If you thought 2020 was a standout year for the best tech gifts, then 2021 is going to blow you away. Several months in and we’ve already seen some awesome, must-own gadgets perfect for gifting anyone on your list no matter the occasion.
So, what are the best tech gifts in 2021? Based on what we saw at CES 2020 and CES 2021, plus what we’ve already seen from the year’s early tech releases, you’re going to find more innovative products designed to enrich your everyday life. This includes adaptive noise-canceling headphones, affordable smartphones with killer specs, retro everything, smart home do-it-alls, sportier AirPod Pro alternatives and a new Oculus VR headset.
That’s not to say we’re completely overlooking the biggest releases of last year. These are still awesome 2020 tech gadgets that continue to dominate the sales charts and remain atop many people’s wish lists; don’t sell them short of gift-giving options. We’re talking must-haves for any tech lover from industry staples like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Nintendo, along with some impressive tech from select indie brands.
Whether you’re looking for creative high-tech products to pass on to your loved ones or upgrades to buy for yourself, there are plenty of options to choose from across different categories and price points. Here’s a list of the best tech gifts of 2021 (so far). Keep in mind that many of these products are very in-demand, which means they may be out of stock (or nearly so).
Best Tech Gifts of 2021: PhoneSoap 3
When it was time to choose the best tech gifts of 2021, there was no question what our top choice was going to be. When we first featured this UV phone sanitizer on SPY, we said that it was the perfect gift for germaphobes. If 2020 was the year of stay-at-home orders and quarantine, then 2021 is shaping up to be… the year of more stay-at-home orders, quarantine and hopefully vaccines, too. Basically, we’re all germaphobes now, which is why PhoneSoap is still the leader among the top gadgets of 2021.
PhoneSoap uses UV light, this device sanitizes smartphones, tablets, jewelry, face masks and other small objects in just a few minutes. For obvious reasons, PhoneSoap is having a tough time keeping this device in stock, so if you find it available, don’t hesitate to place an order. It’s the perfect gift, but we also recommend buying one for yourself.
Oculus Quest 2 VR Headset
The best tech gifts make us feel like we’re living in the future. Case in point: the Oculus Quest 2 VR Headset, which takes the term “immersive gaming” to an entirely new level, thanks to its ability to drop you in the middle of a 3D world and track all of your head and arm movements in any app you launch or game you play. While gamers will get the most mileage out of the Oculus Quest 2, thanks to standout games such as Half Life: ALYX, there are plenty of non-gaming forms of entertainment available for creators and consumers, such as VR Chat and the free YouTube app. Virtual reality technology has never been stronger — or more affordable — which is why the second-generation Oculus Quest 2 VR headset is one of the top tech gifts of 2021.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2
BEST AFFORDABLE EARBUDS
As much as we love the best wireless earbuds such as the Apple AirPods Pro and Jabra Elite Active 75t, there’s no getting around the fact that they’re expensive. But what if you could get a pair for a fraction of the price that offer many of the same key features and sound nearly as good? With the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 wireless earbuds, that’s exactly what you receive for less than $100. These buds pack impressive bass, have fully customizable sound thanks to the companion app and will get you about 7 hours of battery life, which is a potent combo you’re unlikely to find in comparable wireless earbuds under $100.
Lume Cube Video Conference Lighting Kit
FOR THE ALWAYS-ONLINE
Shopping for an aspiring social media influencer? An always-online teenager? What about remote work-from-home warriors? For all of the above, the Lume Cube is easily one of the best tech gifts of 2021. We love this video conferencing and live-streaming lighting kit, which easily clips onto laptops and other surfaces. It’s easy to use and set up, and it instantly provides warm and professional lighting for all of your video needs. This clip-on light takes up far less space than a ring light but still provides the same benefits.
JBL Clip 3 Portable Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
FOR SHOWER KARAOKE
Looking to buy a gift for the music lover in your life? Well, if they’re anything like some of our music-loving colleagues, singing in the shower is a regular routine. To help them find their rhythm while sudsing up, gift them this well-priced waterproof speaker from JBL. Not only is it made to handle wet conditions thanks to its IPX7 rating, but it also comes with a nifty clip. So regardless of your giftee’s shower setup, there will be a place to hang this lovely little speaker.
Apple Watch Series 6
BEST SMARTWATCH SPLURGE
While the cheaper Apple Watch SE is a great choice for most people on your shopping list, the Apple Watch Series 6 has some extra features that could make it the better pick for the health-conscious people in your life. As always, Apple spared no expense with the internals, upgrading the gyroscope and accelerometer while adding an altimeter to offer deeper insights on your activity. But the Series 6 is also able to provide constant ECG monitoring, which is a great tool for people who want to stay up to date on their heart health. The Series 6 also introduced the ability to track blood oxygen levels, which are a key vital metric that can indicate when it’s time to go see the doctor.
