Here at PCMag, we’re never at a loss for a product suggestion. After all, we test thousands of technology products in our lab each year, rating them against competitors, crowning winners and losers, all with the simple focus of telling you what technology to buy.
Each of us has fielded numerous emails, texts, and phone calls from our readers, parents, high school friends, and others asking: “Which (TV, laptop, phone, headphones, or fill in the appropriate blank) should I buy?”
We happily dispense this buying advice because we love what we do. Who better to assemble the ultimate tech-focused gift guide than us? The majority of the products in this story are ones that we’ve tested and rated throughout the year. There are, however, a few we haven’t yet reviewed, or are in the process of reviewing, but we believe merit inclusion for their value proposition, specific appeal, or general cool gadget factor.
After the last pine needle has fallen and all the gift wrap is recycled, we’ll continue to update this story throughout the year, so it always includes our favorite products, and you have a curated list of gift ideas for every holiday.
What’s on your wish list this year? Is there a perfect holiday gift we didn’t include? Let us know in the comments. For more ideas, check out our wide collection of holiday gift guides. And for the definitive list of the top products we’ve tested in the past 12 months, read The Best of the Year.
Stock their arsenals with everything they need to crush all opponents.
Nintendo NES Classic Edition$59.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Released in the 1980s, the Nintendo NES was the first game system for many a Gen Xer, and many of its titles hold up to this day. No doubt that pure, sweet nostalgia is behind Nintendo’s release of the NES Classic Edition. It’s a miniature NES with a full-size NES controller with 30 classic games inside, but it has an HDMI output so decades-old games look fantastic on your modern television. This little $60 box is part retro game system, part classic gaming collectible, and will likely be the gift to give this holiday season.
Sony PlayStation VR$399.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Consumer virtual reality gaming is finally a thing, and Sony’s VR headset is your best bet. Designed for use with the PlayStation 4, or the upcoming PS4 Pro console, the PlayStation VR lags only slightly behind the PC-powered HTC Vive and Oculus Rift in specs, and is far less expensive. Graphics-intensive, device-tethered virtual reality is still in its infancy, and so far it’s a pricey proposition. Still, it’s the next frontier in gaming, and with an immersive experience and support for motion control, the PlayStation VR offers the best balance of price, power, and features we’ve seen so far.
Xbox Design Lab Wireless Controller$79.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% For a controller you can really call your own, Xbox Design Lab lets you create a custom version of the new Xbox One controller (with its handy 3.5mm headphone jack) in nearly any color combination you can think of. Start with 15 different choices for the main shell, including shades like Glacier Blue, Retro Pink, and Robot White. After that, you can mix and match using the same selection of colors for the back of the controller, the shoulder/trigger buttons, the direction pad, and analog thumbsticks, along with other visible elements. For an extra $9.99, you can get up to 16 characters of laser engraving.
Acer Predator X34$1,299.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% A serious splurge for a PC gamer, a huge curved monitor can really make it feel like you’re inside the game. And our top pick is the sprawling 34-inch Acer Predator X34, which is not only drop-dead gorgeous with its curved, bezel-free 3,440-by-1,440 IPS panel and near-flawless image quality, but is loaded with game-friendly features, including Nvidia G-Sync technology, powerful speakers, aim points, customizable game profiles, and LED lighting effects.
Logitech G Pro Gaming Mouse$69.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Simple, practical, and affordable, Logitech’s G Pro Gaming Mouse is a good pick for both pro PC gamers and those who aspire to someday be one. With fast response rates and high sensitivity, the Logitech G Pro is comfortable to use and works for righties and lefties almost equally well. The wired gaming mouse is also brimming with useful features, like the ability to save your preferences to the device itself, so you don’t have to download and install a driver for every computer you plug it in to.
Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum$199.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% A versatile, comfortable, high-performance gaming headset is a must-have for most PC gamers, and the Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum is our top pick. Build and audio quality are top notch, and thanks to a combination of a wireless USB receiver and a selection of included wired connection options you can hook it up to your PC, mobile device, or nearly any game system easily. Plus, if you connect it to your PC, you can customize it with extensive EQ settings, game profiles, and even colored lighting.
Razer Turret$159.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% If you have a living room PC gaming set-up, Razer’s Turret is a well-designed wireless gaming keyboard and mouse combination that features a folding lapboard with mouse surface and a charging cradle for keeping both peripherals at the ready. Neither the keyboard nor the mouse can compare with dedicated, wired input devices on comfort and functionality, but hey, your next marathon Civilization VI session can take place on the couch.
