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Best Tech Gifts: Holiday Gadget Buying Guide

Tech gifts are in demand during the holidays, but something expensive like a smartphone isn’t always in the cards. Apple Inc. (AAPL) would love you to hand out a $749+ iPhone 6 Plus to everyone, but that’s probably not a realistic expectation.


Source: Sony

Fortunately, you don’t have to go bankrupt to get friends and family some of the best tech gifts available. There are plenty of cool gadgets that can satisfy that technology craving without costing you a mortgage payment.

The 2014 edition of our best tech gifts list has suggestions for gadget gifts that should make anyone happy.

Best Tech Gifts — Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Headphones


Source: Sennheiser

Apple’s recently acquired Beats seems to have a lock on the “cool premium headphone” scene.

However, there are headphones that sound a heck of a lot better.

Case in point: the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Headphones. I had a pair of these cans for testing a while back, and they’re one of the best sets of headphones I’ve used.

The Momentum headphones are comfortable, with premium materials and a better, more balanced sound than most Beats models. They may lack the “b” logo, but they look very high end, and at $199.95 the Sennheisers are comparable in price to Beats Solo On-Ear headphones.

I’d take the Momentums any day.

Best Tech Gifts — August Smart Lock


Source: August

I had a smart lock installed last year and I have to say that, while it certainly appeals to the tech lover in me, it’s downright useful, too.

The latest and most buzz-worthy entry to the smart lock field is the August smart lock, which could be one of the best tech gifts for fans of high-tech security.

This easy-to-install motorized and connected deadbolt is powered by four AA batteries (don’t worry, it messages you when they get low).

With the attractive aluminum August installed, you can issue encrypted “keys” to other people to use via their smartphones. The keys can be for specific times, every entry is logged, and you can also configure it to automatically unlock as you approach the door.

And an old-school physical key still works, too.

Best Tech Gifts — Sony Cyber-shot RX100


Source: Sony

Why would anyone want a digital camera if their smartphone has a perfectly good shooter built-in?

That question has been hitting digital camera makers hard, but the fact remains that a good standalone camera can usually do a better job. It has a better lens, optical zoom and a larger image sensor.

If you care about photos, you’ll still want a camera, which is why the Cyber-shot RX100 is one of the best tech gifts for the photographers in your life.

Sony (SNE) has won many awards for its RX100 and for good reason. The very compact point-and-shoot has a pop-up flash, 3.6x optical zoom (with manual focus capabilities), and a big, 1-inch CMOS image sensor.

For any photography fans, this translates into a $449 pocketable camera that will blow away your smartphone’s capabilities without having to lug around a DSLR and lenses.

Best Tech Gifts — Nvidia Shield Tablet and Controller


Source: Nvidia

Last year, Nvidia (NVDA) was making waves with Project Shield, its all-in-one handheld that made streaming PC gaming portable.

The Shield Portable is stall available, but the bigger and badder version is the Shield Tablet ($299) and Controller ($60) combo — one of the best tech gifts out there, full stop.

This gets you one of the most powerful 8-inch Android tablets out there, with access to all the games on Google (GOOG) Play.

As befits a machine dedicated to gaming, the Nvidia Shield Tablet has a full HD display and front-facing speakers with a dual bass reflex port — which makes for great explosions when you blow up your enemies.

Hardcore gamers know those Android apps just don’t match the experience of PC titles. That’s where the streaming comes in. You can stream games from a PC to play on the Shield tablet (using the Shield controller for the ultimate experience), or stream one of 20 “blockbuster” PC games directly from Nvidia’s GRID service, including hits like Batman: Arkham City and Borderlands 2.

Best Tech Gifts — DJI Phantom Drone Quadcopter


Source: DJI

There’s no disputing the cool factor of drones, especially when equipped with a camera for aerial photography. They are among the most in-demand gadget gifts this year.

There are plenty of drones on the market for $200 or less and lots that go for more than $1,000. One of the best-known is the DJI Phantom, and with DJI releasing a follow-up this year, the original has dropped to a more affordable $479 on Amazon (AMZN).

The Phantom is worth the extra expenditure over other models, and makes one of the best tech gifts for anyone who’s a fan of flight.

The phantom is consistently a top pick among reviewers and has GPS compensation for wind. It arrives virtually ready to go, can fly at 22 mph, goes for 15 minutes on a charge and has an automatic fail-safe (returns to launch site if contact with the remote is lost).

Plus it has a mount for a GoPro (GPRO) camera, so you can record all your excursions and share them with friends.

Best Tech Gifts — Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Smart Router


Source: Linksys

A wireless router … seriously? How boring is that?

The thing is, many homes added wireless routers a few years ago as they went with their own Wi-Fi network. And they haven’t touched them since.

Meanwhile, connected devices have exploded in popularity — smartphones, game consoles, TVs, thermostats, tablets and more. Online gaming has taken off, in HD no less. And video streaming has gone big, with Netflix (NFLX) even offering some shows in 4K.

Many home Wi-Fi networks are seriously under-performing under the strain. Devices like new iPhones can use the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, but older routers don’t support it, so users don’t see the speed they could.

I’ve tested many new Wi-Fi routers this year and the Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Smart Router was the most impressive.

It supports the new, faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, it has power to spare (great for those dead zones) and supports high-tech features like beamforming. For the tinkerers, you can even install open source firmware.

This is one of those high-tech gifts that makes all your other gear better. And it looks pretty cool too, at as far as routers go.

Best Tech Gifts — Philips Hue

LED lights are finally becoming cheap enough to buy without thinking twice, but you might consider spending the extra on so-called smart LEDs like the Philips (PHG) Hue.

I bought a Hue kit in 2012 and these color-changing, smartphone-controlled, programmable LEDs continue to be a conversation piece. At the same time, they save money on power, contribute to our holiday decorating (one touch and they are red and green) and became part of our home security setup.

Philips has continued to release additional Hue bulbs, so you can get someone a starter kit, or if someone already has a Hue installation, you can buy individual bulbs in various form factors — even standalone mood lighting lamps and LED lightstrips.

The whole setup is controlled by your smartphone. And like many of the best tech gifts, Hue gets even better with apps. I have one that pulses the lights to the beat of music playing — it can instantly transform any living room with Hue bulbs into a holiday disco.

And, really, who wouldn’t want that?

As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2014/11/best-tech-gifts/.

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