40 Christmas Gifts for 2016 – Tech ‘n Geek Edition
The Best Tech For Christmas 2016
Christmas is almost upon us once again, and that means it’s time to put some tech under the tree. No matter who you’re shopping for, no matter what your gift giving budget, we’ve got something on this list everyone will love. Here are our picks for the 40 best tech gifts to give this holiday season.
For Apple Fanatics
1. iPad Pro
About £549 – £1,029
Is the tablet dead? No way! The Apple iPad Pro is way more than the media consumption devices that its predecessors were marketed to be. This one has tremendous power under the hood, which will surely appeal to creative types and anyone who wants to use a tablet as their main computer.
It’s super thin and lightweight, yet it’s fast enough to run multiple apps at once as well as picture in picture video, and the audio from its four built in speakers is the best of any iPad. It’s also compatible with some pretty neat accessories, like the smart keyboard cover and the Apple Pencil stylus.
Price varies depending on screen size (9.7 inch or 12/9 inch), storage capacity (32GB-256GB), and connectivity (just wifi or wifi plus cellular).
Apple’s wireless earbuds are finally here! Well, sort of.
The company insists they are in Apple Stores, and you can order them through the Apple website. However, numbers are limited, and it could take up to six weeks for your box to arrive at your doorstep.
Still, these are a perfect accessory for the iPhone 7 (or really any smartphone), and thanks to built in sensors, they’ll only play when they’re in your ears; otherwise, audio gets routed to the paired smartphone’s speakers.
The audio quality is excellent, both as a playback device and as a wireless phone adapter, and they sync effortlessly with Siri as well.
3. Apple Watch Series 2
About £269 – £1,049
Sure, there are other smartwatches on the market, but the Apple fanatic on your list will want one smartwatch and one smartwatch only: the Apple Watch.
Now in its second iteration, the Series 2 is faster, offers a better screen and improved speakers, has built in GPS, is highly water resistant, and has received a few materials upgrades from the Series 1.
The starting price is £269, but that goes up with larger faces and premium materials.
4. MacBook Pro
About £1,449 – £2,699
A sleek and shiny new MacBook Pro is always a welcome sight on Christmas morning, and if you’ve got deep pockets this year, the new editions are fast and beautiful.
The low end model is wonderful, of course, but if you want the Touch Bar, Apple’s latest and greatest laptop feature, you’ll need to go for at least the mid range 13 incher. Fifteen inch models are also available if you’re feeling especially generous. As for what it can do, well, you might be better off wondering what it can’t do.
With quad core i5 or i7 turbo boosted processors, stunningly crisp graphics, and the intuitive design that Apple is known for, the latest round of MacBook Pros are a great gift indeed.
For Smarthome Starters
5. Google Home
Technically, Google Home is currently available in the US only. Priced at $129 USD (or about £105), it’s an easy to use, easy to set up air freshener looking device that can control smarthome components, search Google, and have a conversation in context, all via voice activation.
It’s also a smart speaker, and can integrate with YouTube audio to play just about any song or audio clip in the world. While a UK release is expected in early 2017, it’s not too difficult to find an online retailer who will ship a Google Home across the pond, though you might may a little more than retail for the privilege.
Still, if you’ve got the money and want to make someone very happy this Christmas, a Google Home digital assistant would do the trick.
6. Echo Dot
Last year, the Amazon Echo was all the rage, but at it’s price of £149, it was a bit expensive for some people to justify. This year, Amazon has released the Echo Dot, which is Alexa (it’s digital assistant) in a smaller house.
The audio quality isn’t as rich as the Echo’s, but the Dot can still do everything the Echo can do, and it’s available for considerably less. Voice activation controls smarthome components, music playback, and more.
It’s an ideal gift for anyone who’s curious about how this whole smarthome control thing works.
7. Nest Learning Thermostat
About £179 – £249
Nest is a great way to get started with home automation, and its Learning Thermostat is a great first device. Control it from the corresponding app, or allow it to teach itself your schedule and your preferences.
Plus, with all the Works With Nest smarthome components available, you can build upon your Nest network for additional automation. The lower price is for the device only, while the higher price includes professional installation.
8. Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
It’s a smart pressure cooker that looks like a slow cooker or maybe a rice cooker, and it’s perhaps the hottest cooking device in recent memory. It does everything from saute to slow cook to pressure cook; it makes rice and yoghurt and entire Sunday roasts; it programmable and fast and easy to clean.
