Gifts for techies
In today's tech-driven world, finding the right gadget for a technophile family member, friend or co-worker can be difficult because there are so many options. From smart devices that control your home's heating system to drones that can travel fantastic distances, the tech market is full to the brim with cool, eye-catching gizmos. We've found some fun ideas to help you find a gift that will delight the IT pros and other techies in your life. Here are our 10 top gift picks for gamers, power users and digital devotees.
Amazon Echo Dot
Smart speakers are everywhere this year, with tech industry giants like Google and Facebook releasing devices that can answer questions and connect you with loved ones via simple voice commands. Amazon's latest entry into that category, the third-generation Amazon Echo Dot, brings personal assistant Alexa to any room. At less than 2 inches tall, this diminutive assistant can help order food, play games and stream music from a variety of services for $30.
iRobot Roomba 960 Wi-Fi
Tech professionals are keen on things being clean and tidy – websites, storage and, of course, personal spaces. Controlled via smartphone app, the built-in power button, or voice control with Google Assistant or Alexa, the iRobot Roomba 960 Wi-Fi vacuum robot can keep an entire level of a home or office free from dust and dirt. Cleaning can be scheduled in the app or started instantly from any location. Techies will get a kick out of watching the robot's real-time cleaning progress status on their smartphone screen and reviewing the cleaning report after each session. The iRobot Roomba 960 Wi-Fi is $600.
Anker PowerCore II
Nothing is more frustrating than noticing you have mere moments before your smartphone becomes an empty, black mirror. For $48, the Anker PowerCore II 20000 is a high-capacity portable charger that can quickly boost smartphones, tablets and other USB-powered devices. Sporting a 20,000-mAh battery and two USB ports, the PowerCore II will make it so even the most tech-obsessed person can keep their gadgets running.
Audio-Technica Bluetooth headphones
Whether your techie is on the go or just an early adopter of today's headphone jack-less smartphones, the $199 Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT headphones will deliver thumping tunes or thought-provoking podcasts with spectacular clarity. Based on the company's original ATH-M50x studio headphones, this Bluetooth-enabled model features built-in controls to let its user answer phone calls and adjust audio playback.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The hardcover version of this 25th anniversary edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a must-have for sci-fi fans, even those who've made the jump to e-books. This $15 bestseller spun out a radio series, a television series and a movie. It tells the story of Earth man Arthur Dent, who discovers we're not alone in the universe seconds after hitching a ride on a passing Vogon ship. Luckily, there's no reason to panic, because he brought his towel.
Give the gift of on-the-go music creation with one of Teenage Engineering's line of highly portable drum machines and synthesizers, known as Pocket Operators. Featuring a minimalist, circuit-board-meets-calculator design, each device allows for 16 different sequences as well as live play. Beginning beatmakers should try the $59 PO-12 Rhythm. For more musically inclined beatmakers, the $95 PO-35 Speak features an onboard microphone that drives its vocal synthesis capabilities and allows up to 120 seconds of samples.
Save your friend hours of lost time searching for their keys and wallet with a gift that keeps track of everything. The TrackR Pixel is a Bluetooth-enabled, coin-sized location device that can be attached to or hidden inside of easily misplaced items. Hard-to-find items can be located using a smartphone app that sets off an alarm. If the item was left behind somewhere out of range, the app shows its last known location on a map. The $12 TrackR Pixel is available in multiple colors.
HyperX Cloud Revolver S gaming headset
When it comes to taking down enemies in Fortnite or traversing the wasteland in Fallout 76, communication is key. That's why the discerning gamer would want the HyperX Cloud Revolver S, a studio-quality headset with Dolby 7.1 surround sound capabilities and a detachable noise-canceling microphone. With its durable steel frame and memory foam lining its ear cups, this model is ready to use with any device with USB audio or a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The HyperX Cloud Revolver S is $150.
Gunnar Optiks Intercept glasses
As anyone who sits in front of a computer screen for hours on end can attest, working in tech can cause a lot of eye strain. Studies have shown that too much blue light from computer monitors can disrupt natural circadian rhythms. Specialized glasses, like the Gunnar Optiks, block out 65 percent of blue light and 100 percent of UV. These glasses reduce the harmful aspects of working or gaming in front of computer monitors for long stretches and come in a variety of styles for $70.
iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit
Any IT professional worth their salt has a great set of tools. The $65 iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit puts them all in one place. It's got it all, including a 64-bit driver kit and an antistatic wrist strap and an iFixit Jimmy opening knife. With all these parts, you can safely take apart everything from an Apple Watch to a Nintendo gaming console.
Additional reporting by Charell Star.