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Whether you’re buying for a family member, a coworker, or your nerdy spouse, knowing which tech gizmos and gadgets are big-ticket items this holiday season ain’t easy.
Does anything evolve faster than technology? By the time you come up with an answer, there’s going to be a new wave of fitness trackers to drool over. The rapid-fire rate at which manufacturers iterate upon their tech products—whether they’re TVs, laptops, or new ways to ask Alexa to drop the bass—can make it tricky to shop for tech gifts.
To help you be a little more knowledgey about technology, we’ve put together a list of 20 awesome tech gifts for all the different people in your life. Whether you’ve got a buddy who spends more time counting steps than he does counting sheep, or a spouse whose perfect Sunday is GrubHub and binge-watching, we’ve got you covered. These are the best tech gifts of 2018, according to Reviewed:
1. For the binge-watching addict: The best streaming device
The 2018 Roku Ultra really is the perfect choice for that person in your life who has a few too many streaming subscriptions. Not only does this handy device give you access to thousands of Roku’s so-called “channels”—things like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Now, Pandora, Spotify, Sling TV, and so on—but it’s also Roku’s most powerful streaming box ever (and our favorite streaming device, period). Come for the snappy experience, intuitive menus, and voice remote—stay for the ability to stream 4K and HDR content when you finally upgrade your TV.
If the Ultra’s $100 price tag is too rich for your blood, there are other alternatives. The Roku Streaming Stick+ is a more affordable, hyper-portable option that still gives you a voice-enabled remote and the same oodles and oodles of content options.
2. For families that game together: The newest cool gaming device
The Nintendo Switch is the latest family-friendly video game console from Nintendo (you know, the company responsible for Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Kirby, and all the other games most people have actually heard of). The Switch combines the power of a full home gaming console with the ability to “undock” the smaller screen and take it on the go like a tablet, which kind of makes it like two gifts in one!
Most Switch games allow three or four players to game together at the same time, and as usual, Nintendo’s games are colorful, intuitive, and family-friendly, making the Switch the ideal choice for parents looking to never, ever watch “Baby Shark” again. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a great case for your new Nintendo Switch.
If you don’t wanna spend three-hundred smackers, though, I don’t blame you. You can get the Super NES Classic Edition—a miniature version of one of the best Nintendo consoles ever, loaded with all the best nostalgic games—for just $80.
3. For the daily commuter: Amazing wireless earbuds
If you or someone you know someone commutes every day, you probably also know that there are two essential ingredients to a stress-free commute: packing light, and mitigating the sounds of honking horns, squeaking breaks, and “Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.”
Apple’s Airpods perfectly complement both situations: They’re true wireless earbuds (meaning the two pods simply sit in your ear holes, literally no strings attached), and they sync so flawlessly with an iPhone you’d think the same company designed both—oh, right. Even one of our most discerning writers couldn’t deny his burgeoning, burning love for these earbuds—why should you?
4. For the serious gamer: HyperX Cloud II headset
If you’re looking for a great gift for the person who spends a fortnight playing Fortnite, the HyperX Cloud II gaming headset is a great choice. During our hands-on testing of the best gaming headphones, we found the original Cloud headset to be unsurpassably comfortable and easy to use—without all the garish design details that usually haunt gaming-focused headsets. Between plush velour ear pads and compatibility with PC, Xbox One, and PS4, there’s really no gamer that wouldn’t be on cloud nine when they unwrap these choice cans.
5. For the student: A great laptop for Netflix, I mean studying
I recently helped my girlfriend buy a new laptop for grad school, and two things immediately became clear: Generally, you don’t need a mega powerhouse, workhorse of a laptop for the years-old software required by most classes, and if you have to lug it around all day, you really want something lightweight and sturdy. Acer’s Chromebook 11 fits both those student-friendly niches quite perfectly, but it’s still [robust enough to tackle web browsing, email, and archaic statistics software. For around $270, it’s a super valuable gift for any student in your life.
6. For the health nut: The best fitness tracker yet
The newly released Fitbit Charge 3 is the latest and greatest version of Fitbit’s popular “Charge” series of fitness trackers—an improved version of the Charge 2, which was our previous favorite fitness tracker.
Much more than a simple walking/running tracker, the Charge 3 tracks your heart rate ’round the clock, allowing it to recognize and report patterns in exercise and calorie burn potential—as well as sending you reminders to get moving. It’s waterproof to 50 meters, boasts a seven day battery life, can report on your sleep habits, and even track menstrual cycle trends.
7. For the one who is always connected: An upgraded Alexa smart display
Whether your giftee is a well-versed Alexa aficionado or hasn’t quite hopped on the smart assistant train yet, the 2nd generation Echo Show is a top-notch entry point. From upgraded audio functionality (“Alexa, play Deck the Halls“) to the 10.1-inch HD display (“Alexa, play How The Grinch Stole Christmas“) to synchronizing your calendar and to-do lists, the Echo Show is an all-in-one audio-video personal assistant to make anyone’s day-to-day a little simpler and a little more luxurious.
8. For the music lover: Some high-quality smart speakers
The Sonos One—so-called, I think, because Sonos intends it to be the “one” speaker you need in your home—is the gift of choice this holiday season for music lovers, musicians, and audiophiles.
Fully compatible with Alexa, but packed with the speaker quality we’ve come to expect from Sonos (you know—you can actually hear bass frequencies, but they aren’t Beats-level hyped, the trebles don’t exhibit distortion, midtones get a fair shake, etc.) this is the music-lover’s smart speaker. It’ll also integrate seamlessly into whatever Sonos speaker situation your recipient might already have at home.
9. For the home entertainer: An impressive smart 4K TV
Let’s be honest: Once everyone opens up their gifts, eats a bunch of cookies, and tells their family how much they care, the next step in the holidays usually involves gathering around the TV for some quality movie time (or a parade!). This 55-inch TCL is the one you’ll want to watch: With built-in Roku functionality, awesome performance (that I meticulously measured myself), and a sleek, angular design, this is the TV to upgrade to (note: video game fans, this means you).
Oh, and did I mention 4K resolution, great HDR, huge color saturation—okay, just go read my TCL 6 Series review if you need more convincing.
10. For kids who love apps: A special tablet just for them
If you know a kid who’s too young—or too clumsy—for a full-on smartphone or tablet, a kid-friendly tablet like the Amazon Fire Kids Edition is the perfect substitute. Sure, you can set it up for all kid-friendly Netflix content, but that’s just the beginning. Amazon also offers a no-questions-asked replacement policy for if (when?) the tablet gets broken.
It also comes with robust parental controls and a year of “Amazon FreeTime Unlimited,” which gives you access to a wealth of content, apps, and games geared toward keeping your child entertained (and maybe educatin’ ’em a little, too). This one took our blue ribbon for best tablet for kids for a reason!
11. For new homeowners: The best smart security camera for peace of mind
This indoor/outdoor wired security camera has made waves for how easy it is to set up and use, even if you’re not in the habit of installing your own home security measures. When we tested all the best indoor security cameras, we were impressed with the Circle 2’s improved night vision, wire-free functionality, super intuitive app, and support for HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, and Logitech Pop.
12. For the stylish techie: A fun instant camera
A clever combination of real tech gadget and fun diversion, the Instax Mini hearkens back to those halcyon Polaroid days of yesteryear, but is a surprisingly tech-forward and robust little device. The Instax Mini 9 is our best value pick among the best instant cameras, owing to how easy it is to use, the wide range of fun colors it’s available in, and the unique, ingenuous “selfie mirror” it comes equipped with. This device probably won’t satisfy serious photographers, but it’s a great way for kids, teenagers, and entry-level instant photographers to dip a toe into instant photogratification.
13. For kids who love music: A perfect (and safe) set of headphones
What do you get for a kid who loves listening to music all day? You don’t want to risk letting your youngster damage their hearing, but at the same time, you don’t want to discourage a budding passion for the universal language, either. Simply put, you need the best headphones for kids. That’s where the Puro SoundLabs BT2200 over-ear headphones come in.
These cans elicit a hard focus on audio quality—meaning they won’t compromise on all those beautiful highs, lows, and midtones—while also imposing an 85 dB volume limit, keeping music volume well within safe ranges for a growing audiophile’s long-term listening. They’re also Bluetooth 4.0 compatible, and come in a wide range of fun colors. Rock on!
14. For the one who longs to fly: Our favorite affordable drone
We really couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t put a tech gift guide together without including at least one drone. While they were big ticket items a few years ago, these days, you can get a pretty solid little spy-copter for under $200.
The Potensic T25 is our top pick for the best drones under $200, and it’s a great gift for that potentially strange person in your life who wants nothing more than to map out which areas of the city are legal fly zones. Praised for its stability, accurate GPS, and 1080p on-board camera, the Potensic is a real drone—but doesn’t cost real drone money.
15. For the athlete: A GPS-tracking watch for runners
If you’re shopping around for a gift for a serious runner, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is, well, definitely for runners. With a 4-star rating on Amazon and over 1,500 reviews, it’s a go-to choice for invested runners of all stripes. The Forerunner is many enthusiasts’ favorite running watch due to how unbelievably lightweight it is—while still delivering features like a vibration motor, an accelerometer, and a GPS system. The FR235 is water-resistant, and like many of Garmin’s products, you can find a wide variety of watch faces and straps to customize yours.
16. For the bookworm: The newest Kindle e-reader
The 2018 Kindle Paperwhite is a lot like the 2017 Kindle Paperwhite—just new and improved, making it one of the best Kindles of 2018. It’s thinner, lighter, and water-resistant, but continues to succinctly do what Kindles do best: hold hundreds (if not thousands) of your favorite books, comics, and magazines so you can carry a virtual library in your handbag. And considering the standard (new) Paperwhite has twice as much base storage as the older model, you’ll be able to carry twice the books with you in an even more compact product.
17. For the budding photographer: Our favorite entry-level digital camera
While it’s getting a little longer in the tooth now, Panasonic’s LX100 is still an excellent entry-level camera if you’re looking to get more serious about photography than your smartphone camera will allow. Because it’s a few years old, it’s generally a few hundred dollars less than its asking price, but it’s still our top recommendation for burgeoning photographers.
In fact, you (or your shutter bug giftee) can get the whole LX100 starter kit, including this camera, a decently sized SD card, a case, battery, and more for under $600.
18. For the older tech lover: A digital picture frame for sweet memories
The Nixplay W10B Seed is a great gift for those who love framed photographs in a world that’s moved into virtual territory. This 10.1-inch widescreen photo frame comes with 8GB of internal memory (and 10GB of free cloud storage) to allow the owner to customize it with pictures of family, friends, and furry loved ones. You can set it to be motion activated, or use dedicated iPhone or Android apps to control the way the photos display and scroll over time.
The power cord is designed as a prop for the frame, helping it to fit rather stylishly into most rooms and spaces, and this frame even has Alexa integrated so that you can control it with your voice. Picture that!
19. For the beauty lover: Neutrogena Skin360
If you’ve got a giftee in your life who is as passionate about the health of their skin as they are about tech, this iPhone app from Neutrogena could be a game changer for them. The Neutrogena Skin360 is available for all current-gen. and recent iPhones as far back as the iPhone 6S. Designed by the skin experts at Neutrogena, the app uses the tech in your phone to analyze your skin and recommend products (Neutrogena products, specifically) that will help repair damage and reduce signs of aging.
As a small bonus, if your giftee already uses Neutrogena products, they’ll love the included 25% discount when they buy through the app, making this an extra thoughtful investment for any giftee who’s already a Neutrogena fan.
20. For the person whose phone is always dying: Our favorite wireless charger
If you’ve got a giftee who’s constantly using (and charging) their smartphone, the Samsung Fast Wireless Charging Pad is a great stocking stuffer (and our favorite wireless charger). Compatible with Samsung Galaxy phones, as well as the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, and XS, and any Qi-rated smartphone, this fast charging pad will juice your handheld back up to full without the need to plug the phone into an AC outlet or USB port.
The best thing about a pad like this is that you can continue easily using your phone, picking it back up to text or take calls, and simply setting it back on the charging pad when you’re not using it. It’s a much more convenient solution than having to plug your phone into a cable whenever you need to charge it, and it’s pretty affordable to boot.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.
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