A record number of nearly 8 in 10 people plan to buy tech gadgets and tools as gifts this holiday season. Top picks include laptops, smartphones, headphones, streaming services, and toys. Many, many toys. But where do you start and how do you know you’re getting the best price available for this hot device?
These are questions people ask me all the time throughout the year, but they multiply by the hundreds in the month leading up to Christmas. Here are some hard and fast “rules” for buying great gadget gifts for other people, along with some of my top picks for this year.
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What do they already have?
If someone has a new Samsung Galaxy phone, don’t rush to buy them an Apple Watch, and vice versa. Instead, choose a device that “plays well in the sandbox” with the gadgets they already use. If they’re used to Macs, there’s a bigger learning curve to switch to Windows. Or if they have a slew of Amazon Echo smart speakers, an Apple HomePod Mini could totally miss the mark.
Another point to emphasize here is finding the “right” accessories for the gadgets they already have. This is good advice, especially when it comes to players. For example, if you’re shopping for someone who owns a Nintendo Switch, check out SanDisk’s new Fortnite microSD card (which starts at $24 for 128GB). This solves a huge problem – people’s device storage fills up with just a few games. This little tech tool allows people to store more games so people can play anytime, anywhere, and it works with all Nintendo Switch systems.
Good gaming headsets – I’m a fan of the LucidSound LS100X Wireless Headphones – are another great choice for gamers. I like this set because for under $100 you get up to 130 hours on a single charge. That’s over five days of continuous play! Can you imagine getting that from your current headphones? No, not even close.
Know where the pros go
Fashion experts know how and where to shop to get the best items at the best price, and we tech-obsessed are no different. When it comes to buying photo and video equipment, I always start with MPB. It is the world’s largest platform for buying, selling or trading used photo and video equipment. What I like about them is that they purchase hardware directly and their team of product experts assess the quality of all items before reselling them. Everything you buy comes with a six-month warranty, and they’re incredibly helpful if you have any issues or questions.
I and many people I know also turn to refurbished technology to get great products at great prices. I mainly use eBay for this, as they also inspect everything before reselling it, and it comes with an eBay money back guarantee.
When it comes to big holiday sales, it’s hard to beat Lenovo’s laptops and hybrid devices right now, too. Almost every electronics maker has some sort of deal, but we’ve seen none better than Lenovo’s Cyber Monday deals of new devices for up to 65% off.
I just bought an IdeaPad Duet 5 2-in-1 touchscreen tablet. It’s ultra-portable, super versatile, and totally solid for working or streaming your favorite content. I also appreciate the 11+ hour battery life and feel like it’s a great find at a solid mid-range price.
Tech Toy Trends
I’ve gotten my hands dirty with hundreds of cutting-edge toys this year, and one of the biggest trends is for toys to have a physical and digital presence. It gives kids hands-on real-life play and online action in the form of an app or video game.
One of my favorites in this space is Pixicade Pets ($20). It comes with special markers and a booklet that teaches kids how to draw various animals, from dogs and cats to more fantastical options like unicorns and dragons. Kids can draw anything they can imagine on paper, then snap a photo and watch their artwork magically come to life in a video game through the Pixicade app on a mobile device. Kids can also draw eggs to hatch, toys and food, and create endless gameplay.
I have a knack for picking out the hottest products before they hit the market, and this next toy is one of them. I first covered My Avastars earlier this year, and now they’re one of the hottest toys of the season and a 2022 TTPM Most Wanted Toys winner. (I got there!)
Like Pixicade Pets, kids can play with the My Avastars ($25) in real life and on screen. Each physical doll comes with a form that looks like an avatar and a handful of outfits, reusable stickers, and clothing decals. It’s kind of like a modern take on paper dolls. Kids dress the dolls in their signature looks, then scan an included code, and can build the same doll online, then play My Avastars Fashion Game. This particular toy has taken TikTok by storm, with millions of views and positive reviews.
When the screens need to go dark, but the kids still need interactive entertainment, Toniebox is still one of my favorite finds. The Peppa Pig Toniebox Starter Set ($100) is a screenless entertainment system. Kids need a “Tonie”, a small figure they place on a box-like speaker, and away they go. The Toniebox broadcasts children’s favorite songs, stories and other activities. They can collect and use all sorts of other Tonies figures with each Toniebox, including the new Tonies plushies that were just released last week.
The term “social and emotional learning” or SEL is also trending this year, and one of my top tech toy picks is all about it. Pawz The Calming Pup by hand2mind is a toy, nightlight, and way to teach SEL skills to kids three and up. Touch Pawz’s small foot and self-adjusting lights guide kids through breathing exercises. “Inhale as the light gets brighter and exhale as the light fades,” a company spokesperson told me. It’s a great way to help preschoolers manage their own emotions, a skill that’s becoming more important every day!
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There are so many awesome gadgets these days that it’s easy to grab a few that are sure to make everyone on your list really, really happy. This includes inexpensive drones, instant cameras, gadget chargers, smart home gadgets, pet gadgets and more. USA Today and Reviewed have covered us all with comprehensive gift guides, but these are the two gadgets that have changed my life the most this year.
The Husqvarna Automower 450XH ($4,000) successfully mowed over three acres of lawn for two straight months over the summer without us having to touch a single blade of grass. That’s a big splurge, but it’s similarly priced to the lawn mower our previous owner of our property used – and that lawn mower was in constant need of regular repairs and maintenance. Considering that riding lawn mowers with similar features are in the $3,000 range and ride-on mowers and push mowers generally require a fair amount of maintenance, robotic lawn mowers might be next on your list. smart home essentials.
The same goes for Hunter Douglas Smart Shades with PowerView Automation. I wrote about this earlier this year, in a story about smart home gadgets that can save money on heating and cooling costs. These allow you to press a single button and use a voice assistant such as Alexa or an app to set a schedule to keep your home warm when the winter weather hits. The price varies depending on the materials you choose and the specifics of your particular windows. . We have reduced our energy bill by more than 50% since installing them.
What gadgets have changed your life the most (in a good way) this year? Be sure to share in the comments section through our social media channels!
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