The latest technology of 2021: The best gadgets and great gift ideas

In the blink of an eye, we’ve gone from enjoying pumpkin spice to indulging in our first gingerbread latte. While this is great news for fans of nutmeg and cinnamon, it can also be stressful for anyone with a long holiday shopping list.

Fortunately, we have a list of the best tech gifts, including many of the season’s most popular and sought-after items. We’ve also thrown in some shopping tips as well as some worthy alternatives to any items that are all sold out.

So sit back, pour down a festive drink and get ready to make your menu, check it out twice, and maybe even score on one of your coveted game consoles (we said maybe).

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We’re not going to smudge it: you’d have a better chance of beating Sonic the Hedgehog to his feet than finding your PlayStation 5 sitting on a retail shelf. Featuring an impressive lineup of first-party games and a console that truly delivers on the promise of the next generation, the PS5’s popularity is justified. But with some diligence, a little luck, and a lot of persistence, you can check out this holy grail of play off your list.

First, check out our guide to PS5 restock. Next, you will need to confirm that you have accounts and credit cards registered with the retailer of your choice. The only thing more powerful than the excitement of registering a PS5 is the crushing defeat you will feel when you disappear from your cart while scrambling to enter your Amex card security code.

You can also refer to Twitter, where you can Former technology journalist He devoted his career to searching for hard-to-find stray game consoles. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to head to Sony DirectWhere you can sign up for a chance to get PS5 directly from the source.

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Like Sony’s, the comparable Xbox Series X is just as hard to track today as it was last holiday season. While the same tips given above on securing PS5 also apply to finding an Xbox Series X, we’d also suggest looking for an Xbox Series S. Yes, it’s less powerful, lacks its big brother drive and supports lower resolutions (1440p) versus the X’s 4K ), but it still offers next-generation gaming products. This is especially true when paired with an Xbox Game Pass subscription, which includes access to heavy hitters Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. Plus, the S Series is $200 cheaper and easier to find.

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With a bigger and brighter OLED display, Nintendo’s latest release on the popular Switch platform is, unsurprisingly, another highly desirable game system that won’t fall on your lap come Black Friday. However, while it’s the latest and greatest switch, its upgrades and improvements aren’t so significant that they render previous iterations obsolete.

In fact, if you’re shopping for someone who wants to get lost Animal Crossing: New HorizonsSimulated Paradise Island or take on Samus Aran’s latest sci-fi adventure in Metroid Dread, both the Standard Switch and Switch Lite portable are more than covered. Plus, these earlier versions are easier to find — and easier on the wallet.

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A great gift for the gamer or tech enthusiast on your list, the Oculus Quest 2 provides an affordable and accessible introduction to the world of immersive virtual reality. Featuring a sprawling library of apps, games, entertainment platforms, and even some surprisingly effective fitness experiences, the wireless headphone truly has something for everyone.

It’s also readily available, boasts a solid lineup of games for serious gamers and regulars alike and packs a wow factor that will drop more jaws than any next-gen system, making it also a viable gift-giving alternative to the always-elusive PS5 and Xbox Series X.

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iPhone users who have a knack for losing their keys, wallet, or even pet walking will love this intuitive tracker. Once paired with an Apple device, AirTag has the ability to track anything you can attach to it.

But this superpower isn’t exclusive to the Apple-branded gadget; The Chipolo One Spot offers similar functionality, not to mention an easy-to-install key ring hole (AirTag requires an accessory sold separately for this feature). Chipolo also offers some Fantastic deals on its trackers, allowing you to score multiple gifts at a decent discount.

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Choosing the right AirPods – between the 2nd and 3rd generation options as well as the Pro and Max versions – can be a daunting task. For the average user, you can count on AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro to deliver an above average audio experience. The AirPods 3 Building on the solid foundation created by the second generation with the addition of spatial audio and a new open-ear design, AirPods Pro upgrade features like Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode. Both feature about six hours of battery life and sweat and water resistance for the most active Apple users on your list.

  • AirPods (2nd generation) ($109, original $129; amazon.com)
  • AirPods 3 (starting at $169, original $179; amazon.com)
  • AirPods Pro ($197, original $249; amazon.com)
  • AirPods Max ($479, original $549; amazon.com)

Mike Andronico/CNN

If you’re shopping for someone who isn’t part of AirPods design, Beats Fit Pro offers most of the same features as AirPods Pro but for $50 less. On top of including both ANC and Transparency modes, these buds feature a secure fit design and are sweat-resistant, making them the perfect gift for the active people in your life. All of that, and they’re available in a range of funky colors – you won’t find a pair of AirPods in stone purple!

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With Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday around the corner, you can bet plenty of shoppers looking to score the best deals on the popular Apple smartwatches. Much like AirPods, though, finding the right Apple Watch — at the right price — can be a chore.

The season’s busiest shopping day will host a number of enticing offers on vintage models—like Walmart’s $109 chain GPS deal—but it’s best not to rely entirely on your purchases on a tempting price point. While Series 3 only launched four years ago, it’s an old date on Apple’s timeline. It’s best if you jump ahead several generations, in terms of technology and features, to the Apple Watch SE. A great entry-level model that doesn’t break the bank, starting at $280, But Amazon has it from $220 right now.

  • Apple Watch SE (from $239, starting at $279); amazon.com)

Jacob Kroll/CNN

Whether you’re shopping for foodies who appreciate the convenience of scrolling recipes in the kitchen or a master Minecraft maker, the Apple iPad is arguably the most versatile tech gift you can give. And while no one on your list has been disappointed with Apple’s multitasking tablet unboxing, and with so many different options available, you’ll still want to make sure you’re making the right choice.

We recommend Apple’s reasonably priced 9th generation iPad, which features a screen large enough to spoil your favorite streaming series while supporting a deep library of games. Of course, it also lets you do the basics, like typing and checking email, scrolling through social media apps and even FaceTime.

Jacob Kroll/CNN

You can’t go wrong with giving a close friend or family member the latest, greatest, and most beautiful iPhone. Apple’s latest ubiquitous smartphone is arguably the best yet, featuring a lightning-fast processor, boosted battery life, and enough camera upgrades to make the professional photographer notice. That said, you’ll want to do your research. Whether you lean toward the standard iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 MiniIf you’re considering getting the more expensive or feature-rich Pro or Pro Max versions, you’ll want to be sure to check out which carriers and plans offer the best deals.

There will be no shortage of the latest Apple smartphones on Black Friday or Cyber ​​Monday, and they won’t be shy about selling at prices too good to be true, but you’ll need to factor in all the factors, from contract requirements and barter offerings to what the recipients’ current cellular service obligations are. Gifts, before pulling the trigger. Get rid of those hurdles and you’ll be good to go for gifting one of the coolest tech games of the year.

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