Adventure and learning are the main missions of these fun gift ideas for children of all ages.
DJI Mavic Pro$999 %displayPrice% at %seller% Speaking of drones (and fun), DJI’s latest quadcopter, the Mavic Pro is surprisingly capable for its size. This small, collapsible drone packs many of the features found in much larger models including a sharp, stabilized, distortion-free 4K video camera, an obstacle avoidance system, a strong operating range, and a healthy 23-minute flight time. The best part? When the 1.6-pound Mavic Pro is folded, it’s about the size of a 1-liter soda bottle.
GoPro Hero5 Black$399.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% An action camera lets you capture the world around you, no matter how bumpy the ride. For lifelogging adventure seekers, the Hero5 Black is GoPro’s best action camera yet, with a touch-screen viewfinder, built-in waterproofing, and support for 4K and high-speed recording. A wide assortment of available mounts means you can attach the Hero5 Black to almost anything. If you don’t need the touch screen, or high-as-you-can-get video resolution, the Hero Session can be had for $200 less.
No longer the domain of early adopters alone, these brainy gadgets bring technology home to make daily life easier.
Amazon Echo Dot$50 %displayPrice% at %seller% With the $50 Echo Dot, Amazon wants to bring Alexa voice assistance to every room of your home. Simply ask her, in plain language, and she can play your music, perform Web-based queries, and control smart home devices like connected bulbs and thermostats. She can also perform a steadily expanding set of tasks programmed by third parties including quizzing you on world geography, checking airfares or airport security wait times, or telling you how to mix a mean martini. The Echo Dot also acts as a speaker, though given its size, it’s a fairly anemic one. If you want more oomph you’ll need to spring for the $180 Echo proper. But you can connect the Dot to a more powerful speaker to enjoy your music throughout the house. And the more Dots you buy, the lower the price. 6 will cost you the price of 5, while 12 cost the price of 10.
TikTeck Smart LED Bulb$9.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% If you’re curious about connected lighting, but don’t know where to start, TikTeck is worth checking out. These color-changing LED bulbs use Bluetooth and can be controlled and scheduled through a free app for your phone or tablet, and unlike most smart bulbs, you don’t need a hub to set them up. At $10 per bulb, it’s not a huge investment to try one or two, or you can outfit a whole house with smart lighting without spending a fortune.
August Smart Lock Homekit Enabled$229 %displayPrice% at %seller% For peace of mind when you’re not there, the August Smart Lock lets you keep tabs on who’s coming and going at home with your smartphone. The best smart lock we’ve tested, it offers all the latest technologies including Siri voice activation, geofencing, and an IFTTT channel that allows it to trigger other devices. Plus, this good-looking, versatile smart lock is a snap to install.
iControl Networks Piper nv$279 %displayPrice% at %seller% More than just a security camera; the Piper nv is a security system and a Z-Wave home automation hub all rolled into one slick-looking device. Its 180-degree fish-eye lens along with pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities provide a wide field of view, and its integrated sensors let you know when somebody has entered your home and will trigger the camera to record video of the event.
Perfect Bake Pro$99.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% The kitchen is the heart of the smart home, and connected cooking gadgets show just how much technology can help in our daily lives. The Perfect Bake Pro, which consists of a Bluetooth scale and handy app, removes most of the guesswork and simplifies the process of assembling and baking your favorite recipes so you get your desired results every time. If you’d rather have a perfect sidecar than a snickerdoodle, the Perfect Drink Pro works the same way, but with a 300-recipe app and a cocktail shaker that takes the thinking out of bartending.
Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller Generation 2$249.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Give the gift of greener grass with Rachio’s Smart Sprinker Controller. This little white box is easy to install with an existing sprinkler system, works with a free app, and offers everything you need for a well-watered garden including customized schedules, weather-based watering cycles, water usage reports, as well as integration with other connected home devices.
Whether you want to simply move more, or beat your personal best, these gadgets will get you there.
Fitbit Charge 2$149.95 %displayPrice% at %seller% For those who want to get into the highly addictive self-quantification game, Fitbit’s latest Charge offers an ideal balance of features and price. This cute $150 wrist-worn tracker automatically tracks calories burned, distance traveled, heart rate, steps, and sleep in an app that can’t be beat. It’ll even remind you to move more, and help return your breathing to normal after a workout. And the display is modular, so you can pop it out and place it in a variety of different bands.
