Apple; Google; Nintento; Sphero
By Alex Fitzpatrick, Lisa Eadicicco, and Matt Peckham
October 23, 2017

Here comes the 2017 holiday season, and that means it’s time to round up our favorite tech gifts and gadget stocking stuffers. These are some of the coolest ideas TIME’s come across, from coveted game consoles like Nintendo’s retro Super NES Classic or Microsoft’s ultra-powerful Xbox One X, to cutting-edge smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Apple’s iPhone X. We’ve sorted the list of tech gifts by price, from least to most expensive, with notes about what makes each gift special.


Philips Hue Starter Kit ($69)

Philips

Who it’s for: The smart home beginner looking to dip a toe in the Internet of Things.

Why we like it as a gift: The Philips Hue system is the perfect entryway to the smart home, offering color and brightness controllable lights in an easy-to-install package. It can also be voice controlled via Siri and similar apps.

What to know: Make sure to keep your light switches on and control the Hue from your phone instead.

Buy now


Nintendo Super NES Classic ($79)

Nintendo

Who it’s for: Those who grew up in the 1990s and remember what a tectonically vanguard system this console was, or those who didn’t and want to understand why.

Why we like it as a gift: You get 21 vintage Super NES games, including the never-before-released Star Fox 2, a pair of replica controllers for local two-player, HDMI support for crisp digital output on modern TVs, post-processing filters to optionally make the visuals appropriately retro, all for just $79.

What to know: It’s in high demand and incredibly difficult to find, so plan accordingly, and keep an eye on stock checkers like Nowinstock or Wario64.

Buy now


Amazon Echo ($99)

Amazon

Who it’s for: Anyone looking to turn off the lights or check the temperature with their voice.

Why we like it as a gift: Amazon’s second-gen Alexa voice assistant-powered Echo offers several enhancements over the original, such as better audio and a more compact design that includes a fabric finish. Plus at $99, it’s cheaper than the first-generation Echo.

What to know: It’s best for hands-free shopping and smart home control.

Buy now


Google Daydream ($99)

Google

Who it’s for: Someone looking to play around with virtual reality that already has an Android phone.

Why we like it as a gift: It’s a relatively inexpensive way to introduce someone to virtual reality, and arguably the most comfortable one, both in fit and weight. It’s also less stylistically garish, foregoing stereotypical black plastic for a softer cloth material, which comes in multiple colors.

What to know: You can find the list of Daydream-ready phones right here.

Buy now


Amazon Echo Spot ($129)

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an alarm clock that can do way more than wake you up in the morning.

Why we like it as a gift: The Echo Spot sits on your bedside table, operating as an alarm clock that can also tell you the weather forecast, read the latest news headlines and more.

What to know: The Echo Spot includes a camera, which some people may not want in their bedroom.

Buy now


BioLite CampStove 2 ($129)

BioLite

Who it’s for: Outdoorsy techies who want to keep their gadgets charged at the campsite.

Why we like it as a gift: The BioLite CampStove 2 burns wood to keep your phone charged while you’re camping. It also doubles as a camp stove for boiling water and more.

What to know: Bring a couple extra chargers with you on your camping trip to ensure you’ve got enough power for every device.

Buy now


WD MyPassport Hard Drive 4TB ($129)

Western Digital

Who it’s for: A friend in need of a portable storage tool with future-proofed space for data like photos and videos.

Why we like it as a gift: It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It offers serious storage headroom for someone who wants to backup their family photos and videos, or for a professional who works with larger files, say in audio or video, in need of a primary or secondary portable storage or backup tool.

What to know: The price varies slightly if you want to buy it in alternate colors, but the underlying hardware is exactly the same.

Buy now


BeatsX Wireless Headphones ($149)

Beats Electronics

Who it’s for: Runners and other athletes looking for a killer pair of wireless earbuds.

Why we like it as a gift: The BeatsX sound great, they fit comfortably and they stay put when you’re running or working out.

What to know: The neckband is fine at the gym, but it doesn’t win points for style on the street.

Buy now


Garmin Speak ($149)

Garmin

Who it’s for: Anyone driving an older car without an infotainment system, or who wants to use Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant behind the wheel.

Why we like it as a gift: The mountable accessory is essentially an Amazon Echo for your car — you can stream music, use skills, control smart devices at home and ask for driving directions. The ability to access apps and services hands-free is essential in a vehicle, and the Garmin Speak is the easiest way to do so.

What to know: It works off your smartphone’s data connection, so you’ll need a smartphone and decent LTE coverage to use it.

Buy now


HP Sprocket 2-in-1 ($159)

HP

Who it’s for: That person in your life who still prefers prints of photos, or who wants the modern equivalent of a polaroid.

Why we like it as a gift: The HP Sprocket 2-in-1 lets you or anyone else you approve print 2-by-3-inch photos wirelessly from a smartphone or tablet, anywhere you go. It’s compact enough to fit easily in a small bag, and it includes a 5-megapixel camera, so you can alternately snap and print without smart device.

What to know: It’ll connect to popular social media tools, so you can direct-print photos stored online, too.

Buy now

 


Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod ($169)

Vanguard

Who it’s for: Photographers looking for a sturdy tripod that’s easy to carry around.

Why we like it as a gift: Vanguard’s Alta Pro tripod hits the sweet spot between price, sturdiness and portability, functioning well as either a travel tripod for landscape photographers or as studio gear for portraiture.

What to know: The Alta Pro features a unique bendable arm for getting close to ground level, but it can be awkward to learn to use.

Buy now


Sphero R2-D2 ($179)

Sphero

Who it’s for: Star Wars fans who’ve always wanted the perfect R2-D2 toy.

Why we like it as a gift: It may have taken a few decades, but there’s finally a really great remote-controlled R2-D2 on the market. Sphero’s version has exactly the right motions, sounds and more, and it’s easily controlled via a smartphone app.

What to know: It can take a little practice to get used to steering R2 around.

Buy now


AKG N60 Wireless ($249)

AKG

Who it’s for: Urban commuters and open-office workers looking for some peace and quiet.

Why we like it as a gift: The AKG N60 wireless headphones sound great, they’re comfortable for hours of listening, and their active noise cancellation keeps the music in, and the world around you out.

What to know: You’ll have to make sure to keep them charged.

Buy now


Amazon Kindle Oasis ($249)

Amazon

Who it’s for: Someone who spends lots of time reading during a commute or by the pool.

Why we like it as a gift: Amazon’s new Oasis is notably thinner and lighter than the company’s other e-readers. Since it’s water-resistant, you can feel safe taking it to the pool or the beach. And unlike the previous Oasis, you don’t need to use it with a charging cover to maximize battery life. It also supports Audible playback and has a larger and brighter screen than its past models.

What to know: You can buy a 32 GB model for $100 more, but since the average size of a Kindle book is a trifling 2.6 MB, the 8 GB version should more than suffice.

Buy now


Fitbit Ionic ($299)

Fitbit

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a smartwatch with more options than Fitbit’s Blaze, and who prioritizes fitness above all else.

Why we like it as a gift: The Fitbit Ionic has a new fitness coach that can guide you through workouts on the wrist. The watch’s heart rate sensor, unlike those found on rivals, also includes a relative SpO2 sensor that tracks oxygen levels in the blood over time. And Fitbit’s Ionic can keep tabs on your sleep, something other watches require third-party apps to pull off.

What to know: Its app catalogue is pretty small at this point.

Buy now


GoPro HERO5 Session ($299)

GoPro

Who it’s for: The adrenaline junkie who wants to capture the action hands-free.

Why we like it as a gift: The GoPro HERO5 Session is a great action camera in an unfathomably tiny package. It’s controllable via voice commands, meaning no fumbling around with a bunch of buttons while it’s attached to your helmet or handlebars.

What to know: The HERO5 session doesn’t have a rear LCD, so it’s harder to frame up shots precisely.

Buy now


Nintendo Switch ($299)

Nintendo

Who it’s for: Anyone who loves Nintendo games.

Why we like it as a gift: It’s a full-fledged TV game console that’s also a fully portable device with a gorgeous 6.2-inch screen and detachable controllers that support motion controls, for a range of experiences impossible on any other system.

What to know: Pick up a reasonably beefy portable USB-C battery pack, and you can turn its handful of hours of standalone battery life into a full day or more.

Buy now


Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS + Cellular ($399)

Apple

Who it’s for: Apple buffs looking for a fitness-oriented wearable that also supports basic iPhone independence.

Why we like it as a gift: The Apple Watch 3 is unique among wearables for its gorgeous aesthetic and complementary swappable wristbands, plus watchOS has never been smarter or more streamlined for interaction with fingers on tiny screens. If you’ve been waiting for an Apple product that supports basics like texting, checking email and making voice calls away from an iPhone, this is finally it.

What to know: You’ll want a Bluetooth headset for voice calls, third-party cellular app support for off-smartphone use is spotty, you’ll kill the battery life if you use it for more than a few daily calls of a few minutes each.

Buy now


DJI Spark ($499)

DJI

Who it’s for: Drone-curious photographers looking for an entryway into aerial photography.

Why we like it as a gift: DJI’s Spark is adorably tiny but packs a mighty photo and video punch. It can also be controlled with only a smartphone, making it easier to carry wherever you go.

What to know: The Spark can’t shoot 4K video, unlike higher-end (and costlier) drones.

Buy it now


Dyson V8 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum ($499)

Dyson

Who it’s for: Animal owners with really hairy pets.

Why we like it as a gift: It’s cord-free, with up to 40 minutes of charge, and still wonderfully capable of sucking up errant bits of fur. It’s can also transform neatly to a handheld that retains suction power for easy cleaning of furniture.

What to know: It comes with a docking station, combination tool, crevice tool, mini motorized tool and soft dusting brush

Buy now


Microsoft Xbox One X ($499)

Microsoft

Who it’s for: Xbox loyalists looking for something to show off a 4K television.

Why we like it as a gift: It’s the most powerful games console yet devised, beating even Sony’s formidable PlayStation 4 Pro when it comes to delivering native ultra-high-definition 4K visuals. And it’s arriving just in time for gift buying season on November 7.

What to know: It’s been hard to find, routinely selling out, though Microsoft has said it expects to sell far more Xbox One S systems, the less expensive slimline version of its original Xbox One, this year.

Buy now


Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 ($599)

Samsung

Who it’s for: Android fans who need a tablet for entertainment and light productivity.

Why we like it as a gift: The Galaxy Tab S3 has a stunning 2048-by-1536 pixel Super AMOLED screen that displays bold and lively color. Samsung also includes an S Pen stylus in the box instead of selling it separately, like Apple does with the iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil.

What to know: The Galaxy Tab S3 beats the iPad Pro when it comes to overall value and screen quality, though the iPad Pro offers longer battery life.

Buy now


Samsung Galaxy S8 ($724)

Samsung

Who it’s for: Those who care about screen quality above all else in a smartphone.

Why we like it as a gift: Samsung’s curved Super AMOLED screens are among the best any phone has to offer. And unlike rivals like the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Samsung’s devices support facial recognition, meaning you can unlock the device without pressing the fingerprint reader or typing in a passcode. Its sleek design, long battery life and excellent screen make it a great pick.

What to know: The Galaxy S8’s camera captures vibrant images, but can sometimes oversaturate colors, plus you can’t create portrait mode photos that slightly blur the background.

Buy it now


Google Pixel 2 XL ($849)

Google

Who it’s for: Android fans that want a great camera, a large and crisp screen, and who frequently use Google services like Gmail and Chrome.

Why we like it: The Pixel 2 XL takes what worked in the previous model and complements with smart new features, including water-resistance and a screen that shows the time and date even when the display isn’t on. Plus it supports Google Lens, a feature that intelligently identifies real world objects with the camera.

What to know: It doesn’t support facial recognition, if you’re set on a phone you can unlock with a glance.

Buy now


Canon EOS M6 ($899)

Canon

Who it’s for: Photography enthusiasts looking to upgrade from their smartphone.

Why we like it as a gift: It took Canon a few tries to nail a mirrorless camera, but the EOS M6 is a home run. It’s a small, portable camera that produces far better images than you’ll get from a phone.

What to know: Canon has yet to offer a wide variety of mirrorless lenses.

Buy now


iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuum ($899)

iRobot

Who it’s for: Anyone with kids or pets who struggles to set aside cleanup time.

Why we like it as a gift: It cleans just about any floor type, automatically adjusting its height to scrub thick carpets or hard floors. It also comes packing the company’s newest sensor technology, allowing it to work its away around just about anything, including under beds and other sufficiently raised pieces of furniture.

What to know: It runs for up to 120 minutes a pop, then automatically scoots back to its wall station to recharge itself before resuming work.

Buy now


Apple iPhone X ($999)

Apple

Who it’s for: Apple loyalists that want an iPhone with a gorgeous full frontal screen, and the ability to unlock it with a look.

Why we like it as a gift: The iPhone X has the biggest, slickest iPhone screen Apple’s yet made. While the display is 0.3 inches larger than the iPhone 8 Plus’s, the iPhone X is physically smaller because the screen now occupies the entire front. The iPhone X also includes new sensors for facial recognition, which means it’s possible to unlock your iPhone and authenticate purchases with your face.

What to know: It’s considerably more expensive than other top-end smartphones with similar features.

Buy now


Microsoft Surface Laptop ($1,299)

Microsoft

Who it’s for: The Surface Laptop is a suitable option for anyone seeking a thin, lightweight Windows laptop for casual computing.

Why we like it as a gift: With an elegant design, sharp and colorful touch screen, and decent battery life, Microsoft’s first non-convertible laptop is a winner. The keyboard is also coated in a soft Alcantara material that makes it comfortable to rest your palms as you type.

What to know: The Surface Laptop comes with Windows 10 S, which only runs programs found in the online Microsoft Store, but you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free through 2017, after which it’ll cost $49 to do so.

Buy now


Apple 13-Inch MacBook Pro ($1,299)

Apple

Who it’s for: Apple devotee’s looking for a powerful general-purpose laptop.

Why we like it as a gift: The MacBook Pro offers the right mix of power, premium hardware and easy-to-navigate software, particularly for those upgrading from a previous MacBook who have no interest in hopping the fence to Microsoft’s Windows. Starting at $1,299, it’s roughly the same price as the standard MacBook, but includes a larger and sharper screen, more powerful graphics and an extra USB-C port.

What to know: Other companies offer similarly elegant but also hybrid laptop-tablets, which may be more persuasive if you want a workstation that can be both, and aren’t fully committed to the Apple-verse.

Buy now


Samsung CHG90 Series Curved 49-Inch Gaming Monitor ($1,499)

Samsung

Who it’s for: High-end PC gamers who want a gorgeous, quasi-wraparound screen.

Why we like it as a gift: It’s ridiculously boutique, but with a crazy 32:9 aspect ratio and 3,840-by-1,080-pixel graphics, anyone rocking one of these is going to be able to experience the latest games with insanely beautiful visuals.

What to know: It supports high dynamic range, super-fast response times and refresh rates, and a boatload of options designed to let you tweak the output to match any experience.

Buy now

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