Skye Gould / Tech Insider
Holiday shopping season is here.
Tech Insider’s gift guide for tech lovers is chock full of cool gadgets that all make excellent gifts. You’ll find something for just about any tech enthusiast in this list.
iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are the two best phones you can buy.
Google’s latest Nexus devices are the best Android phones you can buy.
Relatively few people know about Google’s Nexus smartphones, which run the pure version of Android without extra layers, or “skins,” from your phone’s manufacturer.
They’re both top performers with excellent cameras, and they’re relatively inexpensive. The Nexus 5X made by LG has a 5-inch screen, and the Nexus 6P made by Huawei has a 5.5-inch screen.
Price: Nexus 5X starting at$379, Nexus 6P starting at $499.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is an ultra-premium Android phone with a stylus.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 has a super sharp 5.5-inch display, an excellent camera, and its glass and metal design is premium through and through.
It comes with a stylus that you stow away inside the phone itself, which you can use for taking quick and easy notes without even waking the phone.
Price: About $650 for unlocked model.
The Moto X Pure (2015) is premium, inexpensive, and runs near-pure Android.
One of the coolest things about the Moto X Pure is you can customize the way it looks on Motorola’s Moto Maker site when you buy it. You have the choice of wooden, leather, and rubber backs, a white or black front, and you can add bold color accents to make your Moto X unique. It runs a near-pure version of Android, and has a large, sharp 5.7-inch display.
Price: Starting at $400.
BlackBerry’s Android phone is the best option if you want a physical keyboard.
If you’ve ever heard friends or family long for a physical keyboard on their smartphones, BlackBerry has made the perfect device. The Priv has a 5.4-inch screen and runs Android. It also has a slide-out keyboard you can use for writing long messages or hide when you don’t need it. The phone is also thin and light enough that you might forget it even has a keyboard tucked underneath it.
Price: Starts at $700.
The iPad Air 2 is the best tablet you can buy.
The iPad Pro’s giant touchscreen could replace a laptop.
Google’s Pixel C tablet rivals the iPad for less money.
The Pixel C tablet, made by Google itself, runs the pure version of Android. It has a super sharp 10.2-inch display, which is slightly larger than Apple’s iPad Air 2.
It’s also very powerful and uses the new USB-C standard for charging. Pair it with Google’s optional Bluetooth keyboard, and it could be a great travel productivity companion.
Price: $499. $169 for optional keyboard.
Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet is extremely cheap.
If all you, your friends, or your family do on a tablet is browse the web, check social media, or stream movies, you don’t need much more than Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet. For $50, it’ll do those things just as well as $500+ iPad. You could even get one for every room in your home.
The Kindle Paperwhite is an excellent e-reader.
For reading e-books, the Kindle Paperwhite is as good as it gets. The no-glare screen is easy to read during the day, and a built-in light aids you in reading at night.
The biggest benefit is the access you get to Amazon’s vast catalog of books. You also get a Kindle Unlimited subscription for free for 30 days.
The Sonos Play 1, 3, 5 speakers connect to your Wi-Fi network and sound incredible.
These speakers from Sonos connect to your home’s Wi-Fi connection and play music from apps like Spotify or Pandora. You control the music through your smartphone or tablet.
You can also use the Sonos iOS app to make your Sonos speaker equalize itself automatically to sound better wherever you put it in a room.
Mophie makes the best portable battery packs for keeping your devices charged on the go.
The Xbox One Elite controller controller will make the gamer in your life very happy.
The thumbsticks on the Xbox One Elite controller are magnetic so you can easily swap them out with different thumbsticks that come included. You can even swap out the D-Pad for a classic-feeling version.
The Elite controller also comes with extra metallic buttons that you fit behind the hand grips that can give first-person-shooter players the edge in an intense multiplayer battle. The Elite control isn’t cheap, but it’ll make any hardcore gamer happy.
Samsung Gear VR is the best headset to introduce you to the world of virtual reality.
Google Cardboard is a cheap and easy way to experience virtual reality.
The SteelSeries Stratus XL controller is the best physical gamepad for playing games on the iPhone, iPad, and new Apple TV.
Nintendo’s new 3DS XL portable console plays games in 3D without goofy glasses.
The New 3DS XL has a 4.18-inch screen that plays games in 3D without the need for silly 3D glasses. It has a secondary touch display on the bottom part that shows you stats and information that would normally crowd the main display.
The New 3DS XL can also connect to the internet so you can play with friends who also have a New 3DS XL.
Price: Around $200.
Twelve South’s HiRise stand will prop up and charge the Apple Watch.
The Phantom 3 is a great but expensive drone.
What would be the holidays without a drone? The Phantom 3 Standard will suit the needs of amateur drone enthusiasts with its intelligent flight system, mounted camera that shoots HD video and hi-res photos, and ability to fly for up to 25 minutes on a single charge.
