It’s the holiday season. And for millions of us, that means desperately trying to figure out what to give our loved ones. Luckily, if your favorite people are tech-savvy, there are plenty of great options out there. Whether you’re looking for a game console, a smartwatch, or some prepaid subscription cards for services like Netflix, I’ve rounded up some of the coolest gift ideas for the 2022 holiday season.
My advice: Buy as soon as possible, as there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get your hands on these devices for very long.
Sony PlayStation 5
Oh baby. If you’ve managed to get your hands on Sony’s (SONY) PlayStation 5, you’re either incredibly lucky or incredibly persistent. The PlayStation 5 has been a tough buy since it first went on sale in November 2020. System availability is extremely inconsistent due to the lingering effects of COVID lockdowns and global chip shortages. But if you can score a PlayStation 5, you can give away one of the most sought-after consoles. With games like ‘Horizon: Forbidden West’, ‘God of War Ragnarok’ and ‘The Last of Us Part 1’, not to mention franchises like ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Madden’, the PS5 is a beast of a console. Add to that powerful graphics, media center capabilities, and game streaming, and you’ve got a great present to give. Or keep to yourself.
Microsoft Xbox Series X
Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox Series X is a little easier to get hold of than Sony’s console at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive. The boxy bad boy also packs powerful graphics, multimedia features, and a huge selection of first-party and third-party games, making it the powerhouse your favorite gamer will love.
Then there’s Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, which let you access online gaming and stream games to your console via the cloud. Put it all together and the Xbox Series X is easily one of the best decisions for the gamer in your life.
Valve Steam Deck
The Steam Deck is Valve’s portable gaming system. Think of it as a Nintendo Switch (NTDOY) on steroids, giving you the option to access your Steam game library or use it as a kind of portable PC. With a 7-inch screen, touchpads, thumbsticks, and shoulder buttons, the Steam Deck promises you can game on the go without the need for a giant gaming laptop.
The portable device is available in three versions. The $399 model has 64GB of storage, while the $529 model has 256GB of faster storage. The top model gets 512GB of faster storage, anti-glare glass on the screen, and a handful of other goodies for $649.
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
If you’ve got an Apple (AAPL) fan on your holiday shopping list, you can’t go wrong with the second-generation AirPods Pro. The headphones have improved noise cancellation thanks to Apple’s new H2 chip, not to mention better bass than the company’s first-generation AirPods Pro.
The second-generation AirPods Pro come with four silicone tips for a customizable fit and provide up to 6 hours of listening time per charge. The charging case provides an additional 30 hours of battery life. Apple also added the ability to raise and lower the volume of your music by swiping up and down on the AirPods sticks.
Google Pixel Watch
Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) first smartwatch, the Pixel Watch is a beautiful piece of tech with a curved, circular display and a stainless steel case. Designed for Android users, the watch gives you access to your notifications, text messages, the ability to make calls, and everything else you expect from a smartwatch.
However, what sets the Pixel Watch apart from the competition is its deep integration with Fitbit’s own fitness features, including sleep tracking and a range of exercise tracking features. However, you’ll need to sign up for Fitbit Premium for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year to get the most out of the watch, including your sleep score, daily readiness score, and health metrics at long term.
Apple Watch SE/Series 8
Apple’s smartwatch is still the best on the market. From its design to fitness tracking and app integrations, the Apple Watch is hard to beat. The company currently offers three versions of the watch: SE, Series 8 and Ultra. The SE comes with just about everything you’ll find on the Series 8 except for a temperature sensor, always-on display, and blood oxygen and EKG sensors.
Available with either a 40mm or 44mm face, the SE is a solid smartwatch for the person who wants the functionality of the Apple Watch but doesn’t need the frills or higher price of the Series 8. However, if you’re okay with spending an extra $150 on the Series 8, you’ll get a 41mm or 45mm watch face, always-on display, and the aforementioned sensors. If you want the latest and greatest, the 8 Series is the way to go.
As for the $799 Apple Watch Ultra, it’s best left to extreme athletes who need a watch that can last for days and survive extreme weather. Safe to say it’s not for everyone.
Google Pixel 7
Google’s Pixel 7 is the ultimate expression of what Google believes a smartphone should be. The Android 13-based device comes with a number of AI-powered features, including photo editing and voice translation. The 6.3-inch Pixel 7 packs wide-angle and ultra-wide cameras, but that clever AI lets it crop wide-angle shots to create a virtual 2x zoom.
With guaranteed Android software updates as they’re released, the Pixel 7 is the go-to for Android fans who want Google’s version of a modern smartphone.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro features a triple-camera setup with 3x telephoto zoom and improved low-light performance. This year, Apple added automatic crash detection to the iPhone, as well as emergency satellite communications in case you get lost and unplugged. There’s also the new Dynamic Island, an area of the iPhone screen designed to cut down on multitasking like quickly changing your songs in Spotify and checking sports scores.
Amazon Echo Dot
$25 or $40
Amazon’s Echo Dot (AMZN) gives you a compact smart speaker with Alexa voice control. Think of it as a shrunken Echo with everything from smart home controls to the ability to play audio games. Want to get more out of your Echo Dot? You can opt for the Echo Dot with Clock, which can double as a smart alarm clock for your nightstand. If you’re looking for someone who wants a little smarter home, the Echo Dot is a great option.
If you don’t want to spend a fortune or just aren’t sure which is the best thing to get, this might be the easiest: gift cards. I’m not talking about a 10% off Outback card, although I’m not going to sneeze on that either, I’m talking about subscription cards for things like Netflix, Hulu, and Xbox Game Pass. You can also get cards for the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and more. It is a useful gift and allows your loved ones to buy what they really want.
Have fun shopping!