Garmin Forerunner 735XT$449.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% For the serious trainer, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT blends features from the best fitness trackers with all the features athletes expect from dedicated running watches including 24/7 activity and sleep tracking with continuous heart rate monitoring, GPS, push notifications, and pertinent information for triathletes about their sports, including advice you don’t often see, like recovery time. It’s not exactly stylish, but the 735XT manages to be lightweight and comfortable while delivering terrific battery life.
Under Armour SpeedForm Gemini 2 Record-Equipped$149.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% If you don’t want to wear a tracker on your wrist or carry a phone on runs, Under Armour’s SpeedForm Gemini 2 Equipped are stylish and comfortable running shoes with an integrated chip that automatically tracks calories, distance, duration, pace, and splits. They’re a perfect fit for marathoners and novices alike.
QardioBase Smart Scale$149.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Smart bathroom scales measure your weight and track it over time almost effortlessly. And the good-looking QardioBase Smart Scale is the best one we’ve tested. It keeps an eye on not only your weight, but also your body fat, BMI, water makeup, muscle mass, and water and bone composition. It sends these numbers to a mobile app where you can also track your blood pressure and heart rate with the QardioArm, an at-home blood pressure cuff. The app has unique features, including a pregnancy mode, and the option to hide read outs on the scale itself, for those who don’t want to fixate on numbers every day, but do want to see them recorded over time.
Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum$199.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% The Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum is an electric toothbrush that uses motion sensors to track your brushing technique and a companion app on your phone to identify problem areas as you brush. It shows you where to focus and reminds you to floss, use mouthwash, and set hygiene goals, among other dental tips. And the brush itself has soft bristles, a built-in timer, and long battery life. There’s also a $50 kid’s version that uses games to instill solid dental hygiene habits at an early age.
Withings Thermo$99.95 %displayPrice% at %seller% A great gift idea for tech-forward new parents, the Withings Thermo is a Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-connected smart thermometer that pairs with a phone or tablet to measure body temperature through the arteries in the forehead. It’s a fast, accurate, non-invasive way to take your temperature, and you can log symptoms and read advice in an intuitive, well-designed companion app. If oral, in-ear, rectal, or underarm measurements aren’t easily managed, the Thermo is a solid alternative.
For those who appreciate quality product design, these picks are as attractive as they are functional.
Pebble Time Round$199.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Pebble makes some of the best smartwatches you can buy, but they’re not typically known for their looks. The Time Round changes that. Available in 14mm or 20mm styles, the slim and light round watch face comes in black, silver, or rose gold, and you can choose among a number of attractive leather or steel bands. The watch works with Android and iOS to bring notifications, weather, your calendar, and more to your wrist. The user interface is among the best we’ve tested, and Pebble has one of the most robust app stores you’ll find.
Bellabeat Leaf Urban$139 %displayPrice% at %seller% Fitness trackers help make you aware of your physical activity and help you to move more, but you usually have to wear them around your wrist, and they look sporty at best and plasticky at worst. The Bellabeat Leaf Urban is different—in a couple of ways. It’s a beautifully designed pendant that comes in silver or rose gold, and looks more like jewelry than technology. It also tracks menstrual cycles and pregnancies, two of the oldest and most important self-quantification metrics for women that most competitors ignore. The Leaf Urban also tracks the basics like steps, calories burned, and sleep, but adds helpful stress management features too.
Moleskine Smart Writing Set$199 %displayPrice% at %seller% Moleskine planners and notebooks are synonymous with high-quality design and good looks, and the company’s Smart Writing Set takes the idea digital. This paper tablet, pen, and app combo lets you take physical notes on real paper with an ink-equipped pen and sync them to your phone or tablet. You can edit notes, transcribe handwritten words into digital text, and share files through a variety of apps and cloud services. The paper tablet looks like your standard Moleskine notebook, the aluminum pen is nicely built and feels good in hand, and the app is top notch. If you like the idea of actual paper, but want a digital advantage when it comes to note taking, it’s a great idea.
Vifa Oslo$549 %displayPrice% at %seller% The Danish-designed Vifa Oslo is a large, yet portable Bluetooth speaker that sounds as good as it looks. Fans of modernist Scandinavian design will enjoy the simple, stylish look, with a classy wool grille cover that wraps around both front and back panels. There are several striking colors available, including sea blue, anthracite gray, and sand yellow. Audio performance is equally as vibrant, with rich, yet balanced low-end response.
