20 Cool Gadget Gift Ideas For Techies: Holiday Gift Guide 2021

From toys and smart home devices to wearables and video game consoles, CRN has the scoop on some really cool gift ideas for the 2021 holiday season, and not all of them are what you would expect.

Cool And, In Some Cases, Unexpected

How about that — it’s suddenly that time of year again. You probably want to start that holiday shopping soon, given supply chain issues, but let’s at least make it a little fun!

Whether you’re looking for Christmas gifts, Hannukah gifts, Kwanzaa gifts or presents for other holidays, you’re likely wondering, “What are the latest things that techies are into?” You are reading this on the website of a technology publication after all, so maybe you just want to see something new.

Well, good news then. CRN has compiled a list of some really cool gadgets that you can give to the techies in your life, and we have several categories covered: toys and learning tools, speakers and headphones, wearables, smartphone accessories, computers, smart home devices and video game consoles. And not all of them are what you would expect in a typical guide.

What follows are the 20 cool gadgets that can serve as great holiday gift ideas in 2021.

Sphero indi

If your child’s first words were “I want to code,” you might want to hook them up with Sphero indi, which is described as the “most approachable entry-level learning robot” for ages 4 years and older. And hey, good news, this introduction to coding doesn’t actually require a screen as programs are made using color tiles, which can trigger different actions as the vehicular robot drives over them. But if they do want to take things a step further, they can open up the Sphere Edu Jr app and change the way the robot interacts with different color tiles. Wow, that kid can code!

The Sphero indie at-home learning kit is available on Sphero.com for $99.99.


You’ve seen your friend’s potential at karaoke night, and now you want them to take it to the next level: open-mic night. But forget the guitar — it’s all keyboards from here for your friend as LUMI Keys makes learning piano fun and easy with an advanced, illuminated keyboard that connects to a tablet or smartphone. It’s now or never. Time for your friend to play along with the large library of songs using LUMI’s integrated software and content platform as keys light up the keyboard. Next thing you know, your friend isn’t playing open mics — they’re headlining Bonnaroo.

LUMI Keys is available at PlayLUMI.com for $299, which includes a 12-month software subscription.

Tamagotchi Pix

This one is for all the millennials out there who grew up with the original Tamagotchi in the 90s and experienced the trauma of watching their virtual alien pet die for the first time. Bandai is back with a new generation of its handheld digital pet device with Tamagotchi Pix, which lets players nurture and raise a virtual pet on a color screen. As the name suggests, the Tamagotchi Pix comes with a camera that allows players to take a selfie with their beloved virtual pet. Just a word of warning, though: Tamagotchi pets can still die, so make sure the gift recipient is ready to put in the time to make things right.

The Tamagotchi Pix is available at participating retailers for $59.99.

Jooki Kids’ Screen-Free Streaming Speaker

Kids can be techies, too. For the child on your shopping list, the Jooki screen-free speaker is a music or story player with Spotify music and audio book streaming and eight hours of battery life. The second generation of the speaker, which is on the market today, also works without adult intervention via Jooki’s patented NFC-enabled ToyTouch Technology that lets kids use figurines or tokens to operate the speaker, no screens or parent supervision required. The speaker has 8GB of internal memory and can be connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

The Jookie speaker can be found online at Jookie.rocks at starts at $112.99.

Jabra Elite 85t

The Jabra Elite 85t combines noise cancellation and high-quality audio in a pair of compact earbuds. They feature active noise cancellation technology to help eliminate unwanted ambient audio to make music and phone calls clear. The level of active noise cancellation is set via a four-core processor structure that can be controlled via a mobile app to one of 11 different levels to set how much outside sound is allowed via the two microphones built into each bud. The Jabra Elite 85t is available in five different colors with two choice for ear position: semi-open to sit in the outer ear to provide increased control over what can be heard and closed to sit further inside the ear canal and better eliminate all ambient noise. The included MySound app configures the sound to the individual user.

The price starts at $299.99, with free shipping, at Jabra.com.

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are wireless, over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones with a built-in microphone that combine the company’s dual-noise sensor technology with two microphones in each earcup to capture ambient noise and apply noise-canceling processing in real time. Music and mobile device conversations come through clear with the headphones’ 1.57-inch driver and liquid crystal polymer diaphragms, which Sony said can reproduce a full range of frequencies up to 40kHz. They also include a 30-hour battery life with a quick-charging capability.

The WH-1000XM4 is “smart,” too. Five built-in microphones automatically pause the music and let in ambient noise when the user starts talking, and dual-acceleration sensors detect whether the headphones are being worn or not. And over time, they recognize frequently visited locations to better tailor sound based on the situation.

