Holiday Gift Guide 2017



Trekz Air

The Trekz Air bone-conduction headphone has managed to one-up its Titanium predecessor in terms of its light and unobtrusive build. The rear band is twine-thin but still has a resilient titanium core, making it safe to stow in a bag and easy to keep clear of collars and hoods while you’re working out. This is a particularly good gift for cyclists, runners and people who enjoy situational awareness as much as their tunes. The Titanium model may offer more audio oomph (and a roomier fit), but the Air’s build makes it easy to forget you’re wearing them. 


Echo Dot

Amazon’s Alexa updated Echo Dot speaker is an affordable way to help make a run-of-the-mill home smarter. The Dot is tiny and it doesn’t have a very big speaker, but it fits in all of the microphone technology used in the larger model. That lets you to chat with Alexa and tap her thousands of skills from just about anywhere in a room. The Echo Dot is also perfect for connecting to existing speaker and amplifier setups — which is useful, because Amazon’s larger Echos still aren’t up to snuff for audiophiles.  


Echo (2nd Generation)

Amazon’s new Echo is just $100, making it a great choice for any loved one interested in a stylish smart speaker. It might be $50 more than the Dot, but it comes in multiple finishes (fabric or wood) to better match their home decor. The microphone is super-responsive, and perfect for summoning Alexa and all her skills, so the recipient can spend their gift cards ordering cat litter and then check the weather. It doesn’t sound quite as good as the Echo Plus or Sonos One for music, but its price and good looks make up for it. 


Dash Pro

Bragi’s Dash Pro sit at the apex of what it’s possible to do with a pair of tiny wireless earbuds. In addition to being able to connect to any Bluetooth device on your person, the Dash Pro ships with 4GB of storage, allowing you to listen to music even without a phone. But the biggest reason to purchase one might be the built-in fitness tracking that obviates the need for a smartwatch. Then there are other nice-to-haves, like built-in Alexa and real-time translation for more than 40 languages. 


Home Mini

The Google Home Mini is small in stature and price, but it does everything its larger and more expensive stablemate can do. Sure, the speaker isn’t robust enough for extended music listening sessions, but the Home Mini is otherwise a great way to access the wealth of Google knowledge from anywhere inside the house. And while the Home Mini isn’t going to fill a room with sound, it does hook up to Chromecast devices, so your intended can still use it to play videos and tunes throughout his home.



Simply put, Jabra’s Move Wireless are the best wireless headphones under $100. They sound great and, unlike some cordless options, they’re comfortable enough to wear for hours on end. They should also last for more than eight hours, which makes them perfect for late-night Netflix binges. If the person on your list has recently upgraded to a phone without a headphone jack, the Move would be a great option, especially if they’re not a fan of wireless earbuds.


X3 Sport

It’s not completely wireless, but Jaybird’s X3 headset makes for an excellent workout companion. It’s water-resistant to help the athlete on your list power through the sweatiest of runs, and because it’s smaller than the model it replaces, the X3 is remarkably comfy for a pair of wireless in-ears. You can expect about eight hours of battery life on a charge, but most important, they sound great (if just a little heavy on the bass). Thankfully, you can tune the buds’ sound profile from inside the Jaybird app. 


iMono / Poly app

If you’ve done any research, you’ve probably realized synths aren’t cheap. Fortunately, you can pick one up for a friend without burning through your holiday budget. Korg’s iMono/Poly app is based on the early ‘80s Korg Mono/Poly keyboard used by the Chemical Brothers, 808 State and Tangerine Dream, and works with wired and Bluetooth keyboards. Plus it only costs $30, which is far less than the $2,000 price of the original keyboard. So your giftee gets a solid synth and you get to buy gifts for everyone else on your list. 



For the hip-hop fan or, really, any musician on your list, it’s tough to go wrong with the Roland TR-08. A tiny throwback to the drum machine that changed modern music, this tiny digital instrument not only looks the part, but thanks to Roland’s Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology, it sounds great as well. Based on the TR-808 released in the early ‘80s, the TR-08 can be used to recreate the drum tracks of your favorite tunes from Marvin Gaye, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, the Beastie Boys and even New Kids on the Block. 


Sonos One

If there’s someone on your list who loves music and also doesn’t have an Amazon Echo, the Sonos One basically does double duty. It delivers the same audio quality found in the Play:1 speaker, but it’s the first Sonos device you can also talk to. Alexa is built right in and lets you call up and control your music with your voice. The Sonos One also can do just about everything else the Echo can do, and Sonos plans to add support for the Google Assistant as well.



If you’re looking to give the gift of stellar portable audio, Sony has you covered. The previous version of these headphones was a big surprise when it came out, featuring better sound and noise cancellation than Bose’s top-end pair. Sony didn’t totally revamp its best wireless headphones for the new model, but it did increase battery life to 30 hours with a quick-charge mode and new several audio controls in tow. The WH-1000XM2 is also cheaper than its predecessor, so you can appease the audio nerd if your life without breaking the bank.


SmartCast Sound Bar SB3651-E6

In the age of Chromecast and Sonos, soundbars need to do much more than amplify a television’s audio. Vizio’s gear has been up to the task for a while now, and its latest SmartCast soundbars go a step further. In addition to built-in Chromecast streaming, that special someone on your gift list can access movies and shows by chatting with Google Assistant through a Home speaker. Of course, the included satellite speakers and subwoofer deliver 5.1 sound at an affordable price so you can put those savings toward other gifts you need to buy. 

Bang & Olufsen


Don’t let the compact size of B&O’s pocketable P2 speaker fool you — this small device packs a punch. Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen these days, but Bang & Olufsen managed to build one that’s insanely portable but still sounds amazing for its size. That formula makes a great gift for the music lover on your list. It’s also one of the few pieces of gear from the company that won’t put a massive dent in your wallet.


Power Core 20100

Keeping a power bank handy is smart, and we’re big fans of Anker’s portable 20,100mAh cell. That’s enough to fully recharge a phone — even big ones, like the iPhone 8 Plus — about seven times over. It’s also surprisingly slim for an external battery with this capacity; what’s more, that narrow enclosure weighs about the same as a can of soda. Anker’s newer models support high-output charging that can re-juice a Nintendo Switch or one of Apple’s recent MacBook Pros, but for most people, the standard PowerCore 20100 is more than enough. 


Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad

In case you missed it, Apple’s newest iPhones allow for wireless charging. That means you or your friends might want a wireless charging pad to go with your iPhone 8, 8 Plus or iPhone X — or any compatible Android phone, of course. Fortunately, Belkin is already on it: The soon-to-be-released Boost Up pad offers a spacious charging surface and supplies up to 7.5W of charge to any compatible device. Apple has its own wireless charging tech in development, but it won’t be available until 2018. Belkin’s charging pad arrives much sooner, with a ship date of December 1st.


Craft keyboard

What’s the point of throwing a control dial on a keyboard? With the Craft, Logitech brings over some of the features we first saw on Microsoft’s Surface Dial. It lets you control specific settings in apps like Photoshop just by tapping or turning the built-in dial. It’s a far more natural way to, say, change your paint brush stroke weight than clicking through menus with a mouse. Oh, and the Craft is a solid keyboard in its own right. It’s built from aluminum, with curved quiet keys for accurate typing. It’s the sort of input device creative types love.  


