Tech gifts come in all shapes and sizes, including headphones, e-readers, trackers and more. Whether they need a pair of new wireless earbuds for their workout routine or a smart speaker to help around the kitchen, we’ve rounded up the best tech gifts we recommend to anyone on your list.
SKIP AHEAD: Bestselling tech gifts for homebodies, travelers, gamers, the outdoors and athletes
How we picked the best tech gifts
At NBC Select, we keep tabs on everything new and notable in the tech and electronics world. Our job has us trying dozens of personal, home, travel, wellness and gaming tech products to find what’s worth buying.
To recommend the best tech gifts, we asked Select staff for their favorite recommendations and referenced products we have covered previously. As shopping experts, we also included gift ideas we think you should know based on top-selling and top-searched products.
Bestselling tech gifts
The Apple AirTag is a great gift for anyone who tends to misplace essentials like keys or bags, in our experience. It connects via Apple’s FindMy app and can show precisely where the AirTag is located. It does not come with a strap, so adding something like this Belkin AirTag holder can help make it more versatile. It’s also our top pick for travel accessories available on Amazon.
Apple may have launched the Watch Series 9, but the Series 8 is just as capable and is being sold at a discounted price at most retailers. Voted best fitness tracker in our Select Wellness Awards, this is a top smartwatch for iPhone users tracking fitness-, health- and sleep-related data. Unlike other smartwatches, the screen on this water-resistant watch is always on, making it easier to check the time or notifications at a glance, in my experience. The watch comes in two different sizes with dozens of watch band options.
If they love to read or listen to audiobooks, the Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best e-readers. “You can read it outside in bright sunlight, and unlike a laptop, there’s no glare — you can see your pages clearly,” says NBC Select editor Lindsay Schneider. You can also pair this device with Bluetooth earbuds and listen to audiobooks with an Audible subscription. The battery lasts up to 10 weeks, according to the brand.
Tech gifts for homebodies
Our favorite Amazon Echo speaker, this smart speaker is a favorite of NBC Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin. She has used it in her home for over a year to set timers, play music, answer questions with Amazon Alexa, listen to the news and more. It connects over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and must be plugged in to use.
One of our favorite digital picture frames, this touchscreen frame has 32GB of storage (in other words, it can store up to 80,000 photos) and an HD (720p) resolution. They can flip the frame to switch it from portrait to landscape mode and can share photos to the frame through the Dragon Touch app, via email, an SD card or a USB drive, according to the brand.
This is Apple’s most affordable iPad, and the one that I have used at home for years to stream videos, follow recipes, read articles and FaceTime family during downtime. While it seemed like an unnecessary purchase at first (I already own a phone and a laptop), it is now one of my most used pieces of tech. It can also be set up as a second screen when paired with a Macbook. It comes in two colors with 64GB and 256GB storage options.
This smart home gadget is a doorbell and security camera with two-way audio, allowing you to talk and listen to visitors remotely through the Amazon Alexa smartphone app. You can install it into existing doorbell wiring or wire-free with the built-in rechargeable battery, according to the brand. Through the Alexa app, you can set up notifications for the doorbell, including options for motion detection and night vision.
Tech gifts for travelers
You might not always have access to reliable power when traveling. For Select’s frequent flyers and outdoor adventurers, Anker portable power banks are a go-to travel accessory and gifting staple. This pocketable charger plugs directly into the Lightning port on most iPhones, iPads and AirPods, and can deliver almost one full charge to smaller devices, according to the brand.
This power bank also comes in a USB-C version compatible with Android phones and newer iPhones and iPads.
I love the design of this protective laptop case — it has a zipper closure plus extra layers of padding around the corners to protect your device from bumps and bruises on your journey. Using it, I feel reassured that my laptop is secure and isn’t going to get un-buckled or slide out, regardless of how I travel. The zipper pocket on the top can store any extra cables or earbuds if needed. The sleeve comes in multiple colors and is available in 13-inch, 14-inch, 15-inch and 16-inch sizes.
