Holidays are not only a wonderful time of the year to reconnect with family and friends. For many, they are also an opportunity to score the latest tech gadgets and gear. Thankfully, you can choose from a bounty of items for the 2018 holiday season. Following is a sampling of the items you may want to consider (all prices are as of Dec. 13, unless otherwise noted).
Apple iPhone XS/XS Max: With this year’s release of the iPhone XS and XS Max, Apple continues to build on its lifelong mission of producing products that delight the end user. At 6.5 inches, the XS Max’s Super Retina custom OLED display is the largest ever available on an iPhone. But the XS models bring more than big screens. Powered by the most powerful chip (A12 Bionic) available in a smartphone, the newest iPhones offer faster Face ID facial recognition, new dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with HDR and depth-control capabilities, and even improved water and dust resistance. The added features do mean higher prices, ranging from $999 for the base XS model with 64 gigabytes of storage, up to $1,449 for the XS Max with 512GB of storage at the high end. (Photo courtesy of Apple)
Apple iPad Pro: Also enjoying a major upgrade this year is the iPad Pro. Available in two sizes — 11 inches and 12.9 inches — the iPad Pro continues to push the boundary between tablet and desktop replacement. New features include more screen real estate (smaller bezel), a beautiful Liquid Retina display, faster (A12X) processor, more RAM (up to 1 terabyte) and support for Apple Pencil 2, which is made specifically to allow for writing and drawing on this iteration of the iPad Pro. But the real story is the removal of the Home button (replaced with Face ID), elimination of the dedicated headphone jack, and replacement of the proprietary Lightning connector with a more industry-standard USB-C port. Be ready to open your wallet extra wide though, as the high-end version (12.9 inches with 1TB RAM and Wi-Fi+Cellular) comes in at $1,899. (Photo courtesy of Apple)
Samsung 49-inch CHG90 QLED Gaming Monitor: If you need more screen real estate for gaming or working your ultimate spreadsheet creation, or are just searching for a monitor that enables you to view everything you need on a single large screen, then the Samsung 49-inch QLED monitor deserves a look. At a sale price of $999 ($100 off list price), the CHG90 ultra-wide (32:9 aspect ratio) curved monitor will fill your field of view with easy-to-read Quantum Dot (QLED) brilliance.
Samsung Portable SSD X5: If you find yourself storage challenged and desperately looking for a high-speed, high-capacity add-on drive, then the Samsung Portable SSD X5 could save the day. The X5 delivers blazing throughput (2,800 MB/s read and 2,300 MB/s write times) on PCs and Macs equipped with Thunderbolt 3. And the X5 is fast and secure when utilizing the optional AES 256-bit, password-based encryption. The X5 is currently available in three sizes — 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB — priced at $299, $599, and $1,199 respectively on Amazon.
Amazon Echo Spot: Arguably one of the best (and cutest) devices in the Amazon Echo lineup is the Spot. The Echo Spot combines voice, camera, and video capabilities, enabling users to invoke Alexa commands; control internet of things (IoT) devices; make audio and video calls; watch flash briefings; view music lyrics, weather reports, and to-do lists, all in an attractive form perfect for any countertop or nightstand. The Echo Spot currently is available for $99 and fits perfectly in any stocking!
Amazon Echo Sub: Looking to add more bottom to your Amazon Echo audio experience? The newly available Echo Sub will definitely rock your world. Pair with any Echo or Echo Plus device, and the Echo Sub enhances audio playback with up to 100 watts of deep bass sound through its 6-inch, floor-facing woofer. Note, two units can be purchased and paired with two Amazon Echo devices for audiophiles seeking an even richer L/R stereo experience. The Echo Sub is available directly from Amazon for $130.
Lutron Caseta: Exploring more ways to automate your home? Then the Lutron Caseta smart lighting control system could be a wonderful addition to your IoT lineup. Caseta is compatible with virtually any existing home wiring, offering a seamless replacement for existing switches that can be operated via smart mobile devices, smart home speakers (Amazon Alexa and Google Home), or by hand (no smart anything required). And Caseta is compatible with more than 1,000 bulbs and works with dimmable LED, incandescent, and halogen bulbs, so there is no need to replace existing bulbs or purchase special replacements. The Caseta starter kit (in-wall dimmer, Pico remote, and Smart Bridge) is available for $100 on its Amazon page.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro: DJI updated its incredibly popular Mavic Pro compact drone in 2018 with the release of the Mavic 2 Pro. Ask any user what they enjoy most about their drone, and the resounding reply is “aerial video and photography!” With this in mind, DJI now incorporates a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera capable of capturing 20-megapixel aerial shots and 4K 10-bit HDR video in a unit that can be flown continuously for up to 30 minutes. New to flying? Mavic 2 supports single button takeoff, obstacle avoidance, return to home, and auto-landing functionality. Seasoned flyers will enjoy the updated Active Track and Point of Interest modes along with the new Dolly Zoom capabilities. Hobbyists and professionals alike have quickly fallen in love with the Mavic 2 Pro. Pricing for the Mavic 2 Pro is $1,499.
Tile Pro: Need the perfect gift for that forgetful someone in your life? Then the Tile Pro could make lost and misplaced items a thing of the past. Simply attach or tether the Tile Pro to any item you later want to locate, then pair with the app on your smartphone. Voilà — no more lost items! The new Tile Pro sports a replaceable battery, longer Bluetooth range, and louder alerts. By adding the Tile Premium subscription service ($3.99/month or $39.99/year), users can now track an unlimited number of devices, retain 30 days of location history for each device, and be notified via Smart Alerts if something is left behind. The Tile Pro is available individually for $35 each or in multipack bundles, the largest of those being a Pro Combo 8-pack that comes with a free Echo Dot for a total cost of $190.
Bullbird Travel Pillow BR2: The BR2 is a completely reimagined travel pillow, ergonomically designed to provide the perfect support for your head and neck, all in an ultraportable form. Made with tri-blend memory foam, this is one travel pillow that won’t flatten or give out over time. And it’s easily hand-washable. Included with the R2 is a travel pouch and carabiner so it’s easy to carry along for short trips or long hauls. One size accommodates most all adults. The BR2 is priced at $56 and available in multiple colors.
Tesla Model 3: Admittedly, the Tesla Model 3 may exceed even the most generous gift-giving budget, but it truly stands out as one of the very best “gadgets” of 2018! Think of it as a tablet with four wheels. Packed with the latest technology and constantly updated via over-the-air software updates, the Tesla 3 brings new meaning to automotive tech. Currently available in medium and long range, as well as all-wheel performance versions, the Tesla 3 is a gadget users will enjoy for years to come. It’s fast, stylish, and a total blast to drive. Love how it looks parked in the garage, too. Pricing starts at $34,200.
— David Cieslak, CPA/CITP, CGMA, is executive vice president and chief cloud officer for RKL eSolutions. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Jeff Drew, a JofA senior editor, at Jeff.Drew@aicpa-cima.com.