MX Master 2S

If you’re shopping for the kind of power user who routinely switches between multiple computers, the Logitech’s MX Master 2S could make a thoughtful stocking stuffer. Logitech’s “Flow” tech allows you to control two machines with one mouse, even copying and pasting between them. Additionally, each of the mouse’s seven buttons can be customized to your liking. It’s also remarkably comfortable to use, and the 4,000-dpi sensor is nearly four times as accurate as the original Master. Throw in a long-lasting, fast-charging battery, and you’ve got one of the best mice money can buy. 



Your friends who are always taking pictures, selfies or Snaps will appreciate the LuMee Duo, a light case designed for iPhones (in special marble designs as well). It adds front and rear-facing bulbs to their phones and casts a flattering glow on their face (or food!). The light's intensity can be adjusted by holding down a button, and runs on its own battery so that it doesn’t drain the phone. Plus, it's endorsed by selfie expert Kim Kardashian, so if your friend is a fan, that's a nice bonus. (If not, maybe don’t mention it.)


Surface Ergonomic keyboard

Microsoft’s split-keyboard design has been around for decades, but the Surface Ergonomic is its most luxurious model yet. Instead of a standard flat QWERTY layout, it’s oriented to support the way your hands naturally rest. Its keys are easy to reach, and they offer good depth and feedback. Typing is pretty quiet too, and the underlying panel feels sturdy as well, even though it’s made of plastic. Perhaps its most memorable feature, though, is its cloth wrist rest, which feels sumptuously soft to the touch. Just what the workaholic in your life needs after typing all day.


Juice Pack Air

At this point, Apple should start selling bundled battery cases with its iPhones because the battery life leaves so much to be desired. That’s why Mophie’s Juice Pack Air is so crucial to anyone with an iPhone 7. While Apple does sell its own battery case, it’s hard to beat Mophie’s slick style. The Juice Pack Air doubles your iPhone battery and is compatible with the Qi wireless standard, so it will likely work with your existing charging gear. Also, as you might expect, the case protects phones against drops and cracked screens. Once you put it on your phone, you’ll likely never take it off.


Ultra 400GB UHS-I microSDXC

Regardless of whether the person you’re shopping for qualifies as a digital hoarder, it’s hard to argue with having extra space on your phone. SanDisk’s 400GB microSD card is the largest in its class and is especially useful for people who like to shoot and store 4K videos on their phones. At $250, this memory card is as expensive as some phones, but you’re basically giving your friend a whole new handset’s worth of storage (and more). Just make sure they’re using a phone with a microSD card slot. 


Sport & Style

Help your loved ones keep track of their valuables and the items they're always misplacing — whether it’s keys, a wallet, a bike or even pets. Get them a Tile Style or Sport to attach to their stuff, and they can ping the Bluetooth tracker from their phones. The new Tiles are twice as loud as their predecessor and display the last place they were on a map in the Tile app so your friends will know where they left their belongings. Fashionable folks may prefer the more-attractive “Style” version, while the rugged-looking “Sport” should better match the user’s gym uniform.


Rebel SL2 (body)

Every new photographer wants a camera for Christmas, but if they prefer DSLR to mirrorless, budget can be an issue. Canon’s Rebel SL2 costs just $700 with an EF-S18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS kit lens, and as a bonus, it’s the second-lightest DSLR out there after Nikon’s D3400. For that, you get an upgraded  24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor, dual-pixel autofocus, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, NFC and a touchscreen. Continuous shooting speeds are 5 fps, but video is limited to 1080p/60 and not 4K, unfortunately. Still, given Canon’s massive EF lens selection, it’d be a gift that lasts well beyond the holidays.


OM-D EM-10

The entry-level 16-megapixel OM-D E-M10 Mark III is the latest of Olympus’ smart-looking high-performance micro four-thirds mirrorless cameras. At $800 with an M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit lens ($650 body only), you get more than most cameras in that range: 8.6 fps continuous shooting, 4K video, a 2.36 million dot EVF, 121-point contrast AF, silent mode and 5-axis, in-body stabilization for video and audio. Negative points are the low megapixel count, balky autofocus and mediocre low-light performance compared to, say, the slightly pricier Sony A6300. Still, considering the specs and that lovely body, it’d be a gift that lets you capture holiday memories and look good doing it.


MacBook (2017)

If you’re shopping for a Mac user in the market for a new laptop, the 12-inch MacBook is the best choice — for most people. Its 2-pound weight can’t be beat, and the performance and battery life are both still solid enough for everyday use. Even the keyboard and trackpad design are virtually identical to the higher-end MacBook Pro line, so you’re not giving up anything there, either. Just consider buying your loved one a dongle to go with the new machine — they’ll probably need a full-size USB port sooner rather than later.

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Chromebook Flip C302

ASUS has made many Chromebooks over the years, but this is probably the best all-around option you’ll find. It has a solid screen, keyboard and trackpad, and enough power to do just about everything you’d want to do on a Chromebook. As the name implies, the display flips around so you can use the device as a tablet. Finally, it runs the many apps available in Google Play — good for saving videos offline or playing some previously unavailable games. Ultimately, it’s a great computer that doesn’t cost much and will help most people get their work done. (Assuming video editing isn’t on the table.)


Surface Laptop

After years of giving us laptop and tablet hybrids with the Surface line, Microsoft finally unveiled a traditional notebook earlier this year. It’s simply a laptop, with no removable display or 360-degree hinge. But it’s also one of the most refined laptops we’ve ever seen. It’s incredibly thin and light, has a great display, and its keyboard and trackpad feel fantastic. In particular, the wrist rest and the area around the keys are covered in a soft material called Alcantara, which makes the Surface Laptop feel unlike any other computer.  

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iPad Pro (10.5-inch)

Apple believes the iPad Pro can, for many people, replace the personal computer, especially when paired with its smart keyboard. The latest version of the tablet lends weight to the claim, especially when you throw in the Apple Pencil for arty types. If someone you love (or really like) has recently lost their laptop, you could do worse than buying them one of these. Don’t believe the iPad is just a toy —the addition of iOS 11 has supercharged the device with the sort of multitasking features you’d find in a computer. 

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iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Apple has spent the last decade steadily refining the iPhone. The internals in the latest models are fast enough to render AR content in real time, and the camera (or cameras, on the 8 Plus) offer portrait modes that, for most people, do the job of a semipro shooter. It’s the little details that make this worth buying, including the long-awaited inclusion of wireless charging. We also love the Retina display, which adjusts its color temperature to match one's ambient surroundings. We reviewed the 8 and 8 Plus and are confident that these are among the best smartphones you can gift someone right now. 

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iPad (2017)

You don’t need to shell out for a Pro to get a great iPad. Just look at Apple’s 2017 model — there aren’t many frills here, but performance and battery life are excellent, and the bright 9.7-inch screen is well-suited for binge-watching. Oh, and don’t forget about apps: iOS arguably plays host to the best-designed tablet apps out there, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. In fairness, the 2017 iPad isn’t as thin as some of the models it replaces, but it’s an amazingly well-rounded machine nonetheless. Not bad for the cheapest midsize iPad Apple has ever made.

