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Funxim

The Funxim wireless charger for the iPhone 8/X and Apple Watch.

Have you finished all your holiday shopping? If you’re like me — you haven’t even started.

Don’t worry though, we are living in an age that’s more convenient than ever. Not only can we do all our shopping with just a few swipes and taps on the phone, the product can usually be shipped&nbsp;to your door in just a few days (or if you live in Hong Kong like me, in a few hours, because almost everything is made an hour across the border in Shenzhen these days).

And since consumer electronics&nbsp;is that unique industry in which products are&nbsp;getting cheaper and better at the same time, gadgets are increasingly becoming the gift of choice. So here’s a short gift guide for those in need of ideas. I have personally tested every one of these gadgets in the last few weeks.

For those who want to listen music with no strings attached:&nbsp;Zolo Liberty&nbsp;&nbsp;truly wireless earbuds

Ben Sin

The Zolo Liberty

Don’t think Zolo is another small obscure&nbsp;OEM from Shenzhen just because you haven’t heard of them. Zolo is actually a sub-brand of Anker, the highly popular and trusted smartphone accessory maker. I wrote about the company’s goals to launch a new line of gadgets and smart home product&nbsp;a few months ago, and the Zolo Liberty is its true wireless earbuds. I tested a demo version back in July and reported that the earphones have superb connectivity, and I’m happy to report that’s still true for the final retail version. I own a pair myself and have used them around Hong Kong, and the connectivity of the Liberty are noticeably more stable than the Bragi Dash or Crazybaby. I experience virtually zero dropouts indoors, and even when walking around Hong Kong streets the connection rate is still higher than anything I’ve tried other than the Apple AirPods (and of course, Apple’s buds have superior connectivity because they have those weird elongated legs).

Zolo

A product shot of the Liberty.

There are two versions of the Liberty, with the standard selling for $80 and the Plus version to be sold at $150.&nbsp;&nbsp;The more expensive version has double the battery life (from 24 to 48 hours, but that’s only in the charging case, not the actual earphones, which last about three hours in both versions) and the newer Bluetooth 5.0 for even better connection, as well as sound isolation (aka noise-cancelling). I’ve tested both, and to be honest I think the standard version is a better deal — unless you really need noise-cancelling. Even with the &quot;inferior&quot; Bluetooth 4.2, the connection on my standard Liberty is still really good.

For those with Apple’s new iPhones:&nbsp;Funxim Wireless Charging Dock For The iPhone and Apple Watch

Ben Sin

The Funxim charging an iPhone X and Apple Watch at once.

When Apple announced the iPhone X earlier this year, it also announced its&nbsp;own charging dock named the AirPower.&nbsp;But&nbsp;for some odd reason the Cupertino tech giant kept information vague — we saw a glimpse of the charging station and how it’d work, but no release date or pricing.

Now wireless charging pads are nothing new — some Samsung phone owners have been using them for at least two years — but the AirPower is different in that it can charge not just the iPhone but Apple Watch and AirPods too.

Knowing Apple, the AirPower will be comically overpriced, but that isn’t stopping Apple loyalists from waiting … and waiting.

If you don’t want to wait, Shenzhen-based&nbsp;Funxim has an alternative&nbsp;that looks uncannily like the AirPower and while it won’t charge the AirPods, it will charge the iPhone 8/X and Apple Watch at the same time. I checked out the product a couple of weeks ago during one of my visits to Shenzhen and the charging pad worked as advertise.

Of course, the Funxim has a bit of limitations compared to Apple’s AirPower. The latter lets you place your Apple Watch anywhere and still get a charge; but on the Funxim, you must place it on top of a specific area. But considering that Funxim can be had right now for as low as $29&nbsp;right now compared to the rumored $200 that Apple is going to charge, I think most would be okay with the minor restriction.

For those who want cutting-edge looking smartphones without the high price tag: Blackview S8 and Vernee Mix 2

Ben Sin

The Vernee Mix 2.

Ben Sin

Blackview S8

The smartphone trend for 2018 is edge-to-edge screens with slim bezels. But you don’t have to shell out $800 or more to get one from Samsung or Huawei. If you are just a casual user who don’t need the best cameras or processing power, you can settle for a cheap device from small Shenzhen OEMs at literally a fraction of the price.

The two devices highlighted here each offer a different take on the 18:9 style of phones. Or a more accurate way to put it — each is a ripoff of an existing take. The Blackview S8 is, as the name implies, &quot;inspired&quot; by the Samsung Galaxy S8’s long, curvy build with slim forehead and chin bezels. The Vernee Mix 2, meanwhile, is a copy of the Xiaomi Mi Mix type of &quot;bezel-less&quot; phone with nothing above the display.

Both phones, despite its sub-$200 price tag ($160 for Blackview S8 and $200 for Vernee Mix 2), look and feel very nice in the hand. Seriously, smartphone manufacturing has gotten so good in recent years that even the smallest companies can pump out something that feels study and solid.

