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Top 10 Holiday Tech Gift Ideas For 2015

It may be hard to believe, but we are already in November, which means we are rapidly approaching the holiday season. With that in mind, it seemed like a great time to take a quick look at what tech gifts are most likely to top the lists this year.

No. 1- Health Fitness Bands

Wearable fitness tracking devices have really taken off in popularity over the past few years. In fact, I see them frequently enough now that I think it’s safe to say that they’ve become a mainstream device — then again, I could be biased since I work in the tech industry*.

At any rate, fitness bands make a pretty great gift idea since you can find them in a variety of price ranges from $15 (on the low end) up to ~$500 on the high end, with most between $100 and $200. Functionality typically includes heart rate monitoring, step counting, sleep tracking, calorie burn tracking, and food logging. It’s great for anyone who’s health-conscious or just trying to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Fitbit Charge HR
Fitbit Charge HR

Top picks in this category include:

FitBit Charge Hr ($116), JawBone Up2 ($100), Microsoft Band2* ($249.99)

No 2 – Hoverboards (Self-balancing Boards)

One item that is sure to be among the most-asked-for gifts this year is something that has come to be known as a “hoverboard”. Also called a “self-balancing board”, these gizmos have become quite popular in recent months, with videos like this one (NSFW, language) emerging of countless celebrities riding them around. As you can see in the video below, the board doesn’t really hover and instead has two large wheels on the outsides of the board — so “hoverboard” really isn’t the best name. “Self-balancing” board is the more appropriate term, since the board will adjust the balance based on changes in pressure. In other words, adding more pressure to the front of your feet will move the board forward, while more pressure in the back will slow down forward movement or even move the board backward.

This video illustrates the concept:

Although there does appear to be a learning curve involved, it still seems like it would be a pretty awesome toy for anyone with enough space to roll around. The tech is still quite new though, so the high price tag could be a deal-breaker for some.

Top picks in this category include:

MonoRover R2 ($579, shown in video above), CoolReall Self-balancing Scooter ($399), Xnow Scooter ($277)

No. 3 – Smart Watches

Smart watches aren’t an all-new category for the 2015 holiday season, as there were plenty to choose from last year. However, 2015 is the first holiday season with the Apple Watch, which will surely rejuvenate interest in the category.

In general, smart watches act as extension of your smartphone, allowing some apps to run on the smaller screen. Typical features include text messaging, weather apps, games, and calendar management — amongst others.

Smart watches would make a good gift for anyone who spends a lot of time doing things on their phone. Be aware that not all phones are compatible with all smartwatches, so you’ll want to double check compatibility before making your final decision.

apple-watch-smartwatches-mainstream-02

Top picks in this category include:

Motorola Moto360 ($148), LG G Watch R ($299), Pebble Smartwatch ($74), Apple Watch ($349)

No. 4 – Drones (Quadcopters)

Quadcopters (more commonly known as drones) are small remote-controlled flying machines, which have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. This year, it seems that the tech has finally become mature enough that these devices are cheap enough to make for a reasonably-priced gift idea for just about anyone on your list.

You can find them with all sorts of bells and whistles including LED’s, mounted camera’s, and a whole host of other neat features. Perhaps even better, you can find many of these features on devices that cost less than $100.

Drones will probably be most appreciated by anyone interested in aviation, tech, or someone who just wants to see what their neighborhood looks like from a few hundred feet in the air.

This video shows what sort of adventures you can go on with a well-equipped drone:

Top picks in this category include:

UDI U818A ($47), Syma X5C Explorers ($44), 4 Channel 6 Axis Quadcopter ($52)

No. 5 – Streaming Boxes

Streaming boxes have been around for a few years, but they are still growing in popularity — and for good reason. More and more video content is being offered online, with numerous popular content providers now making their shows available over the net. Last month, I created a full write-up detailing the best ways to access these services on your big screen TV, so if you haven’t read that yet, I’d recommend starting there.

Streaming boxes will make a great gift idea for anyone who watches TV or movies, especially if that person loves video on demand (or really hates watching commercials).

