Top Holiday Tech Gifts 2020 - Jen's Picks - Part 1
With SO MANY options available and different generations, versions, editions, price points, brands... how do you know what gift to give?
Tech gifts are THE 2020 gift to give. Gaming, movie & music streaming and downloading, crafting; really anything that involves tech or tech upgrades has exploded this year. Personal tech is now an essential necessity with so many folks working and schooling from home. Plus, we are staying home more than ever for our social and mental health time. Binge-watching, online gaming with your friends, social media use, and crafting are just a few of the ways we are coping with 2020. The GREAT news is you have so many amazing options to give.
I will write a few articles for you highlighting HOT gifts and my personal picks. I also spoke briefly with Natalie with Fox8 New Day Cleveland briefly. Click here to see that segment.
Here we go with my Part 1:
PS5 & Xbox Series X Game Consoles
The PS5, starting at $400 and the Xbox Series X, starting at $500 are NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE to find and are THE HOT tech gifts this year.
This is a mixed bag of news as they are selling out in minutes when made available online and hours when they hit the shelves at your local retailers.
Additionally, resellers are waiting at stores and online to buy them... then offering them for $1000 or more online and on local selling sites.
My advice to anyone wanting one of these hot gaming consoles is to grab one if you see it, do not wait for a deal or bundle and don’t get your hopes up.
Nintendo Switch units are HARD to find, but they are out there. There are two options, the Original Switch (retails $300) or the Switch Lite (retails $200).
The difference between the two devices is the Lite is a handheld only version and games played on the Lite must support handheld mode and must not require motion controls; while the original Switch can play all games and can also be played on the TV (as many gamers prefer).
If you are looking online, Amazon has the Switch consoles on backorder till after Christmas but the Lite is available.
Giving a nicely wrapped Video Game is ideal, but in the age of game downloads, it is not necessary. If your wanted game is physically out of stock do not despair. You can give a gift card so your gamer can download their games from the PlayStation Store, Xbox Store, Steam, or even the manufacturer’s websites.
Graphics Cards for PC Gamers are hot right now and the NVIDIA RTX 3080 or 3090 are THE hot item for PC gamers and the Founders Edition is the coveted edition and nearly impossible to find with very limited quantities. NVIDIA is having a hard time keeping up with demand.
There are other viable options from ASUS, MSI, and others, but NVIDIA remains the leading graphics card this season and will cost you about $1500 if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one. The specs back up that price tag and you can play PC games at 4K resolution and play with raytracing using this card. BestBuy is where you might get lucky finding a Founders Edition.
2020 has many of us working and learning from home either part or full time. This is the perfect time to give your students and spouses an upgrade to a better machine. There are many options and my two favorite brands are Dell for PC users and MacBooks for Apple users.
Whether you are buying new or renewed, be SURE you get a computer with a good processor, the latest operating system, and a Solid State Drive. I recommend getting something with an i5 or better processor, 8GB of RAM, and at least 120GB SSD, built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and Webcam. Those are the basic starting points you should be shopping for and anything better than those specs is only going to increase your performance and operating speed.
The top holiday computer this year is the Apple MacBook Pro. These are superior machines and built to last. If you are considering saving money and getting a renewed machine, be sure you are getting a Mac that is Late 2013 or newer so it operates on the most current operating system.
Be careful buying a Mac online and ask for the serial number so you can confirm the year and specs before you buy.
Apple leads the industry in tablets with iPad tablets. And the fantastic part about the Apple devices is you can get a renewed Apple and save hundreds. If you are shopping for an iPad, and you want to save money, get a renewed iPad that is at least the Air 2 generation or newer so it operates on the most current operating system. You can get renewed Apple Air 2 iPads for around $200.
This is especially wonderful for kids as there is a greater than 90% probability children will break the screen in the first year of use. To save money on the front and back end, consider a renewed model. If you are opting for a new model, be sure you add AppleCare so that broken screen repair is not as expensive when it happens.
