The Serious Insights Holiday Gift Guide for 2022 focuses on our best-reviewed products. They fall into a wide range of prices, from stocking stuffers to “wow, you bought that instead of a diamond ring?” The guide will continue to update through December.
The Acer Spin 5 offers a MacBook Air-type experience with a great display and all the bells and whistles Apple refuses to offer, like a pen and touchscreen. Adequately powered by an Intel Core i7-1260P, Acer has delivered a laptop worthy of consideration beyond what its Windows 11 Home pre-install suggests.
Solid 2TB drives that deliver a Star Wars touch wherever they are used. Increased speed over previous Special Edition FireCuda Hard Drives, but still no in-the-box USB-C connectivity.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 creates a 16” platform that runs from a powerful mobile companion to a near mobile workstation. Unfortunately, its large power supply, heavy build, and steep price premium detract from an otherwise excellent business laptop that can be configured for most needs that don’t start with thin and light.
A high-quality stand designed for iPads, but also useful for similar devices. A new clip allows for quick shifts between desktop base and shelf clamp.
A great thin and light foldable keyboard that combines a touchpad with a near-full-size typing experience. It takes a pounding for around 40 hours before requiring a charge. Connects up to three devices.
An outstanding executive notebook computer that listened to the market and upped its game, unfortunately, as HP got the tech right they lost a little of their more edgy design elements that differentiated earlier versions.
Drop Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard is the best keyboard I have ever typed on. Superior build quality but not great software or documentation. Typing is like butter, but the lack of an angle adjustment, Bluetooth®, and poor documentation take this $500 keyboard down a notch.
A solid gaming keyboard that can do double-duty as a work keyboard, but it’s a bit loud for multi-person environments—though the easily accessible RGB lights might bring fun to otherwise dull workspaces.
The Twelve South Curve Flex reengineers the company’s continuous aluminum Curve into a folding and expanding stand that greatly improves the functionality and ergonomics of the original without losing sight of the elegant design.
A basic Seagate FireCuda External Hard Drive emblazoned with eye-popping Spider-Man artwork. A must for any Spider-Man fan that wants a Spider-Man hard drive to just show they own a Spider-Man hard drive. Come on. LED strip, USB 3.2 Gen 1. It’s just enough to make sense if you even open the box. If you don’t, the Marvel branded box will look great next to your Spider-Man Funko Pop! figures.
A very functional device for scanning negatives and slides into digital formats. While scanning is a manual process, it is straightforward. Get through the capture process quickly and turn to your computer to process the scans, but the onboard software is clunky and unforgiving. Usually less than $200, so not an expensive investment to keep your memories secure.
The Poly Sync 20 offers great sounds on both ends of a call from this small but mighty speakerphone. The Pink version will net a $10 donation to the National Break Cancer Foundation. Also charges devices via a USB Type-A port.
One of the best business-first headsets. The Poly Voyager Focus 2 floats above the head while delivering outstanding sound within its ANC-powered acoustic fence. The perfect conferencing companion.
A sleek futuristic design. Perhaps the most elegant and interesting Apple 3-in-1 charger on the market. Does not come with a power supply, but does integrate its own watch charging technology.
Well-made open-ear true wireless earbuds with on-device controls and an app to support sound profile tweaking. Absolutely beautiful design. No battery in the case, so only 7 hours max between charges.
A good vegan leather case that protects the back and sides of the iPhone. A chamfer protects the camera lens from touching surfaces. Beautiful leather-like touch with matching metal accents on the buttons.
An excellent 4-port, 120W GaN charger that eliminates the issue of the charge block falling out of the wall with a cord.
A compact AMD powerhouse that redefines what it means to be a ThinkPad—sleek, with modern features such as an HD camera and AI-enhanced audio. A worthy step in the evolution of Lenovo’s ThinkPad line.
The Poly Studio P5 offers solid 1080p FHD graphics in a design that appears inspired by a squid tank, and that’s a good thing. Those with Poly headsets will appreciate the ability to put their dongle up the camera’s rear cover and eliminate the need for a USB port.
