Holiday Gift Guide 2017: 25 Gadgets That Make Great Gifts For Techies

The Season For Tech

Resistance is futile: The holiday season and its many gift-giving requirements are here. The shopping season kicks off with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and from there will occupy much of your mental energy for weeks until finally your gifts are unwrapped.

But it doesn't have to be so all-consuming -- especially if you have some gadget lovers in your life. In our list of gift recommendations, we've rounded up many of the most fun and useful tech products out there, such as the new "Star Wars: Jedi Challenges" augmented-reality game, the Apple Watch 3, Bose wireless headphones, the second-gen Amazon Echo and the Nintendo Switch.

What follows are 25 gadget gifts worth considering this holiday season.

"Star Wars: Jedi Challenges"

For "Star Wars" super-fans, it doesn't get much better than this. "Star Wars: Jedi Challenges" is an augmented-reality game for doing lightsaber battles and other challenges from the "Star Wars" universe. The game uses a Lenovo Mirage AR headset and a lightsaber/controller to let players battle foes such as Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. Users just need a smartphone with the Jedi Challenges app to slip inside the Mirage AR headset. We got a brief tryout of the game from Lenovo, and we can confirm that it's seriously fun (just make sure you have a decent amount of space to play). Bonus: Along with lightsaber battles, other available games include Chewbacca's favorite, Holochess.

"Star Wars: Jedi Challenges" is priced at $199.99 on Lenovo's website.

Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand

It's not often you find a cool gadget that works across the Apple and Samsung ecosystems, but Samsung's Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand does just that -- which ought to make it a popular gift this holiday. The device will charge up any Qi-enabled smartphone, which includes this year's iPhones (X, 8 and 8 Plus) and Galaxy phones (S8, S8+ and Note8). While it's specially tuned for the Samsung devices -- it charges Galaxy phones up to 1.4X faster than other wireless chargers, according to Samsung -- we can confirm it works perfectly fine with iPhones, too. The charger can also switch between two modes, allowing users to lay their phone flat on the charger or prop up their phone in stand mode (we're big fans of the stand).

The Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand is priced at $59.99.

BauBax Bomber Jacket

For the gadget geek in your life who's also constantly on the move, the BauBax Bomber Jacket kind of has it all. Along with offering plenty in terms of style, the jacket includes built-in features for traveling (a neck pillow and eye mask in the hood, a blanket pocket) and for storing devices (iPad pocket, phone pocket, earphone holders, portable charger pocket). For good measure, the jacket also has pockets to hold a drink, passport and sunglasses.

The BauBax Bomber Jacket (available in men's or women's) is priced at $149.99.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose's popular noise-canceling wireless headphones are back for a second round. Along with the Bluetooth connectivity and acoustic noise cancellation of the original version, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II adds in the Google Assistant for voice control -- of such things as playing music and sending texts -- right from the headphones. The QuietComfort 35 II also features up to 20 hours of battery life.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is priced at $349.95.

Apple iPad

Thanks to Apple's introduction this year of this more affordably priced iPad, the tablet is having something of a resurgence right now -- and it may just be one of the top items on many holiday shopping lists this year. The latest version of the iPad gets a boost to speed, offers up to 10 hours of battery life, and features the much-loved Retina technology for the 9.7-inch display. The iPad is also now just 0.29 of an inch thick and comes in gold, silver and space gray.

The Apple iPad has a starting price of $329.

FYB London City Handbag

This attractive handbag has some extra features that your gadget-loving friends or family members will appreciate. First and foremost, the bag includes a pocket for wirelessly charging your iPhone or Android phone while on the go. There's also a plug for charging phones that don't do wireless charging. Other cool features include a fingerprint recognition lock on the bag, and a padded compartment fitting laptops or tablets up to 13.5 inches.

The FYB London City Handbag is priced at $279.

Ring Video Doorbell 2

To show how deeply you care about your family members this season, giving a gift of added security is one option to consider. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 features a camera that is connected to the web, and its 1080HD video feed is viewable on a smartphone. The device also includes two-way audio so users can speak to the person at the door. And what's more, the two-way audio works even if the user isn't home -- meaning they can "answer the doorbell" from wherever they are, which can help discourage break-ins. For the second generation of the device, the Ring Video Doorbell includes improvements to night visibility and overall video quality.

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is priced at $199.

HP Sprocket

People loved Polaroid for a reason -- but HP has a more modern take on the idea that's aimed squarely at the selfie generation. HP's tiny Sprocket printer -- small enough to fit in a pocket -- lets users print out 2- x 3-inch photos that double as stickers. Printing is done wirelessly from the user's smartphone. HP says the Sprocket is proving most popular with the millennial-aged demographic, so it could be a much-appreciated gift by the young person in your life.

