Shopping for teens and preteens can always be a challenge because mostly they’re just really freakin’ picky. A solid tech gift is a sure bet for today’s youth, but if you’re not sure where to start, there are some safe bets that any kid is sure to appreciate whether it’s for fun for function.
A Pair of True Wireless Earbuds: AirPods Pro or Jabra Elite 85t
True wireless earbuds are excellent for listening to music on the go or at home, and there are two main options we’d recommend for most people.
- AirPods Pro: For Apple users, AirPods are a no-brainer, but even if your teen is an Android user, AirPods Pro still work great with those ‘buds. The Pros feature great sound quality, active noise-cancellation, a transparency mode for hearing your surroundings better, and the earbuds last for 4.5 hours with the included charging case boosting that up to 24 hours. These earbuds easily connect up with iOS devices and can activate Siri with a simple push. They’re pricey, but the feature set and quality you’d expect from Apple make them worth that price.
- Jabra Elite 85t: There are many AirPods competitors out there and the Jabra Elite 85t are certainly the best. These earbuds are designed to work great with both iOS and Android, feature active noise cancellation, a transparency mode for hearing your surroundings, and the Jabra Sound+ app (Android/iOS) allows users to tune the audio to their liking. The earbuds last for 5.5 hours alone but the charging case can boost that up to 25 total.
Some Flashy Lights: Daybetter LED Light Strips
There are few easier ways to decorate a room than LED lights. You can set them to be practically any color, it’s easy to arrange them in a variety of ways, and they’re also fairly inexpensive meaning it’s easy to expand. These light strips from Daybetter feature strong adhesive backing and a remote that can adjust colors, brightness, and even toggle certain lighting effects. These lights can also be easily cut to fit-in wherever they need to. And let’s be real: since the dawn of time, teens have loved colored lights.
A Bluetooth Speaker: JBL Flip 5
A portable Bluetooth speaker is always a useful thing to have around, and the Flip 5 is one of the best on the market. It has quality sound, is waterproof up to one meter, and lasts for 12 hours on a full charge. This is a great all-around speaker that can be taken anywhere, and if you have multiple JBL Partyboost-enabled speakers you can even connect them together for stereo sound. The Flip 5 also comes in a ton of different colors and styles (14 in total) so you can choose what matches your kid’s tastes the best.
JBL FLIP 5, Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Black
A great all-around Bluetooth Speaker that you can take anywhere.
A Portable Charger: RAVPower 20000 mAh Power Bank
Quick, go look at your kid right now—I bet they’re looking at their phone, draining its battery. Everyone can use a good power bank, and this one from RAVPower features enough juice to charge phones, tablets, and even laptops. It’s built to be as compact as possible, and with a USB-A and USB-C port it can charge all your portable devices—it even features fast charging.
A Wireless Charger: CHOETECH Dual Wireless Charger
The convenience of a wireless charger cannot be overstated, and this one from CHOETECH can charge two Qi-enabled devices at once. It can provide 7.5 watts charging for iOS devices and 10 watts charging for Android. It also works great with Qi-enabled wireless earbuds like the AirPods Pro. Just make sure the kid you’re buying for has a phone that supports wireless charging, otherwise it’s a moot point.
A Smart Speaker: Apple HomePod Mini, Google Nest Mini, or Echo Dot
A smart speaker is a great way to easily listen to music, set alarms and reminders, or even check the weather. And the three we’ve selected pack that functionality into sleek and compact shells perfect for sticking in a bedroom. They’re all pretty similar to each other, but there is one major difference between them all: the voice assistant.
- HomePod Mini: For Apple users, the HomePod Mini is the way you want to go. It easily syncs up with other Apple devices whether it’s a phone, laptop, or TV. You can even ask Siri to move a song you’re listening to on your phone to the speaker and it will pick up right where you left off. Throw-in the nice-looking light-up top with volume controls built-in for a great overall package.
- Google Nest Mini: Featuring Google Assistant, the Nest Mini is immediately preferable to Android users or people who use other Google and Nest products like the Nest Hub or Chromecast. The Nest Mini doesn’t really feature anything all that unique besides its choice of voice assistant but the small size and significantly lower price than the HomePod Mini makes up for that. You can even easily mount the Nest Mini on the wall with the included hardware.