If they are constantly trying to tune out car, bus, train or plane noise, consider the gift of silence via these noise-canceling over-ear headphones. Sony makes some of the best noise-canceling headphones, and I have used this pair for over three years to tune out plane noise, loud neighbors, office chatter and more. You can control your media by tapping and swiping the right earcup’s surface, which is touch-sensitive. The headphones fold at the hinges and also come with a wired connection, making them great for compact travel and plugging into airplane seat back systems.
Sony has since released a newer model, the XM5s, but those headphones do not fold down into a small size like the XM4s.
If they have been meaning to upgrade their laptop, Apple’s M1 Macbook Air is still a fantastic choice, especially for frequent travelers. It is one of Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptops, with a compact 13.3-inch screen and 2.8-pound weight, making it well-suited to transit and remote work. It uses Apple’s M1 chip inside, which delivers improved performance and battery life (up to 18 hours) compared to previous iterations of the MacBook Air, according to the brand. We’ve found this laptop’s keyboard to be much improved compared to Apple’s pre-2019 laptops.
Tech gifts for gamers
If his favorite handheld gaming console is his smartphone, this mobile gaming controller is an excellent companion that adds a comfortable grip and additional button controls to your phone, in my experience. The controller connects to the iPhone’s charging port and mounts to both sides of the phone, creating a traditional-feeling controller grip. The brand keeps a list of all the mobile games that are compatible with the Backbone One — see if their favorites are on the list.
We’ve linked the Lightning port version, but it also comes in a USB-C version compatible with Android phones and the new iPhone 15.
If they loved The Legend of Zelda: A Breath of the Wild, this sequel is a must-play and one of the best Nintendo Switch games. My favorite additions are the new abilities that let you telekinetically grab objects, move them around and fuse them together, creating unique solutions to combat and puzzles. The environment is also much larger, with islands in the sky and an entire world underground.
This gaming headset will let them hear the game and their friends comfortably and with clarity, in our experience. It works with computers, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and more — whatever their gaming device is, this headset is likely to be compatible thanks to the near-universal 3.5mm headphone cable. They can control game and microphone volume using the on-cable dials, according to the brand.
The headset is also available in a wireless version, although that model is only compatible with PlayStation and computer systems.
Tech gifts for the outdoors
A staff-favorite Bluetooth speaker, I love this pick because it is compact, waterproof and loud. I’ve never had to push the volume over 70 percent, despite being small and lightweight at 1.17 pounds. The speaker has a small fabric loop you can pair with a carabiner to clip to most things. It is also IP67 water and dustproof and can float in water. It has a battery life of up to 14 hours, according to the brand.
Tech gifts for athletes
One of the best fitness trackers, especially for beginners, the FitBit Charge 5 makes it easy to track basic fitness and health data like steps, heart rate, sleep quality, exercise distances, pace and more, in my experience. One of my favorite things about this fitness tracker is the seven-day battery life, which is much longer than most tech gadgets. The tracker works with Apple and Android devices using the FitBit app.
Massage guns are an easy way for anyone to recover post-workout or just loosen up sore muscles. This travel-friendly model won a Select Wellness Award for its portable size, three adjustable speeds and long 150 minute battery life. It comes with a soft case, charging cable and standards ball head attachment.
Often on sale for under $100, the Jabra Elite 4 Active are wireless earbuds with noise-canceling, water and dust resistance and a pocketable size. They are easy earbuds to gift because they are compatible with both Apple and Android phones using the cross-platform Jabra Sound+ app. The earbuds are rated for up to 28 hours of battery life between the buds and the charging case, and charge via USB-C.
If they are looking for an immersive and unique gaming experience, the Meta Quest 2 is one of our favorite VR headsets and gifts for gamers. It has a wide variety of VR games and apps that display through its high-resolution screen, and the headset can be worn and used wirelessly. For their first VR game, I recommend Beat Saber — a fun rhythm game that mixes music and exercise in an energetic and colorful way.
While Meta is launching the Meta Quest 3, we think the Quest 2 is still a great entry point into VR at a lower price.
Why trust Select?
Harry Rabinowitz is a reporter at Select who has written product and gift guides for over three years, including gift guides focused on gaming, cycling and more. For this guide, he chose products from Select’s past coverage and top-rated items from online marketplaces like Amazon and Best Buy.