This year’s top tech gifts for gadget lovers

November 9, 2021, 7:00 PM UTC

Odds are someone on your holiday shopping list is a gadget hound. And there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to indulge them.

Americans will spend a projected $142.5 billion on tech products and services this holiday season, according to the Consumer Technology Association. (That’s a slight increase over last year.) Smartphones are once again topping wish-lists, followed by laptop computers, wearables, televisions, video game consoles, tablets, and e-readers.

Sorting out the hot items from the ones destined to end up in the clearance bin can be tough, though. If you’re looking for a perfect tech gift for a friend or loved one, here are a few can’t miss suggestions.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Courtesy of Apple

Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup is strong, regardless of the model you choose, but if you’ve got a power user on your list, the Pro Max is an easy choice. It’s a beefy phone in both price (starting at $1,099) and weight (nearly 8.5 ounces), but it’s loaded with features people have been clamoring for, including extensive battery life, bright 120Hz display and top-tier camera (with an amazing macro mode). The high refresh rate on the screen makes for incredible images when watching video or playing a game. And the new sensors in the camera gather more light, resulting in more true-to-life photos and amazing nighttime shots. (The shutter speed is faster as well.) They might sound like iterative updates, but when bundled together, they make the Pro Max feel like a real next generation device.

Nintendo Switch OLED

Courtesy of Nintendo

You really can’t go wrong with any of the current generation of video game consoles. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are both amazing machines, but supply constraints make them virtually impossible to find, even one year after release. The Nintendo Switch has remained a hot seller, but Nintendo upped the game this year, introducing the $350 OLED model, with a larger 7-inch OLED screen and twice as much internal storage for game software (along, of course, with the much sharper OLED screen). It makes a great gaming machine even better, runs all of the Switch’s software and, like its predecessor, functions as both a portable gaming system and a traditional console.


Courtesy of Bartesian

An evening cocktail can help take the edge off the day, but not everyone has the ingredients for something like a blackberry margarita, rum runner or Sazerac on hand. Bartesian is, put simply, the Keurig of cocktails. Fill the $350 system with your favorite spirits and insert a “cocktail capsule,” which includes the bitters, juice extracts and other required mixers, into the top. Choose how strong you want the drink to be (from mocktail to strong). Press a button and within seconds your drink is ready. It might not measure up to your favorite mixologist, but it’s still tasty—and surprisingly adept at making drinks you might not think to make at home.

Samsung The Premiere 4K Projector

Courtesy of Samsung

Projector TVs have come a long way from their rather humble beginnings. The Premiere is the apex of those sets, projecting a screen size that’s up to 130 inches. The picture quality is incredible, as is the audio. You don’t have to be in a dark room to see the images. And it comes with a full Smart TV system built in. The Premiere is a short throw device, meaning you don’t have to set it up across the room to see the image. You can, instead, achieve max screen size just 11.3cm from the wall. It’s a premium device that comes with a premium price tag ($3,500 for the 120-inch model, $6,499 for the 130-inch), but if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the most demanding home cinema buff, it absolutely fits the bill.

Kindle Paperwhite (2021)

Courtesy of Amazon

A device dedicated to a single purpose seems almost quaint in this multiuse world, but the Kindle has remained one of the best ways to electronically read a book for years. And this year, Amazon has stepped things up. The new Paperwhite, at $140, $160, or $190, has a larger screen (6.8 inches vs six inches before) and has a battery life that lasts up to 10 weeks on a single charge. Amazon has also included wireless charging, faster USB-C charging (if you prefer the corded method), more consistent backlighting (which makes it even easier on your eyes for marathon reading sessions) and, in some models, up to 32 GB of storage, letting you carry around a full library. A faster processor means pages turn faster and the experience is more natural. And the e-ink screen, as always, does away with the problem of glare. It might be a one-trick pony, but it’s a real impressive trick.

Apple Airpods (3rd generation)

Courtesy of Apple

The third generation of Airpods was worth waiting for. Basically, all of the features of the more expensive AirPod Pro line are available at a much lower cost of just $179. They’re equipped with Dolby Atmos sound, and utilize a technology called special audio that is meant to further immerse listeners into music, movies or whatever audio they’re listening to. The battery life is especially impressive, with six hours of listening time. The case holds four full charges – and a five-minute charge will give you another 1 hour of listening time if you run low.

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