And while you don’t necessarily need an app to control it (the buttons on the device are easy enough to use), one is available if you want to cook remotely. It normally retails for £169.99, but outstanding deals on the Instant Pot have been spotted on most internet retailers this holiday season.
9. Ember Mug
Coffee, tea, hot toddy, bone broth — whatever your hot beverage of choice may be, the Ember Mug is the ideal cup from which to drink it. It’s key feature is that it’s a programmable travel mug that will keep your drink at the precise temperature you like it.
So, whether you like your latte extra hot or your tea just above tepid, Ember will hold it there. It lasts for up to two hours when you’re out and about, or as long as you want if you use its charging coaster. Plus, there’s an app to remotely adjust your drink’s temperature.
The design is sleek and lovely, if not a bit like the Amazon Echo, but if you’ve got someone on your list who is never without a hot drink in his or her hand, the Ember might be the best thing you can give them. Only downside? It’s back ordered until February, so you’ll have to give them something to look forward to.
10. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
Despite the prevalence of digital photography, there’s nothing quite like holding a photo print in your hand. Really, you can’t frame your smartphone, and the photographers on your list might appreciate a simple way to print out their best shots.
This small photo printer from HP connects via BlueTooth to any smartphone and spits out 2×3 inch prints or stickers. Best of all, thanks to the advanced printing surface, no ink cartridges are required, and prints run about 50p each.
11. GekkoPod Phone Mount
A selfie stick admittedly helps you take better photos of yourself, but they’re not exactly versatile.
The GekkoPod, on the other hand, is a small tripod that holds your smartphone and can attach to almost any surface thanks to its five pliable arms, allowing you to get the perfect selfie in any setting. It’s small and lightweight, making it a great stocking stuffer or casual present for your photo happy pals.
For A/V Enthusiasts
12. Google Chromecast Ultra
The original Chromecast was good, but Chromecast Ultra, with its ability to stream 4K HD and HDR, is even better. The device itself is just a small dongle and doesn’t look like much at all, but don’t be fooled: this is a powerful media accessory that’s bound to enhance your viewing experience.
It works with 4K enabled apps like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, and lots more.
13. Roku Ultra 4K
This powerful media player is solid enough to handle 4K and HDR quality video and images, yet simple and easy to use. There’s voice activated program search, streaming without interruption, and even a port on the remote for earbuds or headphones, which makes for quiet listening with a big screen.
And, if the Roku Ultra is too steep for your budget, consider the Roku Express, which can stream 1080p video without the set top box and costs just over £20.
For Fitness Fans
14. Bragi Dash
Small but mighty, the Dash is the ultimate combination activity tracker and earbuds, offering outstanding audio quality and keeping tabs on all of your fitness related data.
Features include real time feedback if you want it, audio transparency so you can hear your surroundings if you want, noise isolation so you can mute ambient noise, an EarTouch interface, and a waterproof housing. Really, you can swim in the Dash!
It’s all wireless, and syncing with the app is a breeze. The Dash, complete with charger, fit sleeves, and cable, retails for €299, or around £250.
15. Fitbit Blaze
The Blaze is Fitbit’s first bona fide fitness watch, and it’s been extremely popular since its release a few months back. It offers heart rate monitoring, smartphone notifications, music control, connected GPS, move reminders, and full activity and sleep tracking.
Plus, there are on screen workouts you can follow, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s all housed in a brilliant sleek wearable with a full colour touchscreen that looks as good as any smartwatch.
The base price is a reasonable £149.99, though you can bump up the materials or spring for a better quality band for a bit more.
16. Fitbit Flex 2
Released earlier this year, the Flex 2 garnered a lot of attention because it was the first Fitbit to be truly waterproof. In fact, not only can you swim with it, but it will track your swimming data.
It also has complete land-based fitness tracking, sleep tracking, move reminders, LEDs that illuminate when calls or texts come in, and a five day battery life.
It’s a nice little tracker as is, but if you buying it for a woman who wants to dress it up, there’s a line of accessories to do just that.
17. Misfit Ray
About £63.99 – £79.16
Misfit trackers have had a pretty good reputation since they first came on the market a few years ago; they’re reliable trackers that look cool and are priced well. However, the Flash and Shine were plagued with pop-out problems: they weren’t secure in their bands, and lots of users lost theirs.
