• Tech
  • Gadgets

The 20 Tech Gifts We’d Give Our Loved Ones This Holiday Season

15 minute read

Whether you’ve got the holiday bug or not, supply-chain problems across sectors means you probably needed to start your holiday shopping yesterday. But buying a gift for someone who is already on the cutting edge of nerdiness might be a bit more difficult. That’s what this gift guide is for, shopping for every kind of nerd in your life. From headphones that’ll get the job done for cheap, to the coolest way to get around town, these tech presents will show that you care, and also that you know there’s more to the holidays than sharing the wi-fi password with the family.

For absolutely anyone

Chelsea Kardokus

Apple AirTags

Price: $29

Tracking fobs have been around for a few years, but ubiquity and ease of use have always held them back from being truly useful at finding what you’ve lost. Apple’s AirTags solve some of the worst problems with tracking fobs while expanding on key functions. AirTags can detect iOS devices in their vicinity and anonymously alert you to where your device was found without bothering (or revealing) the person who walked by the keys you left at that restaurant. They’re a pretty smart way for your forgetful friend to keep track of bags, luggage and even pets if they’re known to wander out the house on occasion.

Buy Now: Apple AirTags

Nothing ear (1)

Price: $99

They won’t wow anyone with a degree in musicology, but for $100, the Nothing ear (1) wireless earbuds don’t have to. They offer enough high-end features—noise cancellation, ambient noise transparency, wireless charging—and a pleasant enough sound profile to be an appealing stocking stuffer for someone who is more likely to lose their AirPods during a school dance than complain about bass frequency drop-off. Plus, they look pretty cool as far as earbuds go.

Buy Now: Nothing ear (1)

Fender Play

Price: $9.99 a month or $89.99 annually

Many people took up music this past year to make use of their time at home. If you think they need a little help (they do), why not offer them some assistance in the form of Fender Play, a streaming music lesson service from the guitar company. Fender Play’s simple, easy to understand videos and sheet music for beginners, combined with instructions for popular songs from hundreds of famous artists, make it a genuinely useful tool for learning your favorite songs or practicing some technical skills. Over 3,000 lessons for guitar, bass and ukulele exist for the musically minded, and the ability to watch them anywhere on a smartphone or computer means this gift can be used almost anywhere.

Buy Now: Fender Play

Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro

Price: $1,999 and up

Looking for the latest and greatest professional laptop to put under the tree? Don’t think you’ll upset anyone with Apple’s new 14-inch (or 16-inch) MacBook Pro, which makes a return to what made the MacBook Pro so pro in the first place. It ditches gimmicks like the colorful Touchbar, adds more ports like HDMI and a 35.mm jack for headphones (I know, crazy), and even an SD card slot for photographers. The new Apple-made M1 Pro and M1 Max processors deliver an explosive performance boost that makes today’s laptops look out of breath by comparison. The return to form is much appreciated by longtime Apple users, but if your gift recipient is new to the Mac, it’s the perfect notebook to start someone’s journey.

Buy Now: Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro

iPhone 13 mini

Price: $699 and up

Let’s be real: smartphones are really good now, and so much a part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine a day to day without them. But for many, they’ve also gone from being the cool cutting-edge thing to more of a utility item. The iPhone 13 mini is the perfect melding of smartphone function and perfectly fine form. It’s Apple’s smallest 5G smartphone with a gorgeous 5.4-inch display, a pair of rear cameras and support for Apple’s magnetic MagSafe charging and add-on accessories. Who doesn’t love a utility item with some cutting-edge appeal?

Buy Now: iPhone 13 mini

For the person who has everything

Remarkable 2 Tablet

Price: $399, $299 (with subscription)

The dream of hand-writing notes and reading them on a computer is getting closer, but it usually involves a heavy laptop or tablet to get it done. The Remarkable 2 e-ink tablet focuses on nailing the writing experience above all else, and does it beautifully. Bolstered by the instant response time of the 10-inch e-ink display, writing feels nearly identical to the traditional pen and paper experience. Its premium Connect service allows it to sync to cloud accounts like Google Drive and Dropbox, perform handwriting conversion to text and screen share to computers for things like presentations. It also comes with a companion app, so you can check your notes wherever and whenever. The tablet can’t load any other apps, so it offers a respite from social media and other distractions. It’s one of the coolest and smartest ways e-ink technology is proving to be a game-changer.

Buy Now: Remarkable 2 Tablet

Chelsea Kardokus

Onewheel Pint X

Price: $1,400

While bikes are getting cooler, faster and smarter, apartments aren’t getting any larger, making it hard to squeeze one into a studio apartment (or college dorm). But walking everywhere can get boring, and Ubers are pricey. Onewheel’s Pint X is the electric transportation company’s second attempt at a tiny one-wheeled electric skateboard. Part skateboard, part snowboard, the Pint X moves with your body, making carving city streets a blast. With a top speed of 18 m.p.h., and an 18-mile range, all in a package you can hold with one hand and slide under a desk, it’s safe to say the Pint X will get your on-the-go loved ones cruising about town while taking up the least amount of space.