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Surface Pro (2017)

If the PC users on your gift list prefers polished rather than bleeding-edge products, Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro is for them. The 2017 edition has just a few changes from the last model, including an enhanced 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display, more powerful seventh-gen Intel Core CPUs, a fancy Alcantara cloth keyboard and much-improved battery life (up to 12 hours). It’s tiltable up to 165 degrees in “studio mode,” making it easier to use the optional $99 stylus for sketching, graphics and other creative tasks. Otherwise, it’s unchanged from the last generation. It’s available now, but LTE connectivity won’t arrive until next month. 

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Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google’s not necessarily known for making pretty smartphones, but the Pixel 2 and its larger sibling are striking works of design. There are flourishes like narrow bezels, along with AI tricks like telling you what song is playing in the background. Beyond that, even, the Pixel 2 has a sense of whimsy that’s rare in smartphones. Google offers plain black or white versions of the device as well as a pastel blue that has to be seen in person, and a two-tone black-and-white edition with a pop of orange on the sleep/wake switch. These phones offer a rare mix of power and design — plus the promise to store all of the photos you take in full-res, free — at least until 2020.

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Moto G5 Plus

The Moto G5 Plus is proof that Motorola (now a Lenovo sub-brand) can still make a great cheap phone. Its all-metal design gives the phone a premium feel without the corresponding price, and we were impressed by its 12-megapixel camera and brisk performance. Android purists will also probably appreciate the mostly clean build of Android Nougat. It’s not perfect — there’s no NFC here, for instance — but the good heavily outweighs the bad. If someone on your list wants an excellent Android phone, the G5 Plus is up to the task and won’t blow your budget.


Galaxy S8 and S8+

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ are hitting midlife, but they’re still among our favorite phones, and a lower price than ever makes them a more feasible gift. For comparison’s sake, the Galaxy S8 (now $630 on Amazon) costs around the same as a Google Pixel 2. For the money, you’re getting similar specs, including a state-of-the-art Snapdragon 835 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a great 12-megapixel camera. But Samsung’s 2,960 x 1,440 OLED screen trumps the Pixel 2’s controversial display, and both the S8 and S8+ have better designs and a superior fit and finish. Oh, and a headphone jack — take that, Google. 

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Galaxy Tab S3

Apple’s tablets might get all the attention, but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3 is a worthy competitor. That’s mostly because of Samsung’s incredible displays — the 9.7-inch Super AMOLED screen here is one of the nicest we’ve seen, especially for watching HDR movies. Doodling on the display with the included S Pen is a fruitful experience too, because it shares many tricks with the excellent Galaxy Note phones. Its performance impressed us, too, as did the sound quality. The price is admittedly steep, but you can rest easy knowing whoever receives this is getting the best Android tablet out there.


Echo Show

If there’s a smart speaker on someone’s wish list and money is no object, the Echo Show is the one you want. The recent removal of YouTube support hurts its value, but it’s still a fine device for checking the weather, holding a video call or catching up on a Prime Video series. It should sound better than the regular Echo, too, although we wouldn’t buy it solely for audio. With that said, there are alternatives if you can’t justify paying $230 for an all-singing, all-dancing device. The Echo Spot offers many of the on-screen features in a clock-like design for $130, while the $150 Echo Plus ditches the display in favor of both upgraded sound and a smart-home hub.



While Nest is the 800-pound gorilla in the smart-thermostat space, it’s not necessarily the best choice as a gift. We’d lean toward the Ecobee4, which one-ups its Alphabet-backed rival in a few ways. For one, it includes Amazon Alexa voice control — you can control the temperature (among many other tasks) from across the room without having to pull out a phone or talk to a separate speaker. It also has HomeKit support that Nest lacks, so it makes more sense for someone who lives in an Apple-centric household. At $249, Ecobee’s device is feature-rich and inexpensive enough that it could pay for itself if you’re getting it for someone in your own household.

Instant Pot


The Instant Pot has become a hot kitchen item, and for good reason — there are so many things you can do with this multipurpose device. You can use it as a slow cooker, a rice cooker and a yogurt maker. But the real reason you want one is for pressure cooking. Imagine pulled pork that’s done in 90 minutes. Or a 15-minute risotto that doesn’t require much stirring. With the Ultra, you also get a sous vide function that holds the food at a certain temperature (plus or minus five degrees) so you can cook foods to perfection. 


Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit

With the advent of always-on smart speakers, the home of the future is starting to take shape. Not only can Philips' Hue line give you full-color ambiance, but if you pair these lights with an Alexa-enabled speaker you can also turn lights on and off, or trigger preset color combinations using just your voice. The company is also launching features like Hue Entertainment, which allows various lights to synchronize with movies, video games and music. This is the perfect gift for social butterflies who love to set the scene when they have company over.


One Top

From the maker of those “Tasty” YouTube videos comes the One Top, an induction cooktop that’s smarter than it looks. Sure, you could use it like you would any other burner — it works with pretty much any magnetic pan — but the beauty here is that you can fine-tune its temperature. This means you can cook via sous vide and deep-fry foods to perfection without specialty equipment. Bring it into the dining room and it’s great for fondue and shabu-shabu as well. Get this for the cook in your life, and be sure to invite yourself over for dinner parties. 


Ultra Boost Parley

Everyone loves a fresh pair of kicks. Here’s how the Adidas Ultra Boost running shoes are different: For starters, they’re supercomfortable, thanks to a midsole technology that makes your feet feel as if you’re stepping on bouncy foam. Beyond that, though — and this is the most exciting part — the Parley Ultra Boosts are made from 3D-printed recycled ocean plastic, which is seen in yarn form all around the upper of the $200 shoe. If you want a cheaper option, Adidas also has the EQT Parley silhouette for $160.


Watch Series 3

There are plenty of smartwatches that let you make calls from your wrist, but most are the size of a house. The biggest achievement in the Apple Watch Series 3 is the fact that it’s literally a hair thicker than its immediate predecessor. It’s hard to overstate the engineering genius that went into bringing LTE to this device, not to mention its vastly improved fitness-tracking features. Imagine being able to go for a run and stream tunes from Apple Music straight to your wrist while your phone sits at home. And yes, there’s a cheaper version without cellular connectivity, if your loved one/wallet would prefer.  

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What comes after the holidays? New Year's Resolutions, of course. And, after finishing off all that leftover ham, your loved ones may start saying they need to “get back in shape.” The Fitbit Ionic can help them get there. It provides easy-to follow workout guides for in-gym inspiration, and the improved fit makes it the best sleep tracker on the market. It’s the perfect gift for someone who needs to log all their beauty sleep. Not only that, but it’s also a smartwatch! You can download apps, music and even buy stuff at the store using NFC. 


Forerunner 935

For the serious runner on your list, even the most advanced smartwatch might not cut it — dedicated running watches still have longer battery life and more accurate GPS tracking. Garmin’s flagship Forerunner 935 offers the most bells and whistles in its lineup, including a barometer, altimeter, form analysis, training advice and multiple sport modes. Not ready to shell out $500 on a purpose-built watch? The $230 Forerunner 235 is a great midrange option with heart-rate tracking.


Hero 6

The GoPro Hero 6 looks identical to the last-gen Hero 5, because all the new stuff is under the hood. It shoots 4K at 60 frames per second rather than 30fps and 1080p video at 240fps, making crazy-slo-mo possible. The action cam also gains three-axis software stabilization, so you don’t need a perfectly steady hand, tripod or postproduction fixes to get usable shots. Finally, there’s a wider range of manual-exposure options for professional shooters. The $499 Hero 6 is a pretty pricey gift — more than Sony’s $400 X3000R and the $300 Yi 4K+ cam — but GoPro’s best action cam yet will make your ski vacation epic. 


NBA Connected Jersey

There’s a good chance someone you know is a diehard NBA fan. And now that Nike owns the apparel rights to the NBA, the company has added a digital tie-in to its basketball jerseys. For $110 and up, they come with NFC-powered hang tags that pair with iOS and Android devices, with the promise of exclusive access to goods from whichever team’s jersey you’re wearing. So, if someone you know is a huge fan of LeBron James, having the NikeConnect garment will give them the chance to buy limited-edition sneakers and other products right from their mobile device.

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Fit2 Pro

The Fit2 Pro has an unconventional design but still packs many features you'd expect from a fitness tracker. Among them: an always-on heart-rate sensor, GPS for mapping your runs and water-resistance up to 50 meters. Because it runs Samsung’s Tizen OS, it offers some smartwatch functions too, including support for offline Spotify playback. If you're willing to spend more for a prettier design, the $300 Gear Sport is a more stylish alternative that better resembles a traditional watch. For the price, though, the Fit2 Pro is a capable gift for friends who own Samsung phones or TVs and want to better track their daily activity.

Under Armour

UA Heart Rate Monitor

For fitness buffs, Under Armour’s heart-rate monitor is a great gift idea, particularly if the person on your list already has UA’s fitness-tracker wearable, the UA Band. The monitor is a chest strap that you wear while working out. Because it’s situated right against the heart, it provides more accurate heart-rate readings than other distally located monitors. It connects via Bluetooth, and you can see its measurements through UA’s Record app or in real time when paired with the Band. And as an added benefit, it’s low maintenance, with a battery rated to last about 15 days


Tamagotchi (2017)

Tamagotchis are back! To mark the 20th anniversary of the needy, beeping, egg-shaped toy, Bandai has released a slightly smaller version that’s otherwise nearly identical to the original. It has a simple black-and-white display and six available characters. As before, to keep it alive you have to feed it and clean up its poop. Tamagotchis are a great gift for those who grew up in the ’90s, and at $15 a pop they’re a small price to pay for a little piece of nostalgia.

Dash Robotics

Kamigami Robots

Some kids love playing with insects. However, most parents would rather not have bugs anywhere inside the house. The mechanical Kamigami are patterned after real creatures and can skitter around just like their real-world inspiration but are made of plastic and controlled with an app. Most important, your child gets to build and code the Kamigami themselves, learning valuable STEM skills in the process.



Hatchimals are basically the new Furby, but with the added twist that they hatch from an egg, with children not knowing what theirs will look like. That combination of caregiving and intrigue basically made them kid catnip last holiday season — and also impossible for parents to find. This year Spin Master doubled the surprise by putting two adorable robotic creatures in an egg, each with a distinct personality and look. It's fun to watch them chat in their own special twin language, while parents with multiple children might appreciate the two-for-one value.

Hot Wheels

AI Intelligence Race System Starter Kit

RC vehicles can be a lot of fun for kids ... if they know how to drive them, that is. Hot Wheels AI makes it just a tad easier by putting some computer smarts into each plastic car, which will keep it on the track even when the human driver can't. Once kids master the basics, they can build their own courses, race other players head to head and even deploy virtual road "hazards" against each other for a little Mario Kart-style action in your living room.


Boost Creative Toolbox

If you’re eager to teach your kids the joys of building and programming their own devices, Lego’s Boost Creative Toolbox is a compelling choice. Lego’s building blocks will feel familiar to any kids who’ve ever put together a spaceship or haunted house, and they can program their robotic creations using a mobile app with a drag-and-drop interface that young ones can understand. As a bonus, the kit can also take advantage of any regular Lego bricks your family has lying around.


Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

To gear up for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, littleBits launched its Droid Inventor Kit, which comes with everything kids need to build their own Droid from the ground up. Once completed, the Droid can be controlled with a wave of the hand, maneuver itself around objects or draw secret messages and maps. Through the Droid Inventor App, kids can take on 17 different missions; challenges prompted by the app encourage children to create different types of Droids by rearranging the parts. The kit is a good pick for young Star Wars fans and budding engineers alike.

Spin Master

Hero Droid BB-8

Sure, we all love Sphero's tiny little BB-8 toy from two years ago, but if your kids really wanted to nail their Rey, Finn or Poe Dameron cosplay, they would have needed something a bit bigger to follow them around. Spin Master's Hero Droid BB-8 is close to life-size and even reacts to voice commands — it'll come when called or, if your children put on their best Han Solo impression and yell, it'll even run away. Instead of an app, BB-8 is controlled with its own gamepad, perfect for kids who aren’t old enough to have their own phone.

Tech Will Save Us

Dough Universe Kits

In today's tech-driven world, parents feel pressured to make sure their children have a good grasp on STEM skills. But while there are plenty of toys out there willing to teach them, not every kid wants to mess with circuit boards or sit around writing code. If your little builders prefer their playtime soft and squishy, Tech Will Save Us Dough Universe Kits eschew wires for colorful conductive dough. Kids can learn a little more about how electricity works while molding their very own cuddly animal friend or cute robot.

Tenka Labs

Circuit Cubes

Introduce your pint-size scientist to the wonders of electricity with Circuit Cubes. Designed by STEM teachers and interoperable with LEGOs, these cubes bring your kid’s building-block creations to life. The Cubes include a battery, a 1,000-RPM reversible motor and a bright LED light. Armed with these tools and their imaginations, kids can build everything from four-wheeled rovers to telescoping flashlights and automated art doodlers. Each $60 kit includes everything necessary to complete the suggested projects. 



If you need a present for a child in the 5- to 10-year-old range, consider Fingerlings. They’re small monkeys that can cling to your finger, respond to touch and even talk to you when prompted. Clap your hands to get them to sing or pet their heads if you want to hear them coo. Fingerlings can make up to 40 sounds and give different responses depending on whether they’re right side up or upside down. They come in six colors, so you can grab one or put together a whole troop.



We’ve long had an affinity for Sphero’s remote-controlled robot balls, but until now they’ve been on the expensive side, with prices starting at $100. The Mini model might feel more reasonably priced at $50, and it still allows for many of the same tricks, with a companion iOS/Android app and tiny bowling pins and cones included in the box. Just keep in mind that its lower price and smaller size mean there are some trade-offs, including shorter Bluetooth range and no waterproofing (not that you’d necessarily expect a robot to be, anyway). 


