Although today’s technological innovation is dizzying, this guide will help you sort through the latest and greatest tech developments and find the perfect gifts to assure the success of your holiday celebration. For expert advice, we turned to David Carnoy, executive editor of the tech publication CNET. Read on for 19 great gift ideas that will stand out among the ugly sweaters, fruit cake, and socks. Happy shopping!
Wireless Bluetooth speakers have become a tech essential for most, with many great options out there to choose from. The ideal wireless speaker is compact and delivers good sound. In addition, water resistance, durability, and battery life are key qualities to look for.
Soundcore Motion+ ($106)
It would be hard to find a better-quality speaker at this low price. Its size falls between a mini and boombox speaker, making it perfectly portable while still delivering the punch of a larger device.
Best for: The budget-minded shopper
Sonos Roam ($169)
The Sonos Roam is compatible with the larger Sonos sound system, making it easy to incorporate with other Sonos speakers. Given this linking ability, the Roam is a great option for both newcomers and experienced Sonos users.
Best for: Anyone looking for good sound from a portable speaker at a great price
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom ($399)
The UE Hyperboom is a must-have for your patio. Carnoy cites the boombox-size speaker for having the highest-quality sound of its class. Plus, its elegant design will please anyone and fits in pretty much any setting — indoors or out.
Best for: Lovers of both music and the outdoors
JBL Boombox 2 ($500)
This oversized boombox speaker is perfect for any outdoor setting and has a hefty bass output. At 13 pounds, it’s on the heavy side, so you won’t be taking this speaker on your next hike, but it’s perfect for patio or living room.
Best for: People who want high-quality sound at high volume
Today, earbud innovation is constant, with the biggest names in the sound industry vying to reign supreme. If it seems hard to discern between many of the high-end earbud offerings available, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
AirPods Pro ($249)
For any Apple product lover, this is a no-brainer. Although the AirPods Pro earbuds hit the market in 2019, Carnoy says they’re still a terrific buy with great sound quality and noise-cancellation features.
Best for: iPhone users
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds ($279)
If blocking out ambient sound is important to you, Bose’s latest innovation should be your choice. “These earbuds have the best noise-canceling right now,” says Carnoy.
Best for: Frequent flyers
Bowers & Wilkins PI7 ($399)
For those concerned primarily with sound quality, the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 is a great option. They’re the best-sounding buds on the market, says Carnoy, who cautions that these buds are in limited supply and often out of stock.
Best for: Discerning music lovers
Master Dynamic MW08 ($299)
For fine-quality sound at a lower price than the PI7, consider the Master Dynamic MW08. They come in a variety of different colors and are fully equipped with a chic stainless-steel charging case. So, what’s not to like? “They’re kind of funky looking,” says Carnoy. You be the judge.
Best for: Discerning music lovers on a budget
The fitness tech industry has evolved from step-counting watches and now includes everything from massage guns to home compression therapy devices. There’s never been a better time to dive into the quickly accelerating field of fitness tech.
Wave Solo ($79)
This excellent personal massager is for anyone who suffers exercise-induced soreness or just everyday aches and pains, delivering “pinpointed pressure and vibration to focused areas,” according to its website. Not just for athletes, the device is great for the workplace as well, where it can be used discreetly due to its small size.
Best for: Everyone from elite athletes to weekend warriors
Hypervolt Go massage gun ($199)
What exactly is a massage gun? Think of it as something that looks like a combination hair dryer and starter pistol, which, when fired, delivers adjustable percussive force to the area of soreness. Hypervolt Go’s developer is known for bringing equipment once exclusive to professional athletes to gym-goers everywhere. Its lightweight, compact size and nearly silent performance make it a top choice.
Best for: Hard-charging athletes targeting specific sore spots
Apple Watch Nike Series 6 ($399)
This watch is a no-brainer for any Apple loyalist who is seeking a fitness tracker. Carnoy says that its seamless integration with iPhones is its best feature, along with its cutting-edge LTE capabilities, which essentially turn this watch into an extension of your iPhone. The Nike version of the watch offers a redesigned interface and specialty watch band.
Best for: iPhone users
Fitbit Versa 3 ($230)
If you’re looking for the perfect balance between a fitness tracker and a functioning watch, the Fitbit Versa 3 is ideal. Fully equipped with blood oxygen level tracking and a battery that lasts six days, this watch is a great buy.
Best for: Runners
Wellness and home
This category is especially hot right now, with blenders and juicers being all the rage. We’ll start there and then move on to other great gift options.
Vitamix TurboBlend Three Speed ($370)
One of the highest-end blenders on the market, the Vitamix will produce flawless smoothies from even the hardest-to-blend ingredients, such as carrots and celery. This gift will wow anyone who knows anything about blenders and is sure to be a great and reliable device. “That’s a big blender,” says Carnoy.
Best for: Frequent smoothie makers
Nutra Bullet Pro 1000 ($100)
The most versatile and affordable blender on the market is the Nutra Bullet Pro 1000. Nutra Bullet is one of the most popular brands in the blender industry for a good reason, and this model is perfect for the health nut in your family. “It’s pretty versatile,” says Carnoy, who notes that it’s smaller than some other blenders. “But you can just do smaller serving sizes.”
Best for: Occasional smoothie makers
Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug² ($100)
Don’t you hate it when your coffee starts to get cold before you finish it? This Smart Mug can keep your cup of joe at the perfect temperature for about 30 minutes and allow you to drink at your leisure. Connects to an app on your phone that tracks your caffeine intake.
Best for: Coffee lovers who enjoy savoring rather than gulping
Tiki Brand Fire Pit ($350)
Here’s something that’ll bring the whole family together. Tiki’s latest firepit is perfect for outdoor gatherings and does not emit an overwhelming amount of smoke, ensuring the comfort of all guests. CNET ranked the Tiki the best overall firepit for 2021.
Best for: Outdoor party hosts who won’t be stymied by cool weather
E-readers are nothing new, and Amazon has quite a stronghold on the industry; however, other companies have some very high-quality products to rival them. Let the books come to you this year and check out these great options.
Kobo Libra H2O ($170)
If you are seeking a non-Amazon e-reading option, then the Kobo Libra H20 is a great choice. The Kobo allows readers to download e-books in any format. The reader also makes it supremely easy to check out books from local libraries. (The Kindle Paperwhite does this too, but not as seamlessly.)
Best for: Those who feel limited by Amazon’s download options
Kindle Paperwhite ($130)
The Paperwhite is the latest and greatest addition to Amazon’s flagship Kindle family. Fully waterproof and with fully functioning Bluetooth, this device is perfect for sitting poolside, and if you prefer listening to reading, it also functions as an audiobook.
Tip: The price fluctuates to as low as $85, so continue to check online as the holiday season progresses. Also, for those with simpler needs, check out the Kindle 2019 ($89).
There is nothing too fancy here other than its easy-to-use interface, making it a perfect gift for anyone who hasn’t yet tried an e-reader. (Like the Paperwhite, the Kindle 2019 regularly goes on sale and can be scooped up for $60.)
Best for: E-reader newbies
Onyx Boox Nova 3 ($339)
This device is much more than a standard e-reader — it is essentially an e-reader, tablet, and digital note taker all in one. It’s readable even in direct sunlight. Plus its notetaking capabilities are unparalleled by any tablet on the market, according to Carnoy.
Best for: Those looking for an e-book/tablet combo
This article is featured in the November/December 2021 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now