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As we move towards the holiday season of a year like no other, we're on a mission to inspire some extraordinary gifts for our fellow techies. Below, we've compiled our pick of this year's most innovative, quirkiest, and most giftable gadgets. You'll also find digital subscription recommendations (in case you need to avoid tangled delivery networks). And we've even included some analog gift options (because, in this year of digital everything, even the most avid techies might crave a bit of old school). We’ve also included various affordability options, so you’re covered from that big splurge item to thrifty stocking fillers and Secret Santa ideas.
This automatically watered, light-controlled hydroponic system produces fresh, sustainable, pesticide and waste-free vegetables, and herbs, year-round. Your loved ones will stay healthy while getting their geek on with this incredible innovation. Continually AI-optimized with remote app control, they add the ultimate finishing touch to any smart home ecosystem. They look fabulous, too, a piece of natural living art. We think Gardyn has some of the best ones, but there are tons of options to explore online this year.
Price: $849 for a starter pack on mygardyn.com; various membership options and online deals right now.
With our borders (finally) opening, we know many will use the holiday season to travel far and wide and to the people who matter most. That's why AirTags will make perfect gifts this year. They're great for keeping track of backpacks, keys, portable speakers, and everything in between. Techies will love the Bluetooth tracker's precision-finding capabilities.
Price: $29 and $99 for one and four packs respectively, plus extra for optional clips for securing them to your stuff.
Give them hours of fun with the wildest photography tech going. DJI's new Air 2S quadcopter drone has a quality camera and 30 minutes of airborne time, time enough to capture that commanding bird's-eye masterpiece. At 1.3 pounds, it’s lightweight but strong enough to withstand light winds. It's not the cheapest on the market, but you get what you pay for with drones. And with excellent collision-avoidance features, there's a good chance that even clumsy first-timers won't total it off the first tree.
Price: $1,254.00 at Walmart.
Whether it’s for entertaining outdoors, working out al fresco, or a block party, many of us like to take the music with us (or the audiobook or podcast). For that, you need some serious portable speakers that can withstand rugged conditions, work with your smartphone, and sound as good as any classic smart speaker. We think Sonos Roam speakers are among the best on the planet. Properly sturdy, powerful sound, slick design, excellent connectivity, and control. Works great indoors, too.
Price: $199 on sonos.com.
At Modis, we're all about escaping the ordinary, seeking out the awesome, and going where others fear to go. US Military-grade compasses are the ultimate STEM gadget gift for the great outdoors. Shock, water, and sand-proof, they handle almost any environment and situation, including temperatures from -50° F to 150° F. What's more, they’re made right here in the USA.
Price: $100.00 – $126.00 on cammenga.com.
Aside from wonder chefs and folks with oodles of time on their hands, coming up with interesting healthy meals every day can be a chore. Enter smart cookers that take the guesswork out of meal prep, lock in nutrients, and give you control from afar. Techies will love the InstaPot collection for its ultra-versatile list of talents, including air fry, roast, bake, dehydrate, pressure cook, slow cook, rice cooker, make yogurt, steam, sauté, warm food, and even sterilize.
Price: From $89 to $148.99 on Amazon, depending on the model.
Tiny gadget, big impact. In these days of incessant digital distractions, home office, and hybrid schooling, the Mooas Cube Timer is a simple, minimal, and fun homeware gadget that helps keep you and your family on task. Fun fact: Mooas take their name from the Korean word for 'beautiful people shining like the morning rainbow.'
Price: $14.99 on Amazon.
Sticking with cubes... OK, this is hardly a hi-tech gadget either, but techies will love LED cube stools. Why? Because they make any room, or garden, look instantly futuristic and otherworldly. You can adjust the atmospheric color settings by remote control, too: perfect for nerdy nights in. These lights are so cool you'll want to keep them for yourself.
Price: $155.70 to $107.28 on Wayfair.
No techie can resist a bit of nostalgia, and Lego’s new Space Shuttle Discovery set is the gift they secretly want this year. Lego created this incredible set to celebrate the first Space Shuttle launch. (It even has a mini-Hubble Telescope). It also comes with a display stand for the finished article for the ultimate Nerd Pride experience.
Price: $199 on lego.com.
Give the gift of micro-mobility with an electric scooter. They're relatively eco-friendly and don't pollute the air. And what a fun way to get around while avoiding traffic jams and parking challenges. The 500-watt high torque EcoSmart Metro Electric Scooter from Razor can hit speeds up to 18 mph and travel up to 12 miles on a single charge. And with new tech developments like geofencing for enforcing safety measures like speed limits and no ride zones, we think e-scooters might be a significant feature of the smart cities of the future.
Price: $679.99 on razor.com.
If you're worried about the supply chain crunch impacting your holiday gift deliveries (and even if you're not), an online magazine subscription is an excellent gift. You'll also be doing your bit to support quality journalism. Countless techies have a special place in their hearts for the wonderful Wired.com, which has some of the most original, edgy, and unashamedly geeky content on the planet. Or, for something a bit more highbrow, an MIT Technology Review subscription will broaden the mind of any tech and science lover.
Price: An annual digital subscription costs $10 for Wired and $50 for MIT’s tech review.
Whether you're worried about intruders or simply want to know as soon as your online purchases arrive at your door, intelligent security systems are becoming ever-more sophisticated. The Ring Alarm – famous for its video doorbells – seamlessly integrates with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and mesh network smart home ecosystem. Add a range of Z-Wave smart devices from lights to locks, to garage door controls, too, for the ultimate home automation.
Price: $199 to $329 with professional monitoring from $10 a month on ring.com.
Workout on the beach. Sit front row at a rock concert. Do battle with friends (or strangers on the other side of the world). Anything is possible with virtual reality. At Modis, we love the Oculus Quest 2 headset for its great spec, decent price, and easy set-up. And because it’s fully wire-free, it’ll get your favorite techie moving and exploring with its massive library of crazy fun games and mind-blowing experiences.
Price: $299 on target.com.
Gaming is serious business. It can be seriously expensive, too. Enter the Xbox Game Pass, which gives subscribers unlimited access to over 100 games, with new titles added all the time. From Mortal Combat to Minecraft, there's a whole range of titles for console, PC, and mobile.
Price: $14.99 a month for the ‘Ultimate’ package on xbox.com; other price options available.
Ahhh books. Remember those? For many techies, a good read is one of the few things that can tempt them away from their gadgets. Bill Gates' How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is the perfect gift in the year of Glasgow's Cop26. Gates' exploration of science and tech's role in ending the climate crisis captivates readers and inspires them to act. With so many of us feeling stressed and burnt-out in Covid-19's wake, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross is a thoughtful gift for techies in 2021. It offers a data-based approach to countering negative self-talk based on neuroscience and psychology. And Immune, by Philipp Dettmer, a wonderfully fun and beautifully illustrated introduction to the insanely complex field of immunology will be an empowering read for pandemic times.
This year, more than ever, you'll need to start shopping early if you want to knock out that list. Early Black Friday deals are already appearing, and we expect offers to run right through to Cyber Monday on November 29. But be careful! As supply chain disruptions continue, shoppers are already getting billions of 'out of stock' notices, so act now to avoid disappointment.
We hope we've inspired you for some happy holiday shopping. From all of us at Modis, we wish you all the best for a safe, joyful, and tech-tastic holiday season.
Note that all prices shown are subject to change!