We all have that one person in our life that is simply impossible to buy for. The guy that has everything, the woman we want to impress, the kid whose interests change faster than the weather in Texas. To help you gift like a pro, and ensure you have a few no-fail gift ideas at your disposal, we’ve compiled a list of the top-rated, most-wanted tech gifts of 2016.
For the One who Has it All
Last year’s big breakout gift star was Amazon’s Alexa, an in-home speaker assistant that played music, remembered things for you, and, at my family’s notoriously debaucherous holiday celebration, was forced to endure some pretty NSFW inquisitions. This year, Google has added their own offering into the mix with Google Home, a voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant. It answers questions, completes tasks, plays music, interacts with your schedule and other apps, and allows you to voice-control your smart devices. The person who has everything doesn’t always want to do everything too, so this gift is a no-brainer for the pickiest mom, uncle, or co-worker on your list. And at only $129, it’s a steal.
For the Gamer
The two hottest items for Christmas 2016 are easily Microsoft's Xbox One S and the Sony Playstation 4, both of which (not surprisingly) launched just in time for the holiday season. Which you go with is really based on the personal preferences of the gamer in your life, but each will be met with the undying gratitude and joy of the receiver. Plus, several retailers are routinely offering game bundles which include everything from extra controllers, VR add-ons and top-selling games. The Playstation 4 promises gamers “the most immersive gaming experience ever” (and can be combined with Playstation’s epic virtual reality headset, for a an additional chunk of change), while the Xbox One S is nearly half the size of its predecessor and promises game compatibility all the way back to 360 classics. At last check, both consoles were rocking the super sale price of just $249
For Your Favorite Kid (or Kid at Heart)
Christmas is a time for reliving the childlike wonder of our youth, so whether you’re buying for an actual kid or just the young at heart, a one-of-a-kind interactive toy is sure to be a hit. This year’s most popular tech toys fell into two very different categories. For the artist, builder or tinkerer in your life, consider the MakerBot Replicator Mini+. It is a completely simple, totally endearing miniature 3D printer that fits on a small desk and provides hours of fast, easy, and portable 3D printing fun. With a $999 price tag, this one will set you back a bit, though. For endless cool points, spring for my own personal favorite find this year, the Anki Cozmo Robot. This gifted little guy has a big brain and an even bigger personality, which even evolves over time as it spends time with its human. “His powerful technology lets him survey the world, explore it, and make decisions based on his mood” – just like your real-life friends. (Prices vary)
For Your Shutterbug Friend
Every year our smartphones are getting smarter, and their cameras are getting better, to boot. For most folks, this all but eliminates the need for any extemporaneous photography gear. But we all have that one friend or family member that likes to keep it classic, has an eye for capturing moments, or simply loves to document every adventure or road trip they embark on. For your beloved photog, consider HP's Sprocket Photo Printer, a portable pocket-sized printer with Bluetooth that prints photos directly from your smartphone or tablet – no ink cartridges required. The Sprocket is currently on sale for $129, so it’s an easy choice for gifting on a budget. If the shutterbug in your life is less keen on social media and scrapbooking and more of a serial adventurer, the 360fly 4K action camera is the gift for them. It captures stunning 4K video in 360-degree and first-person POV modes, and can shoot, edit and share videos in 90 seconds or less. It’s currently on sale for $399, and given that it’s dustproof, shockproof, and water resistant, it should easily keep its receiver well-documented for years to come.
Gift-Giving Hall of Fame
As a general rule, buying a laptop is a sacred and personal experience based on individual needs and preferences. This year, however, three laptops hit the market that were so desired, so well-constructed, so buzzed-about, that they earned the right to join this list. The Microsoft Surface Book is only a few months old, but has quickly become one of the world’s favorite convertible devices for its thin, light, portable offering of diversity. The iPeople in your life will likely only be happy with the latest and greatest in laptops, which means only Apple’s new MacBook Pro will do for them. Or, for a no-fail chunk of computing happiness, Dell’s new XPS 13 was one of the best-reviewed, most functional products to hit the market in 2016, and provides some of the best specs for the price. Speaking of price, each laptop on our list will set you back at least $1,000 – but they’ll also each earn you a spot in the gift-giving Hall of Fame.
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