Amazon Echo Dot
BEST SMALL ALEXA SPEAKER
No list of the best gadgets of 2021 would be complete without the Amazon Echo Dot, which has always made for an extraordinary stocking stuffer on the cheap. The updated smart speaker from Amazon features a built-in LED display to show the time and outdoor temperatures and auto-dims at night. It may not have the Zigbee hub or the audio quality of its larger counterpart, but it’s half the price and can carry out all of the other Alexa functions.
FOR AVID MARIO KART RACERS
There are still those of us who are regulars on the ol’ Mario Kart circuit. If you know such a gamer, they’ll likely need another set of Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons. For starters, there’s an issue with a lot of Joy-Cons known as “drift” which causes the controllers to register commands you did not give. If your friend is suffering from this affliction (read: blaming lost races on their gear), gift them a new set! You can pick from more colors than ever these days. Also, if your friend loves to host race nights or (Mario) parties, they’ll need all the extra controllers they can get their hands on.
Chromecast with Google TV
BEST MEDIA STREAMER
Google’s Chromecast media streamers have always been great because they let you wirelessly push content from most streaming apps on your phone to your TV, but sometimes you just want to sit back on a couch and surf through a list of TV shows with a remote. Google got the memo and are now offering up Chromecast with Google TV to make it easier to load up the shows you love. This little streamer still does everything that the old Chromecast used to, but now has the Google TV smart UI baked in, which provides a curated selection of TV shows and movies for you to peruse, and then watch in 4K Dolby Vision. It’s also still as affordable as ever, making this a great stocking stuffer for the Netflix fiend on your shopping list.
Fitbit Inspire 2
BEST FITNESS TRACKER UNDER $100
Some people may find a smartwatch to be overkill, but are interested in having some sort of a fitness tracker. For them, the Fitbit Inspire 2 is a great gift choice. Sleek and minimal, this waterproof wearable can track steps, workouts, heart rate, sleep habits and more. But it’s still more than just a fitness tracker, as it’s able to relay notifications from your phone. Plus, with a battery rated for 10 days of use, there’s no need to worry about recharging it every day.
RAVPower Wireless Charging Pad
BEST WIRELESS CHARGER
Wireless charging is becoming an increasingly common feature in mobile devices to the point that it’s more surprising when a phone or pair of wireless earbuds doesn’t support the technology. Despite this, a lot of people don’t own a wireless charger. Fix this by gifting someone the RAVPower Wireless Charging Pad, which works with any QI-compatible device (read: nearly anything that isn’t an Apple Watch). While this isn’t as fast as using a wall brick and a USB cable, it’s a perfect candidate for use on an office desk or a nightstand, where it’s likely to sit uninterrupted for a few hours. Despite the inherently slower speeds of wireless charging, this thing can fast-charge smartphones at up to 10 watts (instead of 5 watts), which means that will roughly take 45 minutes to get a 35% charge.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise-Cancelling Headphones
BEST NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES
Whether you’re working at home, the local coffee shop or in an office, there is no shortage of distractions that pull you away from tasks that require all of your mental energy. In those scenarios, you want a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and there is no better pair than the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones. In addition to noise-cancelling capabilities that are only rivaled by the likes of Bose, Sony’s premium cans also have sound quality that’s unrivaled among Bluetooth headphones, making this one of the essential tech products of 2021.
Keurig K-Mini Plus Coffee Maker
BEST FOR THE BACHELOR
Got a friend who lives alone and loves their morning cup of joe? Gift them this small, sleek single-serving coffee maker from Keurig. Sure, those who live with roommates or significant others might want a larger coffee maker, but if your giftee lives alone, all they need is one cup at a time. And thanks to Keurig’s seemingly limitless offering of coffee flavors and brands, your coffee-loving pal will have plenty of options to choose from. Just, you know, make sure they clean their coffee maker now and again.
Logitech MX Anywhere 3 Wireless Mouse
BEST FOR THE WFH CROWD
Now that more of us are permanently working from home, there are probably more than a few people you know who could use a good mouse for their computer as they blow through spreadsheets and compile reports. The Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse is a great choice that is as comfortable to use as it is easy to stash in a bag giving people flexibility in how they work and where they work.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
If there was ever a “sure thing” when it comes to gifts, the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 is about as close as you will come, because who doesn’t want (or need) a Bluetooth speaker? The grenade-sized Wonderboom 2 is great for use around the house or in the backyard, and because it’s completely waterproof, you can even take it in the shower or the pool (yes, it floats). But don’t be fooled by the small size: This thing gets LOUD and it sounds great in the process. There might be speakers that are smaller or louder, but few strike a balance between features as elegantly as the Wonderboom 2.