A good basic mouse, ideal for travel. The antimicrobial material is a plus.
An excellent webcam that delivers high-resolution video on a budget. At sub-$50, buyers may even feel like they got a bargain.
A smartphone camera mount with several apps that support video capture, presentations, and social media feeds. Pivo Pod rotates 360-degrees as it tracks faces and bodies, even dogs and horses. The well-designed hardware is great, the plethora of software and options can make figuring out what to do with a Pivo Pod a bit daunting. It is easy, however, to get started. Mastery will take some time.
ESR Rebound Magnetic Keyboard Case for iPad Pro 12.9 delivers on Apple’s Magnetic attachment technology at a much lower price than comparable Apple products. A good mobile keyboard, but it could use some backlighting and trackpad enhancements.
An outstanding USB-C hub designed for stacking with the Mac Mini, but sit it next to any USB-C Thunderbolt device and its powerful hub and storage features will transform any computing experience. Configurations go up to 18GB with a combination of SATA and NVMe M.2 drives.
Cleer continues to balance between price and quality with the Cleer Alpha Active Noise Canceling (ANC) headphones which offer superior sound and outstanding ANC in a premium package that usually discounts to under $200. With this quality and the reasonable price, Cleer tossed down a gauntlet to the likes of Bose and Sony that trading on brand isn’t good enough anymore.
With Yoga 91, Lenovo delivers a powerful, beautiful, and well-designed laptop that falls just this side of perfection. A little more thought on aesthetics and a keyboard with a bit more depth would seal the deal.
Monoprice 7-in-1 USB-C Multiport Adapter: inexpensive, lightweight and capable USB-C adapter that works well with Apple, PC, and Chromebook devices. The addition of audio would make it perfect.
Both Zagg Gear4 Apple Watch Band are, as advertised, light on the wrist. The material looks casual, but they hold up anywhere. I particularly think they look good with jeans. As with most Apple Watch bands, the Zagg Gear4 Apple Watch Bands install and deinstall easily. I experienced no magnet issues. Apple Watch owners seeking an alternative to Apple’s bands will find good value in Zagg’s alternatives.
A fine hub that supports a wide variety of connections, including 2 HDMI monitors, VGA, USB-A peripherals, wired Ethernet, micro and standard SD cards, and audio. Those with older devices may find it the ideal hub to retain their peripheral investments, those looking to migrate to USB-C for all devices will need a more forward-looking hub.
The ViewSonic VP2768a delivers on all counts. Thin bezels surround a gorgeous 27-inch IPS display with excellent color and hardware calibration capabilities. It easily reconfigures for horizontal or vertical use and also serves as a hub to keep desktops neat.
Mophie 3-in-1 Charger with MagSafe is an elegantly compact travel charging pad that supports charging iPhones, AirPods, and the Apple Watch. Includes power supply and USB-C cable.
The Twelve South BookBook for iPhone 13 perfects the BookBook line by integrating MagSafe into its classic leather design.
The outstanding Philips Fidelio L3 delivers a superior audio experience and a solid build that combines an aluminum structure with natural leather ear cups. The matt black finish adds to the overall feeling of quality. A better case and more robust audio cable would take them up a notch higher. The sound, however, and the powerful ANC make Philips L3s a powerful contender against market leaders.
Satechi’s 2-in-1 Headphone Stand is an excellent desktop companion for charging a phone and headphones together. The stand helps protect headphones from desktop incidents while keeping them fully charged and easily accessible. The stand be improved with an extra port and higher capacity output.
The $179.99 Satechi USB-C Multiport MX Adapter is a powerful travel companion that offers dual HDMI and a plentitude of other ports that should facilitate most situations. Would benefit from a longer cable and more explanation of the required software for driving the dual HDMI experience.
Chipolo CARD Spot offers Apple owners the ability to find wallets or other items where a flat device makes more sense than their AirTag. The Card Spot uses the same U1 chip-enabled network features to cast a wide net through the Apple community to find lost items.
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini: an outstanding hard drive and SSD product that also sells as an enclosure for DIY hardware aficionados. Comes in a variety of capacities from 1Tb to 4TB. Beautiful and rugged. A top choice for external storage.
VisionTek VT4510 USB-C Docking Station offers best-in-class connectivity. Power Delivery and a solid array of ports make this USB-C Docking Station an outstanding choice for beefing up even laptops that come with their own bevy of ports.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad Detachable delivers great performance for general work in an appealingly light and well-designed package. Great keyboard and solid performance as a Windows tablet. Would benefit from an improved webcam.
Creative turns the tables on sub-$100 earbuds with the Outlier Air V3. A surprisingly feature-rich product with great sound. Qi wireless charging, Bluetooth 5.2, and an IPx5 rating top the features you won’t find in most sub-$100 earbuds. The case could be more compact, but that’s a minor issue for a product that only works when it’s not in the case.
The STM Goods MagLoop is an outstanding MagSafe accessory that makes holding an iPhone or standing one up, a much better, and more shareable experience, than the stick-to-the-phone-or-case alternatives.
An excellent pair of earbuds, the JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds deliver outstanding sound, great ANC, solid call quality, and an excellent charging case. IPX4 makes them exercise-friendly. Although they fit well, it takes a bit of time to figure out how to place them in the ears. Lack of verbal confirmation on settings makes accidental button pushes a bit of a mystery. The free app, however, reveals all and offers a wide variety of customizations.
A solid wireless thermometer from Weber, the grilling company. Rechargeable batteries, easier-to-access ports, and Wi-Fi make up for the utilitarian design. Works great, and easy to work with.
A bag designed with the iPad Pro 12.9 in mind. Exceptional protection with room for most accessories. The tomtoc iPad Pro 12.9 shoulder bag’s snug design may not fit all third-party keyboard cases but should accommodate most configurations. Owners need not worry about dropping their precious iPad when properly stored in this excellent shoulder bag.
The compact Twelve South StayGo Mini USB-C Hub brings HDMI, USB-A, and an audio jack to the iPad Pro’s USB-Cort, along with a 100W Power Delivery pass-through port. Ideally suited to travel, but works just as well on a desktop. Supports PC and Macs as well.
Planet Buddies Kids Headphones, as their title suggest, are good headphones for kids. They are ideally suited for travel or attending a remote class. Designed for bigger toddlers and above in bright colors and decorated with likable characters. The integrated cable may shorten life if it snags on something. If that is a worry, consider the company’s Bluetooth headphones. Ecologically friendly at every turn: recyclable paper-based packaging, cloth travel pouch, and donations make on every purchase.
The Jabra Elite 7 Actives combine solid ANC with excellent phone call support, customizable sound profiles, and waterproof and dustproof design makes for a compelling set of true wireless earbuds.
A solid case that offers a wrap-around design with good drop protection. Excellent integration of Apple Pencil safety into the design.
One by Wacom Review: an inexpensive tablet that delivers professional features like pressure sensitivity to computers without pen-input. A key selling point is One’s Chromebook fluency without the need for drivers. Simple, well-designed, and extremely portable. Requires only a USB connection, no batteries or drivers. At less than $60 a great investment for any pen-challenged device.
A basic gaming laptop with solid CPU and GPU credentials. The quirky design makes the powerhouse under the hood a little less desirable. Not recommended as a business crossover computer.
A must-have for any Doctor Who fan. Supports Qi Wireless charging and wired charging simultaneously. The top of the charger lights up to highlight the TARDIS when wireless charging. A fun collectible that is also practical.
A well-constructed Tardis collectible. Full of tricks from lights to sound. A good speaker for personal use. Those in the UK can purchase the speaker from the BBC Shop.
The purpose-built OWC Thunderbolt Hub brings connectivity for 4 Thunