10 Cool Tech Gadgets That Will Make Your Life Significantly Better, According To Experts

Consider this a gift guide for everyone on your list (including yourself!).
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The Washington Post via Getty Images

The holidays are here, which means it’s time to shop for goodies and gadgets. If you’re the type of adult who still enjoys toys, then it’s a good time to ask Santa for some tech that can improve your day-to-day life. But with so many inventions to choose from  and so much knowledge required to sift through them ― how can tech newbies know which items to put on their lists?

We asked a handful of tech editors and reporters for the No. 1 gadget that makes their lives better. Many of them named smart speakers, like Google Home and Amazon Echo, which respond to your voice for hands-free help around the house. Surprising nods included a digital camera and a meat thermometer, proving there’s something for everyone. 

Take a look at your new tech wish list.

Sony Alpha a6000 Digital Camera

“It’s convenient enough to bring on my vacations or work trips, packs super handy wireless technology that lets me send photos to my phone without connecting to a PC and, best of all, takes pretty great photos without any effort. If lugging your bulky DSLR camera everywhere stresses you out, do yourself a favor and invest in one of these.” ― Nick Pino, senior editor at TechRadar

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Best Buy
Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera, $499.99 at Best Buy

Smart Lights

“Never having to reach for a light switch or wonder if you left a light on is nice. Better is always coming home to a warmly lit house and having the lights dim on a work night as a friendly reminder it’s time for bed. Even the way lights can flash when an alarm goes off is wonderful ― no more burned cakes in the oven.” ― Alex Cranz, senior reviews editor at Gizmodo

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Philips Hue white smart bulb starter kit, $93 at Amazon

Amazon Echo, Google Home Smart Speakers

“For me it would be the Google Home. It’s not necessarily my favorite gadget ever or the most interesting choice, but I found myself using it a lot over the past year. I’ve made a habit of asking it for the weather as I’m putting on my jacket before leaving the house ... [It’s] most useful for asking questions that I’d normally Google, without having to reach for my phone.” ― Lisa Eadicicco, tech correspondent at Time

“By themselves, [smart speakers] aren’t all that impressive, sort of gimmicky, really. But when paired with smart outlets, TVs, lights, thermostats, door locks and other devices, something magical happens. It really feels like living in the future.” ― Bryan Clark, U.S. editor at The Next Web

“It’s when [smart speakers] are combined with smart home appliances, like connected lights or switches, that the magic really happens. I have most of my home automated at this point, and being able to tell my speaker to do stuff for me is freeing (although frustrating when they don’t hear me correctly).” ― Cherlynn Low, reviews editor at Engadget

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Amazon and Google
Amazon Echo, $99.99 at Amazon; Google Home, $129 at Google

MacBook Air

“I’m not a big fan of gadgets, to be honest, but one piece of tech that definitely gets the thumbs up for being consistently great is my trusty MacBook Air.” ― Natasha Lomas, reporter at TechCrunch

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MacBook Air, $999 and up at Apple

Ultimate Ears Blast Speaker

“Not only is the Bluetooth speaker virtually indestructible and packed with sound, but you also get all of the benefits of Alexa. That means you can use it like an Echo at home and then take it to the beach, to the park, to the woods ― wherever ― and throw a mobile dance party.” ― Adam Clark Estes, senior editor at Gizmodo

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Ultimate Ears
Blast, $229.99 at Ultimate Ears

Fujifilm Instax SP-3 Mobile Printer

″[You can] print instant images from your phone ― more control than an instant camera, still guaranteed to stoke out everyone at the party. I brought the last-generation version on a trip to Mongolia, and the photos make an awesome gift.” ― Alexander George, technology editor at Popular Mechanics

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Fujifilm Instax SP-3 mobile printer, $199 at Amazon

Meater Meat Thermometer

“You stick it in your meat and monitor the internal temperature of your dish through an app. The Meater lets you know exactly when your food is ready to take out of the oven, grill or smoker without much work on your part.” ― Ashlee Clark Thompson, associate editor at CNET

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Meater probe, $69 at Meater

Amazon Echo Dot

“I use it for my morning alarm, weather report, timers, shared family shopping list, smart home gadget control and listening to music. Apart from my phone, it might be the most regularly used gadget in my house.” ― Dan Seifert, senior editor at The Verge

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Amazon Echo Dot, $29.99 at Amazon

Ring Video Doorbell

“It lets you see who’s at your front door, night and day, from anywhere in the world. Ring also offers up cloud recording at a monthly fee, which is handy to have in the event of a break-in or other emergency ... You can answer Ring from wherever you are, and that could be enough to thwart any potential unfriendly people.” ― Alex Hernandez, editor-in-chief at Techaeris

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Video doorbell, $179 at Ring

Before You Go

Gifts And Gadgets For Your Favorite Techie
(01 of 23)
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Google Home, $129, Target (credit: Target)
(02 of 23)
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Fitbit Flex 2 Fitness Wristband, $99.99, Macy's (credit: Macys)
(03 of 23)
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Nest Learning Thermostat, $249, Home Depot (credit: Home Depot)
(04 of 23)
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Minted Daisy Cube Speaker, $58, Anthropologie (credit: Anthropologie)
(05 of 23)
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Google Daydream View VR Headset, $79, Best Buy (credit: Best Buy)
(06 of 23)
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Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera, $70, Urban Outfitters (credit: Urban Outfitters)
(07 of 23)
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Big Blue Studio Wireless Wi-Fi Speaker with Chromecast built-in, $129.99, Brookstone (credit: Brookstone)
(08 of 23)
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GoPro HERO5 Black, $399, Amazon (credit: Amazon)
(09 of 23)
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42mm Space Gray Nike+ Apple Watch, $399, Apple (credit: Apple)
(10 of 23)
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Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Over-Ear Headphones, $249.99, Walmart (credit: Best Buy)
(11 of 23)
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Petcube 1080p Wi-Fi Camera, $179.99, Best Buy (credit: Best Buy)
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Mophie Phone Charger, $22.99, Amazon (credit: Amazon)
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Gourmia Digital Sous Vide Pod Immersion Circulator Precision Cooker, $89.99, Kohl's (credit: Kohls)
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All-New Echo Dot, $49.99, Amazon (credit: Amazon)
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Kindle Paperwhite E-reader, $119.99, Amazon (credit: Amazon)
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Crosley X UO Cruiser Metallic Bluetooth Record Player, $99, Urban Outfitters (credit: Urban Outfitters)
(17 of 23)
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Jawbone Activity Tracker, $38.99, Best Buy (credit: Amazon)
(18 of 23)
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3DR Solo Drone, $399.99, Best Buy (credit: Best Buy)
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AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Waterproof Speakers, $49.99, Amazon (credit: Amazon)
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Razor Hovertrax 2.0 DLX Hoverboard, $479.99, Brookstone (credit: Best Buy)
(21 of 23)
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12-Inch Gold Macbook, $1,299, Apple (credit: Apple)
(22 of 23)
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iPhone 7 Marble Case, $29.75, Society6 (credit: Society6)
(23 of 23)
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iHOME Stylus Pen, $9.99, Kmart
(credit: Kmart)
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