Apple iPad Air (2020)
Apple hit a home run when it released the iPad Pro a couple of years ago, but that price tag was not for the faint of heart. Fast forward to 2021 and the new iPad Air has all of the features that made the iPad Pro so great — the slim-bezel design, Liquid Retina display and compatibility with the Magic Keyboard — but at a significantly lower price. And for the time being, it even has a more powerful CPU than the iPad Pro. Considering the only major iPad Pro features missing are Face ID and 120Hz smooth scrolling on the display, we think this is the iPad most people will want in 2021.
BEST GIFT FOR IPAD USERS
When you want a premium typing experience on an iPad Pro, the Magic Keyboard provides just that. With comfortable, soft and backlit keys, it’s essentially an affordable way to turn your iPad Pro into a MacBook Pro. And with a floating cantilever, you really can get the best viewing angles possible. It’s one of our favorite iPad accessories for a reason, and you may end up buying one for yourself, too.
Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
BEST FOR IPAD ARTISTS
For some, an iPad is just a big phone. You download apps, maybe read or watch movies, but otherwise just endlessly consume media. However, there are those who pick up an iPad for creating, and for those people, there is no better gift than an Apple Pencil. Like the iPad itself, the Apple Pencil is far from cheap. At nearly $130, this instrument of creation is just expensive enough for the starving artist in your life to resist buying it themselves. While there are some solid Apple Pencil alternatives, none really work as well as the original.
Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
BEST FOR HEAVY SLEEPERS
We all know one. Some people cannot get up and out of bed in the mornings. And if your friend or loved one has tried every conceivable alarm clock on the market, gift them this SmartSleep Wake-Up Light from Philips. What makes this thing great is that it slowly grows brighter and brighter to help them wake up, as opposed to ripping them from deep sleep with a jarring noise. The clock comes with an FM Radio as well as five natural alarm sounds, so your giftee can customize their wake-up to their heart’s content.
The Awair Element
BEST FOR PARENTS
If you’re looking to get something nice for mom and dad (or perhaps the in-laws?) try this handsome-looking air quality monitor. Aside from looking fantastic just about anywhere in the house, this clever device will share up-to-the-minute information regarding CO2 levels, humidity, temperature and particulate matter within their home. Best of all, it’s all controlled via the Awair app, so your giftee can check and edit all they want, from wherever they want.
Apple iPhone SE (2020)
BEST SMARTPHONE GIFT
The era of the mid-range smartphone is upon us, and though the Google Pixel 3A had people talking, the all-new iPhone SE already has them adding to cart. Is it better than the flagship iPhone 12? Of course not. However, the amount of performance it offers combined with its ability to take on new software updates for years to come clearly makes it the best investment for mobile consumers who want an iPhone upgrade for half the price. The 2020 model maintains Apple’s sleek aesthetics, as well as the same chip that powers the iPhone 11. Photogs will find the camera more than capable of snapping clear, vibrant photos and selfies. Most importantly, the iPhone SE promises the seamless iOS experience that no other mobile operating system has matched. We can’t think of a better way to spend $400 right now.
The iPhone SE was easily one of the top tech gifts of 2020, and that’s still the case now.
8Bitdo SN30 Pro
BEST RETRO SWITCH CONTROLLER
If there’s a Switch gamer in your life who is obsessed with retro games or 2D indie games, the 8BitDo SN30 Pro is a controller that will instantly bring them joy. Unlike most controllers, the D-pad occupies the prime real estate on the left side of the controller, which you want to use for extra precision while playing a masocore platformer, such as Celeste. But while this may look like a controller from the mid-90s, nothing is sacrificed here: you still get a pair of clickable analog sticks, motion sensors, rumble feedback and a screenshot button. Plus it can also work with Mac, PC, iOS or Android, so this thing is much more than a one-trick nostalgia trinket.
Victrola Eastwood Bluetooth Turntable
BEST THROWBACK GIFT
We love the Victrola Eastwood Bluetooth record player, which sports a clean, contemporary design, custom-tuned speakers and an Audio Technica cartridge for enhanced audio quality. But we also love the versatility. If you want to stream music from your phone to the integrated speakers, you can do that. If you want to play your records through a larger wired speaker system, or an external Bluetooth speaker, that’s also an option. For friends, siblings or parents who love their old record collection, this affordable record player is the perfect tech gift.