Great gift ideas for those who like living on the cutting edge of technology.
Raspberry Pi Model 3$35 %displayPrice% at %seller% This tiny computer is only about the size of a credit card, and doesn’t look like much more than a piece of circuit board, but it’s a blank canvas of possibilities. Whether you want to set it up as a computer for the kids, a no-frills Web surfing machine, or, say, a retro arcade console, the latest Raspberry Pi adds Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and a performance boost to an already-capable super-small-form-factor PC that costs just 35 bucks.
New Matter Mod-t 3D Printer$399 %displayPrice% at %seller% 3D printing still hasn’t quite reached the mainstream, but with New Matter’s Mod-t 3D Printer, it’s one step closer. This consumer 3D printer is easy to use, quiet, and delivers good print quality. At $400 it’s the least expensive model we’ve seen, and its consumables are affordable too. If you have lofty aspirations of printing eminently useful items, or you just want to print your own key chains, chess pieces, or Yoda heads, it’s a good way to dive in without spending a fortune.
Das Keyboard 4 Professional$169 %displayPrice% at %seller% If you’re a serious typing nerd, nothing is more satisfying than the clackety-clack of a top-notch mechanical keyboard, and the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is the best there is. Available with Cherry MX Blue or Brown switches, the sturdy Keyboard 4 Professional integrates a two-port USB 3.0 hub, hardware media and sleep controls, and most importantly, delivers a superbly clamorous typing experience.
Creative iRoar$369.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% A portable wireless speaker for true audio nerds, the Creative iRoar sounds fantastic, even at maximum volume, and it gets much louder than most of the competition. But what’s more interesting? It’s loaded with features including every conceivable connection option you can think of, an exhaustive customization app, and there’s even an SDK for software and hardware expansion.
For those who live in the living room, these audio/visual picks place entertainment at center stage.
Vizio P50-C1$999.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% The P50-C1 is a highly attractive, well-designed 50-inch Ultra HD television that uses Vizio’s SmartCast platform. SmartCast takes all of the menus and apps off of the TV screen and puts them onto the included 5.6-inch Android tablet that doubles as a remote control. It’s an interesting, powerful new approach to connected media features. The sleek package is a solid deal at less than $1,000 for a large, fully loaded 4K screen that shows very impressive contrast with high dynamic range compatibility.
Samsung UBD-K8500$399.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% If you’re making the jump to a 4K television, you’ll want access to all the Ultra HD content you can get. Samsung’s UBD-K8500 is the first media player to support Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. It’s fast and performs well, and in addition to playing Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, the K8500 is backward compatible with both standard Blu-ray and DVD media. And you won’t need another media streamer, since the UBD-K8500 integrates Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube for video and Pandora, SiriusXM, and Spotify for music, as well as dozens of other apps for news, social networks, sports, and weather.
Google Chromecast Ultra$69 %displayPrice% at %seller% If you’re serious about your media, you’re likely already watching 4K video, or you’re on the verge of upgrading from 1080p. The second version of Google’s wildly popular streamer makes the jump, supporting 3,840 by 2,160 (4K) output along with HDR for better overall picture quality. The Chromecast Ultra costs more than the original, but you get an updated processor and improved Wi-Fi radios, plus an included Ethernet adapter means you can plug it directly into your router for more reliable streaming.
Sony HT-NT5$799.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Sony’s HT-NT5 soundbar is loaded with features and packed with power. This sleek speaker system will not only complement your 4K TV, it can stream music over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi with Google Cast or Spotify Connect, features three HDMI inputs that support 4K video passthrough, and includes a wireless subwoofer to provide the wall-shaking rumble action movies and pop music need.
What’s life without a soundtrack? These picks will please the ears.
Bowers & Wilkins P3 Series 2$149.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Bowers & Wilkins makes high-end headphones in luxurious designs that often come with high price tags. The B&W P3 Series 2 changes that. With a good-looking comfortable design and laudable audio performance characterized by rich, full bass response and well-defined high frequency presence, the P3 Series 2 on-ear headphones are a steal at $150.
