IT Freedom Blog

2016 Holiday Tech Gift Guide

by Jessica Baker on

Last year we came out with a holiday gift list full of ideas for the privacy lover in your life. This year, we wanted to go a little more general.

It’s estimated that 68% of consumers will buy tech gifts this holiday (spending around $36 billion), so there’s a pretty good chance someone in your life has their eye on something tech related.

While I may have gone a little overboard (as I do with most things during the holidays) and had to split this into two parts I really hope this gives you some good ideas for anyone on your list, and make sure to check back Friday for Part 2!


*I didn’t put any prices on these because so many of them vary!

Apple Watch Series 2
This year Apple introduced the 2nd iteration of the Apple Watch. It still looks the same as the series 1, but it has some new features and new bands that make the watch functional, sporty, or professional. Since it’s new, the series 2 is a little pricey, but the series 1 is still available for a slightly lower price.


The Fitbit is a good option for those who are just looking for an activity tracker rather than a full-blown smartwatch. In the interest of full disclosure, I received a Fitbit for christmas last year and only wore it for about 6 months. It didn’t have all the features I realized I wanted, and it wasn’t super stylish. But over the last year Fitbit has really stepped up their game. By pairing with designers like Vera Wang, Tory Burch and Public School, they have come out with some super sleek looking products. The other great thing about the Fitbit product is that they really do have something for everyone and every activity level. Ranging from the Flex2 that is just an activity tracker to the Surge that blends heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, GPS and watch capabilities, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

Testimonial: Lauren - IT Freedom Technical Writer - Fitbit Charge HR; “There are a lot of things I like about my Fitbit, like being able to track my running distance, constantly monitor my heart rate and track my sleep. But my favorite feature is the alarm that just buzzes you awake. I usually ignore my regular alarm clock out of spite, but i’ll wake up for the Fitbit.”


Garmin offers a lot of variety when it comes to their wearables. Broken out into activity trackers and GPS smart watches, each different product has unique capabilities. Their “Wearables Brochure” gives a good breakdown of the capabilities of each one. Given Garmin’s long history of top-notch GPS devices, if you’re someone who is really looking for solid GPS in your wearable, I would strongly consider going with a Garmin.


For those individuals who want a little more fashion and are willing to give up some of the function, there’s Ringly. They’re relatively new in the wearables world, producing high quality activity tracker rings and bracelets that are also pairable with your phone to alert you of new notifications. They offer a variety of styles and gems, and cost about the same as other wearables. They alert you using lights and vibrations, are water resistant, and are pairable with a good list of apps. It’s works via bluetooth with your phone and you control all the alerts through the Ringly app.


*I’ve never actually seen anyone with one of these, but am intrigued, so if you end up with one let us know how you like it!  

Tech Gifts For the Home

Google Home - $129
Even though it’s only been out for a short time (October 2016) the Google Home seems to have gained quite a bit of traction in rivaling Amazon’s smart home device/personal assistant, Alexa (or the Amazon Echo). Of course it’s new, and there are still some things Alexa has a better handle on than the Google Home, but as a cheaper option for a smart home device, personal assistant, and entertainment this could be the ultimate gift for the tech lover in your life.  


Nest thermostat - $249
The Nest Learning Thermostat may not sound like the coolest of presents, but if you’re looking for something for the home that will help save money, and look cool doing it, this is the thing. The Nest thermostat learns your schedule and can adjust itself to whatever temperature you prefer at different times of the day. It also knows when energy is the costliest and adjusts to keep your usage to a minimum during those times. This thermostat might be pricey, but make sure you check out their website to see if there are “energy partners” near you that give out rebates to those who use them (for example: Austin Energy will give you $85 dollars back per thermostat!)


Nest cameras - $199 (Indoor and outdoor)
Last year in our privacy lovers gift guide we talked a little about security cameras, but this year we are loving Nest cams for both inside and out. These cameras give you 24/7 live video, alerts when someone is in the house, and the ability to talk to them through the nest app on your phone (their website shows this feature being used to stop a burglary - how awesome is that?!).


*Bonus - Nest is offering free shipping if you order by December 19th for the holidays!

Mi Box - $69
The Mi Box is Android's answer to Apple TV. For nearly the same price, the Mi Box offers apps to watch your favorite shows, voice recognition through the remote, HDR content, and a CPU/GPU combo robust enough to support video games (the Mi Game Controller is available as well for the full gaming experience). Not to mention the super sleek design that would look great in any home.

Testimonial: Gregg - IT Freedom Helpdesk Technician- “I like the Mi Box because it’s the cheapest android TV box on the market, supports 4K resolution, and comes with the bluetooth voice remote. It’s also really really small. Which is great.”



MacBook Pro - Starting at $1,499
Announced and released in October, the new MacBook Pro introduces touch screen capabilities to the MacBook family. According to Apple it’s also the “thinnest and lightest pro design ever.” This new MacBook features Touch ID for increased security, a larger trackpad, improved speakers, and increased graphics performance, further improving on the functionality of the MacBook Pro for those who like to multitask or use their laptop for large amounts of photo or video editing.

Testimonial: Brian Camp - IT Freedom Chief Technology Officer - “It’s overpriced but is currently the best general use laptop on the market. The device lacks any ports other than the combined USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, so you’ll need to buy carry around adaptors for any standard USB devices. The upshot is that you’ll also be able to use a newer generation of monitors that are capable of giving your laptop a display, keyboard, mouse and even charging over a single cable.”


Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - Starting at $899
The Surface Pro 4 has come a long way from the original surface, and has come to be a leader in the the tablet world. Perfect for someone who needs all the function of a traditional laptop but needs the portability of a tablet, the Surface Pro 4 is the ultimate option. While you have to purchase the Type Cover separately, this offers the interactive touchscreen with a display that continues to be ranked above the rest.

Testimonial: Matt Miller - IT Freedom Chief Development Officer - “The Surface is a full-blown Windows laptop in a shockingly light package, great for travel. The integrated touchscreen and pen make it a great choice if you want to embrace on-screen drawing and handwriting.”


*Honorable mention - Microsoft Surface Studio - Starting at $2,999
OK - so the Surface Studio isn’t out yet and is only available for pre-order (it will ship in early 2017.)  But, if you’re searching for the absolute perfect gift for the artist or graphic designer in your life, this may be it. With a larger screen, improved display, ability to move from desktop mode to studio mode, and insane power to capture all their brilliant ideas, this present might just be worth the wait.
*Update: We created a little card, that you can find here, to give to the recipient if this really is the perfect present for them - yep, we know, it’s super cheesy!



I’ve linked most of these to the manufacturer’s website as they are the best place to find more in-depth information, and while sometimes a little more expensive, ordering directly from the manufacturer often gives you the option for warranties that are well worth the added cost.
However, as with most things, you can find a lot of these on Amazon and other online retailers!

As I mentioned at the start, this is only part 1, head to part 2 for more ideas for your tech needs this holiday season!

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