Anker Nebula Mars II Pro Portable Projector
BEST FOR MOVIE NIGHT
Help your cinephile friend recreate the magic of the movie theater in their home with the Anker Mars II Pro portable projector. This stout little cube can project a 720p-resolution image at sizes up to 150 inches and is rated for 500 ANSI Lumens of brightness. But the best part is that it has a 10-watt integrated speaker (that can double as a Bluetooth speaker) and can also connect to services such as Netflix or YouTube without the need of a dongle. While a dark environment will go along way towards getting the best out of this projector, it still provides plenty of flexibility when and where you use it thanks to its compact size and built-in handle.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
BEST AMAZON STREAMING DEVICE
The Fire TV Stick has become a staple for UHD TVs, and this 4K rendition ramps up the entertainment value. Picture presentation is stellar with excellent 4K high-def resolution. The interface operates more smoothly due to a stronger processor. We’re also fond of the improved remote which introduces new buttons for power, muting and volume control, so you won’t have to pick up a second control to manage sound. The no-brainer setup, a plethora of streaming apps and Alexa compatibility place it in the unbeatable-gift category. Not to mention the price is just right.
Galaxy Active 2 Smartwatch
Purely in terms of style, the Galaxy Active 2 is one of our favorite smartwatches. However, it’s also a powerful fitness tracker and a worthy alternative to the Apple Watch. The Galaxy Active 2 provides a ton of health data including insights on your sleep as well as tracking your workouts. And with Samsung Pay and the ability to download music, you can virtually leave your phone and wallet at home. If you’re team Android, this watch checks all the boxes — and for $100 less than Apple’s signature smartwatch.
Google Pixel Buds
BEST FOR WORLD TRAVELERS
Whether you take phone calls in noisy environments or like to listen to your favorite playlist at the gym, the Google Pixel Buds have you covered. Sensors help focus in on your voice for clear calls, even when your surroundings are noisy. Plus, these wireless earbuds are sweat-resistant so you won’t have to worry about hitting the gym hard and ruining your buds. Of course, all of the best wireless earbuds boast the same exact features.
The real draw with the Google Pixel Buds? The real-time translation app, which makes these the optimum earbuds when you’re traveling abroad. It’s an incredibly cool and futuristic feature that will leave you yearning for the days when we can travel again.
Ring Video Doorbell
BEST BUDGET VIDEO DOORBELL
If 2020 doesn’t set a record for the number of packages delivered to homes, we would be shocked. But that also means that porch pirates have their pick of doorsteps to pilfer. If you know someone who has fallen victim to a package thief, get them a Ring Video Doorbell, which doesn’t require wires, runs off a battery, can be controlled by Alexa and can store weeks of footage in the cloud for later viewing. While Ring has had some serious issues with privacy and security in the past, recent updates to their software suggest that they’re learning from their mistakes, and at $99, this is the best entry-level video doorbell you can buy.
Google Nest Hub
BEST SMART DISPLAY
Once upon a time, digital photo frames were a punchline for tech blogs. But in recent years, Google and Amazon have taken those displays and made them touch-friendly, and then added web browsers, streaming apps, voice assistants, cameras for video conferencing, speakers and…voila…we’ve ended up with smart displays and they completely and utterly rule. The 8-inch Google Nest Hub is the best of the bunch, finding the sweet spot between performance, size and price. Gift one of these to the aspiring chef and watch it change their dinner-making and food shopping routines forever.
Amazon Echo Smart Speaker
BEST SMARTHOME HUB
If you know someone with an Alexa-controlled smart home, the new Echo is a must-buy accessory. The latest iteration of Amazon’s flagship smart speaker has an integrated Zigbee hub, so adding accessories such as Philips Hue lighting or Leviton smart plugs can all connect to Alexa without the need for an additional hub or bridge. Amazon also overhauled the audio components in this speaker, promising noticeably improved audio over previous versions. Plus we’re loving the new orb-shaped design, which will still look modern in 2030.
Google Nest Mini
BEST SMART SPEAKER FOR EARLY ADOPTERS
When it comes to smart homes powered by Google Assistant, the Nest Mini is one of the cheapest and easiest speakers for managing a house full of connected devices. Even if someone on your shopping list already has a Nest Mini, chances are there’s a room or two where they don’t have access to a voice assistant, and the more places you can command Google Assistant to do your bidding, the smarter your home becomes.
August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
BEST SMART HOME HACK
If you want to drag your friends and family into the 21st century, smart home gear is a great way to do that, and the August Wi-Fi smart lock is one of the most convenient starting points. This connected device fits over an existing deadbolt and allows you to lock and unlock your door with your phone, or with a Google/Alexa/Siri voice-enabled speaker. You can even control the door when you’re not home, set a schedule for it to activate, or get notifications when someone is coming or going.
