The 25 best and coolest tech gifts of 2020
For the tech junkie in your life
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I don't know about you, but I've never gotten a techy or tech-adjacent gift I wasn't excited about—it's true. Opening up a gift and getting a new pair of headphones or a fun gadget I wasn't expecting is almost always fun, even if it isn't something I thought I wanted.
The one caveat to this rule: getting a techy gift that doesn't... uh... work. That's the problem with trying to buy a fun new tech gift for a giftee: How do you single out the small margin of great products from the ocean of sub-par stuff? Easy—you check out our picks below. Reviewed tests tech all year long, and this list is chock full of our favorite gadgets.
1. For the binge-watcher: Roku Ultra
Roku's fancy "Ultra" media streaming device has been our favorite for a couple years running now, and for good reason. Processing is snappy and the UI is extremely friendly and intuitive, making it easy to settle in for a night of Netflix (or Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or YouTube, or Twitch, or anything else) without a hitch. This box also comes with a very easy-to-use remote and a pair of headphones that plug right into it for private listening, as well an ethernet cable input so you can easily stream 4K/HDR content, if that's your bag.
2. For the techy type: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen.)
If you're shopping for a tech generalist or somebody who just really loves asking Alexa to tell jokes, why not pick up the Echo Dot? This tiny smart speaker integrates with your Amazon account, meaning you can ask it for shopping recommendations, what the weather's going to be, to play music, or to integrate with your existing smart home fixtures (like turning lights on and off). This isn't the ideal music-lover's smart speaker (it's a bit too small for great sound), but as an all-around device it's a great addition for any technophile you're shopping for.
3. For the book lover: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon's latest Kindle Paperwhite, technically the 10th generation model, is the best one yet. Not only does it continue to do what Kindles do best—hold hundreds, perhaps thousands of novels, short stories, poems, comics, and PDFs—it's also waterproof, and features multiple colors and storage options with a battery that lasts weeks. It's no wonder the Paperwhite is #1 in our Best Kindles roundup.
4. For the one who's sick of wires: Samsung Galaxy Buds+
If your giftee has been pining for the pure wireless freedom of true wireless earbuds, Samsung's Galaxy Buds+ make a great gift. These are some of our favorite headphones that we reviewed in 2020, and they deliver high-quality sound, excellent features, and a comfortable fit for a price that notably undercuts the competition. In fact, they're altogether a better choice than Apple AirPods, and they're cheaper, too.
5. For the one who loves to game: Nintendo Switch
If you're shopping for a gamer and they don't have a Nintendo Switch yet, now's the time. Nintendo's latest home console delivers fun for kids of all ages, and doubles as both an on-the-TV device and a handheld device, giving it an unsurpassed amount of flexibility where gaming goes. With award-winning titles like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey at hand, the surprisingly hard-to-track-down Nintendo Switch is a winning gift for any gamer in 2020.
6. For the music lover: Sonos One SL
Sonos has been a leading name in home audio solutions for years, and the Sonos One SL is a testament to that legacy. We loved the One for its clean audio presentation, including crispy trebles and booming bass, as well as how easy it is to set up and interface with existing Sonos speakers in the home. While it's not a take-it-to-the-park speaker, as a home solution it offered better audio than anything we tested, and will definitely impress any music lover you might be shopping for.
7. For the podcast addict: Apple AirPods Pro
While they've been on the market for a couple of years, Apple's AirPods Pro are still some of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy—especially for iPhone users. While we've had some qualms about the comfort and audio quality of the original AirPods, the Pro variant is a major upgrade: much more comfortable, with better audio and great noise canceling.
8. For the home theater enthusiast: 55-inch TCL 6 Series TV
If you've got a giftee on your list this year who has been hoping to upgrade to a 4K/HDR TV, the 55-inch TCL 6 Series is an awesome pick. You're not paying nearly as much as you normally would for a bright, colorful, crisp picture bolstered by fancy tech like microLEDs and quantum dots. The 6 Series is HDR compatible, too, meaning it can play the latest and greatest video format. And to sweeten the pot, the built-in Roku platform is still our favorite TV smart platform, both robust and very easy to use.
9. For the music lover on the go: JBL Flip 5
JBL's "Flip" line of portable, waterproof Bluetooth speakers continue to top our list of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy. These rounded, meticulously designed speakers produce warm audio with plenty of bass and midrange, and with their rubber-capped ends and water-sealed inputs can be toted along on hikes, beach trips, or just out to the backyard without fear of damage. If your giftee likes to bring the jam wherever they go, a Bluetooth speaker may be the perfect gift.
10. For the serious cinephile: 55-inch LG CX 4K OLED TV
If you want the best of the best in TVs, it isn't cheap, but for dedicated, movie-loving, AV-club-attending, home-theater-having cinephiles, price might be no object. LG has been the uncontested leader in OLED TV production for many years now, and the company's 2020 CX series OLEDs continue the tradition of being one of the best TVs you can buy. OLEDs use emissive display technology that allows each pixel to produce its own light, making for purer colors and truly black shadows. That's not to mention the CX OLED is kitted out with a fetching design, snappy smart features, and all of the HDR/Dolby Vision/HDMI tech you can shake a stick at.
11. For the PC gamer who wants to be comfy: HyperX Cloud Alpha S
HyperX's comfy, gaming-facing line of headsets continue to warrant praise amongst console and PC gamers, and the HyperX Cloud Alpha S is one of our favorite gaming headsets currently. It may not be wireless, but if you've got a PC tower or laptop setup to stick by, these comfortable cans deliver excellent audio and microphone support, and feature very effective virtual 7.1 surround sound. They're also compatible with Sony's PS4, if you're more into gaming on the couch.
12. For the movie lover on a budget: Vizio V-Series 2.1 soundbar
Let's face it: TV audio tends to suck. While we love reviewing TVs, usually listening to them isn't amazing: that's why we also review soundbars. One of our favorite new soundbars is Vizio's "V-Series," a new-for-2020 soundbar and subwoofer combo that provides seriously good audio for the price. There's nothing too fancy going on here, but it's an easy plug-and-play solution for anyone looking to majorly upgrade their stock TV audio at a reasonable price.
13. For the one who wants movie theater sound: Sonos Arc
There's some great affordable soundbars out there, but if you want cinematic, room-filling sound that actually competes with the bone-rattling audio you'd get at a movie theater, check out the Sonos Arc. This is Sonos' first-ever Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbar, meaning it's capable not just of great stereo sound presentation, but of implementing Dolby's proprietary object-oriented and height-channel based audio solution, placing sound all around you in a room—yep, even overhead. Naturally, a soundbar this awesome doesn't come cheap, but if your giftee never misses movie night, this gift will blow them away.
14. For the dedicated listener: Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony's new WH-1000XM4 are simply amazing headphones—in fact, we think they're the best you can buy right now. Not only do these sound awesome, they're packed with the most useful headphone features you can get: awesome noise canceling (that automatically listens and adapts to your environment), wireless/Bluetooth connectivity, and a lightweight, comfortable design that you can wear for hours. If your giftee is serious about listening to music (and nothing else), these pricy cans will make their day.
15. For the one who needs to upgrade their TV: 43-inch TCL 4 Series
To be honest, you don't need to spend $1,500—or even $500—to upgrade your giftee's TV situation, especially if they haven't made the jump to 4K yet. The TCL 4 Series is one of our favorite options in this regard: you can get a solid mid-size 4K HDR TV from this series at a price that feels like a steal (because, honestly, it is).
16. For the serious mobile gamer: SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
If your giftee likes playing games wherever they go—on a smartphone, tablet, Nintendo Switch Lite, or whatever—SteelSeries' Arctis 1 Wireless gaming headset is an awesome choice. It's compatible with PC, PS4, Nintendo, Xbox, and basically all mobile devices for a very reasonable price, and delivers solid sound, good microphone clarity and plenty of comfort.
