GadgetGuy 2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Writers

The perfect keypress

Ok, so that title is a bit of a false truth, because there’s no such thing as “the perfect keypress”, and the reality is everyone will have a different keyboard preference, but this selection may be just the improvement your laptop or desktop

Apple Magic Keyboard

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Price: $165

Made just for the Apple owners out there, this one offers much of the same keyboard experience you’ve had in your devices for yonks, but brings in a rechargeable battery and easy pairing via a Lightning port, which is also the same one you’ll be charging the keyboard from.

Oh, and if you have an iPhone or iPad, you gain another Lightning cable to charge your device from.

Overall, it’s not a bad experience at all, and is pretty much just a more modern take on the same Apple number-pad-less keyboard we’ve been using for ages.

Read more about this…

Logitech Wireless Illuminated Keyboard K800

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Price: $170

The keyboards that many of us have at home are probably the sort that if you compared them to what came with a new laptop would probably shock you.

In fact, that basic keyboard is kind of a thing of the past, especially now that you can get backlit keyboards home that are light enough to let you work in the dark.

Auto-adjustable backlighting is also the next step in backlit keyboards, allowing the keyboard to match your settings to provide the optimum lighting arrangement. This technology even works with your hand placement, because when you’re taking the time to drink that cup of coffee or stretch your hands, the backlight will turn on and off based on how close your digits are to the keys.

Razer Black Widow

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Price: $240

Gamers need a different type of keyboard, but this could be handy for those of you that not only like to game, but also write, because this is a very different type experience.

While most keyboards have moved away from the heavier and louder mechanical switches, Razer’s Black Widow brings them right back for a typing experience pretty much spot on with what life was like for a gamer back in the 80s to early 90s. That means its loud, accurate, and very well built, so don’t expect to need to replace this for a while, unless you truly throttle your keys.

It also lights up in the dark, so if you’re doing some night-time writing, well, you’ll have your keystrokes up in neon colours, which could be handy too.

Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard

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Price: $130

Microsoft’s fabric based keyboards used in its Surface and Surface Pro devices can be a little hit and miss, with a feeling that makes them one of those things you just have to try, much like the MacBook keyboard.

But there’s one catch: to try one, you need to actually have a Surface.

That’s a rather expensive caveat, so Microsoft has come up with an alternative that will let anyone with a mobile phone or tablet take a stab at the fabric design.

It comes in the form of a specialised fold-up keyboard named pretty much what it is — “Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard” — and basically this takes much of the same layout and keyboard design Microsoft uses in its Surface keyboards, but throws it into a fold-up square that recharges with microUSB and connects to either Mac, iOS, Android, or good ol’ fashioned Windows.

Its size is pretty much the main reason for checking this thing out, because at not much bigger than a compact disc case (you remember what they are, right?), you can keep it with you and write to a phone or tablet whenever you want. Awesome.

Software as a solution

We’ll come out an say that software is rarely going to be that perfect present, unless it’s a game or something.

Seriously, who wants to open a present and say “oh my, a copy of Office! Yay!” We’re probably sure there’s someone out there like this, but they’re rare.

That said, if the person you’re buying for is a writer and they already have a great keyboard or a great computer, software might just give them the kick in the pants they need to get something done.

Essentially, it’s a thoughtful present, even if it’s not terribly sexy one.

Evernote (Android, iOS, Mac, Windows)

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Price: Free, or around $70 per year for the premium version

Made for people who take just notes or possibly so much writing that it cease to become “just notes”, Evernote is basically a written storage system.

You create “notebooks” and store everything in these categories of notebooks, and because there’s an Evernote app on pretty much every platform, you can literally take notes anywhere.

On your phone, on your tablet, on a computer, on a watch; if there’s an Evernote app, it’ll connect to your account.

Technically, Evernote is free, making it a pretty cheap present in the grand scheme of things, but there is a premium account and it delivers more storage for the account, the ability to scan business cards, and an offline access mode for mobile phones, which is super handy if you plan on writing when data is at a premium, like overseas when you don’t have your data plan working.

Scrivener (Mac, Windows)

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Price: $50

Used by this writer for pretty much all of his books, Scrivener is an app that won’t attract an awful price tag and yet gets so much done.

Specifically made for writers, this will let someone accumulate all the notes and research needed for a book, a script, or something else, and then organise their chapters into various folders as they work, with Scrivener offering up a virtual cork board if you’re having layout problems, or just move things around using folder reorganisation.

You can write in the main window or go to a distraction-free mode where the desktop will fade away to nothing, allowing you to concentrate on the words, because that’s important.

And when you’re done, there’s always a quick and easy export to PDF, printers, or that handy eBook of the future, ePub.

Office 365 Personal (Android, iOS, Mac, Windows)

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Price: $89 per year for one computer, or $119 per year for up to five computers

Office. Seriously. We don’t need to explain this one to you. This is the app that made productivity apps what they were today, though these days, the pricing structure is a little different from what it used to be.

Rather than buy a single product that they can keep forever, this time, you buy it as a subscription, so if you want to keep them happy, just keep that subscription going.

A caffeinated fix

As full-time writers, we can tell you that by the time the creativity starts getting unleashed, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to stay awake, and so… caffeine.

But if you need a gadget to keep that caffeinated fix a reality, well, here are three.

Aldi Expressi

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Price: $79 for the machine, $29 for the milk texturiser

At just a ten percent of the cost of one of the other gadgets we’re about to get to, Aldi’s Expressi is a re-engineered take on what a budget espresso machine should be like.

Here in Australia, we value our coffee, and so you generally won’t find a lot of the long black percolated drip stuff you find overseas. Aussies like cappuccinos and flat whites and macchiatos and other beverages with long c-sounds and foamy milk.

Aldi’s take on this category is meant to be simple and very inexpensive, and with a price of around $100 not including the pods, that’s about is inexpensive as it gets.

We can’t guarantee everyone will like the coffee varieties — we tried one and liked it, and another we, well, didn’t — but with 12 to choose from, you’ll find something that works, especially if caffeine as a must have in your written life.

Read more about this…

Breville Tea Maker

Breville's Tea Maker is for people who are interested in more than just basic water boiling, and want the tea to be steeped right.

Price: $299

When coffee won’t do, why not try tea.

Random fact: quite a lot of tea has the caffeine in it you think a coffee might, and there’s a good chance that it will be more balanced on your belly, too.

Breville’s Tea Maker isn’t just another kettle, though, because while you could take that route — and there’s nothing wrong with a kettle — the Tea Maker is about proper brewing of tea.

Specifically, it includes a tea infusion basket that will lower itself into the hot water at the right time to steep the leaves and make the tea right.

Nespresso by KitchenAid

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Price: $799

The most expensive beverage maker on this part of the list, you’ll probably think this is the best built gadget of the lot… and you’d be right.

Generally, anything that features the name “KitchenAid” implies it will be built like a tank, and that’s what we saw from this smooth and metal beast.

You’ll get your coffee, and your kitchen will even look stylish while delivering it.

Read our review…