Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Price

Acer

Spin 3

If you’re shopping for someone’s first computer, this isn’t a bad choice. Though most cheap PCs stink, Acer’s Spin 3 is actually worth buying. It has a 14-inch 1080p screen, 4GB of RAM and an eighth-generation Core i3 processor, assuring it’ll handle basic tasks with ease. Best of all, there’s room to add even more RAM down the line, which should make it last longer than other inexpensive laptops. It’s a bit bulky, at just under five pounds, but that’s an acceptable trade-off given the $500 asking price. 

$500+
Buy Now

Dell

XPS 13 (2018)

Dell's flagship is still the best overall Windows laptop on the market (though Microsoft is catching up). The XPS 13's Infinity Edge screen is even thinner than before, and now there's HDR and a 4K option. So whether that someone on your list is into watching movies or making their own, they should be happy with this. And if the old-school silver-and-black case is a little too dull for them, there’s a new rose gold case with a white interior. The XPS 13 is powered by Intel’s eighth-gen Core CPUs and, thanks to a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, they can connect an external graphics card for more serious gaming. 

$850+
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Gigabyte

Aero 15X

There’s no sweeter gift than a high-end laptop, and Gigabyte’s Aero 15X is at the vanguard of lightweight PC gaming. The latest 15-inch model packs an eighth-gen, six-core i7 Intel CPU and NVIDIA GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics. At the same time, it has a clever, low-profile keyboard and 4.5-pound design that puts it in MacBook Pro territory. Best of all, it comes with a big 92Wh battery, which, when paired with the Max-Q graphics, gives you nearly eight hours of endurance. It’s not cheap, at $2,249, but if that’s too rich, the slightly cheaper NVIDIA GTX 1060 model costs $1,999.

$2,300+
Buy Now

Amazon

Echo Show

Amazon’s Echo Show essentially adds a screen to Alexa, making it much more useful than a regular smart speaker. It provides helpful visual information like a five-day weather forecast, a list of the day’s appointments and the lyrics to the song that's currently playing. The latest Echo Show brings a whole host of other goodies, like a built-in browser, video support for NBC and Hulu, a step-by-step cooking guide and stellar audio. It supports Skype, too, which will make it that much easier for Grandma to catch up with the grandkids. 

Anova

Precision Cooker Nano

Sous vide lets you cook perfectly medium-rare steaks and beautifully tender chicken breasts. It's been all the rage in culinary geek circles for a few years now, but it’s only recently that the machines have become affordable enough for the mainstream. The cheapest so far is the new Anova Precision Cooker Nano, which is just $80. You can even pair it with a companion app via Bluetooth so you can control the temperature of your food and know when it’s finished. Get this for the foodie in your life and invite yourself over for dinner. 

Eufy

Robovac 30C

A gift that keeps on giving is always a solid choice, and Eufy’s RoboVac 30C does just that. The latest robotic vacuum in the company’s RoboVac line offers new features like WiFi integration and voice control via Google Assistant or Alexa. You can also program a week’s worth of cleaning sessions rather than scheduling just a day at a time. The self-charging RoboVac 30C boasts 100 minutes of runtime and 1500Pa suction power, and can collect 0.6 liters of dirt. 

Instant Pot

Ultra 6-Quart

If there's someone on your list who hasn’t yet joined the cult of Instant Pot, this is the year to indoctrinate them. This 10-in-1 monster is a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a yogurt maker, a pressure cooker… you can even make a cake in it! Trust us, it won’t take long to turn even the most ardent Instant Pot skeptic into a believer. Look, everyone needs a slow cooker and a pressure cooker. And if you can combine them into one space-saving device, it does an even better job earning a spot in your cupboard. Just warn the person receiving this not to bother with the sauté function -- not unless they really like scraping burned bits off the bottom of a pot, that is.

Lenovo

Smart Display

Think of Google-powered smart displays as Google Assistant with a screen. You can use them to watch YouTube, check out your Nest cameras and get turn-by-turn directions with Maps. Users also get step-by-step recipe guides and video calling with Duo. Though there are a few players in this category, we particularly recommend this model from Lenovo: It brings a stylish white-and-bamboo design and a beautiful screen to match. 

$180+
Buy Now

Philips

Hue white & color ambiance starter kit

At this point, smart speakers are so cheap and plentiful that we’d be surprised if there was anyone on your shopping list who didn’t already have one. So how about you give their Google Home something to do, besides answer inane questions? A four-bulb Philips Hue starter kit is a great gateway drug into the world of smart homes. Plus it’s super flexible: It can automatically adjust the temperature of the light the day it goes on, change colors to celebrate a touchdown or just bathe the kitchen in purple light because, well, why not?

Anker

PowerCore 20100

Anker makes a whole line of portable battery packs, and we particularly love its high-capacity 20,100mAh model. If your giftee has specific needs, Anker offers alternative models that can power your Nintendo Switch or even a MacBook Pro, but the standard PowerCore 20100, with two standard USB ports, is a more versatile option. Users can expect to charge a typical smartphone several times over -- no more searching for power outlets on that weekend trip.

Logitech

Powered for iPhone

Wireless charging is great, but it’s hard to keep using your phone if it needs to remain flat on the plate while it re-juices. Logitech and Apple’s latest phone-charging cradle, Powered for iPhone, solves this by holding your handset at an angle in both portrait and landscape modes. That unique landscape option means you can keep watching TV or making FaceTime calls while your device charges up. All told, Powered recharges iPhones at up to 7.5W; it charges other Qi-compatible devices at 5W.

Western Digital

My Passport Ultra (2018)

Even in an era of ubiquitous cloud storage, it’s still a good idea to have a physical backup. The My Passport Ultra USB 3.0 drive (PC/Mac) plus the Time Machine-ready My Passport Ultra for Mac variant are great gifts for someone who wants that additional safety net. It not only offers up to 4TB of disk space in a highly portable format but it's well-designed, to boot: The two-tone metallic design is surprisingly stylish. 

Fitbit

Versa

If someone you know is looking to get fit in 2019, a great way to do so is by strapping on a Fitbit and start moving. The Versa is one of the best in Fitbit's lineup, especially if you don’t want to pay a premium for a fitness watch with GPS. In addition to exercise tracking and heart rate monitoring, the Versa stores your tunes when you run, and it has Fitbit’s acclaimed coaching software built in. So if your giftee can’t afford a personal trainer, the Versa can at least get them started on your fitness journey. Plus, its battery will last for four days between charges.

Withings

Steel HR Sport

Stylish, analog-digital-hybrid watches are common, but few of them are beautiful enough to wear your wrist. It’s why Withings deserves so much credit for its range of Steel HR watches, which look like real Swiss timepieces but with fitness tracking and heart rate monitoring. The Steel HR Sport also comes with smartwatch notifications as well as a crucial feature for runners: GPS. Even better, Withings promises that the Steel HR Sport will run for 25 days on a charge.

HRJ

Synth-A-Slider

The low-cost-synth market has gotten crowded and, in some cases, a bit too complex. But the Synth-A-Slider stands out as an easy-to-use monophonic digital synth. The controls are sparse: just four sliders that adjust frequency modulation intensity, LFO, pitch and a digital low-pass filter. Even if you have no idea what any of those things do, this tiny instrument is a great way to kill time, creating fun gritty, bassy soundscapes. For the more adventurous musician in your life, the Synth-A-Slide is built on an Arduino and is open source, giving users the option of tweaking the settings to create a unique instrument all their own. 

Roland

TR-8S

If you have a beat-master in your life, you’d do well to surprise them with the Roland TR-S8. Based on the Aira TR-8 -- which is a reimagining of the legendary 808 drum machine featured in songs by Michael Jackson, Outkast, Kanye West, Billy Ocean and others -- the TR-S8 adds support for samples and each pattern can handle up to eight different sections. It’s great for live performances or producing music.

Teenage Engineering

Metal Series - PO-33 K.O.!

If there's a musician or producer on your list, get them Teenage Engineering’s PO-33 KO. This pocket-size sampler is a cheap, easy and portable way to build songs using basically any sounds: vinyl records, YouTube clips and more. It has 40 seconds of sample memory, which isn’t a lot, but it’s enough to sketch out a track. There are also 16 built-in effects, making it endlessly fun to jam out on. Yes, you could do a lot of the same stuff with an app, but the tactile pleasure of pressing buttons and turning knobs can’t be overrated. Plus, there’s no Instagram to distract a budding artist from the task at hand.

Traktor

Traktor DJ (iPad)

Every family has a budding music enthusiast/nerd/snob. You know, the one who monopolizes Spotify at family gatherings. This year, do them (and yourself) a favor and set them up with Traktor DJ for iOS. This $20 app is surprisingly full-featured, even for more advanced disc jockeys. Plus, it’s optimized for touch controls, including both the iPad and iPhone. The only problem is, once they’ve figured out how to beat-match their weird Reggaeton bootlegs, you might have to suffer through a lengthy performance at Thanksgiving.

Corsair

HS70

The gamers in your life probably have expensive taste. (Have you ever priced out a gaming PC? The GPU alone is enough to make you wonder how many frames per second a person really needs to enjoy a game.) Lucky for you, if your Twitch-addicted friend or relative needs a new headset, the $100 Corsair HS70 delivers great sound and works with PCs and the PS4. There's even 7.1 virtual surround sound when used with a computer. These headphones also have a detachable microphone for when you're not feeling chatty, while the wireless connection dongle delivers up to 40 feet of range from the source. 

Even

EarPrint E1

Not everyone hears things exactly the same. Maybe the person you’re gifting protects their ears at all cost. Or maybe they’ve been in a band for years and now utter “What?” far more than they should at their age. Either way, the Even E1 headphones have a clever EarPrint feature that customizes the earbuds’ sound, kind of like an audio fingerprint (hence the name). Plus, they’re just really good earbuds that only cost $99. While a person with pristine hearing will be happy, rock-n-rollers will be ecstatic. 

Sony

WH-1000XM3

If someone on your “nice” list demands a great set of headphones, you can’t go wrong with the $350 Sony WH-1000XM3. Not only do they sound fantastic, they’re also noise-cancelling. So while the person you gifted them to is jamming out to their favorite tunes, they won’t be distracted by Uncle Ray’s yammering on about “discovering” the band Creed. Plus they’re comfortable, lightweight and the battery lasts up to 30 hours. That’s over a full day of listening to “Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors on repeat. And frankly that’s what the gift-giving is all about: ignoring others while listening to music on a loop.

Canon

PowerShot SX740 HS

Sure, your smartphone camera is great, but can it zoom in 40 times? Canon’s PowerShot SX740 HS superzoom will let you get a close-up of Santa in his sleigh from hundreds of yards out, thanks to the 24–960mm lens. It also has a capable 20.3-megapixel sensor and, with a faster processor, can shoot 4K 30fps video and capture photos at up to 7.4 frames per second. If you have a vlogger or selfie lover on your shopping list, it also comes with a pop-up, flip-around rear screen. And at $399, the PowerShot SX740 HS is reasonably affordable, as camera gifts go.

Fujifilm

X-T20 (Body only)

Nothing would make a camera fan light up more than finding Fujifilm’s X-T20 under the tree. It’s a lighter, cheaper version of the world-beating X-T3, with an excellent 24.3-megapixel X-Trans APS-C sensor, quick autofocus and 4K video powers. A 2.3-million-dot electronic viewfinder provides an accurate preview of your photos, and it even has a touchscreen to aid in focusing. The X-T20 would certainly be a generous gift at $900, but it’s one of the best mid-range mirrorless cameras out there and nearly half the price of the X-T3.

Fujifilm

XF10 compact

You don’t need to spend $1,000 to get a great camera. If there’s a budding street photographer on your shopping list, look no further than the $500 Fujifilm XF10. While it does have an 18–55m f/2.8 fixed lens, the fact that it has a reliable 24.2-megapixel (APS-C) sensor makes up for that. It also shoots 1080p videos at up to 60 frames per second, has a digital zoom and weighs only 280 grams (9.9 oz).

Nikon

D3500

If you’re shopping for an aspiring photographer, they probably want a camera that’s more powerful than their smartphone. Nikon’s latest entry-level DSLR, the D3500, is a solid option. It has a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor (DX-format), an 11-point autofocus system, up to 25,600 ISO and an image processor that’s designed to produce shots with sharper details and more vivid colors than the D3400. It can also shoot video in 1080p at 60 frames per second. And because this is 2018, modes like Guide and Effects let users easily add Instagram-esque filters to their pictures in real time. You can get it starting at $500 with an 18–55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR AF-P DX Nikkor lens.

Olympus

OM-D E-M10 Mark III

DSLR cameras are great, but they tend to be pretty bulky. That’s why mirrorless shooters like Olympus’ OM-D E-M10 Mark III exist: They offer DSLR-like picture quality in a much smaller package. The E-M10 Mark III, complete with its retro chrome looks and interchangeable lenses, features a solid 16.1-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, 5-axis in-body image stabilization, WiFi for sharing pictures wirelessly and the ability to shoot 4K video at up to 30 frames per second. At around $600, it offers decent value for a beginner or hobbyist photographer.

$600+
Buy Now

Sony

RX100 VA

For point-and-shoot cameras, Sony’s RX100 line is still the one to beat. And the RX100 VA is no exception. It's about $300 less than the flagship RX100 VI, and you only miss out on a few nonessential features. The RX100 VA comes with a 20.1-megapixel, 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor and the latest Bionz X image processor, and can shoot 4K video at 24 or 30 frames per second. It also records videos at up to 960 frames per second for some serious slow-motion action, while its compact body is small enough to fit in a jeans pocket. These are all features you’ll find in the higher-end RX100 VI, but here you manage to save a few hundred bucks.

Apple

TV 4K

For people embedded in Apple's ecosystem, the company's streaming box keeps getting better. Now the Apple TV 4K doesn't just stop at 4K video with HDR and Dolby Vision -- it also supports Dolby Atmos for impressive surround sound that adjusts based on the speaker setup. In the future, Apple is also going to offer more exclusive TV shows and music, which will help the device stand out even more from competing media streamers.

$179+
Buy Now

Even

TV2 Bluetooth adapter

The Even TV2 Bluetooth adapter is for that friend who complains about having to watch TV in bed with the sound off, to avoid waking their significant other. Also: that friend who prefers watching shows on something bigger than an iPad or a laptop but doesn’t have a TV with built-in Bluetooth. This $40 device plugs into a television through a 3.5mm connector or an optical interface cable and makes it Bluetooth compatible. It can also connect to two headphones at once, so new parents and people living in apartments can watch loud action movies without waking up their baby -- or worse, their landlords.

Roku

Premiere+

So your friend just got a new 4K TV, but they hate the built-in streaming apps and the remote it came with. The Premiere+ might be for them. Roku has made a name for itself with an easy-to-use platform and has an app for practically every service you can think of. With the Premiere+, they can even lose the TV's janky remote, since this one includes power and volume buttons. As an added bonus, the device supports voice commands for easier navigation.

Roku

Ultra

Don't spend too much time deciding which streaming player to buy for someone -- just get this one. At $100 it's not too expensive, but it's ready for 4K and HDR. The Roku platform is easier than ever to use, and there's a pair of headphones included so your loved one can watch and listen without disturbing anyone else. And you don't even need to know if they prefer iPhone or Android, Netflix or Hulu -- the Ultra is the one-size-fits-everyone of streamers. 

Sonos

Beam

Have a family member who’s still using their TV’s built-in speakers? The Sonos Beam is a high-quality, compact sound bar, as well as an honest-to-goodness smart speaker (complete with Alexa and AirPlay 2 support). In addition to streaming music, it can control your connected household, even when the TV is off. While it’s not a trivial purchase, you’re effectively buying two gifts in one.

