The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner. That means it’s time to whip out your credit cards and start buying some gifts for your loved ones. While you’re at it, don’t forget to get a special something for yourself.
Just make sure you invest in something that will work for you. Tap or click here for six pieces of cheap tech not worth the money. While you should avoid those gadgets at all costs, we found some tech that could bolster your holiday cheer.
Maybe you want an easier way to listen to music. Or perhaps you want to get a cheaper laptop or a new way to stream your favorite shows. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something great in this list of gadgets.
1. Go with a tech classic: Apple AirPods
Since Apple’s signature wireless in-ear headphones debuted in 2016, they’ve sold like hotcakes. People love them because of the high sound quality as well as convenience. You don’t have to walk around with big, clunky headphones, and they’re easy to put on and put away.
You can immerse yourself in music with the active noise cancellation feature. They also come with three sizes of soft silicone tips for a comfortable and customizable fit.
If you don’t want to shell out for the latest and the greatest, you can also grab the 3rd Gen AirPods.
Promising review: “I’m thrilled. I love the fact that there are multiple ear tips and the small ones fit my ears great. Thrilled with the noise-canceling feature while I stare at a family member yapping loudly on the phone and I don’t have to crank my volume up to drown them out … I’ve never spent this much on headphones but these are worth the sub $200 I paid.”
2. Take Alexa on the go with this smartwatch
Want a GPS fitness tracker with over 60 modes, including a heart rate monitor? This waterproof watch is a great fitness tracker for anyone, whether they’re a seasoned athlete or just an average Joe looking to burn off the pandemic paunch. You can ask Alexa questions no matter where you are, set alarms, check the weather and even control your smart home devices.
Promising review: “Helpful to monitor my fitness and health in these times when no longer walk-commuting daily to work (working mostly from home) and skipping recreational vacations. It monitors my step count and sleep and heart rate, to reasonably quantify trends in my levels of activity and stress.”
3. Stream your favorite shows in a snap
The Fire TV Stick is a versatile tool that streams 4K content, HDR and Dolby Atmos. It’s one of the best budget options TV lovers can buy. Upgrade with a two-year protection plan or accessories. This powerful streaming stick offers smooth streaming across multiple devices and even comes with Alexa Voice Remote features.
Promising review: “This is the best FireTv to date. I have had four other FireTv’s of various versions. I have also had the AppleTV, Roku, and Google chrome. I prefer this to all of them. It is fast and has a vivid, colorful picture. Overall, this is the best option and Is an improvement over the last updated FireTv the 4K version.”
4. Take your tunes on the go with this portable Bluetooth speaker
Want to share your music but don’t want to lug around an enormous boombox? Here’s an easy solution. Just clip this waterproof speaker to your belt, purse or anything else for wireless Bluetooth streaming. Its speakerphone can blast up to 10 hours of your favorite music.
Promising review: “These are very good quality speakers, the first thing I did when I got mine was throw it in the pool to see if it was really waterproof like it says. I only left it in there for about a minute because I just wanted to hurry up and listen to music, but it does indeed float and no piece of hardware seems to have suffered as a result … So if you’re thinking of taking one of these to go casually canoeing or kayaking, I would definitely recommend it.”
5. Have a smart home? This is the perfect hub
Echo Show devices are incredibly convenient. You can use the smart speaker to make video calls or follow along with live cooking demonstrations and other how-to videos. For less than $50, you get a device that lets you control your smart home, start video calls, send messages, access your calendars, learn about the weather and much more.
If you want a bigger device, upgrade to the all-new Echo Show 8. This 2021 release is significantly larger. Its 8-inch screen dwarfs the Echo Show 5’s 5.5-inch screen.
Promising review: “This Echo Show 5 is actually pretty awesome. Music quality is great and WAY better than the Echo Dots (compared to Gen 3 and Gen 4). Live view from my phone’s Alexa app doubles this as an indoor security monitoring device … I like how it notifies you when someone (with account access) is live-viewing and you also have the tangible plastic sliding cover that covers the camera for privacy … Overall awesome product and would definitely pay full price for one when if I decide to get another.”
CHECK IT OUT: Smart home starter kit: What should you buy first?
6. On-the-go listening
Keep your music private while taking it on the go with these wireless Bluetooth headphones. They fit right over the ear, so they’re comfortable to use whether you’re sitting in the office or walking down the street. They even come with a built-in microphone and Alexa Voice Control.
Promising review: “I’m a huge bass lover and the bass sounds from these headphones are awesome! And yeah, noise-canceling, it’s amazing. My apartment is under construction and always annoying me but these headphones definitely help me to escape from those horrible noises!!!!”
7. Want a better TV screen? Start here
If you’re not looking for a lot of bells and whistles, this TV model is an excellent investment for your next binge session. Thanks to its built-in Roku connection, you can stream all of your favorite movies and shows directly with Wi-Fi.
Promising review: “Received this product today. It was in EXCELLENT QUALITY when I received it. Easily un-boxed and able to set up. All items were present. I have to say this was the quickest set-up I’ve ever had for any type of device (T.V, PC, Laptop, Phone, etc.).”
