13 Gadget gift ideas for the holidays | 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

by W. Andrew Powell
Samsung QLED 4K Smart TV

Wish your family–and the loved ones who dream of new gadgets–a very Happy Holidays with our 13 top gadget gift ideas! Featuring gift suggestions from Samsung, Amazon, Drobo, ZTE, Oral-B, Asus, BlackBerry, Motorola, Microsoft, and Dell.

Read the rest of our 2017 Holiday Gift Guides, with giveaways and features right up until Christmas Eve weekend.

Samsung QLED 4K Smart TV | $2199 to $5499
The holidays are a great time to surprise the ones you love with a new 4K TV, and Samsung’s QLED Smart TVs are my favorite high definition televisions out there, hitting all the right points on price, features, and design.

Whether you want to put a 55″ TV on the family’s entertainment centre, or hang a 75″ 4K Ultra HD smart TV, Samsung’s QLED televisions are beautiful, crystal clear, and work well with all your devices. One of my favorite features, the advanced HDR, also brings movies and television to life by making scenes even more vivid, and bright.

Samsung’s televisions also have a host of great features that you will actually use, from popular apps like YouTube built-in, to the One Remote that makes navigating channels and connected devices simple, without hunting for other remotes. To top it off, the TV featured enough inputs that I could connect everything, including HDMI and USB. If I was going out tomorrow to buy a new television, it would absolutely be one of the new Samsung QLED TVs.

Amazon Echo | $99
Amazon Echo | Gadget gift ideasAmazon’s Alexa will be your family’s new best friend this holiday season now that the Amazon Echo officially launched in Canada. The voice-controlled speaker includes Alexa, a personal assistant with intelligence, and a wide range of abilities–or skills, as Amazon calls them–to control smart home devices.

The smart household assistant features far-field voice control, meaning you don’t need to be right next to the Echo for Alexa to hear you, and it can play music, tell you where you stuff is that your ordered from Amazon, and most usefully, Alexa can turn on devices like the Wemo Lightbulb or Wemo Smart Plugs, or a range of other smart home products.

With grouping features, you can turn on every light in a room with one command, or just find out what the weather is going to be.

When I first thought about how I would use the Amazon Echo, I was a little dubious if I would use voice commands all that often, but it’s amazing how quickly you can call up a holiday playlist, find the price on paper towels (and order them), or just schedule a sleep timer on your favorite bedtime music. I’ve even set our Christmas tree with a Wemo Smart Plug so it turns off every night at 11:45 PM, and I’ve set Alexa up so I can turn the tree on just by saying, “Alexa, Merry Christmas.”

The Echo comes in three formats: the mini Dot, the Echo, and the Echo Plus. The Echo is an all-around good stereo speaker that can fill a room with sound, while the Dot offers more compact sound, and the Echo Plus offers built-in support as a hub for smart devices. Amazon has also launched Prime Music in Canada so you can take your Prime subscription even further and stream to your Dot, Echo, or Echo Plus.

Drobo 5D3 | $999 with no hard drive
Drobo 5D3 | Gadget gift ideasDrobo’s 5D3 is a fantastic solution for the professional in your life who needs a backup solution that can grow with their needs. The Drobo 5D3 plugs into to Mac or PC using Thunderbolt or USB-C, can be daisy-chained to connect multiple Drobo’s together, and holds up to five 3.5″ SATA II/III drives. Depending on the number of drives installed and the amount of available storage space, the Drobo 5D3 also offers single or double redundancy in case of drive failures.

The Drobo 5D3 also supports hot-swapping drives, and an accelerator bay for better performance using an mSATA solid state drive. Using the Drobo Dashboard also makes it easy to monitor drives, available space, or check for issues, but the Drobo also has indicator lights on the front that make it easy to spot any potential issues.

For the creative person in your life, whether they’re a photographer, videographer, designer, or just have a lot of family photos and video, the Drobo 5D3 makes a big difference in storing everything easily in one place.

ZTE Connected CarZTE Connected Car | $199 or $0 with a 2-year plan
The ZTE Smart Drive is the perfect answer for anyone on your shopping list this season who wants to track their car, monitor potential issues, or just add in-car Wi-Fi for the family. The device plugs into their car and through an impressive app, they can track where the car is parked, any maintenance issues, fuel use, and a whole host of other statistics.

For anyone who needs to track mileage, the ZTE Smart Drive makes it easy to track trips or daily commutes, while the in-car Wi-Fi is a great addition for anyone who needs internet on the road.
Families with a new driver will also love the peace-of-mind that they know where their family-member is, or how fast they’re driving.

From tracking common engine issues, monitoring battery health, and even the fuel level, the ZTE Smart Drive provides much more information than the dashboard can offer.

Amazon Fire Stick | Gadget gift ideasAmazon Fire TV stick | $49
Plug the Amazon Fire TV Stick into any HDMI port on a television, and open a window to entertainment, including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, and thousands of apps and games. Setup is also easy: just plug the Fire TV stick into an HDMI port, plug the included power cable into the stick, and then browse to your favorite app or service.

For services like Netflix, your loved one will still need a paid subscription and they will need to log into the service from the television. For an upgrade to older televisions that don’t offer these apps built-in, the Fire Stick is a great, affordable option.

