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Best tech gift for non-techies: Useful tools for everyone

These holiday tech gifts bring all the benefits without the learning curve.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer and  June Wan, Reviews Editor

It may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but not everyone out there is as in love with technology as we techies. But that doesn't mean non-techies won't find tech gifts useful. And, who knows, next year they too may be converted into a stalwart tech-head!  

Here is a selection of tried and tested gadgets that are not only super useful but also not overwhelming for the non-techie.

Never lose your keys again! Yes, it's really that simple. Pop a Tile Pro tag on your keys and you can use your smartphone to find them when you've put them down in that safe place and forgotten where they are.

The Tile Pro features replaceable batteries, so they are kinder to the planet than the type you toss away when done. It tracks up to 400 feet of range and is water-resistant in case you ever leave your keys in the rain.

This is probably one of the easiest and best entertainment and home automation hubs, especially for those who already use iPhones, iPads, and Macs. It's small, discreet, yet offers a window into a massive entertainment and app ecosystem that Apple has to offer. And now, you get a year of Apple TV+ subscription service.

Also: Best streaming devices: Your top media player options

A piece of tech that's easy to grasp and satisfying to use, you can't go wrong gifting a wireless charger for a non-techie friend or family -- that is unless their phone doesn't support it. This bundle from Anker is the perfect wireless charging starter pack, with two orientations to charge from, a built-in temperature management system, and compatibility with iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixels, and more. 

Also: Best wireless chargers 2021: Top picks to keep your device topped up

Having a tactile and responsive keyboard makes for a world of difference, especially if you're gifting to someone who types for eight hours a day, 40 hours a week. While RGB, clickity-clack gaming keyboards make for stellar gifts to techies, I'd recommend the Logitech MX Keys to non-techies. It's not the fanciest keyboard out there -- the monotone slate design is forgettable -- but the high-quality keys and sturdy metal shell make the MX Keys one of the most satisfying keyboards to type on. Logitech promises up to five months of battery life, a bit less if you turn on backlighting.

Also: Best keyboards of 2021: The best that you deserve

This is the perfect way to get emergency power without needing a smelly, noisy gasoline generator! Not only is the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 small, not smelly, and silent in use, it doesn't need maintenance and can't burst into flames if you spill gasoline around it!

The Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 perfect for keeping laptops, mini-cooler, drone, and other outdoor electronics charged up and ready for action. It features a single AC outlet (110V 200W 400W Peak), twin USB-A ports, and a DC car port.

Need total off-grid power? The unit can be recharged using a separate Jackery Solar Saga 60W/100W solar panel array (sold separately).

Also: ZDNet's Greg Nichols reviews the Jackery Explorer 1500

The perfect accessory for keeping your Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 charged up and ready for action. Not the sort of thing that everyone wants, but for total off-grid power, the combination is hard to beat.

Also: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes puts Jackery's Solar Generations to the test

This is the perfect starter kit for those wanting to take their first steps into home automation. 

Each kit contains:

  • Three Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 60W LED Smart bulbs (able to fit most lamps, overhead lights, and 4-inch recessed cans)
  • Philips Hue hub that can reliably control up to 50 Hue lights without slowing your Wi-Fi
  • Smart Button with mounting plates.

Also: Fully accessible guide to smart home tech for the disabled and elderly

This is a lot of power in a small format. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus tablet features an 8-inch HD display, comes with 32GB or 64GB storage options (and up to 1TB with microSD card), and is equipped with 3GB RAM. It also features all-day battery life and wireless charging, allowing for up to 12 hours of reading, browsing the web, watching videos, and listening to music.

Also: Best cheap tablets: Editors' picks from Amazon, Apple, and more

The latest release of Amazon's best-selling streaming device is 50% more powerful than previous generation for fast streaming in Full HD. The Amazon Fire TV Stick includes Alexa Voice Remote with power and volume buttons.

Also: Best streaming devices: Your top media player options

Backblaze is a powerful and reliable cloud storage service made easy. It's the perfect gift for someone who either doesn't feel there's value in backing up their data (but would be devastated if they lost data) or who needs a simple solution that sits in the background and just works. The service goes for as little as $0.005 per gigabyte per month for data storage.

Also: Cloud storage needs disruption and Backblaze has delivered the goods

Need more gift ideas?

Check out our ZDNet Recommends directory or Holiday Gifts hub for some more inspiration. 

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