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MonsterVine’s Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Looking for some gift ideas for that special someone in your life? The MonsterVine team has some ideas to help you out with your last minute shopping.

Love Your Pets (or child) from Afar 

Nooie 360 Camera $50(bogo with code LoveX20 at Nooie) [Austin]
If your partner isn’t lucky enough to work from home, or if you have a child or pet that is often in a different room this is a perfect gift. The Nooie 360 camera lets you easily monitor or check in on your pets, plants or child and even as a two-way audio system for easy communication. After spending a few weeks with one of these I can not only satisfy my curiosity to how my one of boots kept ending up on the couch, but I could also just check in on my sleepy fur babies while away from the house, especially when one of them wasn’t feeling well. 

 

Blast from the Past

Dragon’s Lair X Replicade – $120 at New Wave Toys [Spencer]

The Dragon’s Lair Replicade mini arcade cabinet is the perfect gift for any retro gaming enthusiasts in your life. It’s not only a good size and made of sturdy stuff, but Dragon’s Lair itself looks fantastic on the screen. It’s a classically hard game, but the Replicade machine lets you try as much as you like with absolute comfort. The buttons and control stick are impressively responsive for their small size, and the amount of neat details, like glowing coin slots and a glowing marquee, make it easier than ever to create your own miniature arcade in perfect detail. There’s even a mini Laserdisc player to complete your arcade setting, alongside a replica disc. The cabinet even has an HDMI slot for if you prefer a bigger screen, and a USB controller port for a variety of controllers. No matter how you want to experience the original Dragon’s Lair, the Replicade cabinet is far and away the best option for you or any of your arcade-loving friends.

Couples Therapy

 

Audeze Mobius Headset – $400 ($300 for Black Friday) at Audeze [Austin]

There are plenty of headsets to choose from, but if you are looking for the one with the most technology you should consider the Audeze Mobius. This has to be the most advanced headset I have ever used. It features the typical 7.1/5.1 surround options, and then takes them a step further 3D audio with room emulation via head tracking. This means as you move your head sensors in the headset detect the movement, and audio changes in a way that feels like you are in the room with the sound all around you. It’s a surreal experience that you have to try to fully understand. The Mobius is compatible with an array of devices via Bluetooth (AAC and LDAC support) and wired connections for listening, as well as a detachable boom mic. If you are looking for the most technologically advanced headphones to get as a gift for that special someone that listens to things too loudly on the speakers, or to treat yourself, you must try the Audeze Mobius.

8bitdo Arcade Stick – $90 at Amazon [Diego]

8bitdo are back with another arcade stick, but unlike their previously released N30 stick this latest model features a few extra bells and whistles. Anyone who plays fighting games enough has come across that thought of “should I invest in a fight stick and become that fighting game player”, to which the answer is always “yes of course, but sticks are too expensive”. With decent sticks usually sitting around $150, 8bitdo dropped their latest iteration for a more palatable $90 and a very clean NES inspired design. The stick itself feels pretty decent for the price. I booted up a variety of fighting games, along with brawlers like Streets of Rage 4 and it worked great for them all. The stick is noisier than I’d like, and the buttons have a bit of a mushy feel (and slight whistle noise when pressed) but these can all be fixed (more on that later though). Made specifically for use with PC and Switch, I really would have preferred the inclusion of PS4 support as well but it is what it is. The stick has wired and Bluetooth connectivity options, along with fight stick standards like a turbo button, dedicated macro buttons, custom software to change button mapping, Now the biggest sell of the stick is its “ultra-moddable” nature, with their own site encouraging you to swap the base parts with Sanwa branded ones. The stick is definitely moddable, but it’s perhaps playing it a bit loose with the “ultra” thrown in there. For starters, the stick itself requires a Torx T-10 screwdriver instead of the traditional kind, and not only that but needs an *incredibly* thin one (I recommend this one). I personally had a few screwdrivers of this type, but all were too thick to fit; finding out you have to buy a new tool for the new thing you just bought isn’t the best feeling in the world and why they didn’t use a standard Philip’s screwdriver is beyond me. On top of this, the joystick’s microswitches have their wires soldered onto them, which is no big deal for anyone who knows how to solder (I don’t) and is an intimidating topic to realize you have to research if you bought the fight stick thinking it’d be user-friendly. Thankfully the rest of the stick is easy to customize, with the buttons featuring quick disconnects (that are a bit too hard to remove) but anyone who prefers using screw-in buttons will be disappointed as the casing only supports snap-in ones. The gate comes in and out easily (as it should) and you can also replace the ball which is par for the course. For the price and features, the 8bitdo Arcade Stick is definitely worth checking out for anyone interested in getting a bit more serious with their fighting game playing, with an affordable price and welcomed features, but the lack of true “ultra-moddability” is a major disappointment.

 

Surprise Your Loved Ones

Loot Crate Gaming – $30 USD per month at Lootcrate [Spencer]

Loot Crate Gaming is a unique service that gives you all sorts of video game-based goods for a crisp $30 a month. Each month has its own theme, so you could get some sweet Fallout merch one month and some slick Doom stuff the next. There’s plenty of different themes and different types of merch you can get from the crate, from small figures to shirts and other apparel. If you’re shopping for someone who’s into gaming as a whole and interested in getting a little bit of everything, Loot Crate Gaming is a strong choice for a gift.

 

AWESOME ACCESSORIES


Lexip Pro Pu94 Mouse – $40 [Diego]
All in all, the Lexip Pu94 is still my go-to daily mouse despite the bugs. Is it annoying when I have to disconnect my mouse and reconnect it because I suddenly lost access to the mouse click? Totally. But it’s a two second fix that’s worth the occasional annoyance because that joystick is just so damn useful for various programs. It released for $150 last year, and I likely wouldn’t recommend it if it was still at that price point. The price has since dropped significantly to $40, a very recommendable price point if you’re looking for a mouse that could help introduce some quality of life changes for productivity work. Read the full review here


BenQ EX2780Q – $450 [Austin]

After a year of using the EX2780Q I am still impressed by the display. And now with the new consoles coming out, it seems even more attractive for a compact desk setup. Especially if you are picking up the Xbox Series S, targeting a lower resolution and still taking advantage of higher frame rates and HDR settings. The slew of advanced, cutting edge features might seem overwhelming at first, but the proof is in the picture. Superb image quality right out of the box with plenty of deep customization settings to tweak things just right for each game. The ability to play without headphones and still have a quality audio experience makes coming home from work to play a game, that much more relaxing. 

For Good Listeners


1More Triple Driver + BT Adapter $80 (Valentines Day Sale for 1More Products)[Austin]

Wired earbuds with a wired touch with great sound quality at a reasonable price. These triple driver buds are the first to be THX (yes, that movie theater sound) certified meaning they deliver quality across frequencies and are balanced between channels. I enjoy the versatility of being able to jack into a traditional analog connection, while still being able to enjoy the simplicity of a 1-button bluetooth adapter, and still get the same quality listening experience. The buds fit snugly in my ears across a long work day of moving around, and the only issue I ran into was forgetting they were there.

Astro A40 TR – $150 [$200 w/Astro.ID] [Diego]
Now would I recommend them over something like an Audio Technica when these are $150? Hell no. But if you’re in the market for a gaming specific headset (and want to pay the premium to customize a headset), the Astro A40 TR is a great pick. Read the full review here

 

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