Monopoly Gamer

Monopoly is the greatest board game of all time (don’t @ us). And while swapping the cash for a fake debit-card system was unforgivable, we’re perfectly OK with a little re-theming for novelty’s sake. The Gamer edition swaps the monopoly money for Mario’s coins and Boardwalk for Bowser’s Castle. There are even special (optional) rules that give your favorite characters like Yoshi and Princess Peach special abilities — good for when putting money on Free Parking isn’t perverting the original enough.


Destiny 2

The original Destiny was an excellent mashup of first-person shooting and role-playing elements, but its thin solo campaign and arcane progression made it a tricky recommendation. That isn’t an issue with Destiny 2: Bungie has kept the finely-honed shooting mechanics and rich backstory, but has fixed enough flaws that it’s a superb gift for most gamers. There’s an engaging single-player campaign, and the thrilling multiplayer is more accessible. You don’t need a tightly knit group to join a raid, for instance. With dozens of hours of gameplay, D2 could entertain the gamers in your life well after the holidays are over.


Alienware 13

Gaming laptops used to be big, power-sucking machines, but the Alienware 13 is a sleek, versatile option. The inclusion of Intel’s latest seventh-generation i7 Kaby Lake chips is the standout feature, but the laptop’s Alienware Virtual Surround sound is great for anyone who wants a break from headphones. The machine’s top-option 2,560 x 1,440 OLED screen displays gorgeous visuals, while its battery lasted us five-plus hours of work. If the person you’re shopping for wants a well-rounded laptop that’ll handle today’s games with ease (along with VR titles) but doesn’t need top-of-the-line specs, consider the Alienware 13.

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Astro Gaming

A50 headphones

Do you have an audiophile on your list who also happens to play a lot of video games and watch a bunch of movies, but can’t cram surround sound into their apartment? Or maybe they tend to play late at night when they can’t shake the walls with their 5.1 setup. Either way, look no further than the Astro A50 headphones. Compared to the company’s other models, these are designed for media as much as gaming, so they’ll sound killer whether you’re watching a Blu-ray or mowing down waves of enemies in whatever game you’re playing.


ROG Zephyrus GX501

It used to be that a laptop gift could be either high-performance or lightweight. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501 is both, thanks to NVIDIA’s high-flying GeForce 1080 GTX Max-Q graphics, which give it incredible performance for its 4.93-pound size (think: 100 fps in Overwatch with all the settings cranked). There are some drawbacks — battery life is poor, the screen is limited to 1080p, and there’s that $2,699 price ($2,299 for the GTX 1070 version). If you want to game on the go during the holidays, though, ASUS has the monopoly on sub-5-pound NVIDIA GTX 1080 laptops.

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Blizzard has perfected the art of video games as crack. Overwatch is just the latest from the company that has been turning gaming into a dangerous and life-threatening addiction since 1998. It’s pretty much the perfect version of a team first-person shooter. The multiple characters give it plenty of depth for die-hards to plumb, but it’s also super-approachable to newcomers (so long as you stay far away from Competitive mode). It might be the only game you can never tire of playing.



Almost a decade after being introduced, Blue’s Yeti is still consistently rated the best USB microphone. There’s a reason for that: You get sound that Wirecutter recently called “perfectly balanced, rich and round,” without breaking the bank. It’s perfect for the would-be podcaster or Twitch streamer in your life, and it’s ready to go out of the box. And if you need more incentive, it’s available in a bundle with Assassin’s Creed Origins for just $20 more than the standalone Blackout Yeti — a $40 discount on a two-for-one gift!


K70 RGB Rapidfire Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

If you’re shopping for a gamer who likes a robust and simple keyboard with a little LED flourish, Corsair’s K70 RGB Rapidfire is a great choice. Its Cherry MX Speed keys have a shockingly short travel of 1.2mm (compared to the industry-average 2mm), ensuring microscopically faster key inputs. The aluminum base is hefty and has no trough, making it easy to clean after popping off the keycaps. A few media buttons and a volume roll bar are the only extra flair, but the Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire is great for players who don’t need macro keys.


HD Pro Webcam C922

If you’re shopping for someone who wants to try out livestreaming, the Logitech C922 Pro Stream is arguably the best on the market. Introduced last year as an upgrade to the beloved C920, the C922 boasts a few streaming-specific improvements on the older model. Namely, it can stream in 720p at 60 frames per second, comes with a background-replacement feature that eliminates the need for a green screen and includes a tripod, to boot. If you want a webcam to stream right out of the box, this is a great refinement of a dependable classic.


G903 Lightspeed Mouse and PowerPlay wireless charging

If you’re shopping for a gamer who takes online play seriously, Logitech's G903 mouse is a compelling choice. Logitech made several improvements when it set out to update the older G900, including making it compatible with two new technologies: Lightspeed minimizes latency of 1 millisecond, while the PowerPlay mat continuously charges your mouse. We found that the G903 offers accuracy and comfort, making it a great option for players who want to compete in online games and loathe pausing to recharge their mouse.


GTX 1070

From the moment it was released alongside the flagship GTX 1080, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 has been high on a lot of gamers’ gift lists. It gives you most of the performance of its bigger brother at a much cheaper price ($450 versus $750), and it’s easy to get even more out of it by overclocking. It’ll work great for VR, graphics work and high-end gaming with single-monitor 4K or dual-screen 2,560 x 1,440, but beyond that you’ll probably want a GTX 1080 or 1080 Ti. The only problem with the GTX 1070 is that it has remained popular, which means the price hasn't come down since it launched last year.

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If you’re shopping for a gamer who loves shooters and always wondered how they’d do in The Hunger Games, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (or simply PUBG) is the game for them. Each round, players parachute down to an island filled with buildings, weapons and 99 other competitors gunning for each other to be the last one alive. For $30, PUBG gives players endless replayability at half the cost of most newly released games, and developer Bluehole Inc. has promised more maps and modes to come.


Lancehead Tournament Edition

Razer is pretty enamored with its wireless Lancehead mouse, but its wired counterpart, the Lancehead Tournament Edition, is actually the better value. For $80, the gamer in your life gets the same 16,000-dots-per-inch sensitivity, nine programmable buttons and customizable Chroma lighting, just with a USB cable attached. That’s a small trade-off for a mouse that can handle virtually any twitch-happy action game. Plus, cloud-based access to your settings means you can switch PCs without losing your preferences. And don’t worry: The symmetrical design means it’s just as good for lefties as righties.



Gamers shopping for laptops often feel forced to settle for a bulky machine if they want robust performance. The Razer Blade bucks that trend by stuffing a fast quad-core CPU and GeForce GTX 1060 graphics into a 14-inch portable that’s thin and light enough to carry around all day. It also touts a customizable light-up keyboard, Thunderbolt 3 and an optional 4K touchscreen. The Blade isn’t a trivial gift when it normally starts at $1,899, but if there’s a gamer in your life who doesn’t want to sacrifice speed for portability, this might be exactly what they need.

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Persona 5

Persona 5 is basically a vacation in a video game. It throws players into the bustling neon streets of Tokyo, in a world of alternate dimensions, talking cats and high school kids saving the world — but it all feels grounded in reality. And then there’s the game itself: an expansive JRPG with complex characters, fierce battles and beautiful moments of introspection. Persona 5 is an ideal gift for fans of Western RPGs like Fallout or The Witcher, if only because it’s a fresh, incredibly stylish take on the genre. Open some presents and blow some minds this holiday season.

Electronic Arts

Star Wars Battlefront II

For the Star Wars buff in your life, you'll want to nab a copy of Battlefront II. It includes the same epic-scale multiplayer battles that frequently made the original Star Wars Battlefront so awe-inspiring (there’s nothing like fighting AT-AT walkers on Hoth), but adds some much-needed variety. There’s an honest-to-goodness single-player story that puts you in Imperial boots following the death of the Emperor, and a Starfighter Assault mode that relives the Death Star attack and other climactic space battles. So long as they like the Battlefield’s large team-based gameplay in the first place, it’ll be hard to go wrong.

Ghost Games

Need for Speed: Payback

We all miss Burnout, but from the looks of it, Need for Speed: Payback’s crash-laden racing is the closest we’ll get in the immediate future. Unlike Burnout, though, Payback has a narrative behind it, and the story might be familiar to fans of a certain fast-and-furious movie series. Oh, and the game features customizable licensed vehicles, so you can live out all your high-speed Dominic Toretto fantasies. Maybe best of all? Unlike the last NfS, Payback has a full day-and-night cycle rather than being permanently set at midnight. 


Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Three years after stomping the Fourth Reich right across Europe (and the lunar surface) in Wolfenstein: The New Order, William “BJ” Blazkowicz is back for the eighth installment of the game’s main franchise, and just in time for the holidays. In New Colossus, your gifted gamer will liberate 1970s America from the same fascist scourge from New Order. That means they’ll fight the Nazis, but this time the KKK makes an appearance, making it perfect for the freedom fighter in the family. 


Xbox Design Lab Custom Gamepad

The standard Xbox One gamepad is a massive improvement over the launch version from 2013. If there’s a problem, it’s that it isn’t tailor-made for that special someone on your list. That’s where Microsoft’s Xbox Design Lab comes in. For $80, you can customize the colors of the gamepad’s thumbsticks, face buttons and panels. An extra $10 gets you a custom message laser-etched into the front. In our experience, less is more, though — just because Microsoft says there are a billion combinations doesn’t mean they’re all going to look great. 


Xbox One S

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Yes, Microsoft has just released a new Xbox console. At $499, though, the Xbox One X is an expensive system that only makes sense if you own a 4K TV. If you or your intended is still rocking a 1080p set, you're better off buying an Xbox One S and spending the change on games like Forza Motorsport 7, Gears of War 4 and Cuphead. The system also doubles as an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, which is great for cinephiles or people who want to upgrade their living-room entertainment center.

Monolith Productions

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is the perfect present for two types of people: Lord of the Rings fans and anyone who enjoys high-quality fantasy, action or strategy games. If someone on your list checks both of these boxes, even better. Shadow of War is the sequel to 2014’s Shadow of Mordor, and it builds on that title’s most engaging feature, the Nemesis System, which infuses the new game with a rich strategy element. Not only do players battle hordes of orcs, trolls and dragons, they conquer fortresses and manage armies across the mountains of Mordor.


Switch Pro controller

The Pro Controller for the Nintendo Switch is everything that the Joy-cons aren’t: a real gamepad. While it’s entirely possible to get away with using them as your main gamepad, the truth is they were designed for mobile play first, and bear the compromises of such — like their smaller buttons and overall cramped form factor. That’s not the case with the Pro Controller. Ample-sized face buttons and grips make it comfortable to use for multihour couch sessions, and its battery life is tough to beat. The only shortcoming is its comparatively high price, but that’s why it makes a perfect gift. 


Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is everything we wanted it to be. It brings lovable characters and a familiar storyline into a new setting. It builds on the direction the franchise has been heading since Super Mario 64, combining expansive, imaginative worlds with innovative gameplay. It also looks spectacular on the Switch, regardless of whether you’re using it as a hand-held or on a large screen. The debut of any new Mario game is an event, but this one is good enough to entice fans to buy the Switch just to be able to experience it.



While the Joy-cons might not be “real” controllers, the simplicity of sliding one off your Switch and handing it to a friend for some impromptu Mario Kart 8 is hard to beat. If you want more than one additional player, though, you need extra Joy-cons. The cool thing is that they’re now available in colors like bright yellow, so they’ll be easy to find in the couch cushions after a rousing night of Snipperclips or a local Arms tourney.



Maybe you have a little one who isn't quite ready for a Switch. Or maybe you want to treat someone without spending close to $300. Either way, Nintendo’s 2DS XL is a great option. The 3DS family has a staggering selection of games including Fire Emblem Fates, Metroid: Samus Returns and Pokemon Sun and Moon. There's nothing wrong with the new 3DS XL or the chunky 2DS — it’s just that at $149, the 2DS XL is a better value proposition. Sure, there's no 3D slider, but after a few rounds of Super Smash Bros., we doubt you'll care much.



Feel free to pretend you’re buying this one “for the kids.” Don’t get us wrong, the Switch is a great gift for younger folks, but it’s also an incredible new console with a range of experiences for players of any age. The Switch is a hybrid device, playable as a mobile device or hooked up to the living room TV, with games including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, Stardew Valley and Doom. The Switch has been selling well, and Nintendo has a history of not meeting demand, so stock up early.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

It’s difficult to exaggerate just how good The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is. The open-world game has enough structure to satisfy goal-oriented gamers, but the scale of it, and the amount there is to explore and learn, is unparalleled. It’s also visually stunning. This is one of those rare games that will delight pretty much every level of gamer; even those without a lot of gaming experience will be able to navigate its ins and outs. It’s best on the Nintendo Switch, but it would make a fine gift for a Wii U owner as well.


Ultra 200GB microSDXC

When the SanDisk Ultra 200GB card came along in 2015, it was by far the most capacious microSDXC available for smartphone. The card will make a better gift now than when it first came out, because unlike two years ago, many popular Android phones include a memory slot. It’s since been displaced (and how) by SanDisk’s Ultra Plus 400 GB card, but that’s also made it a relative bargain. You’ll nearly double the storage of your 256GB smartphone, and if you plan to shoot 4K and RAW photos over the holidays, it’s easily fast enough — and all that for around $75.


PlayStation Gold headset

Simpler is better, especially when it comes to gaming headsets. That’s what makes the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset attractive: Setup consists of plugging a USB dongle into your PS4, then powering the headset on. That’s it! Another measure of convenience is that the cans power off when your PS4 does, which is great if that certain someone is prone to falling asleep during late-night gaming sessions. That said, the headphones’ earcup-rattling bass should keep just about anyone from passing out while gaming. 


Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

The latest Resident Evil game is a departure from the classic series in a lot of ways — but it’s still terrifying as all hell. Biohazard is a first-person shooter that traps players, on a quest to save their girlfriend from certain doom, in a house of horrors with a family of homicidal maniacs and demonic creatures. It was one of the first big games to come out in 2017 and, for fans of gory horror games, it did not disappoint. Plus, the full experience is playable in virtual reality via the PlayStation 4’s PS VR system.

