Welcome to the NJTechReviews 2017 Holiday Gift Guide!
You are in the right place to find our favorite products from the year! Ranging from our top picks to our favorite smartphones, speakers, games, toys, and more. In the coming weeks stay tuned for top picks from our editors.
Before we dive into our favorites across the line, we want to call out the Sphero Mini. At $50 the Sphere Mini not only provides hours of fun gameplay, but it has an educational component as it can help to teach you coding. You even get a few props for games out of the box, and you can control the Mini with your face. Definitely look into the Sphere Mini a stocking stuffer or a full on holiday gift.
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
Even with a few bumps like a small subset of users having display issues, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the best that Android has to offer for the holidays. You get a stunning display and quite frankly amazing camera setup. Google has yet again provided that Software + Hardware + Artificial Intelligence is an equation for success. You can get the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL from Verizon with a contract or unlocked from the Google Store.
Apple iPhone X
Our favorite phone of the year is the iPhone X– it truly is a stunning device, but the price tag from an unlocked perspective might be seen as high. Thankfully much of the carriers in the United States and even Apple offer monthly payment plans. My three favorite things would be the design both physical and software wise, it is what Apple excels at, and they did with the X. Second you have the Super Retina Display which is the first OLED on an iPhone, and it is super vibrant. Rounding out the iPhone X would be the True Depth sensor and camera on the front that allows for Face ID, Animoji, and stunning Portrait Mode selfies. The iPhone X is available from Apple, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint.
Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
If you don’t want to lose the home button just yet, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus might have been overshadowed by the iPhone X but are still solid. The main difference would be a similar design, it is not as futuristic and still has plenty of bezels. You also get an updated camera setup on the back, but the same front facing camera on the iPhone 7. Apple has included the A11 Bionic Chip, and a True Tone display, both of these make a big difference. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are available from Apple, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint.
Google Home Mini
Unveiled at Google’s Fall 2017 event, the Home Mini is an affordable smart speaker that packs a punch. It’s normally priced at $49, but it will be getting deep discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it is filled with features. It also has a more beautiful design and better sound quality than the similarity priced Echo Dot from Amazon. You can also expect new modes to be frequently added through software updates. The Google Home Mini is available from the Google Store, Verizon, and third-party retailers.
Sphero R2D2 and BB-9E
We were impressed two years ago with Sphero’s BB-8, and they did not disappoint Star Wars fans this year. We got out first look at The First Order’s astromech droid, BB-9E, which is similar in design to BB8, works with the Force Band and packs a sleek new style. Sphero’s BB9E is $149, but the star of the holiday season and a top pick is R2D2 which comes in at $179. It is incredibly accurate and is just pure fun; it will be a top pick for the holiday season.
Given that The Last Jedi drops on December 15th, there are plenty of Star Wars products coming. Lenovo and Disney partnered together to make Jedi Challenges. An AR experience that works with your phone, a headset, a lightsaber, and a beacon. The result is awesome, and our full review is coming soon. Jedi Challenges will let you play “holochess,” plan out a battle and fight with Darth Vader. At $199 Jedi Challenges is not cheap but will provide plenty of enjoyment.
Star Wars: Battlefront II
It’s been long awaited, and Electronic Arts did screw up the launch by having in-game purchases and then suspending them for a limited time, but Battlefront II is a great game. Our full review is forthcoming, but the campaign has many twists, and the biggest complaint is that it short, we can only hope they expand it with free updates down the line. The new Heroes vs. Villains multiplayer is a battle of the best, and the other modes don’t disappoint. Star Wars: Battlefront II is available now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Activision is bringing Call of Duty back to its roots, and that is COD: WWII. The storyline takes your through World War II and brings a good amount of realism and a strong story to it. Graphics have been improved quite a bit, along with the overall controls of the game. All-in-all after this many years with the franchise, the method is almost perfected. And if your a fan of the brand, COD: WWII won’t disappoint.
Yakuza Kiwami is an open-world action game that pits the player in the treacherous Japanese underworld. As Kiryu Kazama, the player unravels a vast conspiracy that may be related to an old friend. This game also mixes in role-playing and fighting game elements. Yakuza Kiwami is available exclusively for the PlayStation 4.
The All-in-One computer was perfected by Apple, and the current line of iMac’s do not disappoint, even with the iMac Pro on the horizon. Our full review on the 27-inch iMac is coming very soon, but it is making the gift guide in the meantime. The 5K display is truly breathtaking and represents color very accurately with full vibrancy. The design is still quite thin, even by 2017 standards, and macOS High Sierra runs great on it. The 27-inch iMac starts at starts at $1,799, while the 21.5-inch is more affordable at $1,099.
We have been big fans of Lenovo for quite some time, and we have been testing a truly powerful gaming computer from them for several months. The Lenovo Y900 makes our gift guide as a top gaming PC, especially when paired with the Razer package that gives you a tactical keyboard and mouse. We threw many intense games at the Y900, and it really couldn’t be stopped. And while it doesn’t handle VR out of the box, that can be fixed down the road. The Lenovo Y900 starts at $1,329 and is readily available.
iPad Pro 10.5-inch
Back at WWDC 2017, we saw Apple unveil a new sized iPad Pro that replaces the 9.7-inch–The 10.5-inch iPad Pro doesn’t disappoint with a Pro-Motion display. This gives the device a super high refresh rate, which means watching videos and gaming is incredibly enjoyable. Plus with iOS 11 it makes the iPad Pro a better alternative to a computer and allows for real multitasking. The iPad Pro is available from Apple, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint.