Don’t let gift cards collect dust in your wallet or spend them on something you’ll never use. Follow these 3 tips to get the most bang for your buck.
Mike Roorda, Reviewed
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With the gift-giving season just about over, you’re probably sitting on at least one gift card to Amazon. But what should you spend it on? To help you decide, we’ve gathered up our favorite products from 2018. Whether you just want something small or need to make a big purchase more palatable, here are the things we’ll be spending our Amazon cards on this year.
1. A 7-in-1 Instant Pot
With all the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and more, anyone who cooks at home will love trying out new recipes on this popular kitchen gadget.
But those pressed for time, such as busy college students, will still love the fact they can whip up a tried-and-true recipe in an “instant” thanks to this electric multi-cooker’s speedy pressure cooking setting. It was one of the most popular gifts our readers bought this year, and it’s a perfect thing to gift to yourself.
2. An excellent all-around fitness watch
Whether you’re buying for a hardcore athlete or someone just trying to get up off the couch more, the Fitbit Charge 3 is the way to go in our opinion. It has 7-day battery life, activity tracking, a heart-rate monitor, and sleep tracking, as well as one of the better apps of any other smart fitness tracking watch.
Buying for someone truly hardcore? The Garmin Forerunner 235 offers much better activity and heart rate tracking as well as GPS for tracking your runs.
3. One of our favorite robot vacuums
Robot vacuums aren’t enough to keep your whole place clean, but they do a good job of keeping it looking neat on days where you just don’t have the time. This model from Ecovacs did well in our testing and it has some fancier features like compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant, customizable schedules, and a “max mode” that increases cleaning power temporarily—all despite being one of the more affordable robot vacuums around.
4. The Nintendo Switch you really wanted
The Nintendo Switch took a little time to get going, but it’s been out awhile now and there is a long list of new and classic games available for it. Whether you’re buying for a young gamer looking for family-friendly titles, a young person who wants to play the latest and greatest, or a classic gamer jonesing for a nostalgia fix, the Switch has it all.
Already have a switch? We highly recommend some newer games like Super Mario Party ($57.10), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe ($59.99), our favorite Switch case ($19.99), and the best USB battery backup we’ve tested ($53.99) for extra battery life on the go.
Note: for a limited time you also get a $25 gift card if you buy a Switch, so you can get something else on this list, too.
5. An affordable Alexa-powered speaker
At Reviewed, we love voice-controlled smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, but the diminutive (and affordable) Echo Dot is a perfect way to bring that functionality to other rooms in your house. I use mine in the kitchen, where it’s perfect for streaming music while I cook, setting timers, or entertaining my kids.
6. Our favorite essential oil diffuser
People are obsessed with essential oil diffusers. And why wouldn’t they be? They transform your home with good smells and good vibes. Bring peace and happiness into your life after this holiday season with our favorite oil diffuser. We tested the most popular models a few months ago and found this one by InnoGear to be the best.
7. An amazing Sonos speaker
The all-new voice controlled smart speaker by Sonos was one of our favorite gift ideas for 2018. With Alexa built it, you can not only play music, but also check news and traffic and control other smart devices. If you’re just looking for a high-quality speaker, consider Sonos PLAY:1, the Sonos One’s predecessor.
8. The best Amazon Kindle ever made
The Paperwhite is Amazon’s best-selling Kindle, and for good reason. It’s just about perfect, with its own backlight so you can read in any setting. This new model is also waterproof and has two times the storage of the old model, making it a perfect gift for anyone who likes to read.
9. A USB battery pack for all your devices
The first thing this RavPower battery pack has going for it is its huge capacity, which can charge a smartphone several times over before needing to gas up again. The trade-off is that that capacity makes this pack a heftier than some of the smaller battery packs we tested
That said, the 13.4-ounce RavPower Turbo Series is still slim enough to slide into a backpack without taking up much space. The clincher, however, is the pack’s functionality: There are two USB ports—one that’s Quick Charge compatible, and a USB C port—giving this pack the edge over its closest competitors.
10. Noise-cancelling Bose headphones
Bose has a devoted following, and with a pair of wireless headphones like the QuietComfort 35 II, that’s not surprising. The active noise cancellation (ANC) Bose here works perfectly to cut out a wide range of noises—from the deep rumbles of subway trains to high-pitched HVAC humming. The 35 IIs are light enough to be worn for hours at a time, and provide about 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. Plus, their sound profile is relatively well-rounded, gently emphasizing bass and higher pitches.
The only real drawback is the price—around $350. But if you have a little disposable income and want an outstanding pair of travel headphones, this is the pair to buy.
11. Apple Airpods (once they’re in stock)
If you’ve ever bought an iPod or iPhone and used the iconic white earbuds that were included, you probably know what to expect when it comes to the look, feel, and fit of Apple’s AirPods. But you’d be surprised by much better the AirPods sound than their wired counterparts—that’s why they’re our favorite true wireless earbuds.
What’s so great about the AirPods? Simplicity. Just pop open the dental floss-sized charging case and they automatically pair with your iPhone or MacBook. When you’re done listening, just pop them back into the case and they’ll magnetically slot into their chargers and automatically disconnect. It’s downright elegant. While pairing is the standard Bluetooth headache on non-Apple devices, anyone can enjoy the AirPods’ superior wireless range and killer battery life.
Note: the Airpods have been enormously popular, so stock is limited.
Get the Apple AirPods on Amazon (out of stock for the time being)
12. The best streaming device from Roku
The Ultra is Roku’s the top-of-the-line model and still our favorite streaming device. It supports 4K and HDR content at up to 60 frames per second, comes with Roku’s most advanced remote, and there’s even remote location button on the box itself.
The remote is still the easiest to use of all the major players, and it now features power/volume buttons that work with your TV. The remote is perfectly sized, has buttons to quickly access popular services, and even includes a headphone jack so you can plug in headphones and listen to what you’re streaming wirelessly—perfect for late-night binge sessions.
13. The best 4K/HDR TV for the money
If you’re looking to get the a truly robust TV experience for as little as money as possible, you’ve got to check out our top pick for best TV for the money: the TCL 6 Series.
The 6 Series is a top-notch performer that combines future-facing TV tech like 4K resolution and HDR specs with a svelte, voice-searchable version of the Roku platform. It’s easily the best TV in its price range, and should be on your radar if you don’t have thousands to spend this year.
14. A weatherproof Bluetooth speaker
If there’s one thing dads from all walks of life can agree on, it’s that stuff should just work.Especially tech stuff. Based on this criterion, the JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth speaker couldn’t be more dad-friendly. Simply turn the Flip 4 on, wait a second or two for it to pair, and you’re good to go.
The Flip 4 is JBL’s follow-up to the Flip 3, our winner for the best portable Bluetooth speaker under $100. In fact, if you’re looking to save a bit of cash, the JBL Flip 3 is still a slam-dunk purchase, and you can usually find it on sale.
Like its predecessor, the Flip 4 is splash-proof, features a rugged design, and pumps out some seriously good sound. We should know—we’ve tested a ton of Bluetooth speakers. Plus, the pairing process couldn’t be simpler, so consider it pre-approved by fathers everywhere.
15. A Nutri Ninja blender for your fitness goals
We all know someone planning to get a jump-start on their health goals in the new year, and this blender is for them. With a powerful, 900-watt motor packed into a compact machine, Ninja’s pro-style personal blender can whip up any smoothie or health shake in seconds—or maybe an icy cocktail, if it’s been a long day. I’ve been using mine for a year and love it.
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Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
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