One really nice benefit of giving the gift of a streaming box is that the prices of these devices have fallen considerably over the past few years, to the point where most of them can be had for under $100.

Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast

Top picks in this category include:

Roku 3 ($98), Amazon Fire TV Stick ($40), Google Chromecast ($35)

No. 6 – Gaming Consoles, Games, and Accessories

Video game consoles are definitely not “new tech”, as they’ve been a hot holiday gift item just about every year since they first hit the scene a few decades ago. Nevertheless, now that the latest generation of top tier consoles have been out for a few years, they’ve dropped a bit in price, which means that 2015 is shaping up to be an awesome year to snap up a console for the game-loving individual on your shopping list.

If your favorite gamer already owns the console of their dreams, another great gift idea would be to grab a few console accessories or a couple of the highly anticipated game releases for this holiday season. Halo 5, Call of Duty Black Ops 3, Fallout 4, and Star Wars:Battlefront will likely top the lists of many this year.

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Top picks in this category include:

Xbox One* ($343), PlayStation 4 ($384), Nintendo Wii U ($313)

No. 7 – Tablets

Tablet computers make a great gift primarily because they are so versatile. They are powerful enough to do just about anything and portable enough so that you can bring them just about anywhere. The higher end devices can be a bit pricey, but there are enough options available nowadays that you should be able to find something that fits your needs, regardless of which price range you’re interested in.

Tablets make a fantastic gift idea for anyone who loves browsing the web, playing games on their phone, or watching videos.

Apple-iPad-Pro-vs-Microsoft-Surface-Pro-3
Apple iPad & Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Top picks in this category include:

Microsoft Surface Pro 3* ($817), Apple iPad Air ($439), Amazon Fire ($50)

No. 8 – Portable Cameras

Portable cameras have become pretty popular in recent years, mostly due to the invention and subsequent success of the GoPro camera lineup.

The primary draw of these cameras is their ability to shoot high-quality footage, while maintaining a compact size. These features have made these devices quite popular in sports such as skydiving, skateboarding, and skiing. A quick search on YouTube yields tons of video clips of this type taken by GoPro devices.

Portable cameras will likely be well-received by anyone who lives an active lifestyle and enjoys sharing video clips or pictures of their adventures with others. Check out the following video for a better idea of what sort of video clips can be produced with one of these devices:

Top picks in this category include:

GoPro HERO4 ($344), GoPro HERO+ ($259)

No. 9 – Headphones

Headphones have been a necessity found in the bags of music lovers for decades and the holiday season has (traditionally) been a great time to pick up a new pair. The 2015 holiday season is looking like it will be no different, with a wide variety of features, brands, colors, and sizes to choose from.

Anyone who exercises, works in an office, or just particularly enjoys music will likely enjoy the gift of comfortable, durable, and decent-sounding headphones this year.

New_Beats_Studio_1
Beats Headphones

Top picks in this category include:

Beats Solo2 ($130), Bose SoundTrue ($120), Skullcandy Hesh 2 ($42), Sennheiser HD 650 ($410)

No. 10 – E-Readers

Rounding out the top ten is the ever-popular “E-Reader” device.

These devices first hit the scene a few years ago and were a huge success back then. Since then, the relevance of these devices have come into some question, since tablet computers are also capable of displaying e-books — in addition to doing so much more. Nevertheless, the low cost of these devices, combined with easy-on-the-eyes features like what you get in the “paper white” lineup, help keep these devices on the list of best gifts for another year.

E-readers will surely make a great gift for the bookworms in your life, but I suspect they will also likely be much appreciated by casual readers, as well.

Top picks in this category include:

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite ($120), Barnes & Noble Nook HD ($60)

Final Thoughts

Well that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the list and were able to get a few new gift ideas for the people on your shopping list this year — or maybe some new ideas for what to put on your own list!

If you have any other ideas you think should have made the cut, let me know in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to check back soon for more tech gift ideas for the holiday season!

* As a reminder, I work for Microsoft. This is something I need to mention occasionally and will always mention on any post that mentions a Microsoft product.

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