Vizio

36-inch 2.1 Soundbar

Some TV speakers are so bad that no amount of fiddling inh the settings can make them sound better. If you’re looking for a gift for someone whose TV speakers are rattling, crackling or buzzing, Vizio’s 36-inch 2.1 Soundbar is a great choice (SB3621n-E8M or F8M). It promises distortion-free sounds of up to 100 decibels, and it comes with a subwoofer capable of delivering bass as deep as 50Hz. Plus, since it has Bluetooth, it can also play music from phones and other sources. It probably also helps that it sports a simple design with multiple placement options, allowing it to blend into all sorts of surroundings.

BioLite

SunLight

If you’re looking to brighten up someone’s holidays without breaking the bank, you could gift them something that will literally do just that. BioLite’s SunLight is a $25 solar-powered LED lamp that can be charged by the sun or via microUSB. All told, it offers up to 50 hours of battery life on a charge. It’s perfect for after-hours chilling in the park or backyard or a camping trip. Lamp settings include a dimmable white utility light, red “night vision” and multi-color modes.

Amazon

Echo Dot (2018)

Amazon’s Echo Dot can do basically everything its larger siblings can do -- except it's tiny enough to fit anywhere in the home. Plus, Amazon just refreshed the Dot with an improved speaker and a much more pleasing design. As you probably already know, Alexa can control thousands of smart home devices, answer questions, play music, pull up calendar information, place voice calls and so much more. How your gift recipient ends up using it is impossible to know, but the Echo Dot has the smarts to help just about anyone.

Samsung

Galaxy Note 9

Let’s not beat around the bush: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is a “money is no object” sort of gift. It’s one of the most expensive smartphones around. But then again, it’s also one of the best. Front and center is its vivid, 6.4-inch display, which is as well suited for gaming as it is getting stuff done. And if productivity is paramount, you can hook it up to an external monitor and turn it into a pseudo PC in a pinch. Rounding out the feature list, it has a pair of capable cameras, fast internals and, of course, that signature S Pen stylus.

$1,000+
Buy Now

ASUS

Chromebook Flip (C302CA)

ASUS’s Chromebook Flip is a surprisingly good computer, especially for the price. The display and keyboard are both excellent, while Chrome OS feels fast and stable. The Flip can also run Android apps, which makes the computer more useful when there’s no internet connection. If there’s anyone on your list who needs a laptop, opting for Chrome OS might save you some time spent as tech support. That’s an added bonus, especially if you’re helping mom and dad upgrade from that ancient bargain-bin laptop they’ve beat into the ground.

$499+
Buy Now

Motorola

Moto G6

Motorola is known for its excellent-but-affordable phones, and the Moto G6 is no exception. It has an all-glass design reminiscent of more premium devices, a crisp 5.7-inch display and a dual camera that lets you play around with background blur. It doesn’t have the kind of clout required to play resource-intensive games at the highest graphics settings, but otherwise the Moto G6 does everything anyone would need a smartphone to do. A special treat for a parent, child or that friend who’s been poking at a cracked screen for months on end.

Sonos

One

If someone on your list is ready for their first smart speaker, the Sonos One hits the sweet spot. This compact device is more powerful than you’d expect, and its small size means it fits just about anywhere in the house. That includes the bathroom, since the One is also humidity resistant. What's more, the speaker works with basically every music streaming service, while Alexa support means it can do just about anything a standard Echo can do -- except the music here sounds much better.

Blue

Yeti Nano

If your special someone loves to stream or make videos and podcasts, there’s no better gift than crisp, high-quality audio. Thankfully, Blue makes inexpensive-but-good USB microphones that are perfect for the budding presenter in your life. Yeti Nano, a shrunken version of the class-leading Yeti mic, is specifically aimed at beginners. For just $100, they’ll get a dual-condenser microphone that promises “studio quality,” 24-bit/48kHz sound. It’s easy to set up, too, and works seamlessly with Twitch, Skype, YouTube and other services. 

Korg

Electribe Wave (iOS)

You no longer need a drum machine or some other bulky music gear to make quality beats. Thanks to a range of mobile apps, you can kickstart a loved one’s music production hobby for a lot less than the cost of an 808. Korg’s Electribe Wave app is just one of many options, but at $30, it packs quite the punch for iOS devices. The company has taken what was a synth-like music-production machine and pumped its features into an iPad and iPhone app. It’s ideal for electronic and dance music, with tools like a Quick Input sequencer and chord pad that'll have novices making noise in no time.

Marshall

Stanmore II Voice

There’s no denying that smart speakers are useful but unfortunately, most of them don’t look very good; they can be rather plain or sometimes downright ugly. As more companies have started adding voice controls to their audio gear, the options are improving. Enter Marshall’s Stanmore II Voice. Alexa handles your special someone’s spoken commands inside a speaker with the company’s iconic guitar amp styling. The black-and-gold controls and that signature logo are sure to please the music fan or musician you’re shopping for. 

Jabra

Elite 65t

We’ve been fond of Jabra’s Elite 65t true wireless earbuds since we first set eyes on them. In fact, we declared them the most versatile headphones you can buy right now. With a price that’s significantly lower than options from the likes of Bose and B&O, the Elite 65t doesn’t cut any corners on sound quality, features, battery life or reliability. What’s more, your lucky recipient can take them to the gym without doing any damage during a sweaty workout. 

Skullcandy

Venue

Tile announced earlier this year that its item-finding tech would be built into headphones, and now we’re starting to see that in practice. Skullcandy is one company that's jumped on board, adding Tile’s trademark feature to its Venue over-ear headphones. While larger headphones may be harder to lose than true wireless earbuds, the tool will certainly come in handy, even around the house. The Venue also offers active noise cancellation, 24 hours of battery life and rapid charge for $180. If a solid pair of headphones is on your loved one’s wishlist and you don’t want to spend $300 on pricier alternatives, these are worth a look.

JBL / Under Armour

Sport Wireless Train

If the gym rat in your life isn’t a fan of earbuds, the options for workout headphones are limited. They might risk sweating in a Beats or Bose set, but most flagship models are only moisture resistant. Thankfully, Under Armour and JBL teamed up for the Sport Wireless Train: a set of on-ear wireless headphones made for workouts. Built-in controls mean your giftee won’t be reaching for their phone between sets. And when things inevitably get stinky, they can wash the removable ear cushions. The mix of features, sound and the ability to keep these clean make them a thoughtful gift for someone who keeps talking about getting in shape after the holidays.

Pioneer

DDJ-SR2 controller

Maybe you know a digital DJs who hasn't invested in hardware. Or perhaps a vinyl purist who’s decided to expand their horizons. Either way, both would both be thankful if you gifted them this controller from Pioneer. The DDJ-SR2 works in tandem with a laptop and includes a dedicated version of Serato Pro software. (RekordBox users, try the DDJ-RR.) Each has a two-channel mixer, including phono inputs to use vinyl or digital files complete with all the onboard effects. If someone in your life already has one of these top-notch yet affordable SR2 units, you could consider gifting one of the Serato expansion packs to upgrade their experience.

Microsoft

Surface Go

Microsoft is in the middle of a hardware renaissance right now, and its $399 Surface makes for a great example. It squeezes a bright, 10-inch display into a package that weighs just over a pound. And since it runs Windows 10S, your lucky recipient can download full-blown desktop apps from the Windows Store. (They can pay extra to upgrade the Surface Go to standard Windows 10 down the road.) Just know that in order to get the most out of the Surface Go, you’ll probably need to get a few extras for that special someone -- a keyboard case and Surface Pen will set you back an extra $100 apiece. 

