From new laptops and smart devices to fantastic drones and phones, it feels as if many gadget makers really hit the nail on the head this year with some truly great devices.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to keep in mind when giving or asking for technology this holiday season—and where to pick up some deals on Black Friday and beyond:
Apple goes back to the Mac
Apple has refreshed or redesigned nearly every product it makes this year, and its latest additions, including the iPhone Xs, Apple Watch Series 4, and the new iPad Pro, are some of its best in years.
The company also finally unveiled updates to its MacBook Air and Mac Mini computers, two devices beloved by certain niches of fans that have been overlooked for years. A great choice if you’re looking for an Apple computer for a new college student or something to use as a multimedia computer at home.
For Black Friday: Apple, which doesn’t tend to offer too much for Black Friday, this year is planning a “four-day shopping event” that starts Nov. 20. It’s not clear what’s going to be on sale just yet.
Amazon and all its Echoes
In September, Amazon unveiled more than a dozen new gadgets, all available in time for the holiday season. The new crop included updated Echo Dot and Echo Plus smart speakers, a slimmer Echo Show smart display, and a range of internet-of-things devices so you can bark at Alexa to control just about everything in your home: There’a $25 Amazon-branded smart plug, a $30 Alexa wall clock, and even a $60 microwave. The company also recently released a new, water-resistant Paperwhite Kindle e-reader, which reviewers have really been enjoying.
Amazon subsidiary Ring, the security-camera company it bought in February, also recently introduced some new products, including a stick-up camera and outdoor lights with cameras hidden in them.
For Black Friday: Amazon, as ever, has a plethora of deals on its site. Many of the deals are just reductions on junk it’s probably trying to get rid of, but it does offer decent discounts on its own products, including 50% off the Fire Cube streaming device, $30 off a purchase of two Echoes, and 33% off its Fire 10 HD tablet.
Google gets Pixel-ated
Google recently showed off a bunch of new gadgets, including its newest phone, the Pixel 3, which has one of the best cameras on a smartphone today. At the same event, it launched the Home Hub, a tiny, Google Assistant-powered smart display that’s meant to take on similar devices from Amazon and Lenovo. It can control the smart devices in your home and its 7-inch touchscreen can play YouTube clips as requested. The company also launched an iPad Pro competitor, called the Pixel Slate, which is reportedly not shipping until December, but this hasn’t been confirmed by Google.