The pandemic has been with us for more than a year and we are still fighting an uphill battle against the virus. Even though there is a glimpse of hope with the latest development on the vaccine, it is still not a sure thing. There are still chances the vaccination will not achieve the desired result due to mutation on the virus, the effectiveness of the vaccine itself, or simply due to low acceptance because of doubt or fear among the general public. Therefore, it is better to accept that New Normal will continue to be part of our life for some foreseeable future. The good news is I have compiled a list of gadgets that will certainly help you adapt to New Normal easier and hopefully make it more enjoyable for everyone.
1. Facebook Portal TV
Due to school closure and work from home order, video conferencing apps like Zoom and Google Meet became indispensable. While many users rely on their smartphones, the experience can improve drastically if it is done on a bigger screen. Facebook Portal TV (Lazada, Shopee) allows you to do just that. Simply attach it to your existing TV and your virtual meeting/classroom will never be the same. It works independently from your phone, freeing your phone for other more important stuff. With a bigger screen, not only you can see more participants on the same screen, you will be sitting further from the device itself thus, participants can view more of you with the whole meeting room or if you are a teacher, the whole whiteboard. It also has some cool features like the camera can keep you in the frame even when you are moving around the room, enhances your voice while minimizing unwanted background noise, built-in Alexa, and comes with entertainment apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, and Pandora. It also has some cool AR effects to help you entertain your children even when you are far apart.
While Facebook Portal TV sounds like the best option for virtual meeting/classroom, but it is designed to be used in a fixed location such as in the living room or a meeting room (for a company). If you prefer something more portable and yet bigger screen than your phone's screen, tablets like the inexpensive Amazon Fire HD 8 tablets (Lazada, Shopee) may be more suitable for you. Other than using it for virtual meeting/classroom, it is perfect as a media consumption device. You can use it to watch your favorite movies or TV shows via apps such as Netflix and Youtube, play tons of free games, listen to music, or even browse the Internet. If you worry the kids spend too much time on the tablet, you can make use of the parental control feature.
3. Noise Cancelling Headphones
To be honest, not every home is ideal for the work-from-home concept especially when you have younger children. All the noises from children playing, TV and kitchen can be distracting. That's why noise-canceling headphones can help you to concentrate better and be more productive at work. Headphones like Wyze Headphones (Lazada, Shopee) and VANKYO C751 Headphones (Lazada, Shopee) are comfortable to wear for long hours thanks to the soft memory foam, lightweight design, wireless connection, and long battery hour. Wyze Headphones even allows you to play songs using Alexa without the need to use your phone and you can engage in a conversation or listening to the outside world conveniently by covering the right earcup with your palm without taking off the headphones.
4. Multimedia Projector
There is nothing more blissful than watching your favorite blockbuster in a cinema after a hard day at work. Unfortunately going to the cinema is no longer an option during the pandemic because it is categorized as one of the high-risk places to contract the COVID-19 virus. The good news is the prices of Full HD multimedia projectors have dropped significantly over the years. So instead of putting yourself and your family members at risk by going to the cinema, you can simply bring the cinema home! A projector like ARMax M19 (Lazada, Shopee) can ideally project up to a 120" screen and only cost a tiny fraction of a TV with comparable size. The picture quality, color reproduction, brightness, and contrast ratio are so good, making it watching movies on this projector extremely satisfying. If you get the Android version, you can simply enjoy it right away without the need for an external source. It also has a built-in speaker that is loud enough for general usage.
Another projector you can consider especially if you are on a tight budget is Cheerlux C9 projector. In my opinion, Cheerlux C9 is the best budget HD projector. At around half the price of ARMax M19, you will get almost everything the same as M19 with only a little bit of sacrifice on the native resolution and picture quality.
5. Streaming Media Player
The built-in Android OS in the ARMax M-19 projector is sufficient for most people. However, if the projector is not the smart version or if you want to use a specific ecosystem like Amazon or Roku, you can plug in the desired media player into the available HDMI port. These players are meant to stream contents from the Internet to your home so that you don't have to go out and purchase a physical disk like DVD or Blu-Ray and expose yourself to COVID-19 infection. Even if you don't have a fast Internet connection, you still can use it to play games or media locally.
