It’s that time of the year. Thanksgiving is officially over, fall is giving way to winter and, like it or not, it’s time to hit the stores — physical or virtual — for holiday gifts.
That means it’s also time for our holiday gift guide, from our Geared Up podcast and live video show. It’s your inside look at some of the best gadgets, games and other tech gifts of the season. We’ll also give you some tips on how to get the best bang for your buck on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond.
This gift guide is an annual tradition, dating back to when Geared Up co-host Andru Edwards started appearing as a regular guest on our long-running GeekWire Podcast, rounding up his recommended tech gifts each year. Those appearances ultimately led us to partner with Andru on the standalone Geared Up show.
Our first tip this year isn’t a gift: it’s a service that Andru recommends to help get the lowest prices during holiday sales. The service is called Earny and it automatically monitors a user’s purchases and files for refunds if an item they purchased goes on sale within 90 days, or if it finds the same item for less at another retailer.
That means users could shop for all their holiday gifts before a big sale, like those on Cyber Monday, and automatically get refunded the difference between what they paid and the item’s sale price. Andru said he got almost $120 in refunds the first day he signed up for the service.
There is a catch — Earny keeps 25 percent of the refund it finds.
Listen to the full episode above and subscribe to Geared Up in Apple Podcasts, Google Play or your favorite podcast app. Keep reading for a rundown of our recommendations and links to all the products.
- Andru says the Nintendo Switch console is hands-down his gadget of the year. A great choice for kids and adults alike. Recommended games: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.
- The Xbox One X is good for hardcore gamers, and the Xbox One S is a good choice for more casual gamers. Recommended for both: Forza Motorsport 7 and Assasin’s Creed Origins.
- The PlayStation 4 Pro is another good option, similar to the One X. Recommended game: Destiny 2.
- For younger gamers, try a mobile and sturdy Nintendo 2DS.
- GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishp recommends the Play Impossible Game Ball, a connected ball that uses Bluetooth and sensors to run fun, interactive games. Good for kids and adults, and even for indoor activities when the winter weather gets rough.
- Here’s my board game recommendation: Codenames. It’s easy to pick up and good for large groups, making it an ideal game for family fun.
Smart home devices
- Smart speakers often depend on what voice assistant you use. The Google Home line is good for Google Assistant users; For iPhone users, the Apple Home Kit devices with Siri built in; and for Cortana users, Todd recommends the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker.
- For a general purpose device, try an Amazon Echo speaker with the Alexa voice assistant. The Echo Dot is on sale for just $29.99 during Amazon’s Black Friday deals and is a great starter device.
- Smart thermostats make controlling heat and air conditioning easy — try the Nest Smart Thermostat or the Ecobee Four, which also has Alexa built in.
- Andru also likes the convenience of smart locks and doorbells. He recommends the August line or Nest’s smart doorbell.
- And finally, cameras. Andru is a personal fan of Nest’s camera line, which includes indoor and outdoor smart security cameras. There’s also the new $120 Cloud Cam from Amazon and Wyze Cam, which is just $19.99.
Mesh Wifi routers
- These devices help Wifi signals reach farther across homes, without watering down the strength of your connection. Andru recommends the Netgear Orbi and the Eero.
- For those working on their smart home, there’s also the Samsung Home Connect which acts as a hub to control smart home devices.
- Andru highly recommends the wireless AirPods for anyone with an iPhone. The earbuds automatically connect with iOS devices but can also be used with Android phones.
- For more traditional headphones, check out the Bose QC35 wireless over-the-ear headphones, particularly good for noise cancellation. Bose Soundtrue around-hear headphones are a good non-noise canceling option.
- The brand new Beats Studio 3 over-ear headphones, owned by Apple, are also noise canceling, high audio quality and wireless.