Technology has come a long way over the decades, evolving into a range of hardware that's available to everyone thanks to an increase in affordable parts and handy gadgets. A little slice of cutting-edge technology is always a welcome stocking stuffer, and for around $50, you'd be surprised at just what your money can get you. Whether you're in the market for an excellent set of headphones or Bluetooth speakers, brands such as Anker and Tribit have a wide range of goods to offer you as the holiday season approaches.
If you're trying to impress, you don't want to give a family member or friend a simple gift card to Best Buy, so to help you out, we've rounded up some of the best tech gift ideas for 2021. Keep in mind that all prices listed below indicate the product's regular price and don't reflect any fluctuations or discounts. Amazon regularly slashes the prices on its products, so you may find a sweet deal on your gift item when you click through.
And if you're looking for more gift ideas, check out our guides to the best tech and gaming gifts as well as the best gift ideas for PlayStation fans, the best gifts for Nintendo Switch owners, and the best Xbox gifts.
Best video game consoles
One of the best gifts to give and get is a video game console. Not only is it a deluxe item they'll never forget; they'll also be able to get a ton of use out of it. Below we've collected the best video game consoles that are readily available. Of course, the PS5 and Xbox Series X are nearly here, but with preorders selling out quickly, there's no guarantee you'll be able to lock one of the new consoles down in time for the holidays.
Sony's latest PlayStation console is a marvel of next-gen engineering, thanks to its bleeding-edge solid-state drive that cuts down significantly on load times, a console design that looks futuristic, and the impressive DualSense controller which offers incredible haptic feedback. It also has some terrific games that take advantage of its new hardware, such as Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon's Souls, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, and Deathloop.
The latest console from Microsoft, the Xbox Series X doesn't stray too far from the gaming ecosystem that it created with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One systems, but it does fine-tune them to an exciting degree with hardware that features pure horsepower in the graphical department, an SSD that loads games incredibly quickly, and a Quick Resume function that makes switching between multiple titles easier than ever.
Nintendo's latest console is perfect for anyone who spends more time playing with in handheld mode instead of docking it to their TV, thanks to a crisp OLED screen that makes every game pop with vibrant color. It also has a few other quality-of-life benefits, such as a better stand, a dedicated ethernet port in the dock, and an increase in internal storage. Everything else about the console is essentially identical to the regular Switch, but if you can afford to spare some extra cash, the Nintendo Switch OLED Model is the definitive platform for playing the Big N's best games.
If your loved one isn't interested in docking the Nintendo Switch and outputting to a TV, then the Nintendo Switch Lite is a cheaper, handheld-only alternative that makes a great gift. It also boasts the first official D-pad Nintendo has released for the Switch, though the Joy-Cons are not removable for multiplayer sessions. An additional controller is required for each player--and a stand, as the Switch Lite doesn't have one built-in. However, the Lite can still play all of the same games the regular Nintendo Switch can, so gamers won't be missing out on any of its great titles.
Best video game controllers
For gamers, no accessory gets more use than their favorite controller, especially when it's a premium pad made to last them a long time. The following controllers are the best you can get for their respective platforms, but if you want to see more options, check out our guides on the best Nintendo Switch controllers, the best Xbox Series X controllers, and the best PS4 controllers.
The Elite Series 2 wireless controller made our list of the best Xbox Series X controllers for a reason. It has adjustable analog-stick tension, three trigger-lock positions, and the best grips you can find on an Xbox pad. It also just feels more solidly built, sanding out the rough edges that were left on Microsoft's first try at an Elite-style controller. If you're looking for one of the best controllers for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC, it doesn't get much better than the Elite Series 2.
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller may be expensive, but it's still one of the best Switch controllers you can buy. It's more expensive than many third-party options, but it's got everything users need to play the best games on Nintendo's hybrid console. It feels the best to hold out of every controller we've tested, with satisfying buttons, comfortable grips, and off-set analog sticks. It also features NFC/Amiibo support, HD rumble, and motion controls. Every Switch owner should have at least one Pro Controller.
With the release of the Xbox Series X and S, Microsoft has slightly adjusted its popular controller. It now features a "Share" button that lets gamers share their screenshots and gameplay clips more easily as well as a new D-pad. Thankfully, this new controller works on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC, so it'll work great for a wide variety of gamers on their respective platforms.
The PS5 introduces the DualSense controller, which is required to play PS5 games on the new console. It features haptic feedback as well as adaptive triggers that can change their tension and function depending on the game--Deathloop developer Arkane says it's even capable of locking the triggers when guns jam. If your loved one is getting a PS5 this holiday season, then a DualSense controller is a great gift.
Best gaming headsets
The quality of gaming headsets can vary wildly, and if you're not sure which ones are good, then it can be incredibly intimidating to look through all of your available options. We've highlighted some of our picks for gaming headsets below.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox is a fantastic gaming headset that works with every modern video game platform out there. It's compatible with the PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, and Nintendo Switch--even in handheld mode. It comes with a USB-C dongle that can be inserted into the Nintendo Switch itself. The best part is that this dongle connects instantly, so there's no need to wait for pairing.
The Creative SXFI Gamer gaming headset is one of the best 3D audio headsets out there, providing its own proprietary 3D audio with Creative Labs' Super X-Fi technology. It's a wired headset compatible with PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch in docked mode and features fantastic audio that is great for multiplayer games, in which hearing your enemy is important.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7X and 7P wireless headsets are fantastic options for people who play on multiple platforms. They're a higher-end headset than the Arctis 1, but they still include the USB-C dongle that makes it possible to listen to the Switch with wireless headphones in handheld mode. The Arctis 7P works with PS5, PS4, Switch, and PC, while the 7X trades the PlayStation platforms for Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One.
Best Bluetooth headphones
Gaming headsets are great, but they're not the best for listening to music, especially when on the go. And cables can get caught on everything these days--doors, benches, and anything else in between home and the destination. That's where Bluetooth headphones excel. Wirelessly connected to any compatible device, your loved one will be able to listen to anything they want in comfort, making Bluetooth headphones perfect for anyone with a long commute or who travels frequently.
Razer's Opus headphones are the company's first premium headphones that feature THX certification and Bluetooth connectivity. THX-certified means the headphones produce music audio as it was intended to be heard. The Razer Opus also features four microphones, two of which are used for active noise cancelling and the other two for mic communication. Owners can also adjust the headphones' EQ and other settings with the Opus app on smartphone devices.
Razer's latest Kraken Kitty headset is completely wireless with Bluetooth connectivity. The Kraken Kitty Bluetooth headset features RGB lighting and an impressive battery life--20 hours with lighting or 50 hours without. It also boasts the same great sound and comfortability as Razer's line of Kraken headsets.
If you'd rather have a pair of headphones that you can connect to your phone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled devices, then the Creative SXFI Air is an excellent choice. It boasts Super X-Fi technology that makes it sound like you're listening to a surround-sound system inside the headphones.
The AirPods Pro feature active noise cancellation, a transparency mode, and sweat- and water-resistance as well as a new design that helps the earbuds stay in ears more effectively. By default, the earbuds come with a wireless charging case. They boast up to 4.5 hours of battery life on one charge, though you'll be able to throw them back into the charging case and get up to 24 hours of battery in total. For a cheaper alternative, the 2nd-gen Apple AirPods are also a great option. While they don't come equipped with a lot of the same features as the Pro model, they boast a slightly higher battery life.
If your loved one already has an excellent pair of Bluetooth headphones, then Creative Labs' Bluetooth transmitter is the perfect way to connect them to a Nintendo Switch or any other USB-C device. The sound quality is excellent, and it looks great, too.
A tablet is always an excellent gift for anyone who loves movies, TV, comics, and books. Easy to enjoy around the house or take with you while traveling, tablets are great for entertainment, surfing the internet, or even games.
Apple unveiled the New iPad Air, which boasts the new A14 Bionic chip and improved cameras, and if you're looking for a tablet to gift a loved one, then this is the iPad to go with. The New iPad Air takes on a shape more similar to the iPad Pro line of tablets and also ditches Apple's proprietary Lightning port for USB-C connectivity.
If they're a movie & TV buff, comic book fan, and/or anything in between--and you don't want to break the bank--then the Amazon Fire 10 HD is an excellent option, especially for people who already have an Amazon Prime subscription. It's not the most powerful tablet in the world, but at its price, it's hard to beat. It's capable of pretty much every form of entertainment you can think of and light gaming. It's also available with in-device advertisements at a cheaper price, though we recommend choosing "Without Special Offers," as no one enjoys ads. This is an all-around great gift, but will prove especially useful to any grad moving on from high school.
A cool tech gift for someone who enjoys reading books, the Kindle Paperwhite is a no-brainer. It boasts a wonderfully lit screen that feels like you're reading from actual paper, and you can even do so in the dark. There are two options in storage space--8GB and 32GB--but we've found that the 8GB one is more than enough to store dozens of books at any one time. It also boasts a battery that lasts weeks. If you're tired of turning pages or need something that's extremely easy to read in bed, then the Kindle Paperwhite is perfect for your needs. Even better, plenty of college must-reads and assigned books are available digitally, which could help that budding high school grad save money on books when they get to college.
Best gaming mouse
Choosing the right gaming mouse can make for a tough decision, considering it's something they'll be using a lot if they're a frequent PC gamer. Thankfully, we've tested a lot of different gaming mice from a variety of comapnies, including Logitech, Razer, and more. We've selected a couple for this guide, but if you need more recommendations, you can check out our guide to the best gaming mouse you can buy in 2020.
The Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro is the first time the DeathAdder mouse has gotten a wireless version. The DeathAdder V2 Pro features both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz connectivity and can even be used wired. It's a fantastic mouse that features low latency in 2.4GHz wireless mode and has performed very well in our gaming tests.
The Logitech G604 gaming mouse is the best wireless gaming mouse you can buy, especially if you don't care about lighting effects. Visually, it's a simple mouse, but it has a ton of configurable inputs as well as a free-spin scroll wheel. It's also powered by a single AA battery, which should get you about 240 hours of battery life. Snag yourself some rechargeable batteries, and you'll be good to game no matter what.
Best gaming keyboards
Like mice, choosing the right gaming keyboard for someone can be difficult. There are a lot of different options, some better than others in various ways. Thankfully, we've also tested quite the collection of gaming keyboards, so we've chosen a couple that would make any PC gamer happy.
The Corsair K100 RGB gaming keyboard comes in two different key switch options: mechanical and optical-mechanical. Both are great, but the latter utilizes optical lasers that make for slightly faster inputs. It's also equipped with a dial that you can program to fast-forward and rewind media, scroll in browsers, zoom, and more.
The Razer Huntsman is one of the best keyboards in Razer's line of products, and the Tournament Edition brings it down to basics for a much cheaper price. It's a tenkeyless version of the Huntsman Elite, though it still performs great in all gaming scenarios. And Razer's key switches are some of the best out there, so it's just a delight to use.
Best Bluetooth speakers
For people who are constantly listening to music, a great Bluetooth speaker is a must-have, especially since so many people's music collections are stored entirely in their phones. There are plenty of great speaker options for home use and for taking on the go, so we've collected our favorites for both.
The Beats Pill+ is an excellent, small Bluetooth speaker that boasts 12 hours of battery life and great audio. It also features a USB port that can be used to charge an iPhone or other devices. Those who own the Beats Pill+ can also pair it with a second speaker for stereo audio.
Audioengine's A2+ wireless speakers are great Bluetooth options that emulate traditional bookshelf speakers. These work exceptionally well for laptops, record players, and other household appliances, but you can also connect them to your phone.
Best movie & TV streaming devices
For movie and TV junkies, nothing is better than a high-quality streaming device that supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby surround sound. Streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other services as well as buying and renting from multiple storefronts is made easy with one of these handy multimedia devices. Gifting a subscription to one of those services would be another great gift idea--check out our guide to the best streaming services for a breakdown of all current options.
The Amazon Fire Stick is hands-down the best streaming device for the price. For $50, it's a device that lets users watch nearly every streaming service out there. And finding something to watch is incredibly easy. Whatever genre the user is in the mood for, they can hold the Alexa voice button while on the homepage and say "horror." It then shows all of the horror movies available on every service. It can also be used with a VPN to watch other countries' streaming services as well.
The Fire TV Cube is Amazon's most powerful TV-streaming device. This smart device is able to stream in 4K with support for Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+, but it's also got Alexa built-in, so users are able to ask it to turn on their TV, dim their lights, and much more without even picking up the voice-enabled remote. Thankfully, they can also turn the microphones off completely.
If they're tuned into the Apple ecosystem, then the Apple TV 4K is a cool tech gift for anyone looking to connect their iTunes library and Apple devices to their television. On top of that, it has a lot of its own apps including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and users can even play Apple Arcade games right on it by connecting an Xbox One or PS4 controller.
Best smart devices
A good smart device makes for an excellent home assistant, perfect for people who love cooking or listening to music. Most people would appreciate some extra help staying organized and up-to-date, and smart devices can do just that, including adding items to a shopping list, creating appointments on a calendar, reading the latest news, and more, just from verbal commands.
Amazon's Alexa-enabled smart speaker is all someone needs for a hands-off experience with music, news, weather, and more. It features thousands of different skills, including fitness tracking, smart home control, and lost-phone finding--and much, much more. One of the coolest features is using it as an intercom for a home--people are able to talk to anyone in the house as long as they also have an Amazon smart speaker.
If the Echo is Amazon's smart speaker, then the Echo Show is the company's smart screen gadget. It features everything the Echo does, except with the added bonus of a touchscreen display. It can make video calls, act as a Bluetooth speaker, display movies and shows, and follow recipes, thanks to the many apps and skills the Show is capable of. It works great in the kitchen, living room, and bedroom, whether you're using it as a cooking assistant, alarm clock, or anything in between.
Best smart lighting gadgets
Lighting a house isn't usually the most exciting activity, but Philips Hue's variety of products have made it a lot of fun. Synchronizing lights with movies and games or even setting a room's lights to be a different color, like green or purple, are just a few things people can do with Hue's products, making them great gifts for anyone who enjoys watching movies, gaming, and more.
The Hue Play HDMI Sync Box acts as a 4K splitter for up to four different devices, though it doesn't stop there. It also gives users the ability to sync their colored Hue lights with whatever devices are plugged into it. This works well for gaming and movies, and if you're a Twitch or YouTube streamer, it makes for a great backdrop for your webcam. Of course, the user will need Hue lights for the Sync Box to interact with and a Hue Bridge to control it all.
Hue Play Light Bars are some of the best Hue lights and are easy to set up anywhere in your house. However, they're particularly well suited for the area behind and around your TV, especially when paired with the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box. The Light Bars are capable of being mounted to the back of a TV, but they also come with stands, allowing the user to place them anywhere they desire.
While the Hue Play series of products are best used in conjunction with entertainment, Philips Hue has a number of products that are great for every day use. The Hue White and Color bulbs can be placed in any compatible light socket and used as a home's light source. The bulbs can be changed from classic white to pretty much any color--and dimmed as well.
Best fitness trackers
Fitness is important, especially when gyms are closing down to due to the current pandemic. Fitness trackers make it easy for users to keep up on their goals and challenge themselves every day to beat their previous records. Fitbit makes a number of great options, and these are the best ones.
When it comes to fitness-focused trackers, the Charge 4 is at the top of the pile. It features a 7-day battery life, built-in GPS, and a number of smart features like Fitbit Pay and Spotify app control. It has more than 20 different goal-based exercise modes, which can track swimming, running, and many other different exercises. It's also capable of tracking your heart-rate 24/7 and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
The Fitbit Versa 2 is a great option for those who'd rather have a smartwatch/fitness tracker hybrid. Thanks to its bigger screen, it's capable of displaying more information. It also features the Alexa voice assistant, which means the wearer can ask it to start exercises or start tracking a variety of things, such as heart rate.
Best food and coffee gadgets
There are so many awesome gadgets for food and coffee lovers, and since both are something people need every day, anyone will get a lot of use out of these. From slow cookers to coffee makers, there are some really great options out there.
Air fryers are all the rage these days, giving users a healthier way to fry food without oil. The Dash Tasti Crisp electric air fryer is a more compact, affordable air fryer that is great for frying meat, fries, and everything in between. Whoever gets this gift will also get a kick out of the included recipes that run them through making a variety of easy meals and snacks.
Slow cookers are great for everyone who enjoys food, but it's especially useful for those who are busy at work throughout most of the day. All someone has to do is prepare it in the morning and turn the cooker on, and they'll have a great dinner when the time comes around. It works very well for rice, chili, soup, and a bunch of other types of foods.
It's hard to deny the power a cup of coffee can give you on a tough day--or any day, really. If you're looking for the easiest way to enjoy a good cup of joe, then the Keurig K-Select coffee maker is a great option. And trust us, whether they're moving on from high school, college, or joining the workforce, your grad is going to need some good coffee. All you have to do is fill the reservoir with water, throw in a pod, and then press the right buttons to get your coffee going. It doesn't take long, and thankfully, there are a couple of Keurig pod options that are compostable and recyclable. It's an especially great tech gift if the recipient isn't a fan of their office coffee.
Speaking of a good cup of coffee, nothing is more frustrating than making yourself a cup, getting distracted by work, and then going for a grotesquely cold sip. One great gift idea that solves this is the Ember Mug, which aims to prevent these catastrophic moments by keeping your coffee at the right temperature. This awesome gadget has a battery charge of up to 1.5 hours, but if you leave it on the included charging coaster, then it'll keep your coffee hot all day. It's the perfect gift to help your loved one get used to the obstacles of daily life after their college graduation.