Best Gifts 2014
Whether you're buying a high-tech token of affection for that special someone or a birthday gift for mom, everyone loves gadgets. However, finding the right gift can be a challenge with so many compelling products vying for your attention. Fortunately, we've picked the best products to get you started.
11 Great Gadget Gift Ideas
The gold standard for tablets, Apple's iPad just keeps getting better. Considerably more portable than its predecessors, the 9.7-inch iPad Air weighs just 1 pound and is only 0.29 inches thick. Along with the largest tablet app ecosystem, the iPad Air also sports some impressive features, including a gorgeous 2048 x 1536-pixel screen, a 64-bit Apple A7 processor and nearly 12 hours of battery life.
Starting Price: $499
A smartwatch that looks more like a fashion statement than a geeky tool, the Pebble Steel is made out of stainless steel and comes with both metal and leather bands. The waterproof watch pairs with your iPhone or Android handset and delivers important alerts to your wrist, allowing you to see incoming emails, social media messages and calls without reaching into your pocket. Better still, Pebble has more than 1,000 apps, including entries from big names such as Yelp, ESPN and Foursquare.
If your giftees have Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go or another streaming service, the Roku 3 could change their lives. Instead of watching these video services on the PC or phone, the Roku 3 connects directly to the TV and allows users to browse all their selections like they would with a cable box. Unlike the less-expensive Roku models, version 3 lets you play games with its remote control and view content on USB drives or microSD cards.
Now starting at $999, the 13-inch MacBook Air is the best laptop for the money and therefore a fantastic gift. They'll love the more than 12 hours of battery life, as well as the comfortable keyboard and silky smooth trackpad. Plus, the new OS X Yosemite software makes it easy to take iPhone calls from your Mac or pick up where you left off on a text message. You get all of this in a premium aluminum design that everyone else continues to copy.
Starting Price: $999
A great tablet gift for the money, the $149 ASUS MeMO Pad 7 is available in multiple colors and delivers strong Intel performance. This 7-inch Android slate packs a sharp 1280 x 800-pixel IPS display along with ASUS' slick ZenUI software, which brings useful tools and settings to Google's OS without feeling like bloatware. Expect a fairly good 7.5 hours of battery life.
Starting Price: $149
Available on all four major U.S. carriers, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has everything they want in a smartphone. This Android device boasts a beautiful 5.1-inch full HD Super AMOLED display that delivers rich colors and wide viewing angles. It also sports a long-lasting battery, one that you can replace or swap up -- unlike the iPhone. Other highlights include a sharp 16-MP camera with a real-time HDR mode to help you get the best shot and a water-resistant body that can shrug off splashes.
For the person on your list who wants to be more active, a fitness tracker such as the Jawbone Up24 is a no-brainer. For less than $150, this wearable syncs with your smartphone via Bluetooth and lets you track everything from steps and miles to calories burned and even sleep. Plus, the app offers intuitive diet tracking, so they'll always have a full picture of their health. The Up24 also suggests goals based on your activity and sleeping pattern.
Starting Price: $149
Help them make a splash at their next party -- or whenever -- with the Fugoo Bluetooth Speaker. Not only does this compact speaker fit in one hand, it's waterproof. They'll love the sound quality even more, as the Fugoo delivers both excellent bass and treble along with plenty of volume. Plus, this gadget doubles as a speakerphone and is rated to last a whopping 40 hours on a charge.
Starting Price: $199
If the person on your list wants to take great-looking photos, look no farther than the Nikon D3300. For less than $600, this DSLR captures delivers sharp and clear images with accurate color, as well as smooth video. Plus, the retracting lens makes for a relatively compact design. Overall, the D3300 is a superb choice for shutterbugs stepping up from a point-and-shoot or smartphone camera.
Starting Price: $599
Give the music lover on your list a stylish and great-sounding pair of headphones in the V-Moda XS. The sleek, foldable design will turn heads, while the full and balanced audio will please her ears. And if your giftee really wants to stand out in the crowd, she can customize the side plates. Not bad at all for $199.
Starting Price: $199
One of the most unique gifts of the year is also one of the most powerful. The Shield Tablet is an Android slate and gaming console in one. The optional $60 wireless controller turns this tablet into a gaming powerhouse, letting you play the latest first-person shooters with deadly precision. And if the gamer on your list has a gaming desktop, he can stream the latest PC games right to the device, which you can plug into your TV. Bonus: a built-in stylus lets them take notes or draw in between fragging sessions.
Starting Price: $299