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Kim’s essential tech picks: 15 gifts your family and friends will love

I like to give gifts that solve problems. Something that the person didn’t know they needed until they open the box and say, “Wow, now that’s terrific.”

And with so much stress this year, why not gift our loved one’s tech that can make their lives easier? Tap or click here to see some of Amazon’s early Black Friday deals on tech.

To help you get started, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite essential tech gifts this year. You’ll love the look on your loved one’s face when they open up one of these bestselling gadgets.

1. The smart display and speaker I gifted my family

A handy smart display with Alexa. It can show news, weather, recipes and time. You can also use the new Care Hub to drop in on Mom when she doesn’t answer her phone.

Promising review: “Amazon’s Echo Show 5 is a refresh of the Echo Show line-up at an outstanding price. The Echo Show 5 is in a new class of its own. The combination of quality and value are really tough to beat and the ES5 does well overall."

2. An affordable robot vacuum

You can spend $1,000+ on a Roomba, but the Eufy from Anker is sweet. It’s a slim machine with 1500Pa suction. The robot vacuum will automatically increase suction power within 1.5 seconds when extra vacuuming strength is needed. It works for up to 100 minutes at a volume no louder than a microwave.

Promising review: “Overall, I’m extremely impressed with this vacuum! I was hesitant purchasing it (due to the amount of options and features available in the market) but I’m so glad I did. We have two large, German Shepherd-mixed dogs and this tiny vacuum does wonders on both our hardwood and carpeted floors.”

3. A must-have for the outdoorsy type

Got a skier, snowmobiler or snowboarder in the family? Give them the Backcountry Access Tracker 3. It’s an avalanche transceiver that’s perfect for emergency situations, and it can even be used to find people buried under snow. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket and just might save a life.

Promising review: Quality beacon that l carry when snowmobiling in the mountains that l hope l never truly need to use. Nice size and easy to work with.”

4. A useful gadget to keep hikers safe

Do you know a hiker who likes to go alone where there is no cell signal? The Garmin inReach Mini GPS Satellite Communicator is a great outdoor gadget that fits in the palm of your hand. This small, rugged and lightweight satellite communicator enables two-way text messaging using the global Iridium network. And if you get lost, you can trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center. It can also access downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and weather. $350.

Promising review: “Provides peace of mind for my family when I’m off solo hiking in the backcountry or kayaking well beyond cell service. I use the preset messages to update progress and they can track my locations.”

5. The iPad they’re dreaming of

The new entry-level iPad has the A12 Bionic CPU processor that was first seen on the iPhone XS, along with better performance and improved battery life. Aside from its guts, you can’t go wrong with the gorgeous 10.2-inch Retina Display. Add Apple’s Smart Keyboard if you’re gifting it to a writer.

Promising review: “I love this iPad. My boyfriend gave it to me as gift and it is exactly what I needed for school. iPad matches description and does exactly what it claims.”

6. Or go with the affordable Amazon option

Is the iPad too much money? Try Amazon’s Fire HD 8. It’s only $90 with Amazon’s ads (or $105 ad-free), and it supports all of your favorite media apps and Zoom. The Fire HD 10 works great for anyone who needs more screen real estate. And for kids, try Amazon’s Fire 7 Kids tablet. It comes with two years of free replacements just in case of unexpected accidents.

Promising review: “If you understand what the Fire is, an Amazon digital content delivery device with some tablet capabilities, you’ll be thrilled with what it can do.”

7. A solid laptop from Dell

Our essential Windows laptop pick. The Dell XPS 13, 13.3-inch screen with no bezel. It has a fab screen, a great keyboard deck and power from Intel’s 10th-gen CPUs.

8. A MacBook Air for the Apple lover

This Apple MacBook Air has improved keyboards, more storage in the base model and a lower starting price. Good for students and people who don’t need the power to do graphics and editing on a Macbook Pro.

Promising review: “In my opinion, the 2020 MacBook Air is a perfect laptop. It has physical keys that are a pleasure to type on, a beautiful screen, an optimal size, good pricing and a quad-core processor. “

9. Sleep earbuds to drown out the snoring

10. A bargain Apple Watch with tons of features

If you’re on a budget, but your loved ones want an Apple Watch, the Apple Watch SE does all the usual fitness-tracking stuff for under $300. If they don’t have an iPhone, Apple’s new Family Setup tool lets you set the watch up for them.

Promising review: “I’ve been wanting an Apple Watch for some time now and finally decided to treat myself. Definitely satisfied with the quality and price. My roommate bought the Series 5 almost a year ago for almost $400 and the SE basically has all the same features for a cheaper price.

11. The all-out Apple Watch for the true techie

The Apple Watch Series 6 has top notch heart rate monitoring, a built-in Echocardiogram, a step counter, personalized health metrics and helpful notifications to keep you moving throughout the day. You can take calls and reply to texts from your wrist, too.

Promising review: This is my first smartwatch ever, and I really love it! It does everything I need it to and more. The look is really clean for the black aluminum model.

12. Samsung’s smartwatch for the Android lover

For Android users, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offers a suite of health-tracking tools like ECG, fall detection, blood oxygen sensing and sleep-tracking that uses your heart rate to figure out what sleep zone you’re in.

Promising review: “If you’re looking for an upgrade and don’t mind spending a little extra for a well built and high quality watch, you won’t be disappointed.” Promising review: “Amazon’s Echo Show 5 is a refresh of the Echo Show line-up at an outstanding price. The Echo Show 5 is in a new class of its own. The combination of quality and value are really tough to beat and the ES5 does well overall. “

13. A Fitbit for the exercise enthusiast

Fitbit Versa 3 is great for people that want to track their fitness and health. Run, bike, hike and more phone-free. And see your real-time pace & distance with built-in GPS. You can see your workout intensity map in the Fitbit app. Active Zone Minutes uses your resting heart rate to gauge exercise effort and gives you a buzz when you step up the intensity so you can make the most of your workouts. Track your heart rate 24/7 and use your voice for commands with Alexa.

Promising review: “If you’re a Fitbit lover who want to upgrade or someone who wants a reasonable smart watch or fitness tracker, this is for you.”

14. VR for the whole family

Have someone who might want to get into VR? The Oculus Quest 2 — Advanced All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset — 64 GB is a great choice. Play Star Wars, Jurassic World or Horizon with the included headset and controllers. It’s made by Facebook, which means you can meet your family and friends in VR, too. Scary. I’d also suggest a Nintendo Switch, PS5 or Xbox, but they’re all sold out.

Promising review: “I believe this device is VR’s best shot to become mainstream. You can use it anywhere (indoors), with no wires and no PC or PlayStation required. It just works. It is relatively affordable and the library of VR experiences is steadily growing.”

15. The drone I gifted Barry (he loves it!)

How about a great drone? The DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo is an ultralight foldable drone that comes with a 3-axis gimbal and a 30 FPS 4K camera. It can take 12MP Photos and has around 31 minutes worth of flight time.

Promising review: “As an avid photographer who is new to aerial photography, I am delighted with the DJI Mini 2. For a first drone, this is a winner.”
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