Galaxy, Apple Watch, Change? Tech items are nice, however study these guidelines earlier than you give

Galaxy, Apple Watch, Switch? Tech gifts are great, but learn these rules before you give

It is tech-gift-buying season.

Stephen Beacham

This story is a part of Vacation Present Information 2021, our record of concepts, by matter, by recipient and by worth, that will help you uncover the right present.

The vacations are simply across the nook, and with a surging provide chain disaster overwhelming ports and inflicting huge delivery delays, it is a good suggestion to get forward of the curve relating to present buying on your family members.

Nonetheless, buying a gadget for that tech lover in your life is not at all times simple.

Should you’re taking a look at smartphones, you may must resolve between Apple’s iPhone 13 or Google’s Pixel 6 (to not point out the Galaxy S21 and all the opposite Samsung fashions). For headphones, you have got choices starting from wi-fi earbuds just like the third-generation AirPods, to over-the-ear choices just like the Bose QuietComfort 45. And in the event you’re interested by sensible audio system, effectively, you have got a wealth of choices: There’s the Amazon Echo, Google Nest Mini, Apple HomePod Mini and Sonos One, simply to call a number of.

It doesn’t matter what tech present you are contemplating — gaming console, laptop and even sensible backyard — due diligence is not only beneficial, it’s a necessity. On this information we’ll take a more in-depth take a look at the do’s and don’ts when contemplating shopping for a gadget, starting from privateness and safety points to compatibility issues.

Learn extra: Greatest locations to promote your used electronics 

Be careful for extras another person should purchase

No matter what sort of gadget you find yourself shopping for as a present, preserve any additional equipment it might require in thoughts. Ask your self — or the salesperson — if the gadget is able to use proper out of the field. 

Should you buy some color-changing bulbs, for instance, do they require a hub to get them to work? If it is a cellphone or pill, does it make sense to additionally give a case, or to let your recipient decide one out later? Many telephones have ditched the headphone jack, so a dongle to go from a USB-C or Lightning plug to a 3.5mm audio connection could also be wanted. 

Extra examples to heed: For a Roomba, additional brushes, filters or digital obstacles are going to be gadgets your beloved one will finally want. Odds are, in the event you present a sensible speaker, which additionally doubles as a voice-activated speaker for streaming music, a present card for a subscription to Spotify or Pandora will probably be appreciated. 

One other facet to contemplate is that if your giftee might want to substitute stuff they have already got. Perhaps that new cellphone requires a distinct type of charging cable than what they already use. It might not be your accountability to substitute that, however remember that your present may have ripple results.


Dongles are typically a crucial evil.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Take note of which units they already personal

The very last thing you wish to do is get Dad a gift that he cannot or will not use. Earlier than deciding to get somebody the most recent Amazon Echo or an Apple Watch, discover out what sort of units they already use regularly. 

For instance, in case your giftee has an Android cellphone, they will barely have the ability to use an Apple Watch. Or if they’ve a home stuffed with Apple HomePod audio system, a sensible residence present that depends on Amazon’s Alexa assistant in all probability is not match.

Wi-fi earbuds are often a secure guess, and smartwatches (outdoors of the Apple Watch) usually work with any sort of smartphone. Streaming units like Roku or Fireplace TV usually work with any TV, as effectively (simply ensure they do not have already got a Roku-enabled TV). 

Do not get so caught up in what sort of merchandise your family and friends members have already got that you do not decide, simply keep in mind to preserve your present receipts helpful to allow them to make an change, guilt-free.

When you’ve got a common thought of what sort of gadget (or units) the giftee already makes use of round the home, listed here are extra particular angles to contemplate when giving sensible residence items.


Understanding what the recipient already owns is a key facet of present searching for tech. 

Angela Lang/CNET

The golden rule of shopping for a cellphone as a present

Should you’re shopping for somebody a cellphone, pat your self on the again on your thoughtfulness and generosity. Simply ensure you’ve thought of all of the angles. 

Crucial one is ensuring that the cellphone you are shopping for for somebody will work with their wi-fi provider of alternative. Wi-fi suppliers use completely different expertise that may forestall telephones from working throughout rivals’ networks. The very last thing you wish to do is purchase a cellphone that solely works on Verizon Wi-fi for somebody who’s entrenched in T-Cellular.

