With the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in full effect, the 2020 holiday season is far from being a normal one. More people are staying home and shopping for gifts might not be a top priority. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add some high-tech fun to your wishlist this year though. And if you’re not in a rush to buy for a specific day, you can get a lot of these items on sale after the holidays.
Here are some of our top picks this year for the techie in your life.
Go big and stay home
There’s still lots of winter ahead, stuck on your couch watching Netflix, HGTV and all the movies that can’t open in theatres. This is the perfect time to give yourself or someone you love a larger-screen TV. Both TCL and Hisense make a range of high-quality, feature-packed, budget-friendly 4K sets that are comparable to the big guns like Sony and Samsung, but for a much lower price.
The Hisense Q8G Series 4K Android Smart TV line (available in 50”, 55”, 65” and 75″) features a brilliant QLED display with Dolby Vision and HDR+10 picture capabilities, Dolby Atmos sound, and it has built-in Google Assistant and Chromecast. Because it’s an AndroidTV, all your favourite streaming apps are available for it, such as Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime, YouTube and many more. Another bonus with the Q8G series is the wire management system on the back of the set to keep your cables out of the way. The Hisense Q8G Series ranges from $649 for the 50” to $1,799 for the 75” model.
If you want to spend a little less, the TCL 5-Series line offers up a stellar 4K QLED display with HDR+10 and Dolby Vision capabilities and Dolby Digital sound. With built-in Roku OS, it has even more options for streaming services, including the Global TV app, Disney+, AppleTV+ and Roku’s own free, ad-supported service, which has some excellent older shows and movies available. The TCL 5-Series is available in 50”, 55”, 65” and 75” models with prices ranging between $549 for the 50” to $1,499 for the 75”.
Not just about the screen
If your TV is already large enough but you need to upgrade your sound, the Roku Streambar is the perfect addition to your home entertainment setup.
Along with a 4K Ultra HD output with HDR+10 capabilities, the Roku Streambar has four 1.9” full-range drivers to deliver Dolby Audio that will nicely fill a room. It comes loaded with the Roku OS, giving you access to thousands of streaming services, has the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in, as well as Apple Airplay 2, HomeKit, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth, allowing you to stream music directly to it from any device. The Roku Streambar retails for $189.99.
With both WiFi and Bluetooth streaming capabilities, along with a rechargeable 11-hour battery, the Sonos Move is an amazing sounding portable speaker that offers a lot of freedom. It’s weather and drop resistant so you can take it outside in every season, it can be controlled via voice with the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in, and it’s Apple Airplay 2 compatible. The Sonos Move comes in black or white and retails for $499.
Take your gaming to the next level
At the time of this writing, it’s next to impossible to find a Sony PlayStation 5 in stock anywhere. If you can be patient though, more units will be available just after the holidays (some stores may even get shipments in time for Boxing Day) and it’s well worth the wait.
From its sleek design to its powerful internal components, the PS5 is truly next-gen gaming. Waiting for games to load is almost non-existent on it, even with a giant game like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Running PS4 games on it is a whole new experience, especially with the redesigned DualSense controller. Add on accessories like the Pulse 3D Headset ($129), Media Remote ($39), and HD Camera ($79.99) helps make it a more robust, all-in-one entertainment system. The PS5 is available in a Digital Only model for $499 and with a Blu-ray disc drive for $629.
The PS5 comes with a fun free game called Astro’s Playroom, but if you want to really highlight the capabilities of the system Demon’s Souls ($89.99), Sackboy: A Big Adventure ($79.99), and the aforementioned Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales ($64.99) are all worth playing.
Make your home do more for you
The Shark IQ XL Self-Empty Robotic Vacuum is like a pet that cleans your floors. It maps out your home as it vacuums and when it returns to its dock it empties itself and charges its battery. While it has its limits, it does a great job in small spaces as long as you don’t leave cables or random things lying around.
With WiFi built-in, it can be scheduled to vacuum at a set time of day or you can control it via the Shark Clean app. It has an eco mode for quieter operation and a high-power mode for bigger messes. It can be linked to the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for voice control as well. The Shark IQ XL Self-Empty Robotic Vacuum retails for $499.
The all-new Nest Thermostat is a stylish device that not only helps make your home more comfortable but also saves you money on your heating and cooling bills in the long run. It’s easy to install and can be controlled via the Nest app or the Google Assistant. The new Nest Thermostat retails for $179. Before purchasing, check if it’s compatible with your system.
Kitchen gadgets are tech, too
The Instant Pot has been one of the most beloved kitchen appliances over the last few years and if you don’t have one yet, the new Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer (available in six- and eight-quart models) does everything the base Instant Pot does while also offering air frying, dehydrating, baking, broiling and roasting capabilities via a special air fryer lid. The Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer retails for $229 for the 6-quart model and $249 for the eight-quart version.
If you already have an Instant Pot and just want to spruce up your variety of meals, the 6-quart Instant Vortex Plus is a simple air fryer solution that allows you to “fry” food with minimal oil. Homemade chicken fingers, fries, and even doughnuts are all easy to make and healthier than store-bought or deep frying alternatives. The Vortex Plus retails for $169.
With three presets for smoothies, frozen drinks and nutrient extractions, the Ninja Professional Plus Blender Duo with Auto IQ is one of the “smartest” blenders on the market. Along with the 72 oz pitcher, there are two single-serve cups with spout lids included. This is the perfect gift for families or the health-conscious person on your list. The Ninja Professional Plus Blender Duo with Auto IQ retails for $219.
Tech is best enjoyed in comfort
While not tech-related directly, having a comfortable space to enjoy all your gadgets is of equal importance during this time.
Based in Montreal, Cozey’s modular sofa-in-a-box is a comfortable and stylish solution that fits any space you need to spruce up. As a bonus, the unique system allows a person to move and set up a sofa without having to call a friend. Available in one-seat ($495) to four-seat ($1,170) options and in four different colours, Cozey ships directly to your home in manageable boxes and allows you to try the sofa risk-free for 30 days.
If it’s your bedroom that needs attention, Endy, Casper and Toronto-based Silk & Snow all offer a range of bed frames, mattresses, pillows, sheets and bedding that will help you get the rest you need after playing with all your tech toys.
Silk & Snow’s Bed Frame with Headboard offers a sleek and sturdy base with a comfortable padded headboard that’s high enough to lean against while watching a show on your tablet or working on your laptop. Available in full ($500), queen ($600) and king ($700) sizes in pebble, granite and oatmeal colours, it ships for free in convenient packaging, is easy to set up and offers a 30-night trial.
Pair your Silk & Snow bed frame with Endy’s popular mattress-in-a-box and pillows and you’ll never have a bad sleep again. Endy’s mattress uses a proprietary top layer made from open air cell foam, which allows for better airflow than traditional memory foam. This layer is also temperature neutral and won’t harden or soften as the weather changes, making it perfect for the Canadian climate. Endy offers a 100-night trial and a 10-year warranty on their mattresses, which are available from twin ($675) to California king ($950). Visit endy.ca for more information and to purchase.
The Endy Pillow, available in standard ($80) and king ($95) sizes, can be customized by removing bits of foam to make it slimmer (Endy ships small pouches you can stuff with the foam you remove to make airplane pillows with in order to not create waste). Endy offers a 60-night trial and three-year warranty on their pillows.
Better known for their mattress-in-a-box, Casper also makes amazing sheet sets and duvets. Their sateen sheet sets, available from twin ($139) to California King ($219) and in a variety of colours, are extremely smooth and comfortable and are also wrinkle-resistant and safe for babies and children. Their humidity-fighting duvet, available in Twin/Twin XL ($400), Full/Queen ($500) and King/California King ($550), wicks moisture away to help give you a cooler sleep. Casper offers free shipping and a 30-night trial on all their bedding.
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