$399+
Buy Now

Apple

iPhone XR

The XR might be our favorite new iPhone, thanks to its solid build quality, snappy performance and (relatively) reasonable price. Apple specifically built the XR to appeal to a broader audience than the premium XS and XS Max. In other words, it's an ideal gift for people still clinging to their old, cracked iPhones. Size-wise, the XR falls between the XS and XS Max, with a Liquid Retina display that sits below the other phones when it comes to panel quality. Beyond that, the XR packs the same powerful A12 chipset as its more expensive siblings, so it runs apps and games just as well as those $1,000+ iPhones. Not bad, considering the XR starts at $750.

$749+
Buy Now

Apple

iPhone XS Max

If someone in your life needs a new phone and has been very, very good this year, consider the iPhone XS Max. It’s Apple’s most expensive smartphone ever, not to mention its biggest. In addition to that huge screen, the phone offers a pair of stellar 12-megapixel cameras.There’s also a new A12 Bionic chipset inside enabling impressive performance, not to mention a large battery. We’d argue that the XS Max is smartphone overkill, but look at it this way: The iPhone XS Max packs so much power it’s future-proof -- your loved one won’t need a new phone for a long time. 

$999+
Buy Now

Apple

iPad (2018)

Apple’s entry-level iPad is easily one of the best tablets on the market, especially at this price. For $329, your giftee will get a 9.7-inch display, solid performance and support for Apple’s impressive Pencil stylus. (Take note of that for the artsy types in your family.) Even better, Apple’s developers lead the market when it comes to well-executed tablet apps. The iPad's design might be a little dated compared to Apple’s Pro tablets, but who cares? Great usability, polished software and long battery life make this iPad perfect for iOS newcomers and would-be upgraders.

$329+
Buy Now

Google

Pixel 3

The Pixel 3 is one of the best Android phones of 2018, if not the best. It arguably has the best camera in its class, a gorgeous screen and excellent performance. And it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper than other flagships. Your loved one will fawn over its exquisite glass build, and they might even love the subtle Not Pink color option. Google’s software shines here as well; in particular, the lock screen has gotten a lot useful. Just be prepared to see less of your friend online once they start making use of Google's AI-assisted call screening. 

$799+
Buy Now

Apple

Watch Series 4

There’s never been a better time to give an Apple Watch as a gift. With the Series 4 Apple is hitting its stride: The watch packs a bigger, easier-to-read screen, and the new S4 chipset inside enables smooth performance for music streaming and everyday app launching. The advent of watchOS 5 also means the Series 4 is a great choice for the fitness buffs in your life. At the same time, the new fall-detection and heart-tracking features mean your older relatives could benefit too. The Series 4 feels like the most refined Apple Watch yet -- and it might be the first to actually save someone’s life. 

$399+
Buy Now

Fossil

Q Venture HR (Gen 4)

For the more stylish nerd on your list, consider the Fossil Q Venture HR. It runs Google’s latest Wear OS, which is actually kinda useful now, and works with both Android and iOS devices. Your friend can use Assistant to see useful information about their day, stay on top of their fitness goals with the redesigned Google Fit and get their notifications on their wrist. They’ll also love how Fossil managed to squeeze in NFC, GPS and a heart rate monitor without sacrificing the Q Venture HR’s size and weight. 

$255+
Buy Now

Samsung

Galaxy Watch

The Galaxy Watch is great for a tech-savvy Samsung fan. It takes the best features of the Gear smartwatches, like the rotating bezel and great screen, and puts them in a smaller, refined body. Tizen OS is also more powerful than before, with more third-party apps joining the library. Your friend can even control their Samsung appliances with the built-in SmartThings app. New features like stress tracking and Bixby integration don’t work well yet, but they don’t detract from the overall experience. Plus, Samsung Health is a super smart activity tracker that will motivate your buddy to lose those pounds they put on during the holidays. 

$330+
Buy Now

Ultimate Ears

Boom 3 / Megaboom 3

The UE Boom line of bluetooth speakers includes some of our favorites. In fact, they’re a staple of the Engadget CES trailer. So when we say this is the Bluetooth speaker to get for… well, anyone, honestly, you should trust us. The Megaboom 3 is the latest update to Ultimate Ears’ loudest and longest-lasting portable sound system. Just one can easily power a modest-sized party, and they’re insanely rugged -- like military-grade rugged -- so you know this is a gift that could possibly last a lifetime. If you’re afraid the Megaboom is overkill, go for the Boom 3: It has the same wireless charging and awesome light-shifting fabric, but won’t rattle the floors quite as much.

$150+
Buy Now

LuMee

LuMee Duo

The Instagram influencer or Kardashian diehard on your list will love this smartphone case. Thanks to the filtered lights on both its front and back, the LuMee Duo will improve not only their selfies but their portraits as well. The adjustable brightness boost adds a dose of glamour, though more importantly it also helps capture shots in dark clubs and dimly lit bars. It’s available now for any iPhone newer than the 6 and is coming soon to the Pixel and Galaxy lines. 

Knomo

Elektronista / Mayfair Knomad

Help your disorganized friend make sense of her messy purse with Knomo’s Mayfair organizer or Elektronista cross-body clutch. There are pockets upon pockets to help keep wild wires in check. Even earbuds get a separate compartment. Plus, an RFID blocking pocket can protect your bank cards and passports from potential identity scammers. It also helps that these look classy and will match almost any outfit -- your pal will probably be carrying one to all of her holiday parties this year. 

Apple

MacBook Air (2018)

The MacBook Air had been neglected for so long that many of us assumed Apple was about to kill it off. Instead, the company recently unveiled a new and much-improved successor, with a slimmed-down design, Retina display, Touch ID sensor, Force Touch trackpad, louder speakers and the same "Butterfly" keyboard used on the MacBook Pro. Some will still gravitate toward the entry-level Pro ($1,299) if they demand the best possible performance, but remember that the Pro with Touch ID starts at $1,799. For most people, the $1,119 Air hits the sweet spot.
$1,199+
Buy Now

Turtle Beach

Recon 200

Turtle Beach’s Recon 200 is proof you no longer need to spend a ton of money to gift a great gaming headset. Compared to many other low-cost options, the $60 Recon is unique in that it has an onboard stereo amp that can really bring life to games on a Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 or Xbox Onef. Plus, variable mic monitoring and a handy flip-up boom for easy muting help ensure that the Overwatch addict on your shopping list doesn’t annoy their teammates with background chatter.

Oculus

Go

Finally, an affordable and standalone VR headset -- no need to hook it up to a computer or plug in a smartphone. The gamer on your list just needs to hit the power button, slip it over their head and pick up the controller. A world of virtual wonders awaits! The Oculus Go builds on the success of the Gear VR, giving it access to a wide variety of solid VR apps and a decent motion controller. And, at just $200, it’s an affordable way to give the gift of VR. (As a bonus, it’s also a great private oasis for watching Netflix.) 

Oculus

Rift

If someone on your list is looking to graduate from the relative simplicity of smartphone-based VR, the Oculus Rift is a safe bet. It’s the best overall VR headset for PC users. It’s now just $400 with a pair of excellent motion controllers, making it a much better deal than the competing Vive. (It’s much more comfortable to wear, too.) By now, the Rift has racked up a solid library of titles, and it works with Steam VR, too. While Oculus surely has an even more powerful headset on the horizon, the Rift is still polished enough to easily recommend.

Schell Games

I Expect You to Die

I Expect You to Die puts a James Bondian spin on virtual reality games, asking players to weasel their way out of deadly situations as a spy with telekinetic abilities. The game is essentially a series of VR escape rooms, with puzzles presented in a noir-soaked first-person environment, and it’s a great time for the whole family. Defuse bombs, dodge lasers, solve chemistry-based puzzles and smoke as many cigars as your digital lungs can handle. As the title promises, players will definitely die a lot, but a consistent stream of quirky dialogue lessens the sting.