Oral-B Genius Pro 8000Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 | $269
There is something remarkable about a toothbrush that makes your mouth feel like you just had your teeth cleaned. The Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 does just that though, and your loved one can buy different toothbrush heads for different cleaning options, from flossing and whitening, to gum care. The toothbrush also has different modes to match the toothbrush heads, and it comes with a smart travel case that can charge the brush or your smartphone.

On top of the cleaning technology and other options, you can also connect your smart phone over Bluetooth and use an app to properly time your brushing, reach all the important areas, and maintain good pressure. Even without the app though, the Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 warns you with a red light if you’re brushing too hard so you can adjust your brushing technique. The Oral-B Genius Pro really brings smarts to home dental care.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 | Gadget gift ideasSamsung Galaxy Note 8 | $1349 or $299 with select 2-year plans
Among all the smartphones available right now, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is my favorite. The Note 8 has every feature you want in a mobile device, from dual front-facing cameras with 2x optical zoom, a beautiful infinity display, the useful S Pen, and a powerful processor that makes gaming or working a breeze. The Note 8 also fits comfortably in your hand, and offers a perfect aspect ratio for watching movies.

Most impressively though are the cameras. The dual cameras mean that you can capture clear, vivid photos, and Live Focus lets you take incredible portraits or closeups with the background blurred out. The Note 8 also works well under low-light conditions, and the selfie camera takes gorgeous photos or video. Watch my recent travel video, shot entirely on the Note 8, to see what it can do.

There is also a wide range of accessories that go with the Note 8, and that’s important for any smartphone. There are new LED View covers that show the time on the outside, a wireless charger, and the Samsung DeX turns your smartphone into a desktop computer–just connect the DeX to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

BlackBerry MotionBlackBerry Motion | $599 or $0 with a 2-year plan
The BlackBerry Motion was a big surprise this year. It’s a smartphone that performs, and comes at a great price, especially if you get it on a 2-year plan with most major carriers.

The Motion has a great long-lasting battery, a very good processor for any app you want to run, and a pretty good camera too. The Motion also has an impressive design that fits very well in the hand, and both looks and feels like a professional phone with integrated security that is beyond your average device. It’s also water and dust resistant, and has a convenience key that can be used to jump into any app or activity.

Moto G5Moto G5 | $249 or $0 with a 2-year plan
The Moto G5 is another surprising smartphone that has all the right features, and for a fantastic price that sets it apart. The lightweight smartphone includes a 13 MP camera, 5 MP selfie camera, and shoots good quality video. The display is very good as well, with clear, sharp graphics.

For your average user who doesn’t need the best features or processor, the Moto G5 is a great deal. The phone fits nicely in your hand, and the case is made of aluminum to make it extra durable for users who may be a bit harder on their smartphones.

Asus ZenScreenAsus ZenScreen | $365
Asus has a number of tablets, laptops, and other devices that I recently had a chance to preview, but one of the most useful devices at a great price was the Asus ZenScreen. This 15.6″ full HD screen attaches to your laptop or computer with a single USB-C to power it and connect video. The ZenScreen is lightweight and simple to add on in any environment where you need an extra screen, and it’s only 780 grams. The foldable case also acts as a stand so you can set it up and put it away quickly and easily.

The ZenScreen also features flicker free viewing to make the monitor easy on the eyes, literally.

Amazon Kindle OasisAmazon Kindle Oasis | $389
Amazon’s Kindle Oasis arrives newly updated for the holidays, and it’s packed with great features that you can take almost anywhere. The Oasis is IPX8 water resistant, making it a perfect reading companion around the tub, the beach, or the pool, and it has a large 7-inch glare-free display that’s readable in any condition, from bright sun to late at night.

The Oasis weighs just 194 grams, charges quickly, and can store 8 GB of books. It also lasts for weeks on a single charge, for light reading use every day, and features a free cellular data connection that means you can update your digital books whether you have a Wi-Fi connection or not. I’m also a big fan of the forward and back buttons that are integrated into the device so you can flip pages without touching the screen.

Overall the Amazon Kindle Oasis is a great e-reader, and I take it nearly everywhere to read on the go. For the person who loves to read, it’s amazing to be able to take a whole collection of books travelling.

Surface Laptop in BurgundyMicrosoft Surface Laptop | $1299
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is what you get when you build a powerful computer with an excellent design. It’s a laptop that looks so much nicer than an average computer, and it features a battery life that can last nearly as long as you can. The edge-to-edge touchscreen is also beautiful and useful, and it weighs just 2.76 pounds.

Whether your loved one will appreciate it in platinum, burgundy, cobalt blue, or graphite gold, the Surface Laptop comes in compelling colours that make the system stand out from the crowd.

Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 | $349
Give the gift of a fun, fresh laptop that doubles as a tablet, at a truly affordable price. The Inspiron 11 3000 includes up to a 1 TB hard drive, Windows 10, and a processor that is well above average on every model. The bright, popping colours are a welcome change from the average laptop too, and your loved one will appreciate being able to use the Inspiron 11 however they want, whether they’re typing emails, gaming, or watching YouTube.

Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1

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