If you are an Alexa or Amazon user, you can consider the popular Fire TV media players like the inexpensive Fire TV Stick (Lazada, Shopee) or Fire TV Stick Lite (Lazada, Shopee) or the more capable Fire TV Stick 4K (Lazada, Shopee) or Fire TV Cube (Lazada, Shopee). Fire TV devices are based on Android. That means if the apps that you want is not listed in the Amazon App Store, you still can sideload the app using the app's APK file. It works most of the time. If it doesn't work, that's mean the app is incompatible with the device.
Another popular choice is Roku and it comes in a few flavors namely; Roku Express HD (Lazada, Shopee), Roku Premiere (Lazada, Shopee), Roku Streaming Stick+ (Lazada, Shopee), and Roku Ultra (Lazada, Shopee). You can choose any of these players depending on your needs and budget. Please refer to the comparison chart between all the Roku players. No matter what flavor you choose, you will surely enjoy the simple and straight forward interface.
If you are looking for the ultimate streaming media player, look no further than NVIDIA Shield Android TV Pro (Lazada, Shopee). Powered by the new NVIDIA Tegra X1+ chip and 3GB RAM, it delivers outstanding picture quality at 4K resolution, immersive Dolby Atmos audio, and play the most demanding games without breaking a sweat. There are many cool features packed into this player like Plex server, Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band AC Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, a really cool remote control with backlit button, voice control, Bluetooth, and lost remote locator, built-in Google Assistant, and Chromecast 4K. If you think this is overkill and you don't really need so much storage or RAM and you don't need any USB ports and Plex server, you can just get the cheaper the non-pro NVIDIA Shield Android TV (Lazada, Shopee) streaming media player.
6. Reusable Face Mask
You cannot just stay at home all the time. You still need to leave the safety of your home to buy food, groceries, and to get some fresh air to keep your mind and body healthy. For times like this, you need to practice proper safety measures like wearing a mask. However, the major problem with the disposable mask is that it creates waste and it's becoming a serious problem to the environment. That's why reusable masks like Xiaomi Smartmi Face Mask (Lazada, Shopee) and Xiaomi Purely Electric Mask (Lazada, Shopee) are recommended.
For Xiaomi Smartmi Face Mask, you can wear it for a few weeks and wash it in between before you change to a new one. It comes in 3 sizes with size S for kids, size M for women, and size L for men. The more advanced Xiaomi Purely Electric Mask comes with a battery-powered fan with 3 speeds. The battery is rechargeable and once it's fully charged, it can be used for 4 to 8 hours. The fan unit can be removed so that you can wash the outer fabric and to replace the Xiaomi Purely Mask Filters (Lazada, Shopee).
7. Hair Clipper
Other than cinema, hair salon or barbershop is another industry badly affected by the pandemic. Due to close proximity between the barber and the customer, the barbershop is also classified as one of the high-risk places for COVID-19 infection. Therefore, all barbershops are not allowed to operate during the MCO. Therefore the only way to cut your hair is to cut it yourself at home. Thankfully, cutting your own hair at home is quite simple with the help of hair clippers like Xiaomi Enchen Boost (Lazada, Shopee), Enchen Hummingbird (Lazada, Shopee), or Enchen Sharp3S (Lazada, Shopee). Here are a comparison table and review video to help you decide on which model is best suited for you.
You may refer to tutorials on Youtube on how to cut your own hair with these hair clippers or you can simply go bald. Remember, the goal here is to stay safe while remain comfortable at home. Since you will be stuck at home most of the time, nobody will know even if you mess up your haircut. Even if you did messed up your hair, don't be sad because hair can grow back.
There you have it, 7 essential gadgets to help you get through New Normal. I hope you will find my recommendations useful and ease your struggle during these trying times. Until we beat the pandemic, I wish everyone stay safe and healthy. Together, we can beat it!