There are 2 other excellent tablet options to consider. Samsung tablets are great for Android users and the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets are a solid bet with excellent holiday savings available right now.
If you are getting an Amazon Fire Tablet for kids, get the Kids Edition and thank me later. The Amazon Kids Edition tablets are a few bucks more and include a 2 Year Worry-Free guarantee; meaning if it breaks for ANY REASON, simply return it and Amazon will replace it for free. Yes, that’s amazing. The Kids Edition also includes a free 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ (FreeTime Unlimited) and a sturdy kid case.
And the top Apple gift this year is the wireless AirPods. The AirPods retail for $200 and the AirPods Pro retail for $250. You can find some great holiday deals on the AirPods right now for about $140 and the Pros for about $200.
The Pro version has a better feel in the ear and superior sound versus the standard AirPods because the Pros have more bass. The reason they have more bass is largely due to their new noise-isolating design and new drivers tuned for the Pro design.
With a price difference of about $60 right now, longer shipping times, and limited retail availability, my pick remains the AirPods this season. However, if you want superior wireless sound, the Pro is money well spent.
TV Streaming Devices
Streaming devices remain a must-have for every TV in your house and you can get brands such as the Amazon FireStick, Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, and more. 4K is a solid bet because even if the TV is not 4K, the 4K device will stream faster than the standard versions.
There are great deals right now so pick your favorite brand and give the gift of binge-watching. My personal favorite is the Amazon FireTV 4K Stick and retails for $50 and can be found right now for around $30.
Color Changing Led Strip Lights with Remote
Every teen on your list will be happy to get one of these this year to put in their room. These will make their school learning spaces stylish, add the right lighting for their social media videos and photos, and bring any home movie theatre to the next level.
My favorite options are the lights that are interactive with smart devices and can be voice-controlled. There are many options and lengths to choose from and some can even sync up with the rhythm of your music.
The dream is to line their entire bedroom with these lights; but if your budget doesn’t permit this, be sure to select lights that are linkable for future gifts. Prices start around $15 and you really can’t go wrong with anything you pick. Just read the reviews before you buy.
Smart Speakers (plugs, bulbs, and more)
The smart device universe is exploding with options so you are certain to find something in your budget to give great tech this year. Smart Plugs to control your lamps, Smart speakers to play your music and be your personal assistant (my favorite feature is the reminders and alarms!), and even smart light bulbs and HUE lighting options. Google and Amazon dominate this field and most compatible devices will work with both Alexa and Google.
If you do not already have a Smart Speaker, get one. I prefer the Amazon Alexa Echo line and there are incredible holiday savings right now on the entire Echo line.
Portable Photo Printers for your Phone
Portable Photo Printers turn your phone into an instant camera. Instantly share images with family and friends, print for your crafting and scrapbooking, and thanks to Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, you can print instantly at parties and family gatherings. My pick is the HP Sprocket which is compatible with both iPhone and Android and retails for $130.
USB Memory Sticks for iPhones, iPads & Android Devices
Perfect gift for the mom or colleague running out of storage on their phone. Simply plug these devices in and back up your phone so you can free up space. Never be forced to decide what picture or video to delete.
Excellent gift with many options with prices start around $10.
My pick is the iDiskk Multifunctional 4 IN 1 iPhone Flash Drive with 256GB of storage to plug and play movies or music and/or back up your devices and costs about $60.
Kids & STEM Toys
If you’re buying a gift for younger kids, consider getting a toy or game that applies STEM concepts to help develop their logical and critical thinking while they play.
The top tech toy for the young kids on your list is the CoComelon Roto Plush Bedtime JJ Doll. This doll made my top tech list as it is THE HOT toy for this age group and plays sounds, phrases, and even plays the popular CoComelon Nursery Rhyme “ Yes Yes Bedtime!” A wonderful interactive toy to introduce young minds to technology.