Tech Wish List: The Best New Devices and Accessories for the 2016 Holiday Season


Ruth Kramer

By Noah Michalski ’18, Contributor

As the holiday season nears, many are considering what gifts to put in their annual wish lists. Electronics are an especially good gift idea due to the wide variety and potential. 2016 has been a great year in electronics development and many of these advances are great gift ideas. Here are a few excellent new devices in all price ranges.

Virtual reality options on smartphones have been all the rage this year, and the Samsung Gear VR virtual reality visor has set itself as a well-balanced top choice in headsets. The Gear VR headset utilizes Oculus-developed software to watch videos in beautiful 3D, and allows use with various apps. Unfortunately, it is only compatible with Samsung phones, specifically those of the S6 series and newer. The Gear VR headset costs $99.99.

For those considering a new tablet or iOS users buying a new device, set your sights on the new Apple iPad Pro. Boasting the advanced iOS 10 operating system, high-res multi-touch screen, the best lighting and color of any iOS device, powerful front and rear cameras, four high-definition speakers, an extremely fast processor, and a 10-hour battery, the iPad Pro is a superb tablet device for any use. Combine it with the Apple Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, and the iPad Pro becomes a legitimate competitor to other high-power tablets such as the Surface Pro series. The 256-gigabyte, LTE-compatible version of the 12.9-inch model (the most expensive option), accompanying Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil together costs $1,397. The standard 9.7-inch model is a slightly more reasonable price of $600.

For those seeking a more traditional computer, the Dell XPS 13 Laptop is an outstanding choice. It is the thinnest 13-inch computer ever made and weighs 2.7 pounds. The touch screen has exemplary color, brightness, and definition. The computer gets a record 22-hour battery life and has one of the most reliable wireless WiFi connection adapters ever created. The computer itself is also environmentally friendly, made with up to 90% recyclable materials, and free of many harmful chemicals such as lead and mercury. Dell offers a whole slew of accessories to go with the laptop. The price of the XPS 13 starts at $799.99.

Of course, there are more price-reasonable options for gifts. The Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Generation is Amazon’s home assistant and a reiteration of the older Amazon Echo. It uses Bluetooth, its built-in speaker and 7 microphones, and the voice-control system Alexa to “play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, and more.” Due to the Echo Dot’s reasonable price of $49.99, one can buy many for use in different rooms without spending an enormous sum.

Another Amazon product, the Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote allows the use of over 7000 apps, such as Netflix, Youtube, and Domino’s Pizza, through any TV with a USB port. The remote features Amazon’s voice-control system Alexa for easy and accurate voice control. The Fire TV Stick costs $39.99.

For Xbox users who did not get the Xbox One, a new alternative is here. The Microsoft Xbox One S is slimmer and less costly than its predecessor, and features even higher-quality graphics due to its compatibility with 4K televisions. It can play all Xbox One games, many Xbox 360 classics, and any Blu-ray disc. The Xbox One S has an enormous 2 terabytes of storage. The controllers are essentially unchanged, but have a better wireless range. At $299.99, the Xbox One S is less costly than its main competitor, the PlayStation 4Pro, and is one of the best gaming consoles out there.

Although the drone scene of 2015 is cooling down, many companies are still producing better and better drones. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is one of the most easily controllable 4-rotor drones on the market and has a phenomenal camera capable of shooting 4K video. It is controlled over the included remote or any smartphone compatible with the remote app. It has 5 obstacle avoidance sensors, and can fly up to 31 mph with these activated. The Phantom can fly for 30 minutes and up to 4.3 miles from the user. However, it is quite costly at $1499.

So, when shopping this year, check out the VR headsets or a new drone for your mom, dad, sibling, or friend. Everyone loves some kind of technology, so whoever is on your list this year check out the newest technology for this holiday season.