We round up the best LEGO, VR devices, monitors and more worth spending your 2022 tax return on that’d even make your accountant jealous.
Expecting a killer tax return but don’t know what to treat yourself to after another hard year? We may have a few suggestions…
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Gaming Headset
We’ve been through our fair share of gaming headsets but the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is without question the most luxurious offering our heads have been able to enjoy. From the metal head band to the incredibly soft ear cups, there’s a lot to talk about and enjoy.
Steel Series has strived for a premium look with the device and it has paid off in spades, meaning if you want to take them with you on the go their simple aesthetic competes well with the likes of Bose and Sony. That’s not to mention the wonderful sound you can enjoy via the DAC – an include base station that (depending on the version you pick up) can connect to your PC, PS5 and Xbox. The power of the DAC also lets you effortless manage EQ settings and chat/game mix and we can attest that every game we trialled was rich across the entire sound profile.
We also were big fans of the added noise cancellation, the ability to hot-swap between game audio and Bluetooth audio for phone calls and an additional removable battery that can easily slot into the Nova Pro without ever compromising your gaming session – a feature so good we wouldn’t be surprised for more companies to adopt in the future.
The biggest sticking point here will be the price. At $649 it’s almost as much as a PS5, but if your 2022 tax return has served you well it’s an investment that you won’t even think about changing for years to come.
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LEGO ART World Map
For all the times you’re told LEGO is a children’s plaything, get ready to prove them wrong with this absolute beaut. Part of the LEGO Art line-up, this incredibly unique build is unlike anything you’ll have likely put together before. With a whopping 11,695 pieces it’s LEGOs biggest set ever, but was surprisingly therapeutic to put together. The traditional bricks have been replaced with a bright and colourful selection of dots, but help breathe life into the map and remind us of all the places we want to travel to after the last couple of years.
We really appreciated the ability to tweak the design to set Australia in the centre of the design (there are three different layouts to choose from) as well as the flexibility and encouragement to put our own creative twist on the process by providing an abudnace of extra dots. What we loved most of all, however, was LEGO’s foresight to include the bricks to create a tasteful frame around the artwork and a include a hook for hanging.
Your walls will never shine brighter.
Meta Quest 2
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? The Quest 2 is an incredibly wonderful device that presents the joy of virtual reality with almost none of the hassle. It mainly achieves this feat by ditching one of VR’s biggest impediments – cords. Throwing on the headset is an absolute breeze and reinvigorated our love of VR. We went hands-on with Beat Saber and Resident Evil 4 VR and both were exceptional experiences that made use of the tech and were easy to get going even in a relatively small living space. Using the device is so simple it even managed to lure in the non-gamers in our life. Our advice – just have a cleaning cloth handy for when you inevitably fog up a few times – a minor inconvenience
The other beautiful thing about the Quest 2 is the price. Starting at $479, it’s a surprisingly affordable unit – especially compared to incredibly more expensive competitors like the Valve Index. Not even the tax man can argue with that value.
Gigabyte M32U gaming monitor
If you’re looking to boost your PC gaming setup you’re going to need a decent monitor and the Gigabyte M32U is an absolute beast of a machine. Measuring in at 31.5″ this gaming monitor is certainly large, but its smartly-implemented thin bezels and clean design should blend into most office/gaming hybrid setups and thanks to two HDMI 2.0 ports you can easily hook up your PS5 or Xbox Series X if you want to keep all your gaming in the one space.
We doubt you’d want to considering the M32U’s 144Hz refresh rate low input lag and boatload more gaming-focused features. It’s a small thing, but we even appreciate the ergonomic/convenience side of the device with horizontal swivel, vertical tilt and height adjustment options, all to help give you the perfect view of the action. If you haven’t invested in a quality OLED television setup, this is a wonderful alternative you might even be able to claim on next year’s tax return! We call that a win-win.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50XBT2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
There’s a reason why so many industry professionals use Audio-Tehcnica products and that’s because the sound you get from the company’s line-up of headphones is truly exceptional. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 is no different, and takes the unit many audiophiles have come to know and love, then further iterates on it with the inclusion of Bluetooth functionality. Thankfully then, pairing was a cinch and it was wonderful to break free from the humble cord, however there is one included in the box should you wish to be hardwired in. It doesn’t impact the sound, either, with all aspects from mid-range to bass being well accounted for and delivered with great fidelity.
