It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is only 11 days away. That means 12 days from now is Black Friday and just three days later, Cyber Monday. It’s time to start targeting those once-a-year deals to help brighten the holidays for that special someone on your list.
Last year, new computers from Apple and Microsoft, home automation hubs like the Wink and SmartThings hubs, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, Amazon Echo, drones, smartwatches and streaming media devices were the hot items. Many still are, but so are several that didn’t make my list last year.
So what’s hot this year? What’s not. Yes, that is a statement, not a question. Just about everything in the tech universe is hot this holiday season.
Most notably, the new iPhone X, which is pronounced iPhone 10. While it’s hot, it’s not without concern. Reports of how easy the new iPhone X is to break are a concern, due to its increased use of glass on both the front and back surfaces. That said, this is not the first iPhone to be glass, so as long as you have a reasonably good protective case on the iPhone, you should be fine.
So what makes the iPhone X so hot? Namely, it’s the screen and cameras. The iPhone X sold out almost immediately, so it may be tough to get your hands on one this holiday season, but you may still want to try. Gone is the home button, replaced with Face ID facial recognition. Time will tell if this new biometric security technology will displace the fingerprint. Reports are mixed at this point. What’s not up for debate is the larger beautiful display and the enhanced camera array and enhanced processor that make this the best iPhone yet.
Microsoft is releasing the new Xbox One S just in time for holiday season. This latest edition of the popular gaming platform is a sure winner for any gamer on your list. The Xbox continues to push the boundaries of traditional video entertainment and gaming, with full support for prior game versions, like those developed for the Xbox 360. With full 4K support, it also becomes an entertainment hub, able to stream your favorite video services like Netflix as well as play multiplayer games against people around the world.
Speaking of 4K TV, there will surely be some amazing deals on 4K TVs this holiday season. Personally, I’m a big fan of Samsung smart TVs, but there are plenty of excellent brands like LG, Sony and more that are worth considering. If you have not seen a 4K TV, do yourself a favor and go to a store and see one in person. The definition is absolutely impressive. It’s as real as it gets and you should expect to be able to get a 65-inch 4K TV in the $500 to $700 range, depending on make and overall specifications. It will make the recipient a very happy person, especially if they are a sports fan.
Voice-activated smart speakers are another white hot item. Amazon Echo and Google Home are the main players, but not to be outdone, Microsoft and Apple and dipping their toes into the market as well. Without doubt, Amazon’s Echo line of smart speakers is the absolute leader. You should expect some great deals from Amazon on Cyber Monday for the entire Echo line, which seems to expand just about every month. There are now five different models you can choose from, the Echo Plus, Echo and Echo Dot for voice-activated speakers. The Dot being the smallest and one Amazon would like to see in every room of your home. There is also the Echo Show and Echo Spot, which also bring video to the experience, both for delivering scrolling content you can view as well as video calling between devices at your home and others. The Google Home and Google Home Mini are also quite good, but as I said before, Amazon is the clear market leader.
The other big player in the home speaker space is Sonos and if you want an excellent home speaker solution that is wireless, easy to setup and manage and delivers absolutely excellent sound, Sonos is your answer. There should be good deals this holiday season for Sonos components to build out a robust home audio solution. Sonos has even integrated Amazon’s Alexa into one of its models, so you could have the best of both worlds, integrating Alexa, the voice activated technology behind the Echo and Sonos.
If you are thinking about upgrading your home wireless network this holiday season, keep your eyes on Google WiFi. It’s the best mesh WiFi solution on the market. If WiFi in your home is problematic, Google WiFi will solve the problem. Especially if you have a larger home, the kit with three access points will provide you with the simplest and most reliable WiFi coverage without the hassle you may have experienced if you have tried to use WiFi extenders in the past. If you like to tinker with your wireless network, Google WiFi may not be right for you as Google takes on the major responsibility for managing your network and it does an excellent job. However, if you like to tweak every setting, you won’t be thrilled.
Smartwatches remain hot this year. Apple just released the Apple Watch Series 3, which includes a cellular enabled version if you want to have full functionality on your smartwatch without having to have your smartphone in range. Not to be outdone by Apple, FitBit recently released its Ionic smartwatch. It packs a lot more features than just a fitness tracker and may be the Apple Watch’s biggest competition, especially with its multi-day battery life.
These are some of the most popular technology gifts to give this season, but what about Cyber Monday? One thing to keep in mind about Cyber Monday is that it’s not just about tech. On Cyber Monday, just about every online retailer will have incredible sales, so whether you are shopping for tech or shopping for clothing, etc., there will be plenty of deals to save you money on your holiday gift list this year.
I could fill an entire edition of Seacoast Sunday with recommendations for tech gifts, but space is always at a premium. I hope this has given you some good ideas for your gift giving. As I find other deals that are worth noting, I’ll post them on my blog at mjshoer.com, so feel free to keep a watch there over the next several weeks for additional suggestions. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and have fun this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.