The 7 Best Portable Electronics for Teens in 2019

See our top gadget picks for older kids and teens

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Video Game System: Nintendo Switch at Amazon

"Specifically designed to encourage your teen to get out of their cave and play with their friends."

Best Virtual Reality System: HTC VIVE at Amazon

"The ground-breaking virtual reality system that will make even parents want to get in on the action."

Best E-Reader: Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet at Amazon

"Teens will be able to choose from millions of movies, TV shows, songs, eBooks and more."

Best Gaming Mouse: Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum at Amazon

"Features an advanced optical gaming sensor designed by Logitech."

Best Gaming Headphones: ASTRO Gaming A40 TR Headset at Amazon

"Designed to give clarity to every detail at every frequency and volume level."

Best Gaming Laptop: Alienware AW15R3-3831SLV at Amazon

"It can play virtually any video game in existence for the next five years."

Best Robot Kit: Robot Kit at Amazon

"Perfect for any teen that wants to become familiarized with graphical programming, electronics and robotics."

Our Top Picks

Best Video Game System: Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.2

Concerned parents who fear a gaming console will isolate their teenager shouldn’t worry any longer. The Nintendo Switch is specifically designed to encourage your teen to get out of their cave and play with their friends. This means your teen (and one other) can go out in the sun and enjoy a few rounds of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Bomberman R by just using one shared console.

Of course, you can get up to four players or more on the Nintendo Switch as long as you buy an extra Joy-Con controller. Depending on the type of game played, the portable battery for the system generally lasts about 3 to 5 hours. More intense graphic-heavy processing games will limit the battery life, while lighter more quick games will preserve its power.

Best Virtual Reality System: HTC VIVE

HTC VIVE
Courtesy of Amazon.com
3.6

Want to really impress your teen with the latest technology? Want to send them to another world? Get them the HTC VIVE, the ground-breaking virtual reality system that will make even parents want to get in on the action. It provides room scale VR, emerging your teen into another dimension where they can physically interact with 3D objects and play VR specific games.

The HTC VIVE is perfect for any teen gamer that wants the best in virtual reality. The system is compatible with over hundreds of games on SteamVR, so there are countless worlds to play in and environments to interact with. You can even condition your teen’s bravery by sending them on a first person rollercoaster, boxing match or to the dentist’s office. Included are wireless controllers designed to make interacting in virtual reality more natural and intuitive.

The device features an adjustable headset for comfort and provides multiple eye relief adjustments, including lens distance so you won’t have to worry about your teen having strained eyes or soreness. It features SteamVR tracking, too, so your teen will always experience the best of virtual reality whether they’re sitting, standing or in a room-scale space.

Best E-Reader: Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet

3

Feature-rich at a price that’s tough to beat, the Amazon Fire HD 8 makes a great device for teens. Available in both 16GB and 32GB configurations, each model offers up to 400GB of additional storage, which you may end up needing when you consider the depth of content available. Teens will be able to choose from millions of movies, TV shows, songs, eBooks and more. And all their favorite apps are available too, from Netflix to Hulu and much more. Up to 10 hours of battery life ensures all-day fun.

Books, videos, games, and all other kinds of media look great on the Fire HD 8’s HD (1280 x 800) display, and dual stereo speakers with Dolby Audio technology ensure that every piece of audio content sounds crystal-clear. Teens will also love the hands-free Alexa capabilities. They can make video calls to friends using the front-facing camera and use the AI assistant to inquire about sports scores, weather, homework or music. 

Best Gaming Mouse: Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum

Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Is your teen a competitive computer gamer? Do they play intense shooters such as Overwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege or Call Of Duty? Want to make sure they’re not screaming over losing matches by giving them an extra competitive edge with one of the most powerful gaming mice on the market?

The Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum is a mouse made for competitive online first person shooters. It features an advanced optical gaming sensor designed by Logitech that makes it their most accurate and responsive mouse to date. It comes with customizable weights that can be placed under the mouse to conform to the perfect fit and feel. DPI settings are customizable, too, allowing for 200 to 12,000 DPI to adjust for any intense gaming situation for primed sensitivity.

The Logitech G502 also includes customizable lighting, surface tuning and button macros. Your teen can change its color scheme and lighting frequencies with its included Logitech Gaming Software application. It's compatible only with Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8 and Windows 7 operating systems.

Best Gaming Headphones: ASTRO Gaming A40 TR Headset

ASTRO Gaming A40 TR Headset
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Maybe there’s too much noise coming from your teen’s room? But there's a way to keep their noisy TV or computer volume down when they're playing a video game and that's be investing in the ASTRO Gaming A40 TR Headset (one of the best out right now).

The ASTRO Gaming A40 TR Headset features pro quality audio designed specifically for pro gamer. It's designed to give clarity to every detail at every frequency and volume level. It comes with Dolby Surround 7.1 technology, as well as a Dolby Headphone output, which allows for clarity in sound (those gunshots might sound a bit too real) and voice chat, so your teen can politely disagree with opponents.