We’re quite impressed with the sleek look of the M50xBT2 as well, in particular the incredibly funky looking Lantern Glow (read: orange) version that is available with some retailers. The design is simple, clean and most importantly is pretty comfy on the noggin. When you’re done, you can easily fold the headphones up and pop them into a neat little carry case so they’re protected whenever you throw them into a backpack or luggage. Money well spent, if you ask us.
xScreen for the Xbox Series S
If there’s one thing we love about the Xbox Series S, it’s how damn compact the console is – able to be thrown into a bag for a quick gaming getaway with a moment’s notice. The xScreen takes that idea and builds upon it, giving Xbox gamers all the beauty of a screen with none of the typical bulk.
That’s because this ingenious device features an 11.6″ IPS screen with 1080p 60hz resolution – a perfectly suitable display for the less power-hungry system. We weren’t just impressed with the quality of the display, but how seamlessly the overall unit works, easily slotting into the rear of the console with some latches to keep everything in place. When you’re not using it, the xScreen folds down neatly and retains a super slim profile.
The only real problem with the xScreen is actually getting one. Stock is currently limited due to production/transport delays, but the team is working hard to keep new units pumping out. Best keep a little cash aside for this one.
SteelSeries Aerox 5 Wireless Gaming Mouse
There’s a few factors we look for in a quality gaming mouse: a reasonable amount of buttons for quick actions in games, a modern aesthetic and something that’s comfy enough to use during the work day well should you so desire. Steel Series’ Aerox 5 nails that brief and then some.
The first thing you’ll notice is the unique honeycomb aesthetic of the Aerox 5, which not only does well to keep your hand from getting overly hot and sweaty, but also shows off some of pretty neat RGB lighting. The flash of colour gives the mouse some real personality, even though it’s a shame that you cover a lot of it during actual use. And use the Aerox 5 plenty you will, because this nifty unit effortlessly fits the hand and was a dream to use during our testing. Our regular-sized hands never had any issue hitting any of the 9 programmable buttons and can’t complain with the response time either, each button delivering a reactively quiet click in the process.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re serious about your MMO, SteelSeries have also released the Aerox 9 wireless which includes an incredible 12-button side panel specifically designed for quick and easy access.
TCL S600 True Wireless Headphones
For those who prefer a more compact audio option on the go, why not take a gander at the new TCL S600 True Wireless Headphones. Perhaps easy to dismiss at yet another Airpod competitor these white wonders manage to squeeze in a number of impressive features for a more budget-friendly price. At $199, the S600s are nothing to sneeze at, coming in at half the price of Apple’s Pro model. We didn’t have any issues with pairing across Android or iOS during our testing and were more than happy with the audio output and noise cancellation capabilities. We were also impressed with the sheer amount of tip sizes included in the box – one of the widest ranges we’ve seen this far helping to nail the perfect fit that keeps the bud in the ears without creating an uncomofortable amount of suction.
All in all, not a bad way to spend part of your tax return.
Samsung Galaxy A53
Contrary to popular belief, phones don’t always have to absolutely break the bank, and Samsung’s new Galaxy A53 is here to show you exactly that.
With a retail price of $699 (but with a bit of looking around you can knock at least $100 off that) you can easily put your tax return gains towards upgrading one of the most used devices in your life. But just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean Samsung has skimped on features. We were particularly impressed with how the A53’s screen and camera held up during our tests. Colours popped on the 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display and by jamming in 120Hz capability as well navigating the software was sufficiently snappy. Likewise, the quad camera setup with 64MP optical image stabilization camera support helped take some pretty darn nice pictures considering the price point.
If we had one gripe it’s that the battery life could have used a bit more love, but all in all the Galaxy A53 delivers some decent bang for your buck that’s bound to nail your regular run-of-the-mill needs.
Looking to invest all that tax money into a future of Twitch streaming or podcasting? Well to do either of those things you’re going to need a quality microphone and Elgato makes one of the best with the Wave 3.
The best thing about this microphone is that it’s totally hassle-free, offering an easy plug-and-play design that’ll see you up and running in no time at all. And once you are you’ll be impressed at the quality output the Wave 3 produces. We’ve only had a short time so far, but have been chuffed with the rich audio the microphone is able to produce.
We’re also a big fan of the touch-sensitive sensor at the top of the unit for easy muting, which is perfect if you plan to use it in work meetings as well. Highly recommended.
Magic The Gathering Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate
For those who are looking for a more cost-effective splurge, may we direct to your attention to Magic the Gathering? This latest set not only focuses on the fan-favourite location, but according to the card masters, the Commander format is a great way to introduce newbies into the game as you learn basics like strategy and basic mechanics. Thanks to the multiplayer nature of the game, we can attest that it was handy to have a few friends in amongst the action, but if you’re more in it for the collection rest assured the series’ quality artwork remains impressive across the board once again.
The best thing about Magic is that you can start small and gradually work your way up. The Battle for Baldur’s Gate bundle, for example is around $80, while you can pick up Single Set Boosters for around $9 a pop.
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