15 Great Gifts For Your Techie Graduate

Gadgets For Grads

It's safe to say that this season's class of graduates is the most-connected class yet. Using smartphones and other connected devices is a way of life for this year's graduates, whether they're departing from college or high school. And so if you're looking to give a much-appreciated gift, you can't go wrong with picking a hot gadget or accessory. Wherever your grad is headed next in life, they are sure to be counting on the latest technology to help them along the way.

What follows is CRN's list of 15 top gifts for techie graduates this year.

Amazon Echo Dot

Smart speakers are becoming a way of life for a huge number of people, particularly the younger generation. One of the most affordable ways to give a smart speaker to your grad is with the Amazon Echo Dot, which uses the famous Alexa voice-controlled assistant. Alexa can do a lot -- but checking weather and news, playing music, setting timers and fetching recipes are some of the most popular uses. The compact-sized Echo Dot is also great for users with limited spaces (which many recent grads will appreciate). For users that want improved speaker quality, the Echo Dot can connect to external speakers over Bluetooth or stereo cable.

The Amazon Echo Dot is priced at $49.99.

JBL Flip 4

While we're on the topic of speakers, one powerful but space-saving option is the JBL Flip 4. The Flip 4 can connect over Bluetooth to up to two devices (such as an Echo Dot and smartphone). It's also highly portable, and features enough battery life to run for 12 hours on a charge. Bonus: The Flip 4 is ultra-water-resistant for when your grad is headed to the beach.

The JBL Flip 4 is priced at $79.99 on Amazon.

Kensington SP25 Laptop Backpack

For the recent grad in your life, it may just be time for a backpack upgrade. Kensington has a sturdy and stylish offering with the SP25 Laptop Backpack. The nylon backpack securely cushions your grad's laptop up to 15.6 inches in size, and also includes multiple pockets for accessories. The SP25 comes with padded shoulder straps for comfort and a water bottle side pocket, as well.

The Kensington SP25 Laptop Backpack is priced at $39.99 on Kensington.com.

Sennheiser HD 4.50 Headphones

Wherever your grad is headed in life, they are going to want a way to block out the commotion every now and then. Throwing on some noise-canceling headphones may be the easiest approach. Among the top noise-canceling headphone options out there is Sennheiser's HD 4.50, which has the added feature of connecting wirelessly over Bluetooth. The headphones are also significantly less expensive than competing options from Bose.

The Sennheiser HD 4.50 Headphones are priced at $149.95 on Amazon.

Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand

It's not often you find a cool gadget that works with both Apple and Samsung devices, but Samsung's Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand does just that -- which could make it a good gift for many techie grads. The device will charge up any Qi-enabled smartphone, which includes the most recent iPhones (X, 8 and 8 Plus) and Galaxy phones (S9, S9+ and Note8). It's specially tuned for Samsung devices -- it charges Galaxy phones up to 1.4X faster than other wireless chargers, according to Samsung -- but we can confirm it works perfectly fine with the latest iPhones, too. The charger can also switch between two modes, allowing your grad to lay their phone flat on the charger or prop up their phone in stand mode.

The Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand is priced at $38.99 on Samsung.com.

BauBax Bomber Jacket

For the techie grad in your life who's also constantly on the move, the BauBax Bomber Jacket pretty much 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 $179.99.

Apple iPad

Apple has released a new version of its entry-level iPad this year, which could be the most useful version yet for recent grads. That's thanks to the first-ever support for using the Apple Pencil digital stylus with the iPad. The new iPad also features a 9.7-inch Retina display, up to 10 hours of battery life and better performance thanks to the inclusion of the A10 Fusion processor.

The new Apple iPad has a starting price of $329 on Apple.com.

Catalyst Impact Protection Case

For iPhone-owning grads who don't want to take any chances with their pricey new device, the new Catalyst impact protection case will be a very welcome gift. The case features an "impact truss system" that cushions against drops, using a blend of rubber polymers. The result is that drops of up to 9.9 feet should be no problem for iPhones housed in the case. The Catalyst impact protection case also includes a rotational mute dial and a clear backing.

The iPhone X and iPhone 8 versions of the case are priced at $39.99, while the iPhone 8 Plus version is priced at $49.99.

Otterbox "Star Wars" Cases

Of course, the grad in your life may be more about expressing their personal style through their device rather than just protecting it from drops. And if they're a "Star Wars" fan, you're in luck: This new lineup of protective cases offers a variety of choices of artistically depicted characters from across the "Star Wars" universe, including from the original trilogy and the latest movies such as "The Last Jedi." Choices for cases include Darth Vader, Rey, BB8 and a stormtrooper.

Otterbox's "Star Wars" case for iPhone 8/7 is priced at $44.95, while the versions for iPhone X and 8/7 Plus are $54.95.

"Star Wars: Jedi Challenges"

For the "Star Wars"-loving grad in your life, here's another surefire gift. "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've tried out the game and can confirm that it's seriously fun (just keep in mind that your grad will need 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.com.

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 recent grad in your life.

The HP Sprocket is priced at $129.95 on Amazon.

Tile Mate

Can you really blame a busy grad for occasionally losing things? In the era of "connected everything," they don't have to stay lost for long. The Tile Mate is a Bluetooth-connected device that helps track down those misplaced items; the Tile Mate attaches to items such as keychains and then will "ring" when commanded on your grad's smartphone. Likewise, when your grad's phone has gone missing, a double press on the Tile Mate will make the phone ring.

The Tile Mate is priced at $14.25 on Amazon.

Kindle Paperwhite

For the bookworm grad 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.

Dell XPS 13

Dell's XPS 13 laptop has gotten a full redesign for the first time in three years, and recent grads should enjoy the results. Dell has significantly improved the portability of the XPS 13 while also making it more powerful and durable. The new XPS 13 rates high on style, with an attractive new white color option for the interior of the laptop that's made from woven glass fiber (and is both UV- and stain-resistant). The new model uses Intel's eighth-generation Core processors, promises up to nearly 20 hours of battery life and offers a 4K option for the narrow-bezel display.

The new Dell XPS 13 has a starting price of $999.99.

Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones

For the iPhone-using grad in your life who is adjusting to a world without headphone jacks -- and who is fitness-oriented, too -- the Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones will be a much-appreciated gift. For the SoundSport In-Ear Headphones, users not only get Bose's much-respected audio quality, but the headphones' tips will also conform to a user's ear shape for staying in place. Additionally, the headphones are made from weather- and sweat-resistant materials for jogs and gym workouts.

The Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones are priced at $99 on Amazon.