Buy Now: Onewheel Pint X

Criterion Channel

Price: $10.99 a month or $99.99 annually

If they’ve already got the home theater setup, complete with big TV and booming speakers, watching Netflix or playing games is a pretty sweet experience. But what about the classics, which some might not deem worthy enough to take up space on their shelf of books and old DVDs? Enter the Criterion Channel streaming service, for the budding cinephile in your life. There are apps for nearly every device you can think of, including a web version for browser-based watching. Over 1,000 ad-free classic and modern films from both famous directors and niche favorites are available to choose from, and special features like interviews.

Buy Now: Criterion Channel

Chelsea Kardokus


Price: $1,099 and up

Want to blow someone away this holiday season? Get them an LG C1. The OLED TV, with its unbeatable contrast and vibrant colors, is hard to match even by the most advanced LCD screens. LG’s OLED screens in its C1 4K UHD TV are also used in professional settings, and apps like Amazon Prime Video can take advantage of the TV’s technical prowess by displaying certain movies in those four special words, “as the filmmaker intended.” For gamers, a 120Hz refresh rate and support for variable frame rates makes it the perfect monitor for PC gaming should you want to help someone go big—though the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series console can take advantage of those perks as well.

Buy Now: LG C1 TV

For the social butterflies

Chelsea Kardokus

Polaroid Now+

Price: $119 and up

Everyone loves a nice instant camera, be it at a wedding, slumber party or vacation extravaganza. But everyone also loves the nostalgia that comes with a polaroid photo. The Polaroid Now+ knows exactly what you’re looking for, and adds a few extra nice-to-have features to bring the instant camera into the 21st century. It retains the iconic Polaroid camera design, but adds smartphone support for extra features should your polaroid lover decide to get creative. Color lens filters, tripod support and built-in autofocus make it a more modern camera than previous instant cameras. With the app, amateur (or not so amateur) photographers can set timers and shoot double exposure photos—an added bonus for photos that might take too long to qualify as an “instant” photo.

Buy Now: Polaroid Now+

Chelsea Kardokus


Price: $159

No doubt there’s a person younger than you trying to rope you into standing in front of their smartphone camera in the hopes that they’ll blow up online unbeknownst to you. So why not give them a helping hand without lifting a finger? DJI’s OM 5 smartphone gimbal is a handheld gimbal used for creating buttery smooth video shots you can’t really get using your vibrating frappuccino-fueled fingers. Three-axis stabilization all but eliminates camera shake, while an integrated extension rod for selfie stick-related shots is perfect for getting those out there angles. Accessories like the included tripod stand let you set a shot and strut your stuff, and its companion app lets users shoot more iconic cinematic scenes with useful presets. Clever features like active tracking can ensure you’re always in frame while the DJI OM 5 follows around your soon-to-be-famous face.

Buy Now: DJI OM 5

Puffco Peak Pro

Price: $399

Enjoying cannabis is cool (and legal in many states) again, and even tech companies are trying to get in on the timeless trend, making gadgets that get those of age in the zone faster than ever. But for an experience both a beginner and connoisseur can enjoy, Puffco’s Peak Pro electronic vaporizer is the BMW of bongs. The electronic vaporizer still uses water, for those looking for the college experience, while its heating mechanism is lighter-free, and can reach temperatures of over 500 degrees for serious smokers. With wireless charging support, USB-C connectivity and support for Bluetooth control via a web app, the Puffco Peak Pro is perhaps the most advanced consumer device available for getting stoned. Happy holidays.

Buy Now: Puffco Peak Pro

For the busy parent

Wahoo Kickr Snap

Price: $500

Now that colder weather is here for many parts of the U.S., some are probably looking for a way to keep up with their cycling regimen. Instead of shelling out for winter gear, why not help the cycling enthusiasts you know stay warm and train indoors with the Wahoo Kickr Snap bike trainer? The Kickr Snap is designed for cyclists who want to keep their wheels on their bike, rather than the more dedicated cyclist who may be more comfortable popping one on or off (or who has a dedicated indoor frame). The Kickr Snap can replicate inclines up to 12%, and is pretty quiet compared to similarly sized indoor trainers. Compatible with third-party apps like the cycling exercise game Zwift, TrainerRoad and Rouvy, the Kickr Snap can keep those you know in the saddle in the cold months so they’re ready for the warmer ones.

Buy Now: Wahoo Kickr Snap

Sonos Beam

Price: $449

Many people care about sound, but most care just enough to know their TV’s speakers are awful. So if you’re looking to help your mom, dad or grandparents upgrade to something they can set and forget, and you’re sick of hearing them complain about not being able to hear anything out of their tinny built-in TV speakers, check out the Sonos Beam. The compact soundbar packs plenty of noise in its Dolby Atmos support adds extra dimension of audio (though there are no vertical-firing speakers for the full Atmos experience), and its sleek design makes it look both unobtrusive and eye-catching in any room. Its support for the Sonos music system and AirPlay 2 make it great for music-lovers, and its seamless syncing with your TV’s control system means they won’t need yet another remote in their living room.

Buy Now: Sonos Beam

iRobot Roomba J7 Plus

Price: $699

Vacuum lately? Didn’t think so. That’s what robot vacuums are for. But for pet owners, robot vacuums run the risk of spreading a bit of the brown stuff around the floor thanks to nonexistent doo-doo detection. The Roomba J7 Plus has solved that problem, as well as the whole “emptying the vacuum” one. That’s right, the Roomba J7 Plus can look out for and go around your fur baby’s (or real baby’s) in-home accidents, preventing the dreaded smear many robot vacuum-having pet owners have come to fear. Combined with a self-emptying vacuum and cleaning base combo that can store two months’ worth of debris, it might be easy to forget how the floors got so clean in the first place.

Buy Now: iRobot Roomba J7 Plus

BetterHelp Therapy

Price: $60 to $90 per week

The holidays can be stressful any year, and 2021 is no different. That’s why gifting yourself (or a loved one) a subscription to BetterHelp might help improve your mental health in time for the holidays. BetterHelp is an online therapy service that connects you to professional mental health experts like psychologists and marriage and family therapists. The telehealth service connects you to therapists the same way many of us connect to work, through your smartphone, or computer with audio or video or texting options.

Buy Now: BetterHelp Therapy

Google Nest Hub

Price: $49

The Nest Hub isn’t exactly a new gadget, but the feature inside the newest Nest Hub could mean a better night’s rest. The new sleep tracking feature uses Google’s new Soli sensor to detect motion and activity more accurately. That boost in accuracy means it can tell when you in bed, tossing and turning, or sleeping like a log, and present to you a score based on how well you slept. Eventually, Google will offer suggestions based on other factors (like how much light it senses in a room at night) and could help the busiest people you know adjust their schedules to get more—and better—sleep.

Buy Now: Google Nest Hub

For the kid (or adult) who loves to game

Logitech G923 Racing Wheel

Price: $399

Racing games like Forza Horizon 5 and F1 2021 are raising the bar for what it means to get behind the wheel. If you know gamers who could use something more engaging when they rev their engines, the Logitech G923 racing wheel is here to get them one step closer to hitting the gas for real. The racing wheel and pedal system, compatible with PC, PlayStation 5 or Xbox (depending on the version) connect to your desk, table or compatible racing chair, to create a more immersive racing experience. The G923’s smarter force feedback system does a great job replicating the tiniest bumps and shifts you’d feel when driving on a race track (or dirt road), and its metal paddle shift system brings it in line with modern-day cars and their electronic shifting systems. Just don’t get a speeding ticket.

Buy Now: Logitech G923 Racing Wheel

Backbone One Gaming Controller

Price: $99

Gaming without carrying a load of dongles or accessories is kind of difficult, especially if it means carrying yet another electronic device. For busy parents or those with long commutes, that’s more hassle than it’s worth. The Backbone One, a controller accessory for iPhones, might be able to shrink that down to a more manageable size. The Backbone One uses your smartphone as the screen, letting you slot it inside the easy-to-use controller case and turning your iPhone into a miniature console. The Backbone One app connects the entire gaming ecosystem into a manageable form that makes it easy to hop from one game to another, or arrange a match with friends. With a library of controller-friendly iPhone games in the app store to choose from, plus the addition of streaming games from your consoles, the Backbone One might be the killer accessory that gets someone back into their favorite hobby, even when they can’t find the time to sit in front of a TV.

Buy Now: Backbone One Gaming Controller

Sony WH-1000XM4

Price: $249 and up

Whether you’re dealing with someone who has a more discerning palette when it comes to their entertainment, or someone you want to keep quiet on your next family flight, Sony’s stellar WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones are hard to beat. Its bass thumps are punchy while its high-end sound profile brings out the nuances you may have missed listening to music with earbuds all these years. Features like top-tier active noise cancellation, speak-to-chat functionality that pauses your music the moment you start running your gob, and ambient sound control so you can listen for things like announcements or conversation without taking your cans off, make the WH-1000XM4 a pretty great gift for the audiophile in your life.

Buy Now: Sony WH-1000XM4


More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Patrick Lucas Austin at patrick.austin@time.com