Gift Guide: Tech toys, smartphones, and home-office aids for the gamer and geek on your list

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      The holiday season may be different this year, but there are amazing tech gifts that can make it easier for us all to stay home.

      We’ve got options that will keep you entertained, help you be more productive when working from home, and be ready for the world when the time comes.

      Video game consoles

      Xbox Series SX

      The latest hardware from Microsoft comes in two flavours. The Xbox Series X is packed with power and potential, delivering HDR images at 4K resolution and up to 120 frames per second. The all-digital Xbox Series S dials down the visuals a bit and removes the disc drive to reduce cost. Either way, consider complementing a new Xbox with a subscription to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($17 a month), which delivers almost 200 games, including everything from Xbox Game Studio developers and titles that are part of EA Play. ($600, $380, respectively, from


      The new DualSense controller that is included with Sony’s PS5 is revolutionary. With fine-tuned haptics, motion controls, and adaptive triggers, developers can give us games that not only look amazing but can feel amazing, too. The PS5 is a high-powered machine, getting players into games faster and reducing load times significantly. The two PS5 models are the same except the Digital Edition removes the disc drive. ($500, $630 from


      Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

      The Zephyrus G15 is from Asus’s Republic of Gamers line of laptop computers, and while it was designed with gaming in mind—including an AMD Ryzen 7 processor and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card—the understated design means that it’s not out of place in an office or boardroom. Powerful enough to drive virtual-reality headsets, the Zephyrus G15 can also use portable battery packs plugged into its USB-C port in the event you can’t get close to an outlet. ($1,799 and up from

      MacBook Air

      Just a few weeks ago, Apple revealed to the world that its computers are being built with its own processing chip, the M1, and the new MacBook Air instantly became the best all-around laptop available. It’s faster and it delivers better visuals, but what the ultra-
      efficient M1 chip really impacts is the energy it needs to operate. So there’s no fan in the MacBook Air, which means it’s completely silent. That efficiency also impacts battery performance, giving you up to 18 hours on a single charge. ($1,299 and up from


      iPhone 12

      The flat-edged form factor of the iPhone 12 feels a bit like a throwback, but the latest smartphone from Apple is anything but. With a crisp Super Retina XDR display and fail-safe facial recognition, it’s the most usable handset available. There’s also an array of magnets on the back of the device that will keep it snapped onto MagSafe-enabled chargers so everything is aligned properly. ($1,129 and up from

      Ekster iPhone 12 cases

      Modular iPhone 12 case components from Ekster make for a great stocking stuffer. Taking advantage of the MagSafe functionality on the new iPhones, these cases grip onto your handset to give it some protection as well as carrying capacity. You can use the cardholder if you only want to have a couple of cards and bills or make the case into more of a wallet with the folio. ($59 from

      Samsung Galaxy S20

      Samsung’s flagship smartphone is solid, dependable, and has an edge-to-edge curved screen with a 120 Hz refresh that is the best you can get. The 5G device has a new camera system with three camera lenses on the front of the device. The wide-angle and ultrawide-angle cameras give you 12 MP, and the telephoto kicks it up to 64 MP. ($1,080 and up from

      Google Pixel 4a 5G

      It’s no surprise that Google, which developed the Android operating system for mobile devices, can get Android running better on its own hardware. That’s true for the Pixel 4a 5G, which eschews software bloat in favour of a streamlined software profile. It’s a less costly device, too, giving up wireless charging and some processing speed but still giving you great photography and 5G functionality. ($679 from

      For listening

      AirFly headphone adapter

      The AirFly, from Twelve South, was created to solve a problem. Now that wireless headphones are necessary for so many of the devices we use, how can we go wireless with devices that don’t support wireless use? The AirFly transmitter lets you use your favourite wireless earbuds with treadmills and other fitness equipment and gives you cord-free listening if you’re watching a movie on the airplane. The AirFly Duo, USB-C, and Pro models also let two people listen at the same time. ($60 to $80 from


      It looks like a briefcase right out of the ’80s, but the Bassmaker is actually a booming sound system with a handle. Designed by Toronto-born Stewart Orr, the box is equipped with two 6.5-inch speakers and an amplifier. You can connect to it wirelessly with Bluetooth or using the quarter-inch input. The two channels can operate simultaneously and have their own volume control, so you can plug in a guitar to play along with the music or a microphone for karaoke. ($522 from

      Jabra Elite 85t wireless earbuds

      Jabra has been releasing consistently excellent wireless earbuds, and the Elite 85t continue the trend. New to the line is active noise cancelling, which you can adjust using the Jabra mobile app. One of the best features that Jabra builds
      into its earbuds—that its competitors lack—is the ability to be connected to two devices at once. So you can be watching a movie on your iPad and be able to take a call on your phone by simply pausing the film playback. Combined with excellent sound from 12 mm drivers and a case that supports wireless charging, the Jabra Elite 85t are among the best wireless earbuds you can get. ($300 from

      Sonos Move wireless speaker

      The latest addition to the Sonos family is the Move, which brings portability to the line of wireless speaker products. It was designed to be picked up and carried around, so you don’t have to worry about bumping it or having it on the picnic table when the kids are having a water fight. It gives about 10 hours on a charge, and the Move comes with a charging base that will get it to 50 percent in just an hour. ($499 from

      Home office

      Logitech C920s webcam

      So many of us have moved to working from home, and one of the essentials for those endless videoconference calls is a proper camera. The C920s webcam from Logitech will show you and your home office in full high definition, and because it’s independent from your computer, you can give yourself a frame and background that will make coworkers envious. It has also got stereo microphones and a privacy shutter so you can make sure that nobody can see anything if you don’t want them to. ($99 from

      Dell UltraSharp hub monitor

      If you’re not used to working from home, a monitor is essential. If you’ve already got one, you’ll quickly discover how much a second screen can do for your efficiency; if you’re working from a laptop, you already know how much you can benefit from a bigger screen that doesn’t make you crank your neck to see it. The 24-inch Dell UltraSharp hub monitor (U2421 HE) serves this purpose and also acts as a hub, giving you USB-C and USB ports that you can use to connect and charge your other peripherals. ($380 from

      Home stuff

      Nest thermostat

      Nest revolutionized thermostats, and with the latest version of the technology, it’s more effective and simpler to use than ever before. It’s easy to install on your own, and with the Google Home app you can set schedules in a matter of minutes and even control the device when you’re away from home. Remarkably, it will also automatically turn down the temperature in your home if it senses that nobody’s there, which can lower your heating costs. ($180 from

      Dyson V11 Outsize Cordless Vacuum

      Dyson’s latest vacuum was redesigned for the North American home, which tends to be twice as large as the average European home. The V11 Outsize is exactly that. It has a larger cleaning head, a larger collection bin, and comes with two batteries that can be swapped out in an instant. You won’t notice the extra size, though, as the Outsize is only slightly heavier but is balanced perfectly to make for easy operation. ($1,100 at

      Oral-B iO Power toothbrush

      Oral-B is a leader in electric toothbrushes and the iO brings new technologies to the job of keeping your teeth clean and your mouth healthy. A pressure sensor makes sure you aren’t brushing too hard, and a timer helps you keep brushing for the recommended two-minute duration. The iO also comes with a travel case that you can plug in when you’re away from home. ($260 at