Both ask the present recipient which wi-fi provider they use or contemplate shopping for an unlocked cellphone. Many phone-makers supply an unlocked model that can work on nearly all wi-fi carriers. Simply know that not each provider function may work, like Wi-Fi calling, which is tuned to particular networks. In a nutshell, know your viewers. 

Maintain your receipt helpful, and ensure to inform your recipient that there are not any onerous emotions in the event that they finally wish to return or change the cellphone. This present is all concerning the gesture.

 Pixel 5

There are many unlocked telephones so that you can decide from. 

Juan Garzon / CNET

Look ahead to privateness crimson flags

Some merchandise have privateness and safety implications. Even in the event you’re OK with having an Amazon Echo and its always-on microphone in your house, your giftee may not be as comfy with the thought. And although you could really feel that Aunt Mary desperately wants to affix the twenty first century with an Echo Present 8
, preserve her consolation degree in thoughts. 

We retailer loads of info on our telephones and devices. Personal info corresponding to banking information, incessantly visited areas, our present location, pictures and conversations are all issues we blindly belief our units with. 

At least, it is best to pay attention to firms corresponding to Meta (the brand new title for Fb) or Amazon, that are continually surrounded by privateness questions and issues, in the event you’re contemplating shopping for a next-gen Portal Plus or the most recent Ring Video Doorbell 4 as a present. 

Should you’re taking a look at a product from an organization you have by no means heard of, and even for firms you have got, a fast Google search is so as. Trying up “Meta/Fb privateness points,” for instance, ought to floor any potential points.


For somebody who’s uneasy with Fb’s privateness practices, the Portal might not be a good suggestion. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Look into how lengthy an organization will assist its product 

Routine software program updates are an vital a part of proudly owning a tech product. Not solely do updates make a product higher over time however they will repair and enhance the safety of a tool. 

As such, it is vital to have confidence that firms are going to proceed to assist a tool via updates, particularly when safety points are found (as they usually are). 

Should you’re searching for a cellphone, Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Pixel lineup obtain constant and well timed updates. Outdoors of Google’s personal telephones, Samsung has observe report for constant updates to its Android telephones, as do the OnePlus telephones.

Software program updates for sensible audio system and streaming units corresponding to a Chromecast or Apple TV are dealt with within the background, with out you ever realizing. That is superb for individuals who aren’t all that tech-savvy. 

It is a good suggestion to look into how lengthy an organization guarantees to assist a product with software program updates after its launch. 

Lastly, there are sure to be many nice offers and promotions this buying season, particularly round Black Friday. Do not be swayed by a deal on a product that appears too good to be true. If the product is discontinued (or soon-to-be), your present may find yourself turning into an costly paperweight. Once more, Google is your buddy when it involves studying extra a couple of product and its future. 


Meta (previously Fb) discontinued the Oculus Rift S in 2021.

John Kim/CNET

Learn a number of opinions

Even in the event you’re handed an inventory with a selected gadget present thought, do your personal analysis by studying opinions of the product. Learn a couple of evaluate and search for similarities in compliments and points. 

For instance, the Nintendo Change is available in three variations: the authentic ($300), OLED ($350) and Lite ($200). Should you’re choosing the Lite — the least costly model — it is best to know that it does not include Pleasure-Con controllers, not all video games are suitable with it and it does not function TV or tabletop mode. And whilst you may swing for the fences with the OLED mannequin (which comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, 64GB of storage and a built-in wired LAN port), the unique nonetheless packs a punch and comes with most of the options the Lite is lacking. 

Opinions will help you make a extra knowledgeable choice.


Opinions are an vital a part of researching new merchandise. 

Scott Stein/CNET

The identical will be mentioned for merchandise that had been launched earlier within the yr and are more likely to be upgraded and changed shortly after the vacations. Take a while, do your analysis and make an informed alternative. 

Nonetheless unsure the place to start out? Listed here are the very best telephones of 2021, together with our 2021 present information that features gadgets for various budgets, and items for various sorts of individuals, corresponding to Star Wars followers. You also can try our favourite picks for well-liked merchandise like sensible audio system, tablets and laptops.

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