Have you finished your holiday gift shopping? Most people haven’t. Besides, the natural instinct to procrastinate as long as possible, there are opportunities like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and then the sales leading up to Christmas to take advantage of. Our holiday gift guide for high-tech gifts under $500 should help.
We’ve put together a list of 10 of the hottest and coolest gadgets currently on the market. The ones that make the best gifts.
These are big names like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), but also some less known brands. Just because they don’t have a multi-million dollar marketing budget, doesn’t mean some of these devices aren’t worth considering.
Our 2016 edition guide for gifts under $500 will help you find the best high tech gift for anyone on your list.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): Amazon Echo
Smart, connected speakers are turning into the must-have gadget this year and they make great gifts.
Powered by Alexa — Amazon.com, Inc’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) personal voice assistant — the Echo is a Wi-Fi speaker that connects to the internet. You can order products from Amazon by voice, ask questions and even control a huge range of third-party smart home devices.
The Echo is also a gift that keeps giving. Owners get a serious discount on Amazon Music Unlimited and this year, the company even offered exclusive pre-Black Friday deals only through Alexa.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): Apple Watch Nike+
Apple makes the best-selling smartwatch in the Apple Watch, and it’s now on its second generation.
That brings improvements like greater water resistance, snappier performance, a better display and a built-in GPS.
It also brings a partnership with Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE). The Apple Watch Nike+ is expected to be a hot seller. It offers a full Apple Watch experience, exclusive Nike style and integration with the Nike+ Run Club app for fitness enthusiasts.
Priced from $369, it’s an affordable smartwatch for the fitness and fashion set.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): DJI Phantom 3 Standard Drone
Drones are one of the best gifts you could choose for someone who loves remote piloting, or aerial photography.
And when it comes to drones, China’s DJI is the undisputed leader.
Its latest drones can quickly cost thousands of dollars, but the previous generation DJI Phantom 3 Standard — still one of the best consumer drones on the market — is currently going for $499. That price even includes an integrated, 12MP HD camera.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): Raumfeld One M Wi-Fi Speaker
You may not have heard of Raumfeld before, but chances are you’ve heard of Sonos.
Raumfeld is a German audio company. Already well known in Europe, it launched a line of premium Wi-Fi speakers in North America in 2016.
The $499 Raumfeld One M is a great choice for a music lover who wants a high performance wireless speaker that can become part of a multi-room audio setup — similar to a Sonos system. It combines premium audio with a uniquely minimalist Bauhaus design.
The only thing that keeps the One M from being perfect is the lack of support for Apple Airplay, although that is under consideration as a firmware update in 2017.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): Fluance RT81 Turntable
Speaking of music, streaming is big of course, but when it comes to hot — vinyl is it.
That’s right, vinyl continues to grow in popularity, despite unlimited streaming plans and records going for $30 a pop.
Playing those expensive records on the colorful suitcase units you see at the mall can damage them. But audiophile turntables can easily hit $1,000 or more.
Fluance has a really nice option this year in the RT81 turntable. At $249, it’s affordable and that price includes a well-reviewed Audiotechnica AT95E stylus. The build is solid MDF with an attractive walnut finish.
And with its built-in pre-amp, you can connect the Fluance RT81 Turntable directly to virtually any speaker, including wireless and portable units.
Very retro, very well made and the perfect gift for vinyl lovers.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): GoPro Hero 5 Black
Anyone who likes to film their sports exploits and latest stunts would love to receive an action camera.
The $400 Hero 5 Black features a ruggedized housing that protects it from bumps, and water to a depth of 33 feet. The 4K video is stabilized, it features a built-in GPS and the Hero 5 Black has voice control — making it easier than ever to capture amazing, hands-free action shots.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): Linksys EA9500 Router
If you look in any gift guide over the last several years, it’s going to be full of connected devices.
All that gear using Wi-Fi, plus the surge in popularity of 4K video and gaming, and suddenly many home Wi-Fi networks are staggering under the demand.
That’s why the gift of a new Wi-Fi router can make you a holiday hero. Your gift makes everything else better. The $400 Linksys EA9500 may not be pretty, but it’s one of the best performers out there.
With state-of-the art technology like Tri-band Wi-Fi, MU-MIMO support, seamless roaming and eight powered antennas, this router is capable of up to 5400 Mbps throughput, blowing away most Wi-Fi competitors.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): Playstation 4 Pro
Got a gamer on your shopping list?
Starting at $399 (depending on storage), the PS4 Pro offers 4K and HDR video support. But it also lets you play native 4K video games. The PS4 Pro supports Playstation VR for the bleeding edge crowd (although they’ll need the virtual reality headset for that).
Just make sure they have a 4K TV or this graphics horsepower is wasted.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): Jaybird Freedom Bluetooth Wireless Ear Buds
Wireless Bluetooth headphones are hugely popular with fitness fanatics.
Most aren’t truly wireless — there’s a thin cable connecting the two earbuds, but close enough.
Apple has many iPhone fans wrapped up with its Powerbeats 3, but many people who actually wear wireless earbuds for their workouts have a different favorite: Jaybird’s Freedom wireless buds.
The Freedoms are tiny, they’re sweatproof, they fit amazingly securely and the sound is excellent … for ear buds. The company supplies a generous selection of premium accessories like Comply memory foam ear tips, which certainly helps on both first and audio.
Battery life is rated at eight hours, so you can get in three or four workouts before having to recharge these wireless ear buds.
Apple fans can even get them in Rose Gold (exclusive to Apple Stores) and best of all, at $179.99 they’ll save you a few bucks over those Powerbeats 3 ear buds as well.
Holiday Gift Guide 2016 (Best Gifts Under $500): Apple iPad Mini 4
Finally, a reminder that tablets may not be as popular as they were a few years ago, but they’re still something many people enjoy using.
If someone on your shopping list could use a tablet — or if they’ve been holding on to an older one for so long it’s incapable of running newer apps — the iPad Mini 4 is worth considering.
It’s the perfect size for casual use, thinner than ever and this fourth generation of Apple’s smallest iPad offers some impressive specs. Storage starts at 32GB, there’s a high resolution Retina display, Touch ID, stereo speaker and an A8 chip for zippy performance.
That’s not as fast as an iPad Pro, but the iPad Mini 4 is much more affordably priced, starting at $399.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.