Enhance Games

Rez Infinite

The original Rez came out in 2001 for the Sega Dreamcast and Sony's PlayStation 2. The psychedelic on-rails shooter, created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, has a cyberpunk-art style and a mesmerizing soundtrack that few games have been able to match. Rez Infinite, released in 2016, is a port for PlayStation 4 (it later came out on PC) with upgraded graphics and an all-new level called Area X. Better yet, the entire experience is available in VR, adding to the game's immersion every time you play. Truly, this is a title that everyone should play once in their life.


Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

For the Pokemaniac in your life, consider the two latest games in the franchise: Pokemon Ultra Sun & Moon. Sure, they’re not that different from the original Sun and Moon; you're still in the tropical region of Alola, only this time there are new Pokemon forms to discover, a tweaked storyline and a surfing mini-game. You can buy them individually, but if you really love that super-fan in your life, you might want to purchase them as a bundle. 


Daydream View 2

Want to give this whole VR thing a whirl but don’t have $400 to drop on an Oculus Rift (not to mention the $1,000 PC needed to power it)? If you’ve got the new Google Pixel 2, you’re in luck, because the Daydream View 2 is just $99. It takes all of the best aspects of its predecessor and makes them even better. That includes upgraded lenses for better clarity and a wider field of vision, a magnesium heatsink to prevent your phone from overheating and an improved foam face cup to block out every last stray ray of light.    

Green Man Gaming

Superhot VR

The best way to play Superhot is in virtual reality. It functions fine as a PC or Xbox One game, but it’s a totally different — and remarkably more interesting — experience in VR. On the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or PS VR, Superhot becomes a full-body time-bending extravaganza, where players physically dodge bullets and control time as they strategize a path through hails of gunfire. It’s a slick game and one of the best examples of VR’s potential to change the way we play. Consider this a coupon for instant respect from the VR enthusiast in your life.


Vive Deluxe Audio Strap

If you know a friend who’s already dropped a bunch of cash on a HTC Vive, you could do him or her a favor and get the Deluxe Audio Strap too. It adds built-in headphones to the Vive, which brings it up to par with the Oculus Rift, and it also makes overall headset that much more comfortable. For $100, it’s not cheap, but your friend will likely be grateful for it.


Fallout 4 VR

If you’re shopping for someone with an HTC Vive who’s been craving expansive first-person games, Fallout 4 VR might be the ticket. Fallout’s fourth installment pairs the franchise’s signature kitschy gee-whiz retro-futurism with crafting and settlement mechanics in a post-apocalyptic Boston. The 2-year-old game’s VR redux is coming first to HTC’s system this December, but it’s unclear when (or if) it will be released on other platforms. If your person is likely to enjoy VR versions of other mega-successful games, Bethesda will also have Skyrim and Doom for PSVR by the holidays, with the latter also coming to HTC Vive.


Rift + Touch Bundle

The Touch controllers completely changed the Rift. They’re essential accessories for anyone who wants to experience the breadth of games available in the Oculus ecosystem, so it makes sense to buy the controllers and the headset all at once. Plus, the Rift and Touch bundle has halved in price since its debut, today coming in at $400 (though it no longer includes an Xbox One controller). That’s $200 less than the Rift’s closest competitor, the HTC Vive — happy holidays to you.


Gear VR (2017)

Samsung’s Gear VR for Galaxy S smartphones has been around three years, and now we’re on the Gear VR 2017 edition. It was built for the Galaxy Note 8, but is largely the same as the last Galaxy S8 model. With the higher 2,960 x 1,440 resolution of those devices, you get a larger field of view than ever. Both smartphones also work with Google’s Daydream View, but Oculus’ VR library is larger, and Samsung’s controller is top-notch. The Gear VR runs $130, $30 more than the Daydream VR, but it still makes for a cheaper gift than the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.


PlayStation VR Launch Bundle

What do you get the PlayStation 4 fan who has everything? A new reality, of course. The PlayStation VR launch bundle includes all the accessories necessary to dive into games like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Superhot VR, 100ft Robot Golf, Gran Turismo Sport, Skyrim VR, Rez Infinite, Batman: Arkham VR and more than 100 other VR titles. PS VR is a slick, accessible system with a raft of great games — and the headset even fits over gigantic glasses, in case that’s a concern.


PSVR Aim Controller Bundle

If you know someone with a PSVR headset, we suggest an Aim controller, a dedicated peripheral for shooter-style games. It looks like a futuristic rifle — something Apple might design if it suddenly became an arms dealer — with a tubular frame, curved trigger and adjusted-button layout. You can get a bundle with Farpoint, a solid-space shooter that lets you freely move around each environment. It's only five hours long, but that's enough to show off the controller's potential before diving into other compatible games like Arizona Sunshine, ChromaGun and The Brookhaven Experiment.

Sensible Object

Beasts of Balance

Beasts of Balance by Sensible Object unites physical gameplay with digital storytelling. In essence, it’s a stacking game wherein players pile on figures of animals like bears and toucans. When they do, that animal appears in a digital world that can be viewed on a smartphone, tablet or TV. Add Element figures like water and air to keep the animals alive; stack Migrate or Cross figures to send your animals to new habitats or cross them with other species. But you have to make sure your tower is steady, because if it falls, it’s game over.



If someone in your life doesn’t have Amazon Prime, one of the most practical gifts you can give this holiday season is a subscription to the service. As you probably know by now, it comes with two-day shipping (and same-day delivery, if you live in the right ZIP code). But the add-ons are incredible too — and getting more compelling every day. From Amazon’s original TV shows and robust video library to Prime Pantry, it’s hard to beat the number of services Amazon offers through Prime. 

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Streaming boxes aren’t very exciting anymore, but the Apple TV 4K is worth a look for anyone who wants to make the most of their fancy new 4K TV. It features the same interface and broad assortment of apps as its predecessor but it adds support for 4K and HDR video. Not only is it Apple’s first device to support this video format, but 4K purchases and rentals through iTunes cost the same as they would in HD. If you already purchased HD content through iTunes, it’ll get upgraded to 4K whenever possible. 

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Music gift card

Anyone receiving a new mobile device this holiday season is going to need some good music to play on it. One option is to gift a three-month Apple Music subscription for about $30. Or, if you really love your giftee, there’s a 12-month option for $99. The good thing about Apple Music is it isn’t tied to the company’s iOS devices, as there’s also an app for Android. Also, aside from over 40 million songs, it also offers access to original shows like Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps. That’s not something you can say about most rival music-streaming services.


Planet Earth 2 4K

It’s been a decade since the first Planet Earth graced our television screens. The groundbreaking nature documentary arguably changed the way we think about the planet. Now the sequel, Planet Earth 2 on Blu-ray, is doing the same thing on a grander scale — in Ultra HD. The 4K documentary is, in a word, breathtaking. It uses the technology to its fullest effect, presenting us some of the best use of Ultra HD to date. The picture and colors are exquisite and the detail presented in each frame feels like a luxury. This collection is, quite simply, a feast for your eyes.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 4K

Disney Studios has taken its sweet time joining the 4K party, but it’s finally released its first Blu-ray offering in Ultra HD with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The film itself is an entertaining (and often goofy) thrill ride that should be fun for the whole family. (It’s rated PG-13.) Its visual content is absolutely stunning, too. The fantasy story line and special effects help push the boundaries of both UHD and high dynamic range (HDR) features. It’s definitely worth picking up for someone with a compatible setup.