Sony

PlayStation VR

Virtual reality on PlayStation 4 is maturing. When Sony released the PlayStation VR add-on for the console in 2016, a bulk of the titles available felt like little more than tech demos. Now, though, things are different: We’re getting full-on AAA games that just happen to be playable in VR. There’s Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, the delightful rodent-themed adventure Moss and the upcoming physics-based puzzler Arca’s Path, among many others. The candles have just melted on the PSVR’s second birthday cake, and now’s the perfect time to give the gift of virtual reality.  

Sony

PSVR Firewall Zero Hour

This is the VR game for fans of realistic shooters like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Rainbow Six. Firewall Zero Hour is an online, team-based first-person shooter for PlayStation VR, and it finally gets the formula right. As a VR title, Firewall heightens everything that makes a traditional online shooter so heart-pounding and addictive, forcing players to use their whole bodies to duck, attack and strategize. It plays best with the Aim Controller for PSVR, but it works fine with a standard DualShock 4 controller as well.

Sony

PSVR Aim Controller

Here’s the accessory that every PlayStation VR fan needs. The PSVR Aim Controller is a streamlined, gun-shaped peripheral that’s a lot of fun to hold, and it already works with a dozen games, including Doom VFR, Arizona Sunshine, Farpoint and Firewall Zero Hour. VR is all about immersion, and nothing makes you feel like more of a special forces agent than sneaking through enemy territory with an actual gun-like controller in your hands. The Aim Controller also gives players an edge over the DualShock 4 gamepad in online multiplayer games like Firewall.

Bethesda

Fallout 76

Fallout 76 is more suited to PC play than any other game in the series, considering that this time around, it’s all online. Every human character here is an actual person, and players are encouraged to team up in their adventures across the irradiated wastelands of West Virginia. The game takes place just 25 years after Earth is ravaged by atomic weapons, and it follows the first settlers to crawl out of the legendary Vault 76. To fully take advantage of the new game design, your giftee will want to hop online with friends and see how long they can survive.

Corsair

K63 wireless keyboard

If you want to put a smile on the face of your favorite PC gamer, consider gifting them a wireless mechanical keyboard. We suggest the Corsair K63, which offers low latency -- vital for fast-paced games. The battery should be good for 15 hours, or your loved one can connect the keyboard via USB. The K63 includes 128-bit AES encryption, which should soothe any worries that someone may be wirelessly tracking keystrokes, while the compact design (there's no dedicated keypad) makes it fairly portable. The iCUE software, meanwhile, lets users create dynamic lighting and set up macros for any key.

Elgato

Stream Deck Mini

Live game streaming is on the rise, but it can be intimidating if you’re a newcomer. Thankfully, Elgato might have a gift for the budding broadcasters in your world. Its Stream Deck Mini offers six programmable LCD buttons that make it easy to start a broadcast, change screen layouts or announce a stream on social networks. It works with a variety of services too. And it’s not terribly expensive -- no need to commit to the full-size Stream Deck if your would-be Twitch star is just starting to stream their Fortnite sessions.

Logitech

G305

It’s difficult to find a gaming mouse that offers top-tier performance without breaking a tight gift budget, but the G305 should hit that sweet spot. It has the same near-zero-lag wireless and 12,000DPI sensor of its higher-end counterparts, just without the extra buttons, adjustable weighting and other features that tend to drive prices up. It’s even fairly portable, thanks to its long battery life, hidden USB receiver slot and compact footprint. If you know a gamer who wants nothing more than a fast, responsive mouse and could do without cable clutter, they’d likely be happy to unwrap this.

Logitech

G513

Whether the PC gamer on your gift list is quietly intense or likes to bang on those keys, Logitech’s G513 mechanical keyboard will suit them. It’s available either with quieter Romer-G keys (both linear and tactile) or loud GX Blue tactile mechanical switches. Either way, you’ll get a 25-percent quicker response than on rival keyboards, Logitech promises. It also has a low-key design, with no wasted space or programmable lights. The drawback is that some might find it a little too compact, with no space for media keys. It also ain’t cheap, but it’ll give your intended a leg up during Christmas Fortnite sessions. 

Razer

DeathAdder Elite

If you’re shopping for a gamer, it’s hard to go wrong with the Razer DeathAdder Elite mouse. Although gaming peripherals can be a very personal choice, especially for the dedicated players among us, this mouse is universally adored for its form, function and price. It’s comfortable for a wide spectrum of hand sizes and grip positions. The included software, while a bit clunky, allows for precise customization of its seven easy-to-reach buttons. Most importantly, it has an incredibly accurate optical sensor. Plus, at less than $60, you won’t have to break the bank to give the gift of great gaming.

Roccat

Vulcan

Mechanical keyboards are great for typing, but they can still be a bit of an adjustment for those used to the low-profile keys found on most modern laptops. To help your giftee make the switch, the Roccat Vulcan is a deck that delivers all the precision of mechanical switches but tops them with flat, wafer-like keycaps that feel smooth and responsive. Plus, it’s great for your more slovenly acquaintances, since there are fewer crevices where crumbs can get stuck.

Square Enix

Life is Strange 2

The Life Is Strange series doesn’t approach gaming from the perspective of a gun barrel; instead it offers engrossing and emotional coming-of-age stories with a supernatural twist. It’s an ideal gift for literature lovers, sci-fi fiends, young adults and social advocates. The game deftly tackles the journey of two young brothers fleeing Seattle to their father’s hometown of Puerto Lobos, Mexico, after a police shooting leaves their family in shreds. Life Is Strange 2 feels raw at times, but it’s also packed with paranormal phenomena and witty one-liners.

SteelSeries

Arctis 3

The gamer in your life might appreciate a headset, but they’d probably like to use it for more than just gaming. If so, SteelSeries’ Arctis 3 Bluetooth should be on your short list. The recently updated design promises comfortable wired audio for play sessions, but it can also receive Bluetooth sound from another source at the same time. You can stream music from your phone to create an impromptu soundtrack or join a PC voice chat while you’re playing on a console across the room. This could be a must-have for any Switch owner you know, since it lets them chat through Nintendo’s mobile app and hear game audio on the same headphones.

Epic Games

Fortnite V-Bucks

Your kid has probably already “accidentally” charged $100 worth of Fortnite costumes to your credit card -- twice -- so you might as well just roll with it. Even for the older Fortnite fans in your life, V-Bucks make the game more fun, allowing players to customize their characters and unlock a range of in-game goodies. Look at it this way: Spend a little cash now and enjoy the praise of your Fortnite-addicted loved one, or just watch that money mysteriously disappear into the game a few months later anyway.

Insomniac Games

Spider-Man

Insomniac's Spider-Man game is the web-slinging adventure we've all been waiting for. This PS4 exclusive lets you swing around New York as an older, more-experienced Peter Parker, battling iconic supervillains and petty criminals alike. The city is beautiful and mostly faithful to its real-life counterpart, with plenty of recognizable landmarks and Marvel Easter eggs. It's also littered with excellent side activities that include collectible backpacks and clearing out bases filled with Fisk and Mister Negative henchmen. If you know someone who loves the famous wall crawler, this is an essential PS4 title.

Microsoft

Xbox One X

You can't go wrong with an Xbox One X. It's the most powerful console around, and offers the best experience (short of a $1,500 PC) for cross-platform games. Although its first-party exclusives aren't as compelling or plentiful as Sony's, if you've gone this long without owning an Xbox One, there are still a lot of games to dig into, and that's not even mentioning the 500-plus Xbox 360 games playable through backward-compatibility.

$400+
Buy Now

Microsoft

Forza Horizon 4

With the Horizon sub-series, Microsoft has always focused on fun instead of realism, like racing against a freight train or a fighter-jet squadron. The latest, Forza Horizon 4, might be the best example of that yet. The opening race alone takes players through all four seasons, drifting around snowy corners and crashing through the forest as dirt bikes fly by spewing neon smoke. And that’s just the first 10 minutes. From there it only gets crazier. It also really shines on the Xbox One X, where it truly showcases the console’s 4K and HDR capabilities.