With the new Ray, you still get the highly accurate and attractive aesthetic of Misfit, but in a more secure package. It auto tracks steps, distance, calories, and sleep, plus has smart notifications, move reminders, and a smart button for controlling connected devices. It’s also waterproof.
Price varies depending on materials, but it’s pretty affordable no matter which one you choose.
18. Garmin Vivoactive HR
For the fitness enthusiast who must have a GPS enabled sports watch, the Garmin Vivoactive HR is perfect. It can track metrics on lots of sports: running, cycling, swimming, golf, rowing, skiing, and more.
It also has a built in heart rate monitor, a barometric altimeter, full music controls, and all day and night tracking as well. It’s all in a durable package that has a simple and unassuming design with a full colour touchscreen.
Triathletes and weekend warriors alike will love having the Vivoactive HR on their wrists.
19. Withings Steel HR
The Withings line of fitness trackers disguised as attractive wristwatches is excellent all around, but our favourite is the relatively new Withings Steel HR.
Like the other Withings trackers, it has an analog watch display, but unlike the others, it also has a small digital display within it to show relevant activity data.
It also tracks heart rate, as the product name implies, it’s water resistant, and it has an analog dial to show progress toward a daily goal. Plus, it just looks elegant — a perfect compromise between classic wristwatch aesthetic and fitness tracker functionality.
20. Apple Watch Nike+ Edition
About £369 – £399
OK, we know there’s already an Apple Watch on this list, but the Nike+ Edition is a variation that merits its own write up. That’s because in both materials and functionality, it offers some extras that will be of great interest to runners and other exercise junkies.
For starters, the wristband is a more comfortable and breathable one. More than that, installing the Nike Running Club app will turn the watch into a more robust fitness watch, with a countdown, auto start and stop, and live feedback.
21. UE Boom 2
This wireless, waterproof, and shockproof BlueTooth speaker looks great, sounds better, and can rock out for up to 15 hours between charges. The 360 degree sound pumps out crisp and clean audio in all directions, making it perfect for parties both indoors and out.
Plus, if you’ve got more than one, you can daisy chain them to fill a larger space with the same great sound. It’s also smart, with both Siri and Google Now integration, so you can control it with your voice alone.
22. Polk BOOM Bit
This small but mighty BlueTooth speaker clips onto clothing or bags for hands free listening, either on your own or with a group. It’s a good gift for runners who prefer to not wear earbuds but still want to listen to music, or for anyone who wants to fill a small space with the audio of their choice.
The BOOM Bit also works as a speakerphone. While it goes just three hours on a charge, its low price and convenient size make it worthwhile.
23. AfterShokz trekz Titanium
Headphones that offer great sound but don’t fit in or over your ears? It sounds a little strange, but these AfterShokz trekz Titanium headphones work by bone conduction and rest just outside your ears.
They’re actually a great gift for the music fan on your list who also likes to listen while running or walking outdoors, since they leave the ears open to hear important ambient sounds.
The trekz Titanium model is wireless, which is partially why the price is over £100. If you’re looking for a more budget friendly pair of bone conduction headphones, AfterShokz makes a wired model for less than half the price.
24. Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless Earbuds
The Beats brand is synonymous with great sound, and the large over-the-ear headphones that the company makes are a real status symbol in some circles.
However, they’re a bit cumbersome for a lot of people, including runners and anyone who doesn’t want to wear so much equipment on their head. For those consumers, the Powerbeats3 Wireless Earbuds are perfect. They offer the same great Beats audio quality, but in a smaller and totally wireless package.
The two earbuds are connected by a tether, which stays behind the neck and out of the way and also holds a microphone for making and taking phone calls. And, if you pair it with an iOS device, you can talk directly to Siri to control your music.
25. Plantronics BackBeat FIT
They’re sweat proof, they’re flexible, they’re wireless, and they sound amazing, plus they don’t cancel out ambient audio. The Plantronics BackBeat FIT headphones are ideal for outdoor fitness enthusiasts, even cyclists.
They hook over the ears for complete security, and they’re comfortable and lightweight. They’ll go up to eight hours on a single charge, and there’s also a built in microphone for making and taking calls.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of these headphones is the price: for a pair of durable, wireless headphones that sound good, £69.95 is a really solid value.
