The hottest tech of 2021: the best gadgets and cool gift ideas

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In the blink of an eye, we went from tasting pumpkin spice to tasting our first gingerbread latte. While this is fantastic news for nutmeg and cinnamon fans, it can be stressful for anyone with a long list of holiday shopping.

Luckily, we’ve got a list of the best tech gifts for you, including many of the season’s most popular and wanted items. And we’ve even added some shopping tips and some worthwhile alternatives to all of the sold out items.

So kick back, pour a festive drink and get ready to make your list, double check it and maybe even win one of those coveted game consoles (we said maybe).

Michael Andronico / CNN

We’re not going to water it down: You’d have a better chance of beating Sonic the Hedgehog in a run than finding a PlayStation 5 sitting on a retail shelf. With an impressive lineup of proprietary games and a controller that truly delivers on the next-gen promise, the popularity of the PS5 is justified. But with a little diligence, a little luck, and a lot of persistence, you could potentially pull this holy grail off your list.

First, check out our guide to PS5 restocking. Next, you’ll want to confirm that you have accounts and credit cards on file with the retailer of your choice. The only thing more powerful than the thrill of scoring a PS5 is the crushing defeat you’ll feel when it disappears from your cart while rushing to enter your Amex card security code.

You can also turn to Twitter, where we ex-technical journal has dedicated his professional life to hunting down wandering game consoles that are hard to find. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to head over to Sony Direct, where you can sign up for a chance to grab a PS5 straight from the source.

Jacob Krol / CNN

Like Sony’s system, the comparable Xbox Series X is almost as difficult to find today as it was the last holiday season. While the same tips given above for securing a PS5 also apply to finding an Xbox Series X, we also suggest looking for the Xbox Series S. Yes, it is less powerful, does not have the drive. of its big brother’s disc and supports a lower resolution (1440p compared to the X’s 4K), but it still offers the next-gen gaming products. This is especially true when paired with an Xbox Game Pass membership, which includes access to the big hitters Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. Plus, the S Series is $ 200 cheaper and easier to find.

Mike Andronico / CNN

Sporting a larger and brighter OLED display, Nintendo’s latest version of its popular Switch platform is, unsurprisingly, another highly sought-after gaming system that won’t fall to your knees on Black Friday. That said, while it’s the latest and greatest Switch, its upgrades and improvements aren’t that big of a deal that they make its previous iterations obsolete.

In fact, if you’re shopping for someone who wants to get lost in Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s Island Simulation Heaven or take on Samus Aran’s latest sci-fi adventure in Metroid Dread, the standard Switch and the Switch Lite portable are more than covered. Plus, these earlier versions are much easier to find – and easier on the wallet.

Michael Andronico / CNN

A great gift for the gamer or tech lover on your list, the Oculus Quest 2 offers an affordable and accessible introduction to the immersive world of virtual reality. With a sprawling library of apps, games, entertainment platforms, and even surprisingly effective fitness experiences, the wireless headset truly has something for everyone.

It’s also readily available, has a robust selection of games for serious gamers and casual gamers alike, and packs a mind-blowing factor that will arguably make more jaws than any next-gen system, making it a great alternative to gaming as well. viable gift to the ever-elusive PS5. and Xbox Series X.

Jacob Krol / CNN

IPhone users with a knack for losing their keys, wallet, or even stray pets will love this intuitive tracker. Once paired with an Apple device, the AirTag has the ability to find anything you can attach it to.

But this superpower is not exclusive to the Apple branded gadget; The Chipolo One Spot offers similar functionality, not to mention a handy keychain hole for easy attachment (the AirTag requires a separately sold accessory for this functionality). Chipolo also has some fantastic deals on its trackers, letting you score multiple giveaways with a decent discount.

Jacob Krol / CNN

Choosing the right AirPods – between the second and third generation options as well as the Pro and Max versions – can be a daunting task. For the average user, however, you can rely on the AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro to deliver an above average audio experience. The AirPods 3 build on the solid foundation established by the second generation with the addition of spatial sound and a new open-ear design, while the AirPods Pro offer an upgrade in features such as deletion. activates noise and Transparency mode. Both offer around six hours of battery life and sweat and water resistance for the most active Apple users on your list.

  • AirPods (2nd gen) ($ 109, originally $ 129; amazon.com)
  • AirPods 3 (from $ 169, originally $ 179; amazon.com)
  • AirPods Pro ($ 197, originally $ 249; amazon.com)
  • AirPods Max ($ 479, originally $ 549; amazon.com)
Mike Andronico / CNN

If you’re looking for someone who doesn’t like the design of AirPods, the Beats Fit Pro offers most of the same features as the AirPods Pro, but for $ 50 less. Besides including both ANC and Transparency modes, these headphones feature a secure fit and sweat resistance, making them the perfect gift for the active people in your life. All of this, and they come in a range of awesome colors – you won’t find a pair of AirPods in Stone Purple!

Jacob Krol / CNN

With Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday just around the corner, you can bet that a lot of shoppers will be looking to get the best deals on popular Apple smartwatches. Much like AirPods, however, finding the right Apple Watch – at the right price – can be a chore.

The busiest shopping day of the season will see a number of attractive offers on older models – like Walmart’s $ 109 Series 3 GPS offer – but it’s best not to base your purchase entirely on one. tempting price. While Series 3 launched just four years ago, it’s ancient history in Apple’s timeline. You’re better off skipping several generations, both in terms of technology and features, to the Apple Watch SE. A great all-around entry-level model that won’t break the bank, it starts at $ 280, but Amazon has it starting at $ 220 right now.

  • Apple Watch SE (from $ 239, from $ 279 originally; amazon.com)
Jacob Krol / CNN

Whether it’s buying a foodie who would appreciate the convenience of scrolling through recipes in the kitchen or a Minecraft master builder, the Apple iPad is arguably the most versatile tech gift you can give. And while no one on your list is disappointed to unbox Apple’s multitasking tablet, and with so many different choices available, you’ll still want to make sure you’re giving the right one.

We recommend Apple’s reasonably priced, entry-level ninth-generation iPad, which has a screen big enough to binge on your favorite streaming series while supporting a full library of games. And, of course, it also lets you do the basics, like writing and checking your emails, scrolling through social media apps, and even FaceTime.

Jacob Krol / CNN

You can’t go wrong by gifting a close friend or family member the latest, best, and yes, prettiest iPhone. Apple’s latest version on its ubiquitous smartphone is arguably the best yet, with a super-fast processor, increased battery life, and enough camera upgrades for a professional photographer to notice. That said, you’ll want to do your research. Whether you’re thinking of the standard iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Mini, or planning to look to the more expensive and feature-rich Pro or Pro Max versions, you’ll want to make sure you check which carriers and plans offer the most. best deals. .

Apple’s latest smartphones won’t be scarce on Black Friday or Cyber ​​Monday, and they also won’t hesitate to sell at prices too good to be true, but you will need to take all the factors into account, contract requirements and trade-in offers on your recipient’s current cellular service obligations, before you pull the trigger. Remove these obstacles and you are ready to gift one of the coolest tech toys of the year.

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