The ASTRO is lightweight and features an ergonomic design intended with the user’s comfort in mind. It’s adjustable and won’t cause your teen any neck cramps or blown out eardrums. It’s compatible with the Windows and Mac operating systems and comes with two models used for either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.

Best Gaming Laptop: Alienware AW15R3-3831SLV

Alienware AW15R3-3831SLV
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The ultimate gaming system isn’t always a PlayStation or Xbox, but a computer. Alienware is famous for making some of the best gaming laptops on the market that any teen could die for. The AW15R3-3831SLV is Alienware’s latest in powerhouse laptops; it’s sure enough to be relevant for more than half a decade, so you don’t have to worry about buying anything else for your teen.

The AW15R3-3831SLV features a 15” FHD 120Hz display and boasts an Intel Core i7-6700HQ 3.5 GHz processor with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 and 6GB GDDR5 graphics memory. In other words, this means it can play virtually any video game in existence for the next five years. Your teen won’t be complaining about game speed either, as the laptop comes included with 16GB DDR4 RAM with a 32GB maximum. The 128GB SD drive with a 1TB 7200RPM means countless data storage and immediate program launches without the wait.

Want to pair it with the HTC VIVE? It comes VR-ready and supports the highest video output of a 4K HD resolution. The powerful laptop includes a pre-installed Windows 10 operating system. Customers who own the product say it’s one of the best gaming laptops on the market. More critical ones mention that building a PC desktop is cheaper and initial setup can take time.

Best Robot Kit: Makeblock mBot Kit

Makeblock mBot Kit
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.2

The machines are taking over! In a few years, machine learning and programming will become one of the hottest and most lucrative careers in existence. What better way to set your teen up by giving them a toy that teaches them to build their own robot all while learning a valuable skill?

The Makeblock mBot Kit comes with everything you need to build a Bluetooth-operated robot. This educational kit is perfect for any teen that wants to become familiarized with graphical programming, electronics and robotics, but doesn’t know where to start. Teens will get their chance at building their robots by assembling 32 included parts, use drag and drop graphical programming and explore and customize various functionalities.

The Makeblock can be programmed as a car that avoids obstacles and an in-line following vehicle. It can even be played with in programmable games such as soccer and sumo wrestling. With its “infinite extensibility,” your teen can add on their old Lego blocks to the mBot’s mechanical body and further develop functionality with the Arduino open source eco-system that allows for endless possibilities in robot building. Just make sure your teen doesn’t build the T-1000 from Terminator 2. 

Tested by

Our Process

Our writers spent 65 hours researching and testing the most popular portable devices for teens on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

What to Look for in Portable Electronics for Teens

Type of gadget - There are all kinds of portable electronics you can buy for your teen. The question is what will they be interested in? If gaming is a hobby, then there are a few options, from a Nintendo Switch to a new gaming laptop. If they enjoy the outdoors, a drone might be a fun gadget to have.

Price - As you can imagine, prices vary depending on the type of gadget you choose, and you can spend a lot of money on a simple gift. If you’re not interested in dropping hundreds of dollars on the teen in your life, there are definitely less expensive options, such as e-readers and headphones, that you can opt for instead of pricier items.

Your own interests - If you’re buying this portable electronic for your own teen, don’t be afraid to take your interests into account. Are you hoping that the gadget will help you and your teen connect? If so, make sure it’s over a shared hobby, such as reading or gaming. Or perhaps choose an item like a drone, which is something you both can learn to use together.

Test Results: Nintendo Switch (Best Video Game System)

4.2
What We Like
  • Good screen size

  • Extremely portable

  • Amazing games

What We Don't Like
  • Very little storage space

Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch console
Nintendo Switch game
Nintendo Switch video game system
Nintendo Switch monitor

Our testers praised the Nintendo Switch for its lightweight feel, ideal size, and entertaining games: “It's like having a modern Game Boy but with better games and graphics,” one of our reviewers declared. Another plus? “It is amazing that you can use it on the TV as well,” gushed one of our testers. According to one of our reviewers, the only real negative is the storage space and the fact that you’ll need to buy a memory card for the games you download. But based on its selection of games, ease of use, and overall quality, our testers thought the device was a great buy. “For a casual gamer, you don't need any other consoles,” one of our reviewers revealed.

Test Results: HTC Vive (Best Virtual Reality System)

3.8
What We Like
  • Super immersive

  • Nice selection of games

  • High-quality sound

What We Don't Like
  • Requires a lot of space

  • Not wireless

  • Difficult to adjust headset

HTC Vive
HTC Vive remote
HTC Vive headset
HTC Vive camera
HTC Vive parts

The HTC Vive came highly recommended by our testers for teens who are very into new technology and looking to get into VR. “The amount of immersion in it is great, and allow many experiences that I have not done before,” one of our reviewers said of the device. While one of our testers called the setup “relatively straightforward,” he also warned that it takes a good deal of time and effort to play around with the settings to really get it to work correctly. Difficulty adjusting the headset and the fact that the wire could get in the way were also downsides, according to our reviewers. However, with a “vibrant” display quality and good sound, as well as a wide selection of games and experiences available (both free and paid), “[it’s] a very cool toy,” according to one of our testers.