Holiday gift shopping is notoriously stressful. I mean, really – nothing ruins the spirit of giving like having to fight throngs of angry last-minute shoppers through Best Buy or, god forbid, the mall. In an effort to make your season a little more merry and bright, I’ve taken some of the hassle out of the great gift search and have compiled a list of the five best, no-fail tech toys and gadgets of 2015.
Starting at $359
Still going strong and easily one of the most popular smartwatches on the planet, dads, moms, teens, bosses, grandparents and besties alike will love to receive this. It does so much that it easily makes the top spot on this list, because anyone can find something they enjoy, use or appreciate about this amazing little gadget. I think it goes without saying (but I’ll mention it anyway) that this particular gift is best for the Apple iPhone lover in your life.
Samsung Gear VR (by Oculus)
While virtual reality still falls more into the “novelty act” market, it’s an area that is quickly building up some steam as a legitimate gaming console and immersive learning tool. Samsung Gear has made it easier than ever to get your hands on this simultaneously new and retro technology, with a mobile headset that works with any current-generation Samsung Galaxy phone by simply strapping it to the front. With little more than a headstrap, a couple of lenses and an onboard motion sensor, this intro to VR device offers possibly the most diverse and widespread pathways into the world of VR you can buy for under $100.
The Amazon Echo is a little like getting a glimpse into what the future of smart home technology will be like. While it is uber-functional as a Bluetooth speaker that can wirelessly stream music, it also doubles as an in-home virtual personal assistant. Using nothing more than your voice, the Echo can provide you with a list of restaurants, turn your lights on and off, give you directions, read you an audio book, and even check your schedule for you.
Nintendo 3DS XL
Starting at $199.99
If you’re looking to buy for a kid, a gamer or a wistfully nostalgic adult in your life (any nerd or game-lover of any kind, really), the new Nintendo 3DS XL will provide hours of fun and entertainment. Perhaps brilliantly, Nintendo has made it nearly impossible to play Mario games on anything but a Nintendo system, and this little pocket rocket can easily go wherever you (or whomever you love enough to part with this time-travelling nostalgia machine) go. And once you’ve re-beaten Super Mario Bros a sufficient number of times, there are a ton of other great games to move on to.
Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Star Wars Droid
Starting at $149.99
Whether you have (or are) the Star Wars fan in your life, this gift is sure to bring joy to the whole room. In addition to being an authentic piece of movie magic, the BB-8 comes app-enabled, smart Bluetooth-ready, and reacts to the sound of your voice. The coolest thing about this droid is that it actually evolves and grows the more interaction and play time it gets with you, making it a gift that should get plenty of play even after the weeklong honeymoon phase between Christmas and New Year’s. Oh, and as if it wasn’t already cool enough, BB-8 lets you record, send and view virtual holographic videos together.
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