The 8 Best Gifts to Buy for Techies in 2017

Here are our favorite items the techie in your life will for sure love

Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker
Courtesy of Amazon

Holiday shopping can be hard, especially if you aren’t up to date on the latest and greatest in technology. But never fear! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite new releases so that you can surprise that special techie in your life. From 3D printers and VR headsets to GoPros and fitness trackers, we’ve included a little bit of something for everybody.

Amazon just recently refreshed its line of smart speaker products and the result is a shiny new Echo Plus. It looks the same on the outside as the previous model, but the insides have been supercharged, so while you can still ask Alexa to turn off the lights or read today’s news headlines, you can now do a whole lot more.

One of the greatest additions is that of a ZigBee-friendly hub, which is built in other smart home devices by brands such as Ikea, Philips, and Honeywell. Just ask Alexa to “Discover my devices” and they’ll be connected in no time. Amazon has also added Dolby processing to its 360-degree omni-directional audio setup, which makes the sound even fuller. Perhaps our favorite new feature is called Routines, which allows you to group actions together, so you can synchronize flipping the lights on and starting the coffee machine, for instance. It was definitely a needed upgrade, and now the Echo Plus is hands down our favorite smart speaker on the market.

If you’re ready to delve into the world of 3D printing, the Robo R2 is a great entry point. It’s a self-leveling printer with automatic calibration, which means you won’t have to meticulously adjust it every time you make a small change to the printer. It has a five-inch color touch screen and its Wi-Fi connectivity enables you to print from USB, phone and tablet, or from cloud libraries. It can print items up to 8 x 8 x 10 inches at a build speed of up to 16mm^3/s. It also includes a second extruder, which lets you print with two materials at the same time; more than 30 materials are supported. Still not convinced? Robo offers a one-year parts replacement warranty and 24/7 phone support, which includes repair help with a technician via Skype.

The Sphero Mini is an app-controlled robot the size of a ping pong ball. You can play fun, pre-installed games, invent your own and even drive it around using Face Drive, a feature that uses facial recognition technology to let you steer with your face. Equipped with an accelerometer, gyroscope and LED lights, creativity takes hold as you discover new ways to play. While the Sphero is designed for people of all ages, it’s especially great for kids because the Sphero Edu app lets them experiment with coding by writing their own Javascript for the robot.

Minecraft fans, rejoice! This Super Plus Pack includes the Explorers Pack, which consists of Chinese Mythology Mashup, Natural Texture Pack, Biome Settlers Skin Pack, Battle and Beasts Skin Pack and Campfire Tales Skin Pack. It also bundles in the Super Duper Graphics Pack, which elevates your creations to a whole new level. Note that this pack is best suited for the Xbox One X to deliver true 4K gaming.

As with most budget keyboards, the keys on the Vajra are not backlit; however, it does have a few light up sections as a reasonable consolation prize. It also has swappable WASD and arrow keys, plus 12 media keys (which require simultaneously pressing the F key) and 19 keys without conflict. Although it isn’t a mechanical keyboard, it has hybrid membrane switches, which are actually comfortably close to mechanical switches when it comes to tactile feedback. It has a fierce black and red design that has solid construction despite being plastic, and is spacious to game with, though it lacks a dedicated wrist rest.

The Redragon S101 also comes packaged with a mouse, which makes this budget pick an even better deal. As one Amazon reviewer put it, it far exceeds most expectations given the price, but it’s still a budget option so “don’t be disappointed if you are expecting this thing to walk your dog.”

Today’s techies aren’t just nerds who geek out over games in their parents’ basements. In fact, you’ll find plenty of techies getting active outside. But the giveaway? They likely have a wearable around their wrist. The Fitbit Alta is a perfect gift for the health-conscious techie type because it tracks steps taken, distance traveled, floors climbed, calories burned, time spent active and sleep patterns. It will even send you reminders if you aren’t moving enough.

By syncing it up with your smartphone, you can log meals, record workouts and view trends over time. And while it’s about $100 more than the Fitbit Flex, you’ll find that its ability to track sleep, send calendar alerts and monitor your heart rate are worth every extra penny.

Plunge into the immersive world of VR with the Oculus Rift. Whether you’re playing one of the many supported games, watching a VR movie or navigating a location on the other side of the Earth, you’ll instantly forget where you are. The Rift has a sleek and simple design that is comfortable to wear and connects to your PC via a cable that runs behind your head. And while you can buy the Oculus Rift on its own, we recommend springing for this package, which includes two Touch controllers that let you interact naturally with the virtual world.

To get the most out of your Oculus Rift, you’ll need a computer that can handle it, so before you purchase this for your favorite techie, check compatibility on the Oculus website.

For the adventure seeker on your list, the newest HERO5 Black makes an excellent gift. Updated from previous versions, this model finally adds a rear touchscreen display to make reviewing footage a cinch, plus voice commands (“GoPro, take a photo!) and a one-button control that powers up the camera and starts recording with one click. You’ll also get better performance, as video resolution jumps to 4K at 30fps and still images to 12MP in single, burst and timelapse modes. Previous GoPro owners will notice that the HERO5 Black also sheds its casing, but that’s because it’s now waterproof to 33 feet (10m) right out of the box. All in all, it’s the best GoPro we’ve laid hands on yet.

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