Microsoft

Xbox Elite Controller

Three years ago the Elite was the best controller Microsoft had ever made. In 2018 that still holds true, but until now it only came in black. Thankfully Microsoft remedied that this year, for the gamer on your list whose aesthetic taste leans toward the lighter side. The new snow-hued version is every bit as comfortable and customizable as the original gamepad. It features hair-trigger locks; a grippy, rubberized underside; and interchangeable thumbsticks and D-pads to give the aspiring pro gamer in your life an edge over the competition.

Nintendo

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is, as the name suggests, the biggest version yet of Nintendo’s classic fighting game. It’s also poised to be the best. So give the gift of Smash Bros. and then immediately challenge the recipient to a best 3-of-5 showdown. What better way to spend your holidays than whipping family and friends around Hyrule as one of Castlevania’s vampire hunters? Ultimate promises more characters, more stages and more secrets to unlock than ever before. And hey, even if the gamer on your list is less into fisticuffs and more of a Nintendo nerd, this doubles as an interactive collection of gaming’s greatest characters.

Nintendo

Switch

Nintendo’s Switch console is suitable for all ages, thanks to a vibrant mix of family-friendly first-party titles and an increasingly strong third-party lineup. Sure, you can play it like a regular console, in the living room with a TV, but it's in portable mode where it shines. From Zelda and Mario to Wolfenstein and Fortnite, the Switch lets you play truly great games wherever you are.

Nintendo

GameCube controller & adapter

There’s a reason Nintendo keeps reissuing the GameCube controller for Super Smash Bros: It’s the best way to play the game. Nailing the perfect combo that sends your opponent flying off into the horizon just feels better with one. Everyone can appreciate the retro pad’s better ergonomics versus the Switch Pro Controller. But purists and high-level players will swoon at the chance to relive their Super Smash Bros. Melee glory days. Unfortunately they’ll need a special USB adapter (sold separately), as you can’t plug directly into the Switch or dock. Yes, this is only compatible with Ultimate, but it’s still cheaper than a full-size arcade stick for other fighting games.

Rockstar Games

Red Dead Redemption 2

Get ready to ride again, cowboy. Eight years after the launch of Red Dead Redemption, its follow-up finally arrives just in time for the holidays. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a dense, detailed and character-driven adventure across the Wild West at the turn of the 20th century, and it’s poised to be one of the biggest titles of the year. That’s in terms of sales and the game’s actual map size: This is the largest landscape that Rockstar has ever created, and it’s supposedly packed with secrets.

Signature Edition Games

Dead Cells

Dead Cells is a lot of game for $30 (though you'll pay extra for the more giftable Signature Edition). It's a rewarding Castlevania-style rogue-like game with gorgeous art and responsive controls. There are no checkpoints, and you start each game from the beginning with random items, but unlike many rogue-likes, it's not up to your to just “get better” if you want to progress. With each play-through you'll unlock skills, weapons and items to help you. As you improve, the game grows with you, and even once you beat the final boss, it just kicks up the difficulty further.

Sony

PS4 Slim

If you know someone who went with the Xbox One for this console generation, it's high time to introduce them to what the PS4 Slim has to offer. There are dozens of exclusive games you can only play on PlayStation, including fresh titles like Marvel's Spider-Man and God of War, not to mention hits from previous years like Bloodborne, Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted 4.

$269+
Buy Now

Oxymoron Games

Project Hospital

Theme Hospital somehow made managing a medical institution fun and even comical. The whimsical title has stood the test of time, and only recently have pseudo-sequels revisited the concept with any success. Like Two Point Hospital released earlier this year, Project Hospital is an homage to the late ’90s sim featuring similar but updated gameplay and graphics. You’ll be splitting your time between expanding the site, managing the day-to-day operations and aiding your doctors with complex diagnoses. It’s the kind of game that can devour many long, cold nights, making it’s ideal for anyone on a holiday break with time to kill.

Sony

PlayStation Classic

This year, it’s Sony’s turn to plumb the depths of its gaming heritage with an irresistibly priced retro console. Right now it’s only available to pre-order and, honestly, you might have better luck hitting up eBay. But if you manage to spot one when it hits shelves December 3rd, you’re getting a lot of giftable bang for $100. While it’s 45 percent smaller than the original, there are 20 titles baked in, including classics like Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3 and Ridge Racer Type 4. There are also two classic but uncomfortable controllers, ensuring you’re able to settle any decades-old scores with family members. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Scuf Gaming

Impact and Infinity controllers

If there’s a game fanatic on your list this holiday and they’re not already earning the big bucks for top gear, you may want to treat them to a controller upgrade from Scuf. These competitive controllers are customizable from thumbsticks to hair-trigger attenuation and include a variety of styles and colors. There are even paddles to keep your thumbs on the sticks and enabling free fingers for those button-based tricks. Scuf’s Impact (PS4/PC) and Infinity (Xbox/PC) models can increase speed and augment skills, while probably deepening the dent in your loved one’s couch.

$150+
Buy Now

Anki

Vector

Anki's Vector is a cute little robot designed for bedrooms and coffee tables. Think of it like a Furby but with wheels and a smarter, more-interesting personality. The toy will perk up when its owner says, "Hey, Vector," wriggle with joy when they stroke its back, and dance to the beat of any nearby music. It can also navigate rooms, find its own charger and respond to basic questions such as "What's the weather?" or "How far is it from San Francisco to Los Angeles?" In short, Vector is the perfect desk buddy for rainy afternoons and boring homework assignments.

Fantasy Flight Games

X-Wing Second Edition

Fantasy Flight recently released the second version of its X-Wing tabletop game -- and some people say it’s even better than the first. It could be the perfect gift for that Star Wars fan in your life who’s raring to host epic space battles or who’s been meaning to upgrade from the first version. The game puts you in charge of maneuvering pre-painted miniature starfighters across the tabletop in order to blast your enemies’ fleet to smithereens. Even better, it lets you play as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and the films’ other iconic pilots for max immersion.

Hot Wheels

Augmoto

Track racing with Hot Wheels cars can be a blast, but it isn’t all that immersive: You put the cars on the track, let ’em rip and wait for that initial burst of acceleration to peter out. Augmoto is a set that will keep kids busier for longer, thanks to its motorized cars that can run for thousands of laps, as well as an AR app that injects an extra layer of strategy. Kids can control where the cars go on the track, sure, but things get even more interesting when they earn rockets and oil slicks that can slow down their friends’ and siblings’ vehicles Mario Kart-style.

Kano

Harry Potter Coding Kit

Kano has spent the past five years making build-it-yourself computer kits that also teach children how to code. The Harry Potter wand is its first licensed product, and if you're a fan of the wizarding world, it's also its most exciting to date. Iconic spells including Wingardium Leviosa, Stupefy and Incendio are taught through block-based coding challenges inside the Kano app. Users then wield the plastic wand, which has a built-in gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer, to move a cursor on-screen and perform the finished magic.

Leder Games

Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right

Root is for serious board game enthusiasts who also happen to like cute animals, gorgeous artwork and all-out war. In it, you take the side of an animal faction fighting for control over the great woodland. The Cats have seized the realm and want to harvest its riches, the Woodland Alliance aims to form a resistance, the Eyrie desires a roost to save its empire and the mysterious Raccoon travels alone. It all adds up to a highly strategic and fascinating experience that’s a lot cuter than Games of Thrones.

Mattel

Jurassic World Alpha Training Blue

Chances are you know someone who watched Jurassic World and ended up wanting a dinosaur for a pet. Well, this robotic facsimile of the raptor Blue is probably the closest they’ll ever get. That said, it’s impressively lifelike, thanks to seven internal motors and countless points of articulation. Plus, it roars and coos like a real animal. Blue can also be trained to do simple tricks or stand guard over your kid’s room. Don’t worry about potential disembowelment, though: The worst she can do is growl menacingly. 