CHEF iQ Smart Cooker
BEST KITCHEN GADGET
The Instant Pot is cool, but we’ve found a rival that’s smarter, does more for less, and looks better on any kitchen countertop. We’re referring to the CHEF iQ, an all-new cooking appliance that offers a wide range of cooking options, along with a mass library of recipes and visual directions. It’s engineered to pressure cook, sear, saute, steam, and slow cook food 70% faster, decreasing cooking times to enjoy savory meals quicker. There is even a built-in cooking scale, so you don’t have to measure ingredients. The CHEF iQ app also simplifies cooking by granting access to explore and save recipes and watch step-by-step guided videos. Seriously, it’s one of the best cooking deals you’ll find right now.
RAVPower 20000mAh 60W PD 3.0 USB C Power Bank
BEST TECH GIFT UNDER $50
Anker might be the king of portable charging, but RAVPower isn’t trailing far behind. The company’s latest power bank is its most impressive creation to date and solves almost every mobile charging conundrum. It’s thin, offers dual-device charging, doesn’t overheat, and delivers high-speed performance to juice up smartphones 2.6x faster than stock chargers. Even more absurd is the fact that it can fully charge larger devices like a MacBook or Nintendo Switch. That’s some crazy power for just $50.
Jabra Elite Active 75t
BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS
The only thing more popular than true-wireless earbuds right now are sporty true-wireless earbuds. If you’ve never been one to fall into the AirPods Pro hype, then Jabra’s newest buds are worth every penny. It’s no secret that the SPY team loves these headphones, as we named these the Best Headphones at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. The Elite Active 75t carries over the dynamic sound and strong connectivity of its critically acclaimed predecessor, the Elite 75t, and squeezes it into the same tiny design, but with added waterproof protection. The Jabra Sound+ app helps personalize audio through customization features like the built-in EQ and music presets. You’re also given more battery life than Apple’s cordless pods with seven hours of playtime (28 hours total with the charging case).
Wireless tracker stickers are now a thing, and although we’re waiting to see if the rumors of Apple launching its own location-tracking version come true, Tile has already beaten them to the market with the impressive Tile Sticker. Tiny, waterproof, and with a 150-ft. Bluetooth range, it keeps you from losing anything. This includes wallets, smartphones, water bottles, your Roku remote, and any other valuable that comes to mind. If you really want to get the most for your money, purchase the four-pack bundle that comes with a free Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation).
Google Pixel 4a
BEST IPHONE ALTERNATIVE
If someone in your life recently lost or broke their iPhone 11 or Samsung Galaxy, and don’t want to spend $1000 on a replacement, surprise them with the Google Pixel 4A smartphone. Usually priced around $350, the only thing budget about this phone is the price. Featuring a gorgeous 6.2-inch OLED screen, Snapdragon 765 CPU and a 12-megapixel camera that takes advantage of Google’s AI algorithms to snap beautiful photos, you’d have to nitpick to notice a real difference between using this and a premium smartphone.
LARQ Self-Cleaning Water Bottle
BEST FOR THOSE WHO HYDRATE DILIGENTLY
Have you ever attempted to clean a S’well or Hydro Flask water bottle? It’s torture. The LARQ is a more inventive and resourceful alternative that takes all of the hard work out of maintaining a reusable water bottle by performing the cleaning all on its own. A self-cleaning mode is programmed into each bottle, activating a UV-C LED light that eliminates up to 99.9% of harmful, odor-causing germs on the inside. You can purify water in as little as two hours and store it cold for 24 hours. How refreshing.
Nintendo Switch Lite
BEST FOR FRIENDS WHO STILL HAVEN’T PLAYED ANIMAL CROSSING
If the original Nintendo Switch hasn’t already marked the new era of portable gaming, then its smaller sibling must certainly earn that honor. The Switch Lite is exactly what its name implies, a lighter, travel-friendly version that grants access to the platform’s incredible game library at the cheapest entry point. Battery life is much longer than the first-gen Switch models, plus the integrated Joy-Cons with D-pad makes all the difference when playing 2D platformers (cheer with glee, Mario fanboys). During the stay-at-home era, the Nintendo Switch became increasingly hard to find, but the Switch Lite offers just as much fun in a more affordable (and easier to find) package.
Sony X800H 65-Inch 4K TV
BEST 65-INCH TV
We’ve said it before: the technology of big-ass TVs has reached its apex in gorgeous 65-inch TVs. From the stunning visuals of 4K HDR displays to the unlimited entertainment options available via online streaming, these devices are the key to any man’s heart. The X800H is one of the best TVs of 2021, striking the perfect balance of cutting-edge technology (such as Dolby Vision) and affordability. We also love the fact that it has Google Assistant and Google Cast built-in, which means that controlling your smart home, or streaming videos from your phone is as simple as a voice command or tap of your smartphone screen. If price isn’t an issue, definitely go with Sony’s premium Bravia OLED TV instead. However, for less than $1,000, you can buy this stunning 4K TV, which will last for years without any noticeable wear and tear.
Twelve South AirFly Pro
It happens to all of us. We get into the gym, jump on the treadmill and try to distract ourselves with The Office reruns on the mini-TV console. Unfortunately, it only supports an aux cable and not your brand-new wireless headphones. Well, the Twelve South AirFly Pro serves as a skeleton key for headphone jacks that works with your AirPods or any other pair of cordless headphones/earbuds. It even connects to two devices at once, so you and the missus can enjoy the same in-flight entertainment when flying back home.
Razer Kraken X Gaming Headset
BEST BUDGET GAMING HEADSET
Your baby bro might already already have the new PlayStation 5, but does he have all of the best next-gen console accessories. The least you can do is get him a decent gaming headset to make his Fortnite Friday nights special. Our recommendation: the Razer Kraken X. This critically acclaimed headset guarantees premium performance at a reasonable cost. It feels extremely comfortable, works on multiple platforms (e.g. PC, laptop, and PS4) and has retractable noise-canceling mic is also effective for reducing background noises to communicate clearly with teammates. At the very least you won’t have to listen to the blips, bleeps and bangs for hours on end.
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
BEST SPEAKER FOR THE BACKYARD
Ultimate Ears already makes some of the best portable speakers, but just when we thought it couldn’t go any bigger (or louder), along came the Hyperboom. This sonic beast is powered by 4.5-inch woofers, a pair of 1-inch tweeters, and two passive radiators that unleash ground-rattling audio; the bass response outperforms most home entertainment systems. It has some cool features as well, like one-touch controls, two Bluetooth connections, and an adaptive EQ that automatically adjusts the sound to the environment. Despite its larger form, the Hyperboom was designed as a modern boombox that can be easily transported via a durable strap, making it the ideal sound system for pool parties and rooftop gatherings. Having 24 hours of battery life ensures the party never stops.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
If you (or a loved one) has somehow made it to 2021 without an e-reader, this is the one to buy. It’s light, incredibly easy to use, lasts for weeks on a single charge and (now in its most recent form) is waterproof. Read at the beach with the sweltering sun overhead. Read it in the bath with candle lighting. Read it for bed and forget all about pesky blue light keeping you up. If you want a well-priced piece of technology that will last for years, you can’t do better than the Kindle Paperwhite.
Ring Stick Up Cam
This more flexible version of the popular security camera provides peace of mind for homeowners who value privacy. Users have the luxury of answering and monitoring the front door, or any area of their property for that matter, directly on their smartphone and can communicate with visitors via two-way talk. There is even an Infrared Night Vision mode to spot intruders and unwanted guests. It’s a smart home gift that your dad or husband won’t see coming.
Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100
BEST ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH
When it comes to that fresh from the dentist feel, nothing beats an electric toothbrush. And when it comes to electric toothbrushes, nothing beats the Sonicare. This toothbrush, which uses ultrasonic vibration to scrub your teeth clean, is programmed to guide you efficiently through the brushing process; 30-second timers indicate when to move on to the next quadrant until reaching the two-minute completion mark. We also love the Sonicare because replacement brush heads are cheap and easy to find, which means that you won’t be stuck paying exorbitant fees to use this for years to come.
Apple MacBook Air with M1 CPU
BEST LAPTOP OF 2021
Apple knows how to create beautiful, powerful, and streamlined hardware. The M1 MacBook Air series couldn’t be more exemplary of this. Faster, stronger and retaining the same compact sexiness of its predecessors, this updated version comes equipped with better specs at a lower price. Underneath the hood is it’s new M1 processor, which is so much more powerful than nearly every comparable laptop, you’d have to buy a 16-inch MacBook pro to get something better. We’re not exaggerating when we say this is the most impressive laptop ever made, and that becomes even more apparent when you consider it costs less than $1000.
Anker iPhone LED
BEST FOR THE ASPIRING INFLUENCER
To capture the perfect Instagram shot, you need great lighting, and that’s not something the iPhone provides photographers. Anker’s new pocket-sized LED cube connects directly to your iPhone vibrantly enhances photos by providing double the range and four times the brightness as the built-in flash. With up to 50 minutes of use on a full charge, mobile photogs can take up to 10,000 photos in Flash mode. The LED Flash also works with third-party cameras to shoot well-lit, detailed photos in dark spaces.
Razer Kishi Smartphone Gaming Controller
BEST MOBILE CONTROLLER
We all have that friend who manages to sneak in a round of Fortnite or Call of Duty, even when they’re away from the house and on the phone. They will love you forever if you give them the Razer Kishi as a gift, which adds console-grade controls to their smartphone, giving them improved precision and allowing them to own the living hell out of the competition.
Roku Express HD (2019)
If your parents still have an old, non-4K TV lacking smart TV software, help them cut the cord with the Roku Express HD, which offers access to nearly every streaming service for an unbelievably inexpensive price. On the checklist: 1080p video output, effortless setup, intuitive universal search, lightning-quick operation and the most user-friendly interface to navigate through content.
Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Turntable
BEST FOR AUDIOPHILES
A record player is one of the most considerate gifts anyone can buy a true audiophile. Whoever that may be on your nice list is bound to shower you with daps and hugs upon receiving this gorgeous turntable. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB has a painless setup and some cool features that modernize the vinyl listening experience. It pumps out great sound that’s even better when paired with other powerful audio equipment (e.g. amps, speakers). Being able to convert vinyl records to digital audio is underrated and awesome, too. Start sharing links to some vinyl subscription services to get them set up in advance.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
BEST FLAGSHIP SMARTPHONE
Q1 is Samsung time, as the company always reserves the first quarter of the year for its highly anticipated mobile launches. While we enjoyed the Galaxy Z Flip for bringing flip phones back, it takes a back seat to the excellent Galaxy S20 Ultra. The camera is the biggest highlight here, capturing beautiful photos and 8K videos that can be edited directly using Samsung’s video editor. A new Snapdragon chip keeps these smartphones operating lag-free, be it for gaming or navigating around the interface. Other standout features include 128GB storage with a microSD card slot for expanded memory, reverse wireless charging and a fingerprint sensor that is built into the fantastic display. The phones also come 5G-ready, so once more carriers deploy their networks, expect some insane download speeds.
Philips Hue Bluetooth Bulbs
BEST SMART BULB
Some of the people on your shopping list might already have a few Philips smart bulbs installed on their light fixtures. But they may not yet know about the new Bluetooth-enabled version. The latest and greatest Philips Hue bulb lets you automate smart home lighting from a smartphone, so you won’t have to rely on the wired Hub Bridge. Staying within wireless range allows you to control the same tasks as the previous model, such as change color and lighting effects, set timers and enable other commands using Alexa or Google Assistant.
Theragun G3 Percussive Therapy Device
Theragun might be Therabody now, but that means you can buy the brand’s previous generation of massage guns at a discount. Nothing beats a deep tissue massage after an intense run. Since most of us don’t have the funds to keep a Swedish masseuse on retainer, the Theragun G3 fills that much-needed void for post-workout recovery, and for a one-time charge. Two different treatment speeds are programmed into the device, which requires no more than 30 seconds per muscle group to relieve soreness while improving strength and flexibility. There’s a reason why professional athletes and fitness editors swear by it. And if the Theragun seems out of your budget, read up on our favorite Theragun alternatives.
JBL Flip 5 Waterproof Portable Speaker
BEST WATERPROOF SPEAKER
Frequently one of the best tech gifts of the year, one of the market’s top waterproof portable speakers just got better. JBL recently launched the Flip 5 to critical acclaim, highlighted by its enhanced design, sound and battery life. PartyBoost mode lets you pair two speakers simultaneously to achieve stereo sound, whereas the IPX7-rated exterior protects the internals from water damage. You’ll be able to blast music near the pool steps and watch as the booming sonics create ripples in the water. Battery life remains steady at 12 hours, too. Even cooler is the vast number of color options available, which currently sits at 11, along with the option to personalize the speaker using your own distinctive designs.
Whistle Go Pet Tracker
BEST FOR PET PARENTS
What a world we’re living in when our pets have their own wearables. The Whistle Go is basically a Fitbit for animals, but with some special tricks programmed underneath its durable shell. All data is accessible through the free Whistle app, which provides insight for numerous activities, from basic performance stats (e.g. calories burned, distance traveled, etc.) to how often they lick themselves. Other advanced features include escape alerts and live location tracking via Google maps. The device itself is lightweight and waterproof, so you can leave it around your pup’s neck during bath time.
Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD
BEST FOR CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS
Samsung gives us a glimpse into the future of portable storage with this sexy, credit-card-sized SSD that transfers files nearly 9.5x faster than the average hard drive and has fingerprint security. Wait, what? Yes, this portable drive features a fingerprint scanner with AES 256-bit encryption to easily unlock files with the touch of your finger (or with a password). It’s convenient to travel with and even easier to set up. But, what you’ll feel most comfortable knowing is that Samsung promises users top-notch security to keep their data private. The T7 comes available in two capacities (500GB/1TB) and colors (Black/Silver).
Courant Catch 3 Wireless Charging Accessory Tray
BEST FOR THE STYLE OBSESSED
One of our favorite SPY Finds, this wireless charging tray is an ideal all-in-one solution for the active lifestyler who requires organization and mobile power without being tethered to wires. It is beautifully constructed, with premium pebble grain leather and ample room to store numerous EDC items such as Bluetooth trackers, keys, lighters and travel-sized grooming essentials. But what you really want the Courant Catch 3 for is its ability to wirelessly charge your iPhone, AirPods or Android device when stationed at a desk. The handsome leather design also blends nicely into any setting.