The WH-1000XM4 lists for $349.99, and is available in black, gold, and white at Sony.com.

Fossil Gen 5 LTE Smartwatch

Oh, look who fancy! That’s what people will say when they see your friend or partner — guess you have to choose — with Fossil’s Gen 5 LTE touchscreen smartwatch. The Gen 5 LTE model represents Fossil’s first move into the cellular wearables market, and it combines LTE connectivity from Verizon, the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform and Google’s Wear OS to let users make calls and do texting without a mobile phone. When an additional data plan is purchased from Verizon, the watch can be synced to the user’s mobile phone for voice and text using the same number as the mobile phone.

The Gen 5 LTE has a list price of $349, but at publication time, it was available for $249 at Fossil.com.


Have a tinkerer in your family or friend circle? Then it’s time to give them something new to assemble and behold, and that something is Watchy, an open-source smartwatch that comes with a 1.54-inch e-paper screen. The watch comes in a kit, so yes, your tinkering friend or family member will truly need to put the 200x200 display, printed circuit board and 200mAH battery together. But the reward will be a cheap smartwatch with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity as well as a 3-axis accelerator that has completely customizable hardware and software.

The Watchy kit is available for $59 at Mouser.com.

Bose Frames

Bose Frames help make good music look cool. These are high-performance sunglasses with interchangeable polarized lenses available for specific sports and lighting conditions. However, built into the frame is the Bose Open Ear Audio technology, the company’s second-generation Bluetooth connectivity that enables the built-in microphone system and speakers to provide discrete hands-free communication via a mobile phone as well as access to quality audio.

The sunglasses weigh under 2 ounces and are available in three formats: Bose Frames Tenor with a rectangular frame, Bose Frame Soprano with a cat-eye frame, and Bose Frames Tempo sports sunglasses. Bose Frames are also available with prescription lenses, allowing the purchaser to input his or her eyeglasses prescription and two weeks later receive their custom order.

The list price for Bose Frames starts at $249, although they may be on sale for $219 on Bose.com.

Mighty Purse Phone Charging Wristlet

For the people on the go that need to stay connected — and stylish — the Mighty Purse genuine leather charging wristlet is a small clutch that can charge Android and iPhone devices via a built-in Micro-USB connector that comes with an iPhone lightning and a USB-C adapter. The wristlet also comes with its own charging cord. The built-in powerbank and charging cables come disguised inside a removable zipper pocket, leaving plenty of room for your essentials.

The Mighty Purse charging wristlet can be found on Amazon for $49.99 and comes in two colors: Almond Brown and Gold Shimmer.

Casetify Customized Smartphone Case

For someone who’s getting a new smartphone for the holidays, or just needs to zhoosh up their old device, Instagram darling Casetify has a line of Android and iPhone cases in just about any theme, color or pattern you can think of. But if you’re going for extra thoughtfulness points, you can zero in on its line of customizable options that can be personalized with names or initials.

Casetify’s lineup is touted for both style and functionality, with features such as 360-degree impact protection, bezel screen protection and anti-microbial coating to kill germs. Some eco-friendly models are also available, and the company offers a discount on a future purchase if you send it your old phone case—no matter it’s make or condition—for recycling.

Customizable Casetify smartphone cases start at $55 and are available at Casetify.com.

Boost Charge Pro

Belkin’s Boost Charge Pro provides convenient and fast wireless charging for an iPhone 13 or iPhone 12 and AirPods Pro or AirPods 2nd Gen at the same time. This 15-watt MagSafe-compatible wireless charger includes a magnetic stand which easily and safely holds the iPhone in a horizontal or vertical position, with a space on the base for the AirPods. LEDs confirm the iPhone or AirPods are aligned for optimal and safe charging. The Boost Charge Pro 2-in-1 wireless charger includes an AC adapter, and comes with a two-year warranty.

List price is $99.99, but at publication time, it was available for $79.99 at Belkin.com.

MacBook Pro

For the Machead in your life, now is a good time to get them a new MacBook Pro, particularly when it comes to the 14- and 16-inch models. Both of them now sport Apple’s latest M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, both of which provide even more horsepower than the company’s original homegrown M1 chip, particularly when it comes to graphics. They also offer larger displays and slimmer bezels, with resolutions now going up to 3,455 x 2,234 for the 16-inch model and 3,024 x 1,964 for the 14-inch model at a 120Hz refresh rate. And in what will likely be a welcome return for your Mac-looking friend or family member, the new MacBook Pros have replaced the much-maligned Touch Bar with a row of physical function keys. MagSafe charging is back too, as is an HDMI port and an SD card slot.