- Amazon Echo Dot: The Echo Dot has been through a few iterations over the years and the latest version changed things up significantly with a new orb-style shell. But at the heart of the product, it’s still a great smart speaker featuring Amazon Alexa as a voice assistant. There are a lot of other smart products that use Alexa, and if you have those in your home then the Echo is a great choice. It also features a button for disconnecting the microphone for added security and, for an additional $10, you can get the Dot with an LED display for showing the time.
A Wireless Headset: SteelSeries Arctis 7
Whether it’s playing games or standard voice calls, having a wireless headset around is sure to be useful—and the Arctis 7 is one of the best choices you can make. The materials on the earcups are nice and breathable, the microphone cleanly slides out, and the adapter is compatible with computers, mobile devices, the Nintendo Switch, and the PlayStation 4. Steelseries has also made variants of the headset to be compatible with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S respectively. There are dials for adjusting game and voice volume along with a mute mic button which can all be found split across the two earcups.
It’s a great headset, and with 24-hours of battery life it will last plenty of calls without dying. It’s also available in two colors: black and white. (Note: The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions come in fixed color options to match their respective consoles.)
SteelSeries Arctis 7 - Lossless Wireless Gaming Headset with DTS Headphone: X v2.0 Surround - for PC and PlayStation 4 - Black
A premium wireless headset great for both gaming and voice calls.
A Feature-Packed Keyboard: Corsair K100
Corsair has always made some great keyboards and its latest board, the K100, is jam-packed with useful features. This keyboard has six dedicated macro keys, media controls, full RGB lighting, a volume dial, and a customizable control wheel that can do all sorts of stuff through Corsair’s iCUE software. The brushed aluminum frame makes this keyboard feel nice and sturdy, and the gamer-friendly Cherry MX Silver switches ensure low response times (you can also choose to get this board with Corsair’s optical switches which aim to cut the response time down by even more).
It’s a great keyboard with enough customizable buttons for both gaming and productivity, and the included magnetic wrist rest is a great addition to improve ergonomics.
Corsair K100 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - Cherry MX Speed RGB Silver Keyswitches - AXON Hyper-Processing Technology for 4X Faster Throughput - 44-Zone RGB LightEdge - PBT Double-Shot Keycaps
The K100 has enough customization available to be an excellent keyboard for both gaming and productivity.
A Smooth Wireless Gaming Mouse: Razer Viper Ultimate
When it comes to wireless gaming mice, latency is always a concern. But that’s not something you’ll need to worry about with the Viper Ultimate—this mouse features Razer Hyperspeed wireless, which cuts down the latency significantly from standard Bluetooth devices. The Viper Ultimate also has Razer’s optical mouse switches for more accurate clicks, only weighs 74 grams to make movement easier, a 20,000 DPI sensor, and four dedicated reprogrammable buttons (two on each side, programmable through Razer Synapse). It’s also shaped ambidextrously so it’s comfortable for users of any handedness.
You can expect the battery to last a whopping 70 hours on a full charge and for an additional $20 you can also get the mouse with a charging dock.
Razer Viper Ultimate Hyperspeed Lightweight Wireless Gaming Mouse & RGB Charging Dock: Fastest Gaming Mouse Switch - 20K DPI Optical Sensor - Chroma Lighting - 8 Programmable Buttons - 70 Hr Battery
This wireless mouse cuts down on latency, has reprogrammable buttons, and only weighs 74 grams.
A VR Headset: Oculus Quest 2
Virtual Reality grants experiences that no other medium can, and regardless if your kids are gamers or not a VR headset is a great gift idea. And there’s no VR headset on the market currently that provides a better value and user experience than the Oculus Quest 2. This headset is fully wireless meaning you don’t have to worry about powering it with a good gaming PC or tripping over cords while playing. There’s an expansive library of approved games you can find on the Oculus store and even more can be found through sideloading.
As you might’ve guessed from the name, the Quest 2 is the newer version of the popular Oculus Quest headset, and it includes many improvements to the original headset all for a lower price. The dual-screens display at a higher resolution, performance is better, the controllers have been improved, and the headset is 10% lighter than the original model. The Quest 2 also has all the smart features of the original Quest like being able to designate a “Play Area” to ensure the player doesn’t crash into any furniture or walls.
If you’re looking to give the gift of VR, the Quest 2 is the best option hands down. It’s currently available in two different skews, one with 64 GB of storage and one with 256 GB of storage that’s also $100 more expensive.