Fantasy Flight Games

Fallout: The Board Game

Do you have a gamer in your life who’s also something of a tabletop fanatic? You might consider getting her Fantasy Flight’s Fallout, a board game set in the post-nuclear world of Bethesda’s video-game universe of the same name. One to four players take on the roles of wanderers in an irradiated wasteland, and they can work together — or against each other — to explore regions, pursue adventure, find loot, companions, and more. This is the perfect gift for that Fallout fan who wants to see his favorite video game brought to life in plastic and cardboard. 



A decade ago it wasn't unusual for musical games like Rock Band to be centerpieces at parties, but now your host is more likely to pull out a riotous card game like Cards Against Humanity. As such, Harmonix has teamed up with Hasbro to combine the best of both worlds with Dropmix, a card game that pairs with your iOS or Android device, challenging you to create a mashup on each turn. It's addictive to see Evanscence's “Bring Me to Life” combined with Skrillex's “Bangarang” — so much so that players might keep mixing songs in the app after the party’s over.



HBO started as a cable-TV movie portal, and today’s incarnation is still going strong. Thanks to its cinematic heritage, HBO Now (and HBO Go for cable subscribers) delivers a selection that rivals other services by offering flicks you actually want to watch. Plus, it’s home to high-quality originals including Game of Thrones, Westworld and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver that make it a favorite among cord-cutters. This year, be a binge-enabler and give a subscription to someone you love.

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Live TV Subscription

This can be a gift for someone… or yourself. Hulu offers live and on-demand content from over 50 TV channels, including ABC, CNN, ESPN, FOX, NBC, and Cartoon Network. The best thing is it works on Mac and Windows browsers as well as a bunch of other platforms, like Apple TV, iOS, Android, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Xbox. Hulu says support for Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray players is coming soon. With a $40 monthly fee, Hulu’s Live TV service isn’t a cheap gift, but surely there’s someone in your life (maybe a willing spouse) who’s worth it.

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Kodansha Comics

The Ghost in the Shell Hardcover Editions

Ever seen a woman tear apart a robotic tank with her bare hands? Know someone who’d enjoy reading about a future where that’s a thing? Then Masamune Shirow’s 1989 genre-defining cyberpunk-manga classic, Ghost in the Shell volumes 1, 1.5 and 2 are for them. Melding hard-hitting action with mind-bending political intrigue, GiTS may not be the dystopian cybernetic future sci-fi fans wanted, but it’s the dystopian cybernetic future they deserve. And all of us deserve better than this year’s whitewashed movie adaptation.


Harmony Elite

When it comes to remotes, the struggle is real, and honestly, the situation is getting out of hand. That’s why Logitech’s entire line of Harmony remotes are incredibly convenient. Its premier remote, the Harmony Elite, is at the top of our list when it comes to home-entertainment consolidation. It’s simple to set up, and the one-touch controls make it simple enough for even the least tech-savvy people to figure out how to operate it. It allows for control of 15 devices, including smart light bulbs and thermostats, and it’s even compatible with Alexa. 


UHD Subscription

Netflix still offers the strongest lineup when it comes to video streaming. Prices have edged higher, but the selection of major network TV series, exclusive originals, kids shows and foreign films is still worth it. The premium tier, now $14 a month, includes a handful of shows in 4K and offers the ability to stream to four devices. Even if you don’t have a 4K TV just yet, many 2017 smartphones now support HDR video, including the latest iPhones, the Galaxy S8 and Note 8. Gift cards also leave open the option of giving a few months or an entire year of streaming. 


Stranger Things Original Series Soundtrack

For fans of Netflix’s Stranger Things, you might consider giving them the delightfully retro-sounding Stranger Things soundtracks for seasons 1 and 2 . Through these fittingly suspenseful original tracks, fans can relive each season through a digital copy, a CD, various limited or standard vinyl editions or even — appropriately enough — a cassette tape. As of press time, you can buy two volumes for season 1, with the season 2 soundtrack arriving in December. 



All those extra pixels your fancy new 4K TV is packing won’t do much good if everything it’s displaying is in still 1080p. That’s where the new Roku Ultra comes in. This $99 streaming box serves up HD, 4K and HDR content at your command thanks to its voice-controlled remote. Trawl through hundreds of free broadcast and on-demand channels, not to mention numerous subscriptions services like Netflix and Hulu, or use the USB port for offline playback. Though if you travel regularly, there’s always the nearly-as good-and-highly-portable $70 Roku 4K stick.  


Live TV Subscription

Chances are you know a cord-cutter or two. As such, one of the best gifts for them would be a subscription to a live and on-demand TV-streaming service. If you don’t want to spend $40 on Hulu’s offering, Sling TV Orange is also great at $20 a month. There are over 30 a la carte channels available through this package, including AMC, CNN, ESPN, HGTV, Cartoon Network and Viceland. You won’t find NBC or FOX on the list, but you can easily get those using an over-the-air antenna. 

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Sony Pictures

Spider-Man Homecoming

If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer that’s not candy, consider a Blu-ray. And if you want one that’ll be a hit with the whole family, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a safe bet. The latest reboot of this Marvel Universe story is perfect because it’s a mix of action, comedy and drama. If the person you’re giving it to has a 4K TV, you should go for the Ultra HD version of the Blu-ray. Not only is that the best way to watch Homecoming, but the UHD version also comes with a regular Blu-ray disc and a digital copy, giving you more bang for your buck.


55-Inch 4K Roku Smart LED TV

The TCL 55P607 is more than just an excellent budget TV. It’s an excellent TV, period. Not only does it have great picture quality — it supports 4K resolution and HDR — it also ships with Dolby Vision and, best of all, Roku’s easy-to-understand streaming interface. This saves you from buying a separate Roku box which, in turn, frees up an HDMI port. Plus, you get the benefit of that Roku wireless remote that has a built-in headphone jack. This will make a great gift for anyone who wants a new TV, and for $900, it won’t break the bank, either. 


P-Series 65-inch 4K UHD TV

There’s never been a better time for display enthusiasts, with great deals on all types of high-resolution sets. If you’re seeking an affordable near-OLED experience at a large scale, however, you can’t do much better than Vizio’s 65-inch P Series. The full-array LED backlighting provides an evenly lit screen and some of the deepest blacks this side of pricier OLED sets. There’s support for 4K resolution and HDR color processing — as well as Dolby Vision —  for an amazing viewing experience framed in a minimalist design. As a long-overdue-upgrade gift, this could make someone very happy.

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Warner Brothers

Blade Runner: The Final Cut 4K

This 4K remaster is a must-have for longtime fans, but with Blade Runner 2049 now in theaters, it may also appeal to a younger generation. The kicker here is the 4K scan from original 35mm film and 8K scan for 65mm effects, with amazing results. It seems like a new film with 4K sharpness and HDR bringing out details and colors like never before. The sound is impeccable as well, especially the Dolby Atmos mix. You also get bonus content including additional film versions and the brilliant Dangerous Days documentary. Stock may be limited, so get this while the getting is good.