Most of us have someone on our holiday shopping list who’s into cool gadgets and is hoping to find a high-tech gift under the tree.
Fortunately, some of the most popular consumer electronics can be had for under $500, even from manufacturers of premium-priced gear like Apple Inc. (AAPL).
To help you choose, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the best, covering everything from tablets to video game consoles.
Many of these Christmas gift ideas are still big-ticket items, but at this price point they won’t break the bank and you’ll be getting a high-quality device that’s going to make someone’s day.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Apple iPad Mini 4
Apple’s iPad Mini 4 may just be the best value in a premium, high-performance tablet.
It’s 30% faster than last year’s version, equipped with the iSight camera from the iPhone 6, rocks a fully laminated display for even better color and crisper text, and at 0.24 inches thick and just 0.65 pounds, it’s perfect for carrying around.
At $399 for the 16GB iPad Mini 4, it’s also Apple’s most affordable current-generation tablet.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Fitbit Charge HR
No one sells more wearables than Fitbit (FIT), a company built around activity tracking.
Anyone on your Christmas list who’s at all into tracking their personal fitness will appreciate the $149.95 Fitbit Charge HR.
It’s extremely lightweight and low profile, tracks activity (including heart rate and sleep), syncs wirelessly to your iPhone or Android smartphone and is rain- and splash-proof.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Microsoft Xbox One
Got a gamer in the house who’s still using an Xbox 360?
This is the year to consider upgrading to a Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox One.
Microsoft’s latest-generation video game console has gained a ton of features this year — including backwards compatibility with a library of Xbox 360 games and streaming to a Windows 10 PC — and Microsoft is offering $299 holiday bundles.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Sony Playstation 4
There’s another game console option that happens to be one of the more popular gift ideas of 2015: Sony’s (SNE) Playstation 4.
The PS4 has been thoroughly trouncing the Xbox One in sales, so gamers are definitely on board with Sony’s latest take on gaming.
Like Microsoft, Sony is also offering a range of PS4 bundles for the holiday season, although these are priced a little higher than the Xbox equivalents at $350.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Apple TV 4
One of the latest cool gadgets to come out of Cupertino in 2015 is the Apple TV 4.
Apple’s new media streamer has been seriously revamped compared to previous versions (read our review here), with a powerful CPU, an App Store, Siri voice control and gaming capability.
The Apple TV 4 is priced at $149 or $199, depending on how much onboard storage you choose.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Fugoo Tough XL Wireless Speaker
Wireless speakers make great Christmas gift ideas (in fact, we’ve listed a few here).
Many people will choose Apple’s Beats Pill+, purely because of the Beats name.
But the $330 Fugoo Tough XL offers a lot more speaker for a small premium over the Beats price. You get eight acoustic drivers with 360-degree sound, 38 watts of power, 35 hours of battery life, the ability to recharge a mobile device and the Tough XL is everything proof — mudproof, waterproof, snowproof and shockproof.
This wireless speaker is also equipped with a microphone and supports both Siri and Google Now.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Google Nexus 6P
If someone on your holiday shopping list has been holding on to their old mobile phone a little too long, how about a new smartphone?
That means you can give someone a premium flagship smartphone, with a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display, an upscale anodized aluminum body and running the latest version of Android for under $500 — no contract required.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Microsoft Surface 3
When it comes to cool gadgets, Microsoft’s Surface Book may just have won 2015. But it’s expensive.
You can get the Windows 10 mobile experience with Microsoft’s Surface 3 tablet, starting at $499. This device does all the usual tablet stuff, but is equipped with an Intel (INTC) CPU and runs Windows 10 along with Windows software.
Add an optional Type Cover and the Surface 3 transforms into a passable laptop replacement. Not quite a Surface Book, but still pretty cool.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless Headphones
For the audiophile on your list, wireless headphones are one of the more popular gift ideas.
Going wire-free is liberating, but you don’t want to give up sound quality by doing so.
Bowers & Wilkins is one of the best names in sound reproduction and the company’s new $399.99 P5 Wireless Headphones will win over any music fan with 40mm drivers, 0.4% THD, aptX support and 17-hour battery life.
Christmas Gift Ideas Under $500: Apple Watch Sport
Many technology fans are hoping they’ll get a smartwatch this year.
While there are plenty of compelling Android Wear options, and Pebble continues to be a contender, the runaway success in the smartwatch market has been the Apple Watch.
So long as your recipient carries an iPhone, you can’t go wrong with an Apple Watch. And with the Apple Watch Sport starting at $349, the gadget is relatively affordable.
Some retailers have been offering Apple Watch discounts of up to $100 during the holiday shopping season, making the price even more attractive.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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