Hardware 2.0 Holiday 2015 Ultimate Gift Guide

Tech gear, from the big stuff like notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, to smaller stuff like storage devices and smart bulbs.

Topic: Hardware
1 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet


This is a gift guide with a difference. Rather than pick gifts for you and yours, I'm looking at the best of the best when it comes to tech that I've had the pleasure of owning, using, and drooling over this year, from the big stuff like notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, to smaller stuff like storage devices and smart bulbs.

There are also a few toys thrown in, along with a few things you didn't even know you wanted or needed, because I'm a big kid at heart!

Along with each entry I'll give you a link, some idea of pricing, and a little bit about why I like it.

Have I missed out your favorite tech gadget? If I have drop me a note in the comments below to let me know!

2 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Without a doubt this is the best Windows 10 tablet available, and is one of the best ways to get the most out of Microsoft's newest operating system.

Buy it here.

Price: From $899

3 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Without a doubt the best notebook I've ever used. Portable thanks to its light weight and long battery life, it is still powerful enough to take on desktop challenges. This is a real workhorse, and I've thrown heavy photo and video editing at it and it has handled it all without breaking a sweat.

And that Retina display. Wow! Once you've used that, there's no going back to a non-Retina display ever again!

Buy it here.

Price: From $1,300

4 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Apple iPad Air 2

The king of tablets (well, unless you want a bigger version, in which case you need the iPad Pro). Not only is the hardware top-notch, but the app and third-party accessory ecosystem that has built up around the iOS platform is second to none.

Buy it here.

Price: From $500

5 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

This year my favorite smartphone just got faster. Not only is the 5.5-inch display a pleasure to use, but the long battery life means I can do more and spend less time worrying about how fast my battery is draining.

The ability to shoot 4K video is also very nice.

In many ways the iPhone 6s Plus has replaced my tablets as my go-to device.

Buy it here.

Price: From $299

6 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Amazon Fire 7-inch

For your $50 you get a lot. A 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS display, a fast quad-core processor, a battery good for some seven hours, and a front- and rear-facing camera. None of these specs are going to blow your hair back, but then go back a few years and you'd have paid big bucks for a tablet with these features.

For the price you can't beat it!

Buy it here.

Price: $50

7 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Sennheiser Momentum M2

If people put cucumbers on their eyes to relax, then they should put these over their ears! Pure bliss.

These offer a truly awesome sound experience.

Buy it here.

Price: $250

8 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

DJI Phantom 3 Professional

It's a drone that carries aloft a camera. What more do you want to know? I can attest from personal experience that this is not only easy to fly, but it is also robust enough to handle those inevitable crashes that you're going to have.

If you're a photographer of videographer, this tool allows you to take some unique shots.

Buy it here.

Price: $1,260

9 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Apple Watch

There's a lot of interest around smartwatches as of late, and Apple has finally entered the game with the Apple Watch.

If you have an iPhone and want to look at it less by having notifications and messages sent direct to your wrist, plus the ability to use cool apps, the Apple Watch is the smartwatch for you.

Buy it here.

Price: From $349

10 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

August Smart Lock

Forget keys! Using your smartphone is the modern way to unlock your door. This simple kit is easy to install and offers the owner high levels of security to ensure that only you and the people you trust can gain access to your fortress.

Buy it here.

Price: $199

11 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Philips Hue

Lights that you can control from a smartphone might seem gimmicky, but these are a great way to not only create a mood, but to also help simulate daylight if you're stuck indoors during the dreary winter months.

Buy it here.

Price: From $60

12 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

OWC Envoy Pro EX

Apple charge an arm and a leg for storage, and even if you decided to give your wallet a good workout and spring for the 1TB option it still doesn't feel like enough, especially if you're into photography or video.

Enter the OWC Envoy Pro EX.

Small, thin, light, beautifully designed, and packed with super-fast storage, this external flash drive is ideal for any professional looking to augment the internal storage. And despite being an external drive, the OWC Envoy Pro EX is fast enough to keep up with the most demanding of tasks.

Buy it here.

Price: $219

13 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Roku 4

The simplest, fastest and best media-streaming device available. Do I need to say more?

Buy it here.

Price: $130

14 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

GoPro Hero 4 Black

If you want a camera that you can take with you into the outdoors without fear that you're going to break it, and bring back stunning video, then this is the camera for you. Ultra-portable, fit it anywhere, and immensely robust!

Buy it here.

Price: $500

15 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Sphero BB-8

I wasn't going to add the Star Wars BB-8 droid by Sphero to the list, but I just can't say "no" to that face.

Yeah, it's expensive, and yeah, it's all part of the marketing hype for "that film" coming out soon, but as smartphone-connected toys go, this is pretty cool.

Buy it here.

Price: $150

16 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Sony a7S II

I'm a Canon shooter myself (for my sins), but Sony have made huge strides into the mirrorless DSLR arena as of late, and this camera is capable of capturing some truly stunning photographs, especially under low-light conditions.

If I were getting into high-end digital photography today, this could very well be the direction I would go in.

Buy it here.

Price: $3,000

17 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Sony PlayStation 4

Both this and the Xbox One is on the list, so whatever your allegiances there's no need to fight!

Buy it here.

Price: $400


18 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

You want ports? You got them! The OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock is a single sleek dock is home to a vast array of ports:

  • 2 x Thunderbolt 2
  • 5 x USB 3.0 (including two high-power ports for fast-charging devices such as smartphones and tablets)
  • 1 x FireWire 800
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4b with 4K display support
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio input / mic
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio output / headphone

Buy it here.