For Readers, Writers, and Illustrators
26. Moleskine Smart Writing Set
Writers, doodlers, and casual diarists have long loved Moleskine notebooks for their quality and durability, but they’re just so…analog. Most of us have moved on to more digital forms of preserving our work, but we still love the feeling of gliding a pen across the paper of a Moleskine notebook, and up until now, we’ve been forced to choose between the old way of doing things and the new way.
With the Moleskine Smart Writing Set, however, you get both: a hard copy that gets automatically transcribed to a corresponding app. It’s easy to write and draw, easy to share, and easy to digitally edit your work.
The set comes with the Moleskine Pen+ and one notebook; additional smart notebooks are available for a added cost.
27. Wacom Bamboo Slate
The name Wacom means harmony in computing, and for years, Wacom tablets have been among the most popular stylus based computer tablets.
The new Bamboo Slate is based on smart paper — you write with a proprietary ink pen on proprietary paper, and with the touch of a button, it’s instantly converted to a digital file.
The Bamboo Slate can also do character recognition to turn written text into typed text. If there’s someone on your list who is analog at heart but wants to get their illustrations into the digital realm, this offering from Wacom would make a great gift. Note that this price is for the larger Bamboo Slate; a smaller size is available at a lower cost.
28. Kindle Paperwhite
Tablets are great for all sorts of uses, but if you just want an electronic device to read books, then it’s tough to beat the crisp, fast, and completely utilitarian Kindle Paperwhite.
Bibliophiles will love that they can tote their entire library around in a single lightweight device, and you’ll love that your gift is encouraging a voracious love of reading.
The screen is epaper black and white, and the device itself comes in black or white, but don’t let the Paperwhite’s lack of colour fool you into thinking this is a boring gift. For a lover of words, it’s about the best thing to find under the tree.
For Kids (And Kids at Heart)
29. Anki Cozmo Robot
Billed as a “supercomputer on treads,” Cozmo is a small robot that interacts with both you and your environment, and makes pleasant digital squeak noises in response to stimuli.
It learns as it goes, it develops a fun personality, and frankly, it’s cute as a button. Kids will love his truck-like shape, and everyone will love his competitive nature in the fun little games you can play with him. It’s like WALL•E come to life.
The only downside is that Cozmo may be sold out until after Christmas. However, a “Cozmo is coming” card would probably still be a welcome gift on Christmas morning.
30. Osmo Gaming System Starter Kit
There are a lot of efforts lately to teach kids how to code, and the Osmo Coding Set is perhaps the one that’s aimed at the youngest audience. Children as young as five (really!) can learn the basics of how code works through the game’s component blocks and corresponding app.
The young recipient of this present will need an iPad (and not an iPhone), as the game integrates with the front facing camera and larger screen size of the iOS device.
It may not look like a serious coding system, but it builds a solid foundation for later STEM study, and it’s a lot of fun to boot.
31. littleBits Gizmos and Gadgets Set
More than a game, this littleBits kit is, as the company puts it, “the ultimate invention toolbox.” The colour coded components snap together so young engineers can build circuits that do all sorts of things.
Not only is the Gizmos and Gadgets Set a great introduction to the world of maths and sciences, but it inspires creativity in kids as well. What will they build? The possibilities are limited only by their imagination.
This tech toy is aimed at kids eight and older, but because of its fun design potential, it could appeal to teens (and even adults) as well.
32. UBTECH Jimu Meetbot Block Robotics Kit
It’s like playing Frankenstein for the 21st Century: not only does this UBTECH Jimu kit let you build your own robot, but it lets you program and control it as well. Probably best suited for kids older than nine or ten, the robot is not difficult to build, thanks to pieces that simply snap together without the need for tools.
Programming is done through an app, and the platform is 100% open source, so users all over the world can share their ideas. If there’s a young teen in your life who’s expressed an interest in coding or robotics, or just appreciates a cool hands on experience, this would make a great (and amazingly educational) gift.
33. VTech Kidizoom DX Smartwatch
Smartwatches are all the rage among tech-inclined adults, but what about kids? No matter how tech savvy your eight year old may be, there’s no way you’re going to strap an Apple Watch to her wrist. However, the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch is designed just for kids.
It has a lot of the features they’ll want, like a built in camera, touchscreen, onboard games (yes, they’re educational), and a basic fitness tracker. Plus, it’s got an intuitive interface, so kids will have its functions all figured out before you can get past page three of the manual, and it’s durable too.
34. Mattel View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack
It’s an update on a classic toy that will wow both kids and adults alike. The VR spin on the old school View-Master viewer is the perfect combination of form and function, and all you need is a compatible smartphone to make it work. Download the View-Master app and some experience reels, and watch the kid in your life have her first real VR experience.
Do note that while the starter pack is relatively affordable, additional reels come at a cost, much like you had to purchase additional slide wheels to go with the original View-Master. An Apple or Google Play gift card may be a good go-along with this present.
35. Oculus Rift
The name has been on the lips of tech industry insiders for years, and now you can actually get your hands on one. If you’re looking for a high end gift for the gamer in your life, one with a ton of wow factor, then the Oculus Rift is the thing to get.
Offering unprecedented graphics and high quality integrated audio for a totally immersive VR experience, the Rift allows users to be in the game rather than just play it.
It does come with one game (Lucky’s Tale), but it’s compatible with late model gaming PCs and Xbox, and chances are good that your favourite gamer already has one or both of those.
36. Samsung Gear VR 2
The second generation of this Samsung virtual reality viewer is comfortable to wear, easy to control, and a great choice for a high quality yet low cost VR experience.
The only caveat is that the recipient of this awesome gift will need his or her own compatible Samsung smartphone (a late model Galaxy or Note will do the trick), as that’s what slides into the viewer. With the Gear VR, you can watch immersive content, play games, and travel the world — no, the galaxy — without ever leaving your home.
It’s an impressive device for under 100 quid and an impressive budget solution for anyone who wants to give VR a try.
37. Microsoft Xbox One S
The newest iteration of the Xbox offers all the benefits of previous versions, but in glorious 4K quality. Not only are the games crisper, more colourful, and more engrossing, but the Xbox one can also integrate with Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other apps.
It’s not just a gaming system — it’s a total entertainment system, with an emphasis on total. The box comes with the console and one controller, and games and other content are easy enough to download.
They all come at a cost, though, so an Xbox gift card would be perfect to give with this.
38. Nintendo Classic Mini
Everything from the ‘80s and ‘90s is back again, including this scaled down replica of the original NES. However, unlike the old model from 25 years ago, the Classic Mini has 30 games already built in — just plug and play, and you’ve got Mario, Zelda, Kid Icarus, and more in all their eight bit glory.
Kids will love it, adults will revel in nostalgia, and if there were ever a video game system to bring the whole family together, the Nintendo Classic Mini is it. Only problem? Supply is low and demand is high, which means snagging one for the 25th may cost you more than the list price. You’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth it.
For Forgetful Types
39. Mophie Powerstation XL Plus
We all know someone whose smartphone is always out of juice.
This Christmas, give them the gift of power: the Mophie Powerstation XL Plus. This basic model can charge an average smartphone up to two times, or it can charge iPads and tablets as well.
It’s slim and lightweight, not much bigger than a phone, and all of its charging and sync cables are contained within its sleek and unassuming design. The only hitch? The recipient of this gift will need to remember to charge it before heading out.
40. Tile Slim Tracker
About £23 and up
For the friend who’s always misplacing his wallet, his keys, his jacket, his cat, or whatever, the Tile Slim Tracker can help ensure that his lost items will be quickly found.
It’s the thickness of two credit cards and about the size of a large square button, and it can clip, slip, or otherwise attach to just about anything. Connect it to the corresponding app on your phone, and you can ring it if it’s nearby, or you can use the Tile community to track down your lost object. The battery in each Tile lasts about a year, after which you can trade them in for a discount off another one.
Tiles start at £23 for one; for a particularly forgetful friend, you can buy multi-packs and pay less per Tile.
The Time To Shop Is Now!
Whether you’re picking up a digital stocking stuffer or a jumbo sized box of tech, you’ll want to shop for your presents soon. Most online retailers can still guarantee shipment by Christmas, and many offer click and collect to save you time.
Or, if you prefer the old fashioned way, you can brave the crowds and get out into the stores to hand select presents for loved ones. No matter which method you choose, we hope you give and get all the best this holiday. From all of us at Appcessories, have a happy and bright Christmas!