The fourth episode of Gizmodo’s podcast Gadgettes just dropped, and this week, we’re getting ready for the holidays. Your hosts, Gizmodo reporter Florence Ion and senior editor Caitlin McGarry, womansplain the latest gadgets we’re testing and reviewing. Usually, we interview our fellow Gizmodo reporters about the week’s biggest tech news. But this week, we’re walking you through what to buy and what not to bother with as you’re scoping out gifts this shopping season.
Caitlin and Flo’s gadget picks range from our favorite headphones and earbuds that we’ve reviewed and stress-tested to the smartwatches we’re wearing. We’ll go through how to make gift-giving feel extra special by encouraging you to take the extra step. For instance, why not consider bundling a subscription service along with that wearable in the box? We’ve included a complete list of all the products mentioned in the podcast if you scroll down.
We know it’s been a challenging year—sorry, a few years. But if you’re out there shopping for someone you love, maybe one of these gadgets will give them a little joy. Check out the podcast below, and then peruse our list of must-haves.
The Best Gifts for the Music Lover in Your Life
If you’re looking for something for the fitness buff who sweats so much their earbuds won’t stay in, the Beats Fit Pro ($200) are an excellent choice, and they come in a variety of colors. So do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ($150), which are so comfortable that Flo falls asleep every night with one in her ear. You might even consider an aftermarket case to dress it up and cover it from the elements.
For everyone else, the UE Boom 3 ($150) has been around for a while, but it remains one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can take everywhere. It has a boomy sound, comes in different colors and patterns, and can withstand a splash of water. If you’re lucky, you might even find one on super sale.
The Best Gifts for Your Favorite Health Buff
If the person you’re buying for has a smartwatch on their wish list, get them an Apple Watch Series 7 ($399) if they’re an iPhone user, or a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 ($250) if they’re all in with Android. Both smartwatches boast similar health-tracking features, including ECG monitoring and lots of third-party apps. The Fitbit Sense ($330) is also worth considering for its focus on fitness and cross-platform compatibility.
Don’t forget to pair the new watch with a subscription! Caitlin and Flo use Peloton ($13/month) and Glo ($18/month), respectively, and both services integrate with broader tracking apps like Strava Pro ($5/month).
The Best Gifts to Smarten Up a Home
Listen, we all know Siri is not the best assistant, but the HomePod Mini ($99) is super cute, offers excellent sound, and is now available in a variety of bold colors. It also supports Apple’s HomeKit, so you might consider bundling one with a few small smart home accessories—we didn’t mention these in the podcast, but our best smart home gadgets guide is a great place to start.
For Google users, the Nest Mini ($30-$50) is fine and cheap. If you use Alexa to control your smart home, the Echo 4th-generation speaker ($100) is a good pick for improved audio and integrated smart home hub. There are “clock” versions of these smart speakers, too. Lenovo makes the Google Assistant version called the Smart Clock 2 ($70) with optional wireless charging, while Amazon has a nightstand version called the Echo Dot ($60) with an analog clock face.
The company formerly known as Facebook makes the Portal Go ($200), which is the only smart display we’re recommending this season. It has a battery, so you can tote it around, and features a physical mute switch to shut off the camera and microphone instantly. It’s not the best for smart home control unless you specifically use Alexa and have it pre-programmed through the app. But its video-chatting capabilities, helped in part by its panning camera, are the kind of thing that will bring a tear to a family member’s eye. As a bonus, it also makes a great TV for the kids’ blanket fort with its integrated browser, which works fine with most video-streaming websites.
The Best Gifts to Spruce Up a Home Office
Keyboards and mice make everything nice. Peripherals can make a thoughtful gift, especially if you select one in the right color. Logitech introduced its lineup of colorful gaming peripherals that are pretty affordable. And you can’t go wrong with the Logitech K380 ($30) Multi-Device Bluetooth keyboard, which is a great backup keyboard available in a bunch of colors.
If you’ve got a budding mechanical keyboard builder in your life, consider pairing Razer’s BlackWidow V3 Mini ($180) or any of its other mechanical gaming keyboards with one of its new customization kits. The kits work with different keyboards, too, provided they use the standard keycap mount.
What Not To Buy
Don’t buy anyone on your list anything with a camera integrated into it unless they’ve already consented to surveillance gadgets and the responsibilities that come with them. (We recommended a video-chatting gadget above, but we feel the privacy protections are sufficient enough to make a good gift for a family.)
Steer clear of gifting security systems, including Google’s Nest security cameras and Amazon’s Ring security system. We also caution you against any Bluetooth trackers, because though they are helpful, they can be used for nefarious purposes.