8. Take care of work and play with this tablet
Fast and responsive, this tablet is great for entertainment and downtime. You can stream and download videos from your favorite platforms like Netflix and Disney+ or you can make video calls on apps like Zoom or Skype. This Fire HD 8 has an 8-inch screen, a resolution of 1280×800, an internal storage capacity of 32GB, a 4-core processor that runs at 2.0GHZ and 2GB of RAM.
Promising review: “First of all, this isn’t an iPad, not even in competition with one so don’t compare it to that. I view the fire tablet line to be solely for media consumption in which they excel at. They’re a great starter tablet for younger kids and teens because of the price and durability.”
9. An easy-to-use electronic picture frame
You probably have hundreds of photos on your various devices. Some may be printed out in photo albums, but most are likely in your smartphones, laptops and PCs. An easy way to share and display your pictures is through a digital photo frame like this:
Promising review: “The frame’s picture quality is excellent and bright. A nice touch is that it automatically turns itself off when the room’s lights are off with its built-in light sensor … Over the years, I have had other frames. However, this one is so much better; it really is in league of its own.”
10. The best way to listen to music when you’re exercising
These earbuds are specifically designed for athletes. When you’re working out, you want to lose yourself in the zone. When the Rocky Balboa theme is pumping you up, you don’t want your earbud to fly through the air because you’re exercising too hard. You want a gadget that can keep up with you. Luckily, these wireless earphones get the job done.
Promising review: “These fit in my ear perfectly and stay there in running. The sound quality is good for what it is, and one of the best among true wireless earbuds. Sound stage is okay, highs are pretty good, for bass I wouldn’t want a bit more than what it already has. I also used these to make phone calls, and sound quality on the other end was also good.”
11. Power up your devices no matter where you are
There are tons of portable chargers you can buy, but Anker is one of our favorite brands. Their gadgets feel premium and they pack a powerful punch. This particular charger is the best solution for those who use smartphones for everything, from controlling smart devices to reading business emails. It provides 2.25 charges for iPhone 12, 1.6 charges for Galaxy S20 and 1.2 charges for iPad Mini 5.
Promising review: “I like the solid and sleek construction. Fits easily in my pocket. Most importantly it works! Fast charging, enough capacity to charge my phone multiple times over multiple days, and withstands plenty of me dropping it and yanking the cord out awkwardly and accidentally.”
12. Stop straining your eyes when you read
Physical books aren’t easy on your eyes. That’s one reason why so many people prefer Kindles. The screens are glare-free, plus they’re versatile and easy to hold. You can fit thousands of stories in the palm of your hands. If you haven’t made the switch, now’s the time to finally buy a Kindle.
Promising review: “Don’t buy into the petty negative reviews. The improvements to the basic Kindle are great! I’ve been reading on mine the past several days and I’m extremely impressed. The lighting is the brightest, whitest and most even I’ve seen. It’s comfortable to hold, easy to read, and just as responsive as my Oasis and my husband’s Paperwhite. Highly recommend!”
Want to upgrade to the brand-new Kindle Paperwhite? Here are three reasons why the newest version should make its way onto your Christmas list.
13. Get a great laptop for a low price
This affordable Chromebook has an 11.6-inch display. Light and durable, this Chromebook works well on the go and has long battery life. Its powerful MediaTek mobile processor means it’s easy to use for anything, from gaming and video calls to get your work tasks done.
The power graphics card means you can enjoy movies, shows and seminars the way they were meant to be seen. It’s powerful and, best of all, affordable.
Promising review: “Personally, I love this Chromebook, size and all. It works great and has a pretty decent quality. No issues with so far with charging, battery life, crashing, etc. I would only hope for a better sound quality, as it doesn’t get very loud at all. Plenty of storage space for me as well, as I use it for crafting … I would also recommend this for those looking for something small with a keyboard for school use.”
14. High-tech charger for a low price
The Qi charging method is pretty cool. Normally, you charge up a phone’s low battery by plugging in a charging cord directly to the device. With Qi chargers, though, you just place your gadget on a charging mat or stand to juice up through the power of induction, transmitter coils and an electromagnetic field that induces a current to a coil on your gadget.
Best of all, it’s 100% wire-free. Here’s one such charger:
Promising review: “The look is really great and comes off as more expensive than it is; the fact it comes with a high power wall adapter, uses USB-C, looks great, and supports 10w charging makes it a fantastic value. Additionally, so far it seems to handle heat fairly well. I will definitely be coming back to this when I need another wireless charger.”
15. Snap some pics this holiday season
If you want to remember the good times, check out this handy camera. Its transparent ring lens comes with a one-touch selfie mode as well as an automatic exposure feature. It’s not as bulky as other cameras you can buy, and it’s much cheaper.
Plus, it comes in a ton of cute colors, like lavender, pale pink and sky blue. It’s a great gift for any aspiring photographer in the family.
Promising review: “The coolest thing I’ve gotten in a long time. Bought this for my wedding day and it was the BEST thing EVER! Our guests took pictures and they all came out so pretty! I’m the one who likes to have album of pictures and loves taking pictures for memories! I suggest to get the album for the mini polaroids too.”
Buying this camera means you’re in good company. In 2020, people snapped around 1.4 trillion photos, which means there’s a lot you can learn from your fellow photographers. Tap or click here for nine tips that transform your ordinary snapshots into gorgeous works of art.We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.