Tech gifts come in all shapes and sizes, including headphones, e-readers, Bluetooth 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.
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 you attach it to luggage or a bag while traveling. It’s also our top pick for travel accessories available on Amazon.
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 is an award winner from our Giftable Tech Awards. It 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.
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
The Echo Dot smart speaker was ranked as an editors pick in our guide to Amazon Echo speakers. It is also 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, listen to the news, answer questions with Amazon Alexa and more. It connects over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The Dragon Touch is one of our favorite digital picture frames. It has 32GB of storage (in other words, it can store up to 80,000 photos) and an HD (720p) resolution. Flip the frame to switch it from portrait to landscape mode and 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 tablet 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 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
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 entertainment systems.
Sony has since released a newer model, the XM5s, but those headphones do not fold down into a small size like the XM4s, making them bulkier and harder to travel with.
If they have been meaning to upgrade their laptop, Apple’s M1 Macbook Air, despite its age, is still one of our favorite laptops, 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, 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 also found this laptop’s keyboard to be much improved compared to Apple’s pre-2019 laptops.
Tech gifts for gamers
If their favorite handheld gaming console is their 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 controller grip. The brand also 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.
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 immersive VR games and apps, a high-resolution screen and wireless capabilities. For their first VR game, I recommend Beat Saber — a fun rhythm game that mixes music and exercise in an energetic and colorful way.
Meta recently launched the Meta Quest 3, and while that product has big improvements, we think the Quest 2 is still a great entry point into VR at nearly half the cost.
This is one of the best keyboards and a Select Giftable Tech Awards winner. It is compact and frees up a lot of space on any desk compared to a traditional full-size keyboard. The condensed design leaves more room for sweeping mouse movements, something I personally do more often when gaming. It is highly adjustable, comes with a carrying case and has multicolor backlit keys.
Tech gifts for the outdoors
A Giftable Tech Awards winner and staff favorite Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Clip can be your music companion, no matter where you go. It has a built-in carabiner that lets you clip the speaker onto anything — we’ve clipped it to bags, backpacks, belt loops, tripods and so much more. It’s small, lightweight (about half a pound) and has IP67 dust and water resistance, making it perfect for travel or even just hanging in the shower (we’ve done both).
If they have ever been interested in drones or outdoor photography, this is one of the best drones for beginners. It is made by DJI, the largest drone brand, and shares many features of their more expensive models: namely battery life, speed and range. The camera captures photos in 4K and videos in quad-HD (1440p) resolutions. To fly, they can mount their smartphone to the included DJI controller and use the DJI Fly app.
Tech gifts for athletes
One of the best fitness trackers, especially for beginners, the Fitbit Charge 6 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 up to seven-day battery life, which is much longer than most tech gadgets. The tracker works with Apple and Android devices using the FitBit app.
This latest Apple watch is the one that always stays on my wrist, even when I try out other options. It’s a top smartwatch for iPhone users tracking fitness-, health- and sleep-related data. Unlike other smartwatches, the screen on this water-resistant watch has an always-on feature, making it easier to check the time or notifications at a glance, in my experience. New features include a brighter screen, faster speeds and the new “double tap” gesture (read our full Apple Watch Series 9 review for more on that feature). The watch comes in two different sizes with dozens of watch band options.
Massage guns are an easy way for anyone to recover post-workout or just loosen up sore muscles. This model is lightweight and simple to use. It has one button that allows you to turn the massager on, off and change between three-speeds. It comes with three ball-head attachments (wide, standard and narrow), and has up to 2 hours of battery life, according to the brand. I have used it to relieve sore muscles post-workout or bike ride.
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.
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.