Wyze Cam Smart Home Camera
BEST BUDGET SMART HOME DEVICE
A $25 indoor security camera with 1080p HD resolution, smart features, cloud storage, digital assistant support and night vision almost sounds too good to be true. Brace yourself, because it’s a reality, and one that you can generously gift to several others who value home privacy. It even has a person-detection feature to inform homeowners when guests arrive, along with a smoke and carbon monoxide detection feature. And, if you really want to, you can repurpose this as a webcam if you want to step up your Zoom game. Now that’s advanced functionality for a cube-sized camera.
Legiral Massage Gun
BEST BUDGET MASSAGE GUN
This may be one of the more affordable massage guns around, but the Legiral is one of the highest-rated Theragun alternatives thanks to excellent battery life promising six hours of life on a single charge. The deep muscle massage afforded by the Legiral will help the body recover faster by promoting blood flow and relieving lactic acid. With 20 different levels of intensity to choose from, and six different massage heads you can rotate between, the Cryotex is not lacking in versatility. Even with a high-torque motor, this massage gun only emits 45 db of noise and it’s portable as well, weighing only four pounds.
Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller
BEST FOR XBOX GAMERS
Whether they’re an Xbox or PC gamer, this is the gaming pad you’ll want to put in their hands heading into the New Year. Microsoft’s flagship controller receives some notable upgrades like Bluetooth support, longer battery life (40 hours of playtime), wireless charging and the inclusion of dual paddles on the backside which let players perform actions with greater speed and precision. Oh, and it’s compatible with the new Xbox Series X, Whether someone wants to refine their skills by pairing the Elite Series 3 with their console, a high-powered Windows 10 PC or the Surface Laptop 3, there’s no shortage of ways you can use this thing.
Meater Smart Food Thermometer
BEST FOR ASPIRING CHEFS
A good food thermometer is a must-have when it comes to searing the perfect steak (or not poisoning your dinner party guests), but if you’re shopping for someone whose kitchen skills still have some room for improvement, give them the Meater. You can stick this connected food thermometer in whatever you’re cooking and leave it in there for the duration. Meater will walk you through every step of the cooking process, and when the food reaches the desired temperature that you set in the accompanying app, you will receive a notification that its time to pull your culinary masterpiece from the heat.
GoPro Hero8 Black
BEST FOR ACTION JUNKIES
Another year, another GoPro release on our list of the best tech gifts. This time around, the action-camera maker developed its newest shooter with vloggers in mind. Improved in-camera software and a sleek design with new Mods makes recording influencer content far simpler for newbies. There’s also more than enough performance here to record and share wild adventures in vivid detail, courtesy of better image stabilization and cool modes like “Live Burst” to snap live-action burst shots.
Eero Mesh Smart Router
BEST FOR FIXING SPOTTY WI-FI
The average consumer cares little about the technical side of WiFi. They just want something that’s simple to set up and guarantees the fastest results. Well, this revised version of the highly popular Eero Mesh router simplifies your relationship with your home network through smarter wireless management and voice commands. For instance, you can ask Alexa to pause WiFi on all smartphones and route that power towards your smart TV to establish a stronger streaming connection. Excellent. Tech illiterates worried about the setup process can also breathe easy knowing it takes 10 minutes (or less) to get up and running. Its most rewarding feature: that price tag. A set of three should guarantee zero dropouts during Fortnite sessions.
Canon EOS M50
BEST DSLR CAMERA FOR BEGINNERS
Whether you’re shopping for someone who has taken up photography as a hobby, wants to get into vlogging or live-streaming, or just wants to up their Instagram game, the Canon EOS M50 camera is an excellent starter camera. Thanks to its 24-megapixel sensor, interchangeable lenses, ability to shoot 4K video, face and eye-tracking, as well as the ability to function as a high-resolution webcam, this is a camera built to excel in a variety of scenarios. And because of its relatively compact size, it’s easy to carry around or use one-handed. But the best part is that for all the features you get, this is a very affordable camera, providing more bang for the buck than most similar cameras.
Microsoft Surface Go 2
The iPad Air may be Apple’s latest attempt to bridge the gap between laptop and tablet, but Microsoft was the first company to do it right with its inaugural Surface hybrid laptop. Fast forward 8 years later, and Microsoft’s line of Surface products are still among the best when it comes to hybrids. The new Surface Go 2, which comes with a 10.5-inch display, an Intel Core M3 CPU and 8 GB of RAM, may not have all the power of a laptop, but for anyone who just needs something for editing documents, streaming video and browsing the web, they’ll love the versatility they’re afforded with this small and light wonder.