Apple’s Retina iMac features the most gorgeous screen we’ve ever seen.
Dell’s XPS 13 is the best Windows laptop.
Dell claims the XPS 13 is the smallest 13-inch laptop in the world, even smaller than the 13-inch MacBook Air. That’s because it has incredibly thin borders around the screen, which goes a long way to make them smaller and look gorgeous.
The XPS 13 is the best Windows laptop for most people.
Price: Starting around $700.
Microsoft’s Surface Book is the future of computers.
The Surface Book is the first laptop made by Microsoft itself, and it’s a hit. It can be a full laptop with a great keyboard and trackpad when you want to get some real work done. And when you want to casually browse the web or social media, you can disconnect the keyboard and turn the Surface Book into a tablet.
It also has a taller screen than most laptops, which shows you more content when you’re browsing the web.
Watch this short video for more.
Price: Starts around $1500.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is a tablet that thinks it’s a laptop.
The Surface Pro 4 is basically a tablet that runs the full desktop version of Windows 10 and full desktop apps. When you prop it up with its built-in kickstand and connect the optional keyboard/trackpad cover, it works just like any Windows laptop. It’s the most portable productivity machine there is.
Price: Starts around $900.
The MacBook Air is a gorgeous, thin laptop with great performance.
The MacBook Pro with Retina display is a powerful laptop with a first-class screen.
The Chromebook Pixel is Google’s powerhouse Chromebook.
Google’s Pixel is a beautifully built and powerful Chromebook that runs Chrome OS. It’s designed for people who almost exclusively use the Chrome web browser for pretty much everything. It has an incredible sharp 12.85-inch display with 239 pixels-per-inch (PPI), which is much sharper than other 13-inch 1080p laptop displays.
Price: Starts at $999.
The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch you can buy.
Pebble’s Time smartwatch is waterproof and has a week-long battery life.
Pebble’s Time is the most waterproof smartwatch there is. It has a power-efficient e-paper display that helps give it up to seven days of battery life while other last just one. The display isn’t as beautiful as the others, but the Time does a great job notifying you of alerts from your phone.
It works with both iOS and Android devices.
Samsung’s Gear S2 is an impressive smartwatch.
The beautiful Gear S2 runs Samsung’s own excellent Tizen OS that you navigate using its intuitive rotating bezel. It makes the S2 easier to use than the Apple Watch and Android Wear smartwatches, and does everything from receiving your phone’s notifications to monitoring your heart rate.
Unfortunately, it’s not compatible with iPhone, but it is compatible with almost all Android phones.
Price: Starts at $299.
The latest Moto 360 Android Wear smartwatch has a big, beautiful display.
The Moto 360’s sharp 1.56-inch display makes any watch face you choose shine. It’s also great for showing you notifications, fitness tracking, controlling music, and running the numerous apps available in the Android Wear app store.
It’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices, too. There’s also a smaller model with thinner straps if you have narrow wrists.
Price: Starts at $299.99.
The Fitbit Charge is a sleek fitness tracker.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 is an awesome gaming console.
Sony’s video game console delivers stunning graphics and gameplay, and it has some great exclusive games like the “Uncharted” and and “Final Fantasy” series that you won’t find on the Xbox One.
And if you get Sony’ optional PS Vita portable gaming system, you can stream full PS4 games directly to the Vita over Wi-Fi so you can keep gaming if someone else wants to use the TV.
Read more about it here.
Price: Around $350.
Microsoft’s Xbox One is a gaming powerhouse.
The Xbox One also offers next-gen graphics and gameplay, and you can even use its OneGuide app to look through your cable provider’s TV channel lineup. It’s also the home of the outrageously popular exclusive Halo series.
A recent update also makes it possible to play a bunch of games from the previous Xbox 360 console.
Price: Around $350.
The Apple TV is the best media streaming box you can buy — and it’s also great for causal games.
The Sonos Playbar makes your TV sound incredible.
Once you try a soundbar, you’ll never settle for your TV’s built-in speakers again. Like the Sonos Play speakers, the Playbar can connect to music streaming apps like Spotify, which you control through your Android phone or iPhone.
The Roku 4 is a good streaming box for your TV with plenty of content to choose from.
Nintendo’s Wii U is still a good console for group games and kids.
Google’s Chromecast lets you stream from your favorite apps for just $35.
Google’s Chromecast is a dongle with a built-in HDMI cable to connect to your TV. The newest model has improved Wi-Fi performance, and it can stream video and music from your favorite streaming apps. You control it using your iOS or Android smartphone instead of a remote.
The Chromecast Audio brings your dumb old speakers into the smart age.
