2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Gadgets

Adults like toys too, so if you’re on the lookout for a memorable gift, or you just want to treat yourself to an early Christmas present, a cool gadget is always a great option. Of course, prices run the gamut in this arena, so you’ll need to be careful, but whether you’re shopping for the latest fitness tracker or something to please the audiophile in your life, you can find something that fits almost any budget.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

TomTom Spark 3 GPS Watch


There’s a variety of fitness trackers to choose from these days, but very few have been designed with athletes and outdoor enthusiasts specifically in mind, which is what makes the TomTom Spark 3 GPS Watch such an ideal product for runners, hikers, cyclists and even swimmers. In addition to tracking information like distance, speed, pace, time, heart rate and calories burned, the Spark 3 provides live feedback with built-in GPS and a feature called Route Exploration that shows where the path has taken you in order to find your way back to your starting point. It also includes 3GB of storage (roughly the equivalent of 500 songs), so you can listen to music without bringing along your phone, and comes packaged with a very comfortable pair of Bluetooth in-ear headphones that are sweatproof and waterproof. The Spark 3 is a little on the bulkier side compared to some of its competitors, but between the additional features and impressive battery life (up to three weeks in non-GPS mode), that’s one tradeoff that any runner would gladly accept.

Jaybird Freedom In-Ear Wireless Headphones


We weren’t very familiar with Jaybird prior to testing out their latest in-ear wireless headphones, but it’s easy to see why the company has become one of the more trusted premium headphone brands on the market. The Jaybird Freedoms passed the test in all three major areas: style, sound and comfort, especially the latter. There are a variety of mix-and-match fit options inside the box, including standard silicone ear tips, Comply memory foam ear tips for maximum noise isolation and a snugger fit, and silicone ear fins that hug the different sections of your ear to ensure the headphones remain in place. Battery power is also respectable, with up to eight hours of playtime when using the included (albeit bulky) charging clip, while the Share Me feature allows you to share the music you’re listening to with another pair of Freedom earbuds. Though serious audiophiles may not be completely blown away, the ability to customize your EQ settings and save the presets to your headphones using the Jaybird MySound app makes for a truly unique listening experience that will undoubtedly win them over.

Wacom Bamboo Slate


If you’re someone who takes a lot of written notes – whether a student, a businessman or even a graphic designer – it can be arduous trying to convert them to a digital format, which is where a product like the Bamboo Slate comes in handy. The latest in a growing line of analog-to-digital notetaking devices, the Slate allows you to write your notes naturally with a pen on any type of paper and instantly digitize them with the push of a button. You can store, synchronize, edit and enhance your notes right from your Bluetooth-enabled iOS or Android device (and if you’re not near one, the Slate stores up to 100 pages), as well export them as JPGs, PNGs, PDFs or WILLs to all the major cloud services. The device itself is modeled after a clipboard, so it won’t look out of place in more professional settings, and it’s available in two different sizes (A4 letter and A5 half-letter) as well as a folio version that we like more from a portability standpoint. Though the awesome handwriting-to-text feature is only available with a paid subscription service, the free Inkspace Basic subscription gives you 5 GB of storage (or roughly 6000 pages of notes), which is more than enough space for the average user.

DJI Mavic Pro Drone

Drones are one of the hottest gadget gifts this holiday season, and new models are driving sales for consumers and hobbyists who love exploring all the fun and interesting uses for these devices. New features, particularly built-in camera technology, make these gadgets interesting for so many more potential consumers, particularly adventure travelers, hikers, etc. who want to capture video of their exploits. The DJI Mavic Pro is one of the best drones on the market and is available at many retailers. It’s packed with an amazing bundle of features that make it easy to take awesome video, and it’s also portable, so you can easily take it with you on your travels. The advancement in drone and video technology is pretty incredible, especially the ability to have the drone’s camera focus on one person or object and follow them on video as you maneuver the drone. There’s definitely a learning curve in using the Mavic, but the possibilities are endless, making it as much a great gift for yourself as others.


iHome Color-Changing Wireless Speaker


We’ve reviewed a number of really nice high-end speakers in the past, but sometimes you just need something reliable and affordable to blast your music (especially if the recipient is college aged or younger), and the new iHome BT84 definitely fits the bill. Though the audio quality won’t blow you away, the Reson8 speaker chambers provide rich, detailed sound whether the music is coming from the speaker or a pair of headphones via the included AUX-in jack. The internal battery lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge and doubles as a built-in power bank for charging mobile devices on the go, while the speaker itself is IPX4 rated splash proof and water resistant, making it great for pool parties, beach trips and more. Additionally, the iHome BT84 features LED color changing lights with six different modes (including an EQ-style pulse to music) that can be controlled from your smartphone using the free app, providing extra value as a decorative, mini light show of sorts.

Logitech Silent Plus Mouse


There’s nothing worse than sitting next to a heavy clicker while trying to concentrate at the office, the library or your local café. They’re probably not even doing it on purpose – most mice are just made that way. But while we’ve all been guilty of this at some point in our lives, instead of being part of the problem, you can be a part of the solution with the new Silent Plus from Logitech, an ultra-quiet mouse with 90% reduced click sound that eliminates noise and distractions from others around you. Like all of Logitech’s computer peripherals, it’s incredibly easy to set up, and it provides a reliable connection from up to 33 feet away. The Silent Plus also boasts longer lasting battery life compared to other mice (up to two years on a single AA battery) thanks to an auto sleep feature that turns the mouse off when it’s not being used. Although the lack of a traditional “click” noise takes a little while to get used to, it’s a sound you won’t miss for long.