The new 14-inch MacBook Pro has a starting price of $1,999 while the new 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499. They are available at Apple.com.

Maingear Vector Pro

We get it. Your child wants to up their Fortnite game with higher resolutions and more frames per second. Or maybe your spouse needs a better system to handle all those demanding graphics mods for Skyrim. The bottom line is that getting better performance usually requires getting a better computer if you can’t upgrade a desktop, and laptops like Maingear’s Vector Pro are more than capable of getting the job done. The gaming laptop can be configured with one of the latest top CPUs from Intel or AMD, and it can be outfitted with Nvidia’s high-end GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card. Game on.

The Vector Pro is available in 15- and 17-inch models, with the former starting at $1,949.99 and the latter starting at $2,099.99 at Amazon.com.

Ember Temp-Control Smart Mug

The Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug keeps your gift recipient’s drink hot (between 120-145 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 1.5 hours on a full charge, or all day on its recently redesigned charging coaster. The device can work with or without its smartphone app, which lets users customize its settings or temperature. The smart mug, which can hold up to 10 ounces of liquid, comes in two scratch-resistant colors that match any kitchen or hot office, black or white.

The Ember Smart Mug can be found on Amazon for $99.95.

Anova Precision Cooker Pro

The Anova Precision Cooker Pro is aimed at simplifying the cooking of entire meals. The device, when placed inside a container of water, circulates up to 26 gallons of water while heating it to the temperature set by the user. The device heats water to an accuracy of 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit, maintaining that temperature for the time set by the user.

For cooks on the go, the Anova Precision Cooker Pro has a built-in Wi-Fi connection that works with a home’s network to let users remotely start, stop, and check in on the status of the dish via The Anova App. Included are thousands of recipes showing how to use the device, including preparation, temperature and timing settings, and final details.

The Anova Precision Cooker Pro has a list price is $399.99, although at the time of writing it was available for $199.50 with free shipping at AnovaCulinary.com.

The Skylight Smart Frame

What better way to keep your loved ones connected this year than through an ever-changing array of photos? The Skylight picture frame lets your email photos from your smartphone or computer directly to the frame as often as you’d like to delight and surprise your gift recipient in under 60 seconds, the company said. The Skylight frame boasts a 10-inch, diagonal color touch screen and 8GB of storage space on the device.

The Skylight Frame can be found online at Skylightframe.com for $159.

Nintendo Switch – OLED Model

If you’re looking to bring some video game cheer into the family, it’s the perfect time to get one of Nintendo’s most successful consoles to date, the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo recently refreshed its console with a bigger and brighter OLED screen that makes for an even better handheld experience when the Switch isn’t docked and connected to the TV. With 64GB of internal storage and an expansion SD slot, there’s enough space to get started with the thousands of games in the Switch library, including those from hit franchises like the Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. and Pokemon. The only caveat is that the OLED model can be hard to come across, given supply chain issues, so keep an eye out for this.

The Nintendo Switch – OLED Model is available for $349.99 at Nintendo.com and at various retailers.

MiSTER FPGA Gaming System

There are people who like playing old school video games, and then there are those who like playing retro video games in the most authentic way possible outside of buying the original hardware. If you know someone in the latter camp, the MiSTer FPGA gaming system may be one of the best gifts you can give them. Rather than a brand name for a single product, MiSTer is an open-source project that uses an FPGA chip, which can be reconfigured to mimic the hardware of various consoles of yesteryear, from the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision to Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. It can even mimic retro arcade hardware and the hardware of some old computers, like the Apple II+. While some games can be purchased through digital storefronts like GoG.com, your gift recipient can also buy original game cartridges through secondary markets and offload the files using cart readers like the Retrode 2.

A pre-configured MiSTer system with no case can be purchased from MiSTerAddOns.com for $370. Controllers and display cables do not come with the pre-configured system.

The Simpsons Arcade Machine

Everything’s coming up Millhouse! The classic Simpson’s arcade machine you remember from the ’90s has been revived in a traditional cabinet form factor at a price point that may make you say, “doh!” But if you’re willing to spend dozens of steamed hams’ worth of money for a friend or family member, you’ll be able to relive the Clinton years playing as Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa as they take on a variety of characters from the extended Springfield universe. Even better, this version comes with online multiplayer and Simpsons Bowling.

The Simpsons Arcade Machine is available for $699.99 at Arcade1Up.com.