If you already have a great set of speakers but they don’t stream music over Wi-Fi, the Chromecast Audio will solve that for you. You can connect it to any speakers with an RCA, AUX, or optical cable and stream from services like Spotify that you control with your iOS or Android phone.
It’s a lot cheaper than buying a whole new set of connected speakers. Note that it’s not compatible with iTunes, Apple Music, or Amazon Music.
A Spotify subscription gets you ad-free, unlimited music streaming on just about any device.
A Netflix subscription gets you access to great shows like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.”
A subscription to Hulu Plus is another great way to cut cable.
Gift cards to the iTunes and Google Play Stores make great stocking stuffers.
Help someone up their cooking game with a subscription to Blue Apron.
“Star Wars: Battlefront” is the game for “Star Wars” fans.
“Star Wars: Battlefront” is a first-person-shooter where you side with either the Rebels or the Empire and battle it out for domination. You can play the campaign missions or blast your friends online in the multiplayer mode. You can even play as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader and dominate with their lightsabers. It’s available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Read more about it here.
“Fallout 4″ is one of the best games of the year.
The irradiated sky is the limit in “Fallout 4.” There isn’t much you can’t do in this game and you choose your own path to complete quests. You can be a gun-toting maniac, or weasel your way through with wit and intelligence.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to have played the previous “Fallout” games to enjoy this year’s release.
“Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” is fantastic.
Tech Insider’s video games editor, Ben Gilbert, loves this game, which means you’ll probably love it, too. “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain” encourages you to use stealth to eliminate your enemies. It has a compelling story, mixing sci-fi with realism for an amazing experience.
“Destiny: The Taken King ” is the ultimate expansion for “Destiny.”
The latest expansion for the popular “Destiny” game is a welcome addition. It adds more storyline with cinematic cut-scenes, which the original game lacked. You’ll also get new weapons that look, sound, and feel better, as well as powers for your titan to fight off new enemies.
Nintendo’s Mario game, “Super Mario Maker,” is a delight.
“Super Mario Maker” lets you design and build your own levels to play, using elements like weapons and obstacles from classic Mario games. You can even play on levels built by other people around the world. Of course, you’ll get to play on Nintendo’s own levels, which are incredibly challenging.
“Halo 5: Guardians” is a must-have for Xbox One.
The insane popularity of the “Halo” series helped make the Xbox the console it is today. “Halo 5: Guardians” has all the fun from the previous “Halo” games, but with gorgeous improved visuals and super smooth gameplay. There’s also a totally new multiplayer mode that will keep even seasoned Halo players on their toes.
“FIFA 16″ the best soccer game out there.
Every year, EA releases a new FIFA game. This year’s release is one of the best. The graphics are so good that it fools people into thinking it’s a real soccer game. The player controls and mechanics have also been improved to give the best soccer simulation there is for consoles and PC. EA also added the new Women’s national teams in FIFA 16.
“Bloodborne” is a dark, scary, and excellent game.
In “Bloodborne,” you play as the “Hunter” who travels through a city afflicted with a strange disease that turns its inhabitants into violent monsters. It’s notorious for its difficulty, and was well received by critics who praised it for its visuals and gameplay.
“Splatoon” is an enormously fun Nintendo game for younger players.
“Splatoon” is different than most Nintendo games. Unlike most shooting games, the goal isn’t to kill each other. Instead, you try to cover a level with more paint than the opposing team. And instead of playing as battle-hardened soldiers, you play as kids. The game is more like a big playable cartoon.
This game is only for the Nintendo Wii U.
“Rocket League” is like soccer, but with rocket-powered cars.
In “Rocket League,” you control a rocket-powered car as part of a team in a circular arena, and the goal is to get the giant ball into the opponent’s net by any means possible. You can ram, slam, fly, drive up walls. Gameplay is hectic and super fast, and immensely fun.
“Lara Croft GO” is a great game for mobile devices.
“Lara Croft GO” is a beautiful mobile puzzle game where you try to reach the other side of a level. Of course, there a bunch of obstacles and enemies in your way, like snakes, spider, and alligators. You control Lara Croft, who’s normally the main character in the Tomb Raider game series.
It’s compatible with iPhones and Android devices.
A PlayStation Plus subscription is a must for PlayStation 4 owners.
If you’re going to get yourself or someone else a PlayStation 4, you’ll need to get a PlayStation Plus subscription, too. Without one, you can’t play games online against (or with) others on PlayStation 4.
It also works for other PlayStation devices, like the PS Vita and even the older PlayStation 3. To sweeten the deal, you get access to some free games every month.
Price: $49.99 for 1-year membership.
Xbox One owners need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play online.
The same thing goes for Xbox One gamers. They’ll need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play online multiplayer games. You also get access to free games, as well as exclusive discounts. It’s possible to use the Xbox One without a Live Gold subscription, but it’s just not the same without it.
Price: $59.99 per year.
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