC, APM surely justifies its hefty price tag with its amazing sound quality — delivering a spacious and dynamic soundstage, with well-controlled bass and crisp treble, where the dynamics become more pronounced with the noise-canceling mode on.


Besides the Apple Watch-inspired physical crown, my favorite part of the APM is the spatial audio feature, a type of surround-sound technology that is capable of creating the illusion of a 3D space by encoding sounds as objects and positioning them in the left and right channels.


Apple might not have been the first company to adopt such technology, but they certainly nail it — especially when it comes to movie experience. It was so immersive that there were times I needed to confirm if my headphones were actually connected to the device.


All in all, the AirPods Max may cost a pretty penny, but they'll leave you with sound that's worth every cent.


With its dual connectivity function, through Bluetooth and Razer's HyperSpeed wireless technology, the Razer Basilisk V3 Pro has become my go-to mouse for both gaming and work.


Adopting a sculpted and contoured shape with rubberized padding, at a total mass of 112g, it is nimble enough for gaming, yet sturdy enough for everyday web browsing. It also has an DPI sensitivity of 30,000, which is an overkill for practically every scenario. 


Speaking of unfair advantage, the mouse has 11 programmable buttons, including a DPI clutch for precise aiming in FPS games, which can be modified with Razer’s Windows software. And, for my fellow Mac users, all is not lost — through software such as SteerMouse, you can still assign customized values, as well as mouse chords (in this way, your mouse is capable of more than just 11 shortcuts).


Originally designed by Dr. Eiiti Wada — a renowned Japanese professor and computer scientist, who wanted a keyboard that he could use on all of his computers — the HHKB keyboard has stood the test of time since it was first introduced by PFU Fujitsu in December 1996.


Despite the plethora of keyboards that attempt to recreate the iconic look that was originally inspired by the 1984 Macintosh M0110 keyboard, the true allure of HHKB, to me, lies beneath its enduring Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) keycaps. 


Unlike the majority of keyboards that come with spring-loaded mechanical switches, the HHKB utilizes the Topre switches — a type of capacitive rubber dome switch, which rely on an electrical contact being made when the dome is pressed down, leading to a snappy, tactile typing experience. But there is more to it than speed, it is the irresistible “thocky” sound, or the low-frequency reverb created when the rubber dome collapses and snaps back into place during the keystroke. 


Another defining feature of HHKB, its layout, might not be as readily appreciated as its looks and feel in the first place. Intended to better reflect the importance of the control key in modern computer usage, the HHKB replaces the traditional "CAPS LOCK" key with a "CONTROL" key, as it is often used in combination with other keys to perform various functions (at least for interfaces other than Macintosh). 


In the absence of dedicated arrow keys, such a layout might be a steeper learning curve, but it rewards the typist with unparalleled efficiency — through enabling the typist to remain in the "home position" (the position of the fingers when they are not actively pressing a key) while typing, as well as minimizing fatigue over long periods of use.


As with all sorts of experience, it's hard to put into words just how good it feels to type on. How good? I ended up buying two — one for home, another for office.


Oriolus DPS-L2 (US$2,098 / Limited edition of 999)

Blending the nostalgia of the past with the convenience of modern technology, the Oriolus DPS-L2 is a digital audio player that adopts the iconic design of the Sony Walkman TPS-L2, paired with state-of-the-art ES9038Pro DAC chipset for unparalleled sound reproduction. 


Not only does nostalgia inform the appearance of the DPS-L2, it is also functional. The player has a mechanical design that imitates the functions of a cassette tape player, with a screen and buttons replacing the cassette tape, as well as a stepless analog volume controller for adjusting the L and R channels.


Reminiscent of “transparency mode found amongst true wireless earbuds nowadays, the DPS-L2 comes with a hotline button — allowing users to hear the ambient sound through activating the built-in microphone on the side panel.


In terms of performance, the DPS-L2 delivers a lively, vivid sound with a punchy low-end, clear midrange, and mildly peppy treble. It has two digital filters that can alter the timbre of the presentation, with the sharp decay filter resulting in a drier, more clinical sound, and the slow decay filter yielding a softer, more laid-back sound. 


On a side note, the DPS-L2 comes with two 3.5mm stereo sockets, so if you ever want to recreate the iconically romantic “headphone splitter” scene from Begin Again, you’re in good hands. 


The Satechi Aluminum Stand Hub for iPad Pro is a versatile docking station that allows you to turn your tablet into a workstation by adding an HDMI v2 port, a USB-3 type-A port, a USB-C Power Delivery port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and slots for both an SD and micro SD card. 


Made of all-aluminum (except for the plastic on the underside where the USB-C connector is stored and the non-slip rubber grip), the stand portion only locks into one position at about 80-degrees for iPad, but it is a convenient and compact design that is easy to take with you on the go. The HDMI port supports 4K at 60Hz, but the USB 3.0 Type-A port and UHS-I SD and micro SD card slots are capped at 5 Gbps and 104 MB/s, respectively. 


Also, don’t let the name fool you, the hub is compatible with a variety of devices, including other iPads models, Windows tablets, and Android tablets — as long as they have a USB-C port and are less than 0.5 inches thick. 


Nonetheless, it would be helpful if Satechi included a USB-C data port and increased the speeds of the USB-A and SD slots.