17. For the one whose big house needs better WiFi: Google Nest Mesh System
Maybe you've never heard of mesh WiFi systems—but we have, and we've tested lots of 'em. A mesh WiFi system is an excellent solution for essentially blanketing your entire home or apartment with high-speed WiFi. If you've got a giftee whose place is full of WiFi "dead zones," a mesh system might be just what they need. The Google Nest system is one of the best we tested, so it doesn't come cheap, but it's an excellent solution for anyone who just can't seem to stay connected.
18. For the committed distance learner: HP Envy x360 15.6-inch laptop
Whether your giftee is earning an online degree or simply forced to distance learn due to the global pandemic, a good laptop is a must. Even if you are attending school in person or on campus, HP's Envy x360 is a solid choice. It's flexible, powerful, and—for the specs you're getting in the 15.6-inch version—priced very fairly. If you've got a giftee who needs to gear up for school, this laptop is a solid pick.
19. For the one upgrading their home office: HP VH240a 23.8-inch monitor
A lot, a lot of people are working remotely now, maybe for the first time, and maybe for the foreseeable future. If one of your giftees is struggling to be productive enough during this new situation, why not gift them with a flexible, affordable computer monitor? Sometimes, a bigger, higher-contrast screen is all you need to get things done.
20. For those seeking luxurious streaming: Apple TV 4K
There's a lot of ways to stream content. If the "blech" end of the spectrum is watching hyper-compressed Netflix on your tiny phone during a 12-hour bus ride, the "yay" end of the spectrum is Apple TV 4K. This marvelously zippy, perfectly polished streaming box is for that giftee who loves binging and wants to do it in style.
21. For the shutterbug traveler: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10
If you've got a giftee who loves traveling and taking photos, needs something more robust than a smartphone, but doesn't want a huge, clunky camera, say no more. The longstanding Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10 is one of our very favorite travel cameras. It's not cheap, but it's a sight more affordable than many high-end DSLRs, powerful enough to take excellent photos, and compact enough to slide into a pants pocket.
22. For the aspiring vinyl record collector: Crosley C6 turntable
It's a big debate about whether analog vinyl recordings actually sound "better" or "warmer" than digitally formatted audio files, but one thing's for sure: the ritual of laying a well-loved record on a vinyl player and listening to it as the musicians and producer intended will always be a special experience. If you've got a giftee who might be eager to collect records but needs a viable turntable, the Crosley C6 is one of our top picks. It delivers modern turntable fixin's with a classic look and feel.
23. For the one with too many remotes: Logitech Harmony Companion
We all know that one giftee whose living room feels like a defunct Radio Shack. A remote for the TV, the soundbar, the Blu-ray or DVD player, etc., scattered haphazardly about the room. Enough's enough—gift that friend a Logitech Harmony Companion, one of the best universal remotes we've tested. Sure, they might have to do a bit of programming and tinkering to bring all their disparate devices into the Harmony hive-mind, but we promise they'll thank you for being so thoughtful.
24. For youngsters who love to listen: Puro Labs PuroQuiet Kids' Headphones
If you've got kids, or know some kids, who love listening close to music, we think that's marvelous—but, especially for younger kids, they need to be extra careful about protecting their ears from excessive noise. That's where these awesome Puro Labs headphones come in: they're tuned not to exceed volumes that would cause damage, while ensuring balanced sound and noise canceling to also deliver beautiful music to those young ears.
25. For the one who always needs more power: Jackery Supercharge
If you've got a giftee who always seems to chronically suffer from poorly-charged devices—a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, for example—a portable battery pack like the Jackery Supercharge might be just what they need. While it doesn't have as many charging ports as some of the other power banks we tested, we loved it for its sheer charging power and sturdy materials.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.