JBL Reflect Mini BT$99.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% For those who aren’t on board with the current headphone bass-boosting craze, the JBL Reflect Mini BT is worth a listen, delivering powerful, accurate Bluetooth audio that walks the fine line between solid bass depth and seriously boosted lows, leaning toward the more restrained side of the spectrum. A comfortable, wireless, water-resistant design means this pair is a good pick for the gym, or if you’ve recently upgraded to an iPhone 7, which lacks the standard 3.5mm headphone jack.
Libratone Zipp Mini$249 %displayPrice% at %seller% This handsome, colorful, easy-to-use portable speaker connects via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to delivers a bass-forward wireless audio experience with more rich low-end than we typically expect from a speaker this size. If you need sweet sound all over the house, you can link to another Libratone speaker for multiple “soundspaces” in your home. You can add up to 16 speakers per network.
Google Chromecast Audio$35 %displayPrice% at %seller% With the simple, focused mission of making any speaker wireless, Google Chromecast Audio succeeds admirably and affordably. Simply plug this tiny disc into any speaker’s headphone jack and you can connect that speaker to your Wi-Fi network and stream music to it via Google Cast. A breeze to set up and use, all media navigation and control is performed entirely through your smartphone, tablet, or PC.
Thoughtful, tech-centric picks for those who are always on the go.
Raden A22 Carry$295 %displayPrice% at %seller% Raden’s A22 is the most stylish hard-sided carry-on smart suitcase we’ve seen, delivering both a minimal design and maximum capacity. With four spinner wheels, it’s light at 8.4 pounds and comes in seven glossy colors, including a slick white that’s a real knockout. This bag offers up plenty of interior space along with useful features like a built-in 7,800mAh battery and two USB ports to charge your electronics, integrated Bluetooth and proximity sensors to locate the bag with the accompanying app, and a handle you can lift to weigh it.
Hedgren Connect Junction Backpack$119.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Hedgren Connect’s Junction backpack helps organize your traveling technology without forcing specific solutions on you. In its configurable, multi-modal nature, it’s a great bag for anyone who carries, along with a laptop, a lot of cables and gadgets that need to be juiced up on the go. If you prefer a lot of open space in your bag, it might be a little too structured, but we think it strikes the perfect balance between a big open sack and power bags with built-in batteries.
Bose QuietComfort 35$349.95 %displayPrice% at %seller% It’s been several years in the making, but Bose’s legendary QuietComfort over-ear noise-cancelling headphones are finally available in a wireless version, and they’re equally as sublime as their wired counterpart. Available in black or silver, the headphones fold flat for easy packing, and can also be used in wired or passive mode. For travelers who want to drown out the drone of airplane travel with quality audio or sweet silence (without the pesky cables), you can’t do any better.
Anker PowerCore 10000$23.99
Budget blown, but still have stockings to stuff? These useful gifts will be appreciated by many, and they all cost less than $50.
Amazon Fire TV Stick With Alexa Voice Remote$39.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% A smart and inexpensive way to add connected features to an older television, Amazon’s latest Fire TV Stick is faster than its predecessor, supports streams at up to 1080p resolution, and offers access to more than 7,000 channels, apps, and Alexa skills in addition to 300,000 Prime movies and TV episodes. And with the Alexa listening, you’ll never have to fumble with the remote to find what you want to watch. It’s the best budget media streamer we’ve tested.
Emie Radio$49.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% With a retro, mid-century modern aesthetic, the Emie Radio Bluetooth Speaker looks like it was plucked from the shelves of the MoMA design store. The tiny wood grain wireless speaker not only delivers high-end looks, but clear, crisp audio for a low-end price.
Misfit Flash Link$19.99 %displayPrice% at %seller% Curious about fitness tracking, but not sure if it’ll stick? The Misfit Flash Link is the perfect way for a newbie to test the waters (literally, it tracks swimming!), without a considerable financial commitment. For just $20, the tiny clip-on Flash Link packs a surprising number of features. It tracks activity like steps, miles, and laps, lets you set fitness goals, control your music, take selfies, and flip through slide presentations by pressing its button. You don’t get a display, but the app is top notch.
SnapPower USB Charger$20 %displayPrice% at %seller% A simple but smart solution for homes with many mobile phones, the SnapPower USB charger is a plastic switch plate that adds a single Type A USB port to a standard double electrical outlet. The plate comes in white, almond, or ivory, and is, well, a snap to install: Simply remove your current switch plate, and screw this one in instead, and you’ll have a dedicated spot to juice up your phone. The 1-amp port offers built-in surge protection and provides the same output as most smartphone chargers.
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