Tech gifts are tricky: On the one hand, you want to get people what they want. So if your uncle wants a Canon T6 Rebel with an 18-200mm Sigma lens, you had better find this exact merchandise, or else he’ll have to send it back to the store.
On the other hand, you also want to surprise people. So what kind of gadget do you give tech-hungry relatives? What kinds of amazing gizmos have maybe skipped their notice, but they’d definitely love to tinker with?
Here are some favorite new devices from 2017, just in time for holiday shopping. Whether your loved ones need a souped-up new watch or bag that repels bad guys, we’ve got you covered.
Two-in-One Productivity Laptop & Tablet
All kinds of new laptops have come out this year, from the Acer Swift 1 to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. But if you want a laptop that doubles as a tablet (or vice versa), you’ll love the Komando Two-in-One Productivity System. This is custom-designed to include all the Windows programs you need without the headache of setting anything up. Work for a few hours on your documents and spreadsheets, then flip over the screen and watch your favorite movie. Windows 10 and 32 gigs of memory are pre-installed.
Digital assistants are taking living rooms by storm, but the only thing that could truly outdo the Amazon Echo is—well, a better Amazon Echo. The 2nd Generation Echo is lined with elegant fabric and boasts improved Dolby processing. Don’t forget about Echo Spot, this year’s dynamic follow-up to the Dot.
Mars Levitating Speaker
Look closely, and the Mars speaker looks like a little flying saucer, hovering over its little tower. But this device is more than just a cool conversation piece; it projects sound from 360 degrees, and you can operate the Mars speaker from a special mobile app.
You can spot e-readers everywhere now, including buses, parks and waiting rooms. But there’s one place ebooks rarely get read: by the water. That’s about to change, thanks to the water-resistant Kindle Oasis. The Oasis has all the benefits of a regular Kindle, as well as a sturdy and air-tight design. This little device brings new meaning to the term “beach read.”
On the surface, this tote is attractively fashioned from canvas and suede. But look closer and you’ll see how mugger-resistant it is: The main compartments lock, there are hidden pockets inside, and the straps are slash-resistant. This is about as tough as a cute purse gets.
The past few years, Fitbit has specialized in aerodynamic bands that cling to the runner’s wrist. But Fitbit is quickly upgrading: The Ionic is one of the company’s lines of smartwatches, and it’s both an attractive watch and a powerful athletic tool. The device’s primary goal is still to keep track of your physical activity and sleep patterns, but a slew of apps can help improve your game, such as listening to Pandora or checking the weather forecast.
Not long ago, Google challenged the virtual-reality industry with its Google Cardboard, a pair of super-cheap goggles you could fold yourself. Now Google has developed Daydream, a (still) inexpensive headset that gives you access to a range of 360-degree entertainment. Daydream is already exciting for its affordable versatility, and it will only get more fun in 2018 when third-party developers release Android-based games and environments.
Clip-On Lens Set
Thanks to smartphones, almost nobody carries a regular camera anymore. But what if you want to take a really nice picture? These clip-on lenses help you catch wide-angle shots, with a broader field of view than your phone can capture on its own. The macro lens is designed for extreme close-ups on tiny objects, so you’ll never miss out on a clear ladybug shot again.
DIY Electric Dough Kit
Playing with dough is already fun and creative. But what happens when you run an electrical current through your goopy sculptures? The DIY Electric Dough Kit enables kids to experiment with closed circuits, adding light and sound to the mix.
Teddy Bear Speaker
You can do almost anything with Google Home and Amazon Echo—except snuggle with it. This plush little guy can’t wait to sit on your dresser and play you a song through his speaker-feet. Add a little ursine magic to your child’s bedroom.
For 40 years, generations of “Star Wars” fans have fantasized about hanging out with the galaxy’s cutest droid. That dream is finally a reality, thanks to the Sphero R2-D2, a breathtaking replica of Luke Skywalker’s trusty sidekick. This R2-D2 comes alive, thanks to its ingrained speakers and LED lights, and you can even enjoy its pre-programmed STEM activities and hologram simulation.
Microsoft Xbox One X
With its 4K resolution and Dolby Atmos surround sound, the Xbox One X should cause hysteria at the malls this holiday season.