It’s graduation season, and at this time it’s often difficult to express the pride you feel in a loved one or friend’s achievements with words alone. This is why most people avoid this and just throw money at the situation instead. But gift buying is an inexact science, especially if you’re not in tune with the other person’s interests. Budgets have to be considered too, and it’s easy to waste a lot of money on a gift that may not actually be appreciated.
Don’t worry; SlashGear has your back. We’ve compiled a list of tech-based gift ideas that are both practical and exciting. They’re things a graduate will actually get a good amount of use out of, and scots range from somewhere in the $20 region to around $150. There are gifts for foodies, music lovers, those addicted to Netflix, gym goers, and those people that already have too much tech to begin with. So read on as we walk you through the best gifts you can buy for this summer’s graduates.
A streaming stick is a decent pick
Despite Netflix’s individual struggles, streaming overall is one of the most popular ways to consume media these days. One of the most convenient ways to access streaming services is through a smart TV. These tend to have apps available for most streaming platforms, and users can access their content by simply signing in. It’s also possible to access regular cable TV by downloading your provider’s app and logging into that.
Unfortunately, Smart TVs have their flaws. They’re expensive, for a start, with a good TV usually setting you back a couple hundred dollars. Then there’s the portability issue. If your graduate is off to college, a TV is a large, bulky, fragile item they could probably do without. If there’s a TV in their rented accommodation, though it may not be a smart TV. Enter some kind of streaming device like Apple TV, a Roku box, or a Fire TV stick. These vary in price, though Amazon’s Firestick is pretty cheap, and can turn any TV with an HDMI port into a smart TV.
As an added bonus, these portable devices are great if you’re going to watch TV around a friend’s house, as they reduce the chances of your login details being hijacked by someone who isn’t comfortable paying for their own subscription services.
A smart speaker is a smart choice
If you’re looking for a gift with a range of uses, a smart speaker is probably your best option. Google and Amazon make some of the most popular smart speakers, with the Echo series and Google’s Home products offering high quality at a low price. You can get your hands on one for under $20 if you catch an Amazon sale at the right time. So what do you get for your money?
At a basic level, a smart speaker streams music. You can either connect it to your phone and use it as a simple Bluetooth speaker — or hook something like a Spotify account to it and have the device draw from that. The latter option also allows a user to play, pause, skip, and request songs via voice commands. A smart speaker is also something that can be built on. It can be used as a sort of personal assistant. If you ask it to remind you an assignment is due at midnight next Tuesday, it will. It functions as an alarm or timer, and if it has a display, it can act as a little TV.
The speaker can also form the core of a smart home. Sync a few reasonably priced lightbulbs and a streaming stick up with it, and your graduate’s whole room can be controlled through voice alone. So, in summary, this is a fairly cheap gift that has a whole host of functions and may remain useful for years to come.
If they can’t cook, get them an air fryer
Graduation often marks the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another. If your graduate has just finished high school, college is on the horizon. This means they’re going to have to work out how to feed themselves, as their parents are unlikely to be living in a dorm with them. While college meal plans and takeout are options, nothing beats being able to prepare something quick and easy with whatever groceries you have at home. This is where an air fryer comes in.
An air fryer, underneath it all, is like a popcorn machine on steroids. It blasts hot air over food which both cooks it and creates an effect similar to hot oil — but without the added grease and calories. Air fryers are also quick; they can produce a hot meal in just minutes, far quicker than something like a oven or a skillet. They also work well with some of the simplest foods. Frozen chicken tenders, nuggets, and fries all come out perfect in no time at all. If you need something more upmarket, an air fryer can also roast a whole chicken in around an hour. If the idea of an air fryer seems a bit limited, there are devices around that have an air frying function but also allow for things like broiling, baking, and roasting.
Earbuds that match the phone
Earbuds are an absolutely great gift choice that please a wide range of people. If the graduate in your life is a fan of music, it’s a no-brainer. They’re also great if they enjoy streaming content that their roommate dislikes. This way, they can avoid polluting the common spaces room with their noise. Gym lovers also benefit from a compact bit of tech that can make a workout go quicker.
The problem is, there are a lot of earbuds on the market, and they all come at different price points. If you’re buying a gift for a dedicated audiophile, and you have a large budget, then it may make sense to go high-end. In most cases, you can stick to the buds released by major tech companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google. As for which one to pick, you can spend hours comparing specs and weighing up various pros and cons — but the answer is much simpler.
If you want an easy time, pick a set of earbuds that matches the gift recipient’s phone. If you’re buying for an Apple user, something from the Air Pods range makes sense. If you want to get something extra-special, the second-gen Airpods Pro is currently as good as it gets. Samsung users are likely to enjoy the Galaxy Buds 2, and the Pixel Buds Pro is Google’s foray into the market. All of these are high-quality products, sold at a reasonable price point. They also have enhanced compatibility with the device they are most often used alongside — your graduate’s phone.
A Multi-device charging station
If you have a bit of a tight budget, a multi-device charging station is a great choice that combines both practicality with value. It’s also a good option if the person you’re buying for has multiple devices that they use regularly. The main things to look out for when buying a multi-device charger are wattage and ports.
A higher wattage means it will be capable of powering more demanding devices, up to and including some laptops. It also means there’s more power to go around, so more devices can be charged from the station at once. In terms of ports, at least USB-C port is a must, and you should definitely opt for one that has a 3.1 amp USB type A port too. This means a wide range of cables can be used with the charging station, and your graduate won’t have to go out and buy something just to get their new gift to work. Wireless charging capability is also a bonus. Most wireless stations will charge any device that supports wireless charging, but you should look for one that is Magsafe compatible — just so iPhone users will be able to get the most out of it.