$250+
Buy Now

PowerUp

Dart

If you know someone who loves flying, there’s now an easy way to indulge their curiosity on a small scale without buying a model aircraft. PowerUp’s Dart kits turn paper airplanes into powered, phone-controlled machines for relatively little money: about $40. Rookie pilots can have the thrill of model flight without quite so much fear of a crash landing. And if your recipient isn’t a paper-folding champion, there are included templates to help them get started.

Skyrocket

Pomsies

Kids have a decidedly different fashion sense from us adults. They love to dabble in mismatched colors, tutus with sports jerseys and any other combination of garments that most of us grown-ups wouldn’t dare wear outside the house. So the little fashionista in your life will probably take very well to Pomsies: fuzzy, interactive pets meant to be worn on the wrist, in their hair or anywhere else they can curl their little tails around. They’re cute and cuddly, and they react to touch. How many fashion accessories do you know that play games and purr when you pet them?

Spinmaster

Air Hogs Supernova

Anyone who’s dealt with children knows that kids and drones don't always make the best combination. They might lose the device over a fence or steer it right into a sibling’s head. The Supernova is a motion-controlled quadcopter that will stay in orbit around a person and come down when it flies too far or too high, while its plastic cage helps protect faces and hands if it does stray off-course. Bonus: They can also pretend to throw it like a hadouken in Street Fighter.

Tech Will Save Us

Light Racer Kit

As a kid you probably blinged out your bike with accessories like reflectors, streamers and a basket on the front. Now your children can follow in that tradition, albeit with a more high-tech and, dare we say, educational bent. The Light Racer Kit lets kids build two lightning-bolt-shaped lights for their bicycle wheels that flash as they go round and round, thanks to an electromagnetic coil and a bit of wiring the kids do themselves. We’ve certainly come a long way from cards stuffed between the spokes.

Ubisoft

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

You might think Ubisoft is a little crazy for launching a toys-to-life game in 2018. Previous attempts at this concept, including Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions, have proved unsustainable and folded over the past few years. Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Starter Edition) is different because it's centered around modular spaceships. That means players can customize the toys to suit their style and the challenges posed in the game. If you buy the title for Switch, they can play as the iconic Fox McCloud and his Arwing fighter from Star Fox. Here's hoping the minute-to-minute gameplay holds up.

Wonder Forge

Disney's Villainous

Princesses and heroes get all the glory, but playing the villain is just more fun. That’s the thought behind Wonder Forge’s Disney Villainous, which lets you play the part of your favorite Disney baddie. Compete against one to five Disney bad guys to see which achieves their evil goals first. If you’re Captain Hook, for example, you’ll want to defeat Peter Pan, but if you’re Maleficent, you’ll want to curse the realm. This is perfect for the Disney fan in your life, or anyone who wants a taste of the dark side.

Drawn and Quarterly

Sabrina (by Nick Drnaso)

You don’t necessarily need to look into the future to find dystopian fiction. Sabrina became the first graphic novel to be considered for the prestigious Man Booker Prize this year, and begins with a woman who goes missing. Yet what it really examines is the narrative about her disappearance which distorts online through fake news, comment threads, conspiracy theorists and viral videos. Nick Drnaso’s restrained style captures the malleability of truth and tragedy on today’s internet, as well as what it does to people’s off-screen lives. Sabrina’s bleak mirror is a poignant reflection on our new reality.

Melville House

Networks of New York

The urban explorer in your life probably spends a lot of time looking up, but this slim, dense book by Ingrid Burrington will have them looking down at the markings drawn on pavements throughout the city. What is “CATV” or “EcS”? And do the paint colors mean anything? The book is most concerned with the orange marks indicating network infrastructure, like phone and cable lines. But, Networks of New York will also make readers see manhole covers in a new way, and it reveals the secrets that lie beneath facades like Google’s 8th Avenue headquarters, a former Port Authority building that later became a carrier hotel. (Don’t worry, the book explains what a carrier hotel is.)

Paramount

Avatar: The Last Airbender Bluray collection

With Netflix developing a live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender show, now might be a good time for friends and family to catch up on the animated show that started it all. The Complete Series on Blu-ray includes every episode of Aang’s quest to restore balance, presented in the same 4:3 aspect ratio that you saw on TV a decade ago. It won’t take full advantage of a 4K set, but your recipients probably won’t object if the box set brings back some fond memories.

Paramount Home Video

Mission Impossible 4K Blu-rays

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to watch one of the greatest action series ever in the highest quality possible. The 4K Blu-rays are as close to perfect as the Mission: Impossible series will look at home. And with the addition of HDR, which offers brighter highlights and more nuanced shades of black, they'll look better than they ever did in theaters. They’re a perfect gift for fans of the series, or for anyone who appreciates a good action flick. (And, yes, even M:I-2 is worth a rewatch.) 

Titan Books

Alita: Battle Angel - Iron City

Know any avid cyberpunk, manga or sci-fi fans you’d like to treat this holiday? Alita: Battle Angel, based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga series, arrives in theaters this February in tandem with a novelization by renowned cyberpunk author Pat Cadigan. While that book can be pre-ordered well in advance, the prequel arrives this November, just in time for gifting season. Cadigan’s fluid narrative and unique character building set the stage for Iron City’s denizens, post-apocalyptic environs and the evil-yet-envied floating city of Zalem. A great read for fans and newcomers alike.

Tor.com

Binti

Binti is an award-winning novella from Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor. It follows a young girl from a race of desert-dwelling people, who breaks free from her society to join the most prestigious university in the galaxy. Binti, together with its two sequels, Binti: Home and Binti: The Night Masquerade, tells a classic coming-of-age-story set against one of the most memorable science-fiction worlds you'll come across.

Tor.com

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries)

If you know someone who plays a lot of sci-fi shooters, they’ll probably enjoy the adventures of Murderbot. But this series of novellas by Martha Wells isn’t a nonstop run-and-gun fest. It’s actually more about what happens to murderous cyborgs between missions, which actually involves a lot of corporate tomfoolery, binging on TV shows and social awkwardness. Never has a life of killing and bloodshed been so relatable.

Van Ryder Games

Graphic Novel Adventures

If you have a friend or family member who was a fan of those choose-your-own-adventure books as a kid, they’ll love this series of graphic novels by Van Ryder Games. The stories are not connected in any way -- in one you’re a werewolf and in another you’re Sherlock Holmes -- but that doesn’t matter. Each comic book is not only beautifully illustrated but also filled with puzzles and adventures that will have you solving riddles, fighting enemies or managing your very own township. (Board game lovers will like that last one!) You can buy the books individually for $23 each or the complete set of five for $99.

Vertigo

Transmetropolitan Vol. 1

This comic series was visionary when it debuted more than two decades ago. Now it’s eerily relevant in today's technology-driven, politically charged climate. 3D printers? Check. Digital camera glasses? Check. A smarmy president hated by many? Check. A two-headed, cigarette-smoking cat? Well, we haven’t gotten to that one (yet). But if any of your loved ones have been feeling stressed by our media landscape lately, they'll find something comforting in Transmetropolitan's protagonist Spider Jerusalem. He’s a drug-using, ultra-violent journalist with a heart of gold who uses his reporting skills, talent for words and a bowel disruptor to make the world a better place.

Warner Brothers

2001: A Space Odyssey 4K

Yes, physical media is a dying medium. But if ever there was a film that demanded the grandeur of 4K Blu-ray, it’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick’s trippiest and arguably finest work gets the treatment it deserves for its 50th anniversary. You can get the budding film buff on your list the standalone 4K Blu-ray for $20, but you might want to consider the $42 premium package for 4K and HD, a digital copy of the film and a booklet and cards featuring art from the film, plus a host of extras, including interviews with Kubrick as well as commentary and featurettes about the making and legacy of 2001. Basically it’s a film nerd’s dream.

