Rene Ritchie's Best Tech Gifts of 2018

iPhone XR in red
iPhone XR in red (Image credit: iMore)

You can't escape holiday gift giving — and receiving — and you shouldn't have to. When I shop for others and myself, I try really hard to only buy only a few, well-made things. Things that give value. Things that will last. Navigating all the Holiday Sales can be tricky. But, if you have a strategy and a list, you can save some money and make a lot of people really happy. These are the actual gifts I'm giving this year. And I can't think of a higher personal recommendation than that.

Chewie is my co-pilot: CMD Buy!

Diesel Sweeties has some of the best geek pins in the geek industry, including Chewie is my co-pilot, pixel hearts, and command keys, starting at around 10 bucks.

$10 at Diesel Sweeties

Computer Comfort: Throwboy Pillows

If pillows are more your thing, Throwboy has all the classics, starting at 25 bucks.

$25 at Throw Boy

Hey, Siri!: Apple HomePod

Persistent ambient computing is a life-changer. And, yeah, HomePod still isn't as feature-filled as Google Home, but after all the scandals this year, there's no damn way I'm giving a Google — much less Facebook, and probably not even Amazon — mic and/or camera to anyone. There are also some really good deals right now where you can save up to $100, and as a speaker, it's still best in class.

$349 at Apple

iPhone XR

iPhone XR (Image credit: Apple)

Colorful phone fun: iPhone XR

With a half-dozen colors to choose from, and the lowest price for an iPhone with Face ID, the iPhone XR is on everyone in my family's wish list and I'm not one to disappoint. The hardest part about gifting an iPhone XR is figuring out which color to choose!

$749 at Apple

Half Pro for half price: 9.7-inch iPad (2018)

For all the talk of Apple getting more and more expensive, the company also keeps pushing its technology to the lower end. The iPad nothing is around $300 and supports Apple Pencil, which is tied with AirPods as my favorite computational object ever.

$329 at Apple

Apple Watch Series 4

Apple Watch Series 4

Life saver: Apple Watch Series 4

$400 bucks with just GPS, $500 with LTE. The new edged-to-edge display is nice but I'm giving it to my mom because of fall detection. Very few products are literally life savers, but this is one of them.

$399 at Apple

Form the head!: LEGO Voltron

Sure, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, all of that is great. But LEGO ideas are truly cool. There's been Ghost Busters, Doctor Who, Big Bang, Disney, Tron, in the past. This year, there's Voltron. Yeah, fucking Voltron. Form the head out of that.

$180 at Amazon


AirPods (Image credit: Apple)

Sound of freedom: Apple AirPods

If someone on your list doesn't already have AirPods or Apple Pencil, those are great too. Apple has sneakily invented this whole new category of computational objects and tools. Tiny computers that use bits to far exceed the atoms.

$160 at Best Buy

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch (Image credit: Nintendo)

Game on: Nintendo Switch

Yeah, you might think I'm late to this particular party but I'm just in time for Pokémon Let's Go. It crosses over with the iOS and Android Go game, which I've crushed, so this'll be my guilty pleasure over the holidays. If Amazon would just hurry up and deliver it already… It'll run you around $500 with the console, controllers, and game.

$300 at Amazon

Catch 'em all: Pokémon Let's Go Bundle

If you play Go, Let's Go will take you to the next level. If you don't, Let's Go will take you back to the original. Either way, it's serious Pokémon fun for the holidays, Pikachu and Eevee style.

$100 at Amazon

Big & fast: Samsung X5 Portable SSD

Every season should be back up season. I have cheaper platter disks, currently Lacie 4TB, for all my videos. But, when I'm on the go, I need something faster. So, Samsung X5 Portable SSD it is. Yeah, wicked expensive, starting at around 300 bucks for 500GB and I went for 2TB, but it's Thunderbolt 3, and while it can run hot, it also doesn't run out on the road.

$300 at Amazon

Camera escalation: Moment Lenses

Even with my increasingly fancy YouTube gear, my iPhone is still the best camera I have with me most of the time and Moment's new lenses make the best better. The case is under 30 bucks, the lenses between 70 and 100.

$90 at Moment

No, YOU wipe.: TOTO Washlet C200

Everyone I know has gotten these. Even in their offices. And, as a result, when they come to my place, they look at my bathroom like… it's for… I don't know. Even animals apparently know better. I was waiting and hoping for a HomeKit model but I've caved and ordered the C200.

$420 at Amazon

Color TV: Philips Hue Play

Last year I got the LG C7P OLED TV, which is still phenomenal, and I set it off with some Hue Blooms. But they were always better suited to shelves. So, this year, when the Play came out, I snapped it up. You can get 1, 2, or 3, but I went for the two pack. Just over 60 bucks each.

$130 at Best Buy

Save Smart: Thrifter Daily Deals

Same company as iMore, but they always have the best deals, all day, every day, so just pick something they'll love and click, click, click.

See at Thrifter

Basically cash: iTunes Gift Cards

Especially if you can get them on discount. Even at the last minute. And extra especially if you can use them to buy discounted movies, TV shows, music, apps, and games. Always keep a few handy.

iTunes Card Deals on Twitter

Cool brew: Blue Bottle Coffee Subscription

If all your fam already have Netflix, look into something like Blue Bottle that'll deliver a new, single origin coffee to them every couple off weeks or month.

$8 at Blue Bottle

David's Tea 24 Days of Tea

Everyone loves coffee except for the people that don't. For them, new, unusual, flavorful, energizing, calming, and just plain delightful teas aren't just the next best thing. They're the only thing.

$50 at David's Tea{.cta .shop}

Soothing Sips

That's what I'm giving — and getting — this year. Or at least that's what I'm planning, even though no holiday plan survives impact with Blackvember Fest intact. None. So, let me know what you're giving — and getting — so we can crowd source an even bigger, better list together.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.