Ben Sin

The back of the Blackview S8 looks very similar to how the Samsung Galaxy S9 is going to look.

Vernee’s device, in particular, has a very eye-catching shiny blue metal finish that I could use the word &quot;premium.&quot; It’s got a 6-inch 1080p panel running on a MediaTek’s Helio P25 chipset, which is actually one of the more powerful mid-tier processors around. It’s not going to compete with Huawei’s Kirin 970 or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, but it’s more than enough for going on Instagram or watching NetFlix.

Ben Sin

The Mix 2 has an attractive back design.

The S8 comes from the same company that built that ultra-tough phone that took more than a dozen drops onto concrete being breaking. And the build quality here is again sturdy, though by no means is this phone meant to take a pounding.

Blackview

The Blackview S8 comes in three colors.

The Blackview S8 runs on a MediaTek MT650T processor with 4GB of RAM, which is the standard set-up for budget devices in the $150 price range. The 5.7-inch display is 1440 X 720 resolution, but is surprisingly usable even under bright sunlight.

What I liked most about the S8 is its clean Android software and lots of gesture shortcuts. You can draw an alphabet here to launch an app from a sleeping state like on the OnePlus phones. It’s noticeably slower here on Blackview’s phone, but still nonetheless useful to be able to jump straight into, say, calculator or Instagram without needing to first unlock and go into the phone.

For the on-the-go digital nomad: Chuwi Surbook Mini

Chuwi

The Chuwi Surbook Mini.

In September I tested a budget 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrid from Shenzhen’s Chuwi for about two weeks and found it a suitable work machine for someone like me — a freelance writer who isn’t tied to an office setting.

Chuwi has a smaller, leaner and — perhaps more important to readers — cheaper update, the SurBook Mini. It’s mostly the same machine as the original Surbook, except the display and weight has shrunk from 12.3-inch/2 pounds to 10.8-inches/1.5 pounds respectively. It’s not a huge dropoff, but just enough that it makes the machine more portable and suitable for one hand carrying for extended periods.

RAM, battery size, and screen resolution also&nbsp;got bumped down for this new device, however, as the Mini now comes with 4GB of RAM, 8,000 mAh battery and a display resolution of&nbsp;1920 x 1280. The downgrade in RAM is noticeable in moderate heavy use — such as when I’m streaming Spotify with dozens of Chrome tabs up — but the smaller cell and less pixels didn’t really affect performance otherwise.&nbsp;

I do prefer the larger display of the original when it comes to laptop style usage, but the smaller display is suitable for tablet use.&nbsp;While the original SurBook sells for around $400, its smaller brother can be had for $270.

&nbsp;

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Funxim

The Funxim wireless charger for the iPhone 8/X and Apple Watch.

Have you finished all your holiday shopping? If you’re like me — you haven’t even started.

Don’t worry though, we are living in an age that’s more convenient than ever. Not only can we do all our shopping with just a few swipes and taps on the phone, the product can usually be shipped to your door in just a few days (or if you live in Hong Kong like me, in a few hours, because almost everything is made an hour across the border in Shenzhen these days).

And since consumer electronics is that unique industry in which products are getting cheaper and better at the same time, gadgets are increasingly becoming the gift of choice. So here’s a short gift guide for those in need of ideas. I have personally tested every one of these gadgets in the last few weeks.

For those who want to listen music with no strings attached: Zolo Liberty  truly wireless earbuds

Ben Sin

The Zolo Liberty

Don’t think Zolo is another small obscure OEM from Shenzhen just because you haven’t heard of them. Zolo is actually a sub-brand of Anker, the highly popular and trusted smartphone accessory maker. I wrote about the company’s goals to launch a new line of gadgets and smart home product a few months ago, and the Zolo Liberty is its true wireless earbuds. I tested a demo version back in July and reported that the earphones have superb connectivity, and I’m happy to report that’s still true for the final retail version. I own a pair myself and have used them around Hong Kong, and the connectivity of the Liberty are noticeably more stable than the Bragi Dash or Crazybaby. I experience virtually zero dropouts indoors, and even when walking around Hong Kong streets the connection rate is still higher than anything I’ve tried other than the Apple AirPods (and of course, Apple’s buds have superior connectivity because they have those weird elongated legs).

Zolo

A product shot of the Liberty.

There are two versions of the Liberty, with the standard selling for $80 and the Plus version to be sold at $150.  The more expensive version has double the battery life (from 24 to 48 hours, but that’s only in the charging case, not the actual earphones, which last about three hours in both versions) and the newer Bluetooth 5.0 for even better connection, as well as sound isolation (aka noise-cancelling). I’ve tested both, and to be honest I think the standard version is a better deal — unless you really need noise-cancelling. Even with the “inferior” Bluetooth 4.2, the connection on my standard Liberty is still really good.

For those with Apple’s new iPhones: Funxim Wireless Charging Dock For The iPhone and Apple Watch

Ben Sin

The Funxim charging an iPhone X and Apple Watch at once.

When Apple announced the iPhone X earlier this year, it also announced its own charging dock named the AirPower. But for some odd reason the Cupertino tech giant kept information vague — we saw a glimpse of the charging station and how it’d work, but no release date or pricing.

Now wireless charging pads are nothing new — some Samsung phone owners have been using them for at least two years — but the AirPower is different in that it can charge not just the iPhone but Apple Watch and AirPods too.

Knowing Apple, the AirPower will be comically overpriced, but that isn’t stopping Apple loyalists from waiting … and waiting.

If you don’t want to wait, Shenzhen-based Funxim has an alternative that looks uncannily like the AirPower and while it won’t charge the AirPods, it will charge the iPhone 8/X and Apple Watch at the same time. I checked out the product a couple of weeks ago during one of my visits to Shenzhen and the charging pad worked as advertise.

Of course, the Funxim has a bit of limitations compared to Apple’s AirPower. The latter lets you place your Apple Watch anywhere and still get a charge; but on the Funxim, you must place it on top of a specific area. But considering that Funxim can be had right now for as low as $29 right now compared to the rumored $200 that Apple is going to charge, I think most would be okay with the minor restriction.

For those who want cutting-edge looking smartphones without the high price tag: Blackview S8 and Vernee Mix 2

Ben Sin

The Vernee Mix 2.

Ben Sin

Blackview S8

The smartphone trend for 2018 is edge-to-edge screens with slim bezels. But you don’t have to shell out $800 or more to get one from Samsung or Huawei. If you are just a casual user who don’t need the best cameras or processing power, you can settle for a cheap device from small Shenzhen OEMs at literally a fraction of the price.

The two devices highlighted here each offer a different take on the 18:9 style of phones. Or a more accurate way to put it — each is a ripoff of an existing take. The Blackview S8 is, as the name implies, “inspired” by the Samsung Galaxy S8’s long, curvy build with slim forehead and chin bezels. The Vernee Mix 2, meanwhile, is a copy of the Xiaomi Mi Mix type of “bezel-less” phone with nothing above the display.

Both phones, despite its sub-$200 price tag ($160 for Blackview S8 and $200 for Vernee Mix 2), look and feel very nice in the hand. Seriously, smartphone manufacturing has gotten so good in recent years that even the smallest companies can pump out something that feels study and solid.

Ben Sin

The back of the Blackview S8 looks very similar to how the Samsung Galaxy S9 is going to look.

Vernee’s device, in particular, has a very eye-catching shiny blue metal finish that I could use the word “premium.” It’s got a 6-inch 1080p panel running on a MediaTek’s Helio P25 chipset, which is actually one of the more powerful mid-tier processors around. It’s not going to compete with Huawei’s Kirin 970 or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, but it’s more than enough for going on Instagram or watching NetFlix.

Ben Sin

The Mix 2 has an attractive back design.

The S8 comes from the same company that built that ultra-tough phone that took more than a dozen drops onto concrete being breaking. And the build quality here is again sturdy, though by no means is this phone meant to take a pounding.

Blackview

The Blackview S8 comes in three colors.

The Blackview S8 runs on a MediaTek MT650T processor with 4GB of RAM, which is the standard set-up for budget devices in the $150 price range. The 5.7-inch display is 1440 X 720 resolution, but is surprisingly usable even under bright sunlight.

What I liked most about the S8 is its clean Android software and lots of gesture shortcuts. You can draw an alphabet here to launch an app from a sleeping state like on the OnePlus phones. It’s noticeably slower here on Blackview’s phone, but still nonetheless useful to be able to jump straight into, say, calculator or Instagram without needing to first unlock and go into the phone.

For the on-the-go digital nomad: Chuwi Surbook Mini

Chuwi

The Chuwi Surbook Mini.

In September I tested a budget 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrid from Shenzhen’s Chuwi for about two weeks and found it a suitable work machine for someone like me — a freelance writer who isn’t tied to an office setting.

Chuwi has a smaller, leaner and — perhaps more important to readers — cheaper update, the SurBook Mini. It’s mostly the same machine as the original Surbook, except the display and weight has shrunk from 12.3-inch/2 pounds to 10.8-inches/1.5 pounds respectively. It’s not a huge dropoff, but just enough that it makes the machine more portable and suitable for one hand carrying for extended periods.

RAM, battery size, and screen resolution also got bumped down for this new device, however, as the Mini now comes with 4GB of RAM, 8,000 mAh battery and a display resolution of 1920 x 1280. The downgrade in RAM is noticeable in moderate heavy use — such as when I’m streaming Spotify with dozens of Chrome tabs up — but the smaller cell and less pixels didn’t really affect performance otherwise. 

I do prefer the larger display of the original when it comes to laptop style usage, but the smaller display is suitable for tablet use. While the original SurBook sells for around $400, its smaller brother can be had for $270.

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