Warner Brothers

Matrix Trilogy 4K

It’s hard to overstate just how influential the Matrix trilogy is. Now, Warner Brothers is releasing 4K editions of these three blockbusters just in time for the holidays. These UHD editions are completely remastered from a brand-new scan of the original negatives; it’s the closest the film buff on your list can get to recapturing the theatrical magic from almost two decades ago. If there’s a sci-fi nerd in your life, chances are they love these movies and would love nothing more than unwrapping them this holiday season.

Avid Bookshop

Curated subscription

There are few things nicer than getting a real book that a real human being picked out -- it’s a lot more personal than whatever Amazon’s algorithms are recommending. For the obsessive bookworm, the Avid Bookshop of Atlanta, Georgia, offers a customized book subscription built on the recipient’s tastes. After filling out an in-depth questionnaire, Avid sends the reader a surprise book every month that matches their reading history and interests. After they finish each book, they can send Avid feedback so it can continue to improve its selections. 

$140+
Buy Now

Comixology

Unlimited subscription

Whether your giftee is a long-time comics devotee or new fan, it’s hard to go wrong with a subscription to Comixology Unlimited. Comixology is one of the -- if not the -- largest digital comics platform out there. The $6-per-month subscription includes unlimited access to around 15,000 comics, graphic novels and manga. Because major publishers like Marvel, Image and Dark Horse are on board, there’s something for everyone. What’s more, the selection changes regularly, so there’s always something new to read.

$6/month
Buy Now

HBO

HBO Now subscription

After years of pleas and demands from viewers, HBO finally offered a way to tune in without a cable subscription. Even better, its library continues to improve, pushed forward by competition like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. The $15-per-month fee is a bit pricey, but the person you're giving this to will appreciate finally having their own login to catch up on Game of Thrones and Westworld or rediscover classics like The Wire or Oz.

$15/month
Buy Now

Hulu

Live TV subscription

If you have a cord-cutter on your gift list, Hulu's Live TV package is a perfect fit. For $40 per month, they get the same channels other streaming TV packages offer, plus Hulu. That way they can catch up on past seasons of shows they might have missed while without cable, like The Goldbergs, that aren't necessarily available anywhere else. With original shows like Marvel's The Runaways and The Handmaid's Tale, it could be the perfect option for someone who feels like they've watched all the good stuff on Netflix already.

$40/month
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Microsoft

Xbox Live Gold Subscription

If you know someone who’s getting an Xbox One this season, do them a favor and gift an Xbox Live Gold subscription. The service is required to play countless video games such as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), Minecraft and Forza Horizon 4 online. It will also net them some “free” Games with Gold every month, which typically includes a few older Xbox One titles and Xbox 360 classics (which can be played on Xbox One hardware, thanks to backward compatibility). An active subscription also unlocks some hefty discounts in the Xbox Store, which will help them save money in the future.

Microsoft

Xbox Game Pass

Few services come close to matching the value of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass. For $9.99 per month, subscribers can download and play more than 100 titles including Rocket League, Doom and Onrush. Crucially, the service also includes Xbox One and PC exclusives such as Quantum Break, Sea of Thieves and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Microsoft says future exclusives, such as Gears 5 and Halo Infinite, will be added on the same day they hit store shelves. So if you buy someone a 12-month pass, they won't have to wait or pay $60 to play with everyone who pre-ordered.

$10+/month
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Nintendo

Switch Online

You probably know someone who's getting a Nintendo Switch for Christmas, so why not help them get the most out of their shiny new system with a Switch Online subscription? They'll need one if they want to play Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online with their buddies and talk to them over voice chat via a smartphone app. The fun doesn't stop there, either: Switch Online includes a bunch of classic NES games that players can revisit or play for the first time, along with cloud saves to protect their precious game data. Members also get exclusive opportunities to buy select products, such as wireless NES controllers.

Sony

PlayStation Plus subscription

If you're shopping for a PS4 owner, it's worth remembering that they need PlayStation Plus to access the big, wide world of multiplayer gaming. Not only does a subscription open the door to playing online, it grants members access to a half dozen or so titles from the Instant Game Collection each month across PS4, PS3 and Vita. Plus users frequently get discounts in the PlayStation Store too, so they can build a bigger library of games with all the cash they'll save.

$10/month
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YouTube

YouTube Premium

YouTube recently revamped both its music service and its ad-free subscription, uniting both products under YouTube Premium. $12 per month now covers ad-free YouTube videos and access to a vast catalog of songs that rivals Spotify. But it also pulls from the depths of YouTube, creating a one-stop shop for mainstream hits and obscure live tracks or remixes. If you have friends or family who love the deep cuts and live music, YouTube Premium is for them. It supports both audio-only and video playback, and everything can be saved to a phone for offline viewing.

$12/month
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LittleBits

Inventor Kits

LittleBits' latest batch of Inventor Kits are the perfect gift for inquiring minds and rebel creators. The newest trio are the Base, Space Rover and Electronic Music kits, each with 12 or more ready-to-go projects. And there are easy-to-follow tutorials available for smartphones or tablets. Think of them like little brain exercises that lead to remote control vehicles, sensors and electronic music makers for use in the real world. Plus, learning a valuable skill is a far better way of passing the time than watching TV.

$100+
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Ozobot

Evo

Ozobot’s adorable little robot has been a mainstay coding toy for years now, and it’s still one of the best options on the market. Kids can tell it what to do by drawing lines on a piece of paper, which also teaches them some programming basics. And once they get the hang of that, there’s an app that lets them do even more with the robots, as well as a web portal for more advanced “OzoBlockly” programming (with actual code!). Plus, new skins for Evo mean kids can give orders to Captain America or control a tiny unicorn. 

Nerf

Laser Ops Pro

Want to give your kids the gift of living out their favorite Hollywood shootouts but don’t want to take the chance of them putting out an eye? Fear not: Your future Jason Statham will be able to take as many shots as they like without fear of prosecution, thanks to the NERF Laser Ops Pro. This series brings a 21st-century update to the venerable foam-dart blasters -- namely, by replacing the darts with lasers and pairing the guns to a free smartphone app for a laser-tag-like experience. Available for Android and iOS, the Laser Ops Pro app enables players to customize their weapon, track stats and find their opponent using the app’s onboard “radar” function.

Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll subscription

Whether you’re shopping for a neophyte Weeb or an old-hand Nipponophile, you can’t go wrong with a subscription to Crunchyroll. The streaming platform offers a massive selection of anime, from classic series like Gurren Lagann, Bleach and Sword Art Online to today’s biggest hits, including Attack on Titan, One Piece and My Hero Academia. For $7 a month, the target of your holiday affections will be practically swimming in the best animated content that Japan has to offer -- not to mention a wide variety of live-action shows and a serviceable number of digital manga titles as well. 

$7/month
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Orbit

The Expanse Series

Star Trek can go suck Ferengi lobes -- there’s a new crew searching for adventure among the stars. The Expanse follows the exploits of Jim Holden, Naomi Nagata and the rest of those who serve aboard Rocinante as they strive to defend the solar system from interplanetary human conflict and an ancient alien species capable of wiping out living organisms within 40 AU of the sun. Packed with well-rounded characters and a pulse-pounding storyline pitting a single starship against impossible odds, The Expanse has already been nominated for two Hugo Awards (Best Novel in 2012, Best Series in 2017) and optioned as a three-season television serial on SyFy.

Riverhead Books

How to Invent Everything

Getting stuck in the past is always a hassle, especially around the holidays. So if you’ve got a John Connor on your shopping list, give them the gift of (relatively) primitive knowledge with How to Invent Everything, by Ryan North (the guy behind the Adventure Time comic adaptation, Dinosaur Comics and The Incredible Squirrel Girl). From the scientific method and the basics of kiln construction to art and philosophy to the many uses of mosquitoes and the wild world of welding, this book is the only how-to manual your time-traveling holiday guests will need.