The HP Sprocket is priced at $129 on Amazon.

Instant Pot Ultra

You don't actually need to be multi-talented to be versatile in the kitchen. That's the promise of the Instant Pot Ultra, which could make an excellent gift for anyone who'd like to do more cooking and less ordering in. The Instant Pot Ultra features a total of 10 modes: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Porridge Cooker, Cake Maker, Yogurt Maker, Sauté/Searing, Steamer, Warmer, Sterilizer, and the Ultra program (an adjustable program based on your specifications, which can provide the conditions needed for sous vide cooking). The six-quart cooker also comes with 16 preset "smart programs" including Egg, Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew and Bean/Chili.

The Instant Pot Ultra is priced at $149.95.

Amazon Echo, Second-Gen

For any techies on your list who somehow don't already own a smart speaker, this is a good time to rectify the issue. Amazon recently came out with this second-generation model of the Echo -- the speaker powered by the Alexa virtual assistant -- and it's now both less expensive and more compact in design. Alexa can answer questions, manage calendars, play music/radio/podcasts and accomplish a wide variety of other tasks. The Echo also connects over Bluetooth to mobile devices, and with this latest generation, the Echo can connect to a more-powerful speaker over 3.5mm cable or Bluetooth, as well.

The Amazon Echo is priced at $99.99.

Google Home Mini

You wouldn't be crazy to prefer the Google Assistant over Amazon's Alexa -- the Google Assistant is terrific at executing searches and other tasks. And the new Google Home Mini is the least expensive way to get the Google Assistant as a smart speaker. It's also ultra-compact: the Home Mini has a diameter of just 3.86 inches and a height of 1.65 inches. In addition, the Home Mini is enclosed entirely in fabric, and works with Chromecast.

The Google Home Mini is priced at $49.

Harman Kardon Invoke

The Invoke, from Samsung subsidiary Harman Kardon, is the first major smart speaker powered by Microsoft's Cortana assistant -- and we've been enjoying it at the CRN Test Center. As Harman Kardon is an audio company, the real focus with the Invoke is on sound. You can turn up the volume and audio quality won't suffer nearly as much as on the Amazon Echo or Google Home. There are three woofers (1.75-inch) and three tweeters packed in, and the music sounds terrific even at high volumes. The Invoke connects to music services including Spotify, and Cortana is solid as a voice-controlled assistant, able to answer many queries accurately and handle tasks such as calendar scheduling. One cool feature on the Invoke is the ability to make hands-free calls–including to mobile phones and landlines -- just by asking Cortana to call a certain contact or phone number.

The Harman Kardon Invoke is priced at $199.95.

CampStove 2 Bundle

It may be wintertime, but being a gift-giving pro often means thinking ahead -- i.e., to next summer, when your loved ones may be looking for their next camping adventure (and wondering how to eat well during the trip). The BioLite CampStove 2 Bundle could be the solution: It's a full wood-fired camp kitchen, with the ability to grill, boil and cook meals. The CampStove 2 is smokeless and includes both grill and kettle attachments. In addition, the product even generates electricity from the fire for charging up devices.

The CampStove 2 Bundle is priced at $199.95.

Petnet SmartFeeder

For the animal lover in your life, their wish list might include an easier way to keep their pet happy and healthy. And the Petnet SmartFeeder may be just the thing. Using an accompanying smartphone app, pet owners determine the proper portion sizes (based on data about their pet) and create a feeding schedule. The SmartFeeder then automatically portions out the right amount of food on schedule. Users can also use the smartphone app to remotely dispense a meal, and Petnet offers automatic deliveries of food when supplies are running low.

The Petnet SmartFeeder is priced at $119.99 on Amazon.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Microsoft developed its Surface Laptop with the needs of college students in mind. But the reality is that it could be a good gift for anyone who values laptop portability (2.76 pounds, 0.57 of an inch thick), design (appealing color scheme, Alcantara fabric around its keyboard), and battery life (up to 14.5 hours on a charge). The Surface Laptop is also fast, with Intel's seventh-gen processors and up to 16 GB of RAM. One caveat: The laptop comes outfitted with Windows 10 S, which will only run apps that are downloadable from the Windows Store. Surface Laptop owners do have the option to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro if they like, though.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop has a starting price of $999.


The world's first commercially available "social robot," Jibo is a small, voice-interactive robot aimed at being more expressive and human-like than smart assistants such as Alexa. While Jibo can answer questions and handle certain tasks similarly to other assistants -- and take photos on command, too -- the robot is meant more to serve as a pet (or even member of the family) than an assistant. While it's still early days for Jibo, and the robot isn't exactly cheap, Jibo is certainly one of the most intriguing gift options you could get for the techie in your life this season.

Jibo is priced at $899.

Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower Desktop

For the hardcore gamer on your list, Lenovo's Legion Y520 Tower is an ultra-powerful, yet still relatively affordable, gift option this year. Graphics choices include Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 -- offering up to 60 frames per second -- while the desktop comes with up to seventh-gen Intel Core i7-7700 for CPUs. The tower also features optimized storage performance via Intel Optane technology, and overall it's well-suited for enabling virtual reality gaming.

The Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower has a starting price of $699.99.

Nintendo Switch

While we're on the topic of games, the Nintendo Switch is another can't-go-wrong gift for the gamer in your life (provided they don't already have one -- probably best to double check). The Switch console can be used both at home (docked and connected to a TV) and on-the-go in handheld mode. Apart from the much-loved "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," other top games available for the Switch include "Puyo Puyo Tetris" and "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe."

The Nintendo Switch is priced at $299.99 on Amazon.

Apple Watch Series 3

For the runner in your life, Apple's third-generation model for the Apple Watch could be a much-appreciated gift thanks to the addition of cellular connectivity. That means the smartwatch won't need proximity to an iPhone any longer, including for uses such as making phone calls and using Siri. Other changes with the third-gen Apple Watch include a new dual-core processor that offers a 70 percent improvement in performance, according to Apple. Plus, along with being "swim-proof" like the previous generation, the Series 3 case is not any larger than the second-gen model.

The Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular has a starting price of $399 (a separate data plan is also needed to use cellular). A non-cellular version of the device starts at $329.

Samsung Fit2 Pro

The Apple Watch Series 3 isn't the only option for giving a great fitness-oriented smartwatch this season. The Samsung Fit2 Pro doesn't connect over cellular, but it does have GPS tracking and is also swim-proof. In addition, the smartwatch specializes in letting you download songs from Spotify -- with storage for up to 500 songs -- to listen to during your workout. It's also significantly less expensive than the third-gen Apple Watch.

The Samsung Fit2 Pro is priced at $199.99.

Kindle Paperwhite

For the bookworm in your life who hasn't yet gotten on the e-book bandwagon, this could be the year. The latest Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon's e-reader for a paper-like reading experience, features a glare-free, 6-inch display with twice the resolution of the previous model. The e-reader also features strong battery life, so users typically won't have to worry about charging up for weeks at a time. More time to keep their nose in a book (or e-book, rather).

The Kindle Paperwhite is priced at $119.99.


The Nightingale sleep system is a device that plugs into a bedroom's outlets and generates "sound blankets" that promote better sleep. The sound blankets are customized for a room's acoustics, as well as personal sleep conditions, and are capable of masking disruptive noises (both indoor and outdoor noises). The device is controlled via the Nightingale smartphone app and provides pass-through outlets so that no plug-in space is taken up by the device.

Nightingale comes in two editions -- for small bedrooms (priced at $149) and large bedrooms (priced at $249).

DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone

The DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone may be priced below $500, but it's no "toy" drone: The quadcopter's 3-axis stabilized integrated camera shoots 2.7K video and 12-megapixel stills. Users can also get a 720p HD live video feed on their mobile device for what the drone's camera is seeing -- even when the drone is up to a half-mile away. In addition, flight time with DJI Phantom 3 can reach up to 25 minutes.

The DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone is priced at $489 on Amazon.

Voltaic Systems Array Solar Backpack

The eco-friendly traveler on your list will no doubt appreciate this one: The Array backpack features solar-charging of 10W, which is powerful enough to charge a laptop (as well as a tablet or smartphone, of course). In addition, the backpack is made from recycled PET (soda bottles) and is both lightweight and water-resistant.

The Voltaic Systems Array Solar Backpack is priced at $299 on Amazon.

Chromecast Ultra

Popular with the streaming generation, the Chromecast enables users to easily stream Netflix and other media to a TV -- a must-have for many households these days. Google's newest version of the device, Chromecast Ultra, is faster than the original and can also provide 4K Ultra HD and HDR picture quality. Chromecast Ultra works with Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac) as well as Android devices, Windows devices, and Chromebooks.

Chromecast Ultra is priced at $69.