Price: $220

19 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet


Free yourself from the hassles of carrying around long charging cables by popping this tiny key-sized cable on your keyring. Available for microUSB (Android) and Lightning (iOS).

So utterly handy!

Buy it here.

Price: $20

20 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Microsoft Xbox One

Both this and the PlayStation 4 is on the list, so whatever your allegiances there's no need to fight!

Buy it here.

Price: $350


21 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit

Repairing things seems to be a dying art, but I like to keep my gear going for as long as possible, and having the right tools makes the job infinitely easier. This is why I use high-quality tool from the repair experts at iFixit.

A toolkit like this isn't for everyone, but these tools, combined with a little know-how, can quickly pay for themselves.

Video review of this new toolkit can be found here.

Buy it here

Price: $70

22 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Wacom Intuos Pro (medium)

If you want pixel-perfect precision in your workflow, forget about the mouse or trackpad and invest in an input tablet. Perfect for all digital artists, whether they are using a notebook or a desktop system!

Buy it here.

Price: $350

23 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Logitech Harmony Elite

Have absolute power from your armchair with this all-purpose, programmable remote control. The perfect device for controlling everything around you while you chill!

Buy it here.

Price: $350

24 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

SanDisk iXpand

Instantly expand the storage of any iPhone or iPad with a Lightning connector with this simple flash drive. An affordable way to add more gigabytes for movies and documents.

Buy it here.

Price: $80

25 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Google Nexus 6P

When it comes to Android handsets, you just can't beat the Nexus line, if for nothing else that you get updates direct from Google.

Buy it here.

Price: $500

26 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

BioLite CampStove

Keeping your tech gear charged while out and about can be hard, but with this, as long as you can light a fire, you have power for all your USB-chargeable devices.

Buy it here.

Price: $130

27 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Sherpa 50 solar kit

Keep your notebooks, smartphones and tablets powered up with this handy solar panel and battery pack. Perfect for those who want to be off the grid. Just add sun!

Buy it here.

Price: $600

28 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Space Pen

I've carried a Space Pen around with me for years, and they've never let me down. I've never had one leak all over my stuff, they last for ages, and the pen itself is durable and comfortable. It's telling that many of the expensive pen brands have moved to using Space Pen refills over the years.

Buy it here.

Price: From $25

29 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Ring video doorbell

See who's at the door before you get up. The perfect high-tech way to keep an eye out for the pizza dude! Also, a great security solution if you're away from home for extended periods.

Buy it here.

Price: $199

30 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Philips Wake-Up light

Wake yourself up naturally with this sunrise simulator. If you don't have a window that allows natural sunlight to pour in, this is a great alternative.

Awesome way to wake up feeling refreshed.

Buy it here.

Price: $70

31 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Printrbot Simple Metal 3D printer

3D printers are now all the rage, and now anyone can join in the fun with their very own, fully-assembled printer. Just don't print anything that might get you on Santa's naughty list!

Buy it here.

Price: From $599

32 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Anker PowerCore 20100

The Anker PowerCore 20100 is a beast of a portable power pack. It has enough power to charge an iPhone 6 seven times, a Galaxy S6 five times or an iPad mini twice.

It also features an output of 4.8 amps which provides enough power to simultaneously charge any combination of devices at full speed.

Buy it here.

Price: $40

33 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Aura Smart Sleep System

The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System helps to improve your sleep and wake-up experience by using a unique combination of sleep-cycle analysis and environmental sensing, along with an easy-to-use mobile app.

Buy it here.

Price: $190

34 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Apple iMac with Retina 5K display

A quad-core iMac crammed into an a 5K display which features 14.7 million pixels -- four times as many as the standard 27-inch iMac. I warn you that looking at this will make your existing display feel old and tired!

Buy it here.

Price: From $1,100

35 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet


FLIR ONE works by detecting heat energy, giving you the ability to see minute temperature variances. Now you can easily detect energy leaks at home, see what's going on outside your house at night, and much more.

Buy it here.

Price: $249

36 of 36 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet


Drive safer and smarter with this little dongle that plugs into the car's diagnostic port.

Not only can it help you save on gas, but it can also be used to summon help in the event of an accident.

Buy it here.

Price: $80

Related Galleries

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro, Microsoft Surface Go 3, Huawei MateBook 14s, and more: ZDNet's reviews roundup

Related Galleries

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro, Microsoft Surface Go 3, Huawei MateBook 14s, and more: ZDNet's reviews roundup

16 Photos
DJI Mavic 3 in flight
Superb aerial camera platform

Related Galleries

DJI Mavic 3 in flight

10 Photos
Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station
Satechi Dock5

Related Galleries

Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station

6 Photos
Satechi USB-C Hybrid Multiport adaptor
Satechi USB-C Hybrid Multiport adaptor

Related Galleries

Satechi USB-C Hybrid Multiport adaptor

10 Photos
DJI Mavic 3: Unboxing and first look
DJI Mavic 3 with controller

Related Galleries

DJI Mavic 3: Unboxing and first look

43 Photos
Yubikey Security Key C NFC
Security Key C NFC

Related Galleries

Yubikey Security Key C NFC

8 Photos
First look: 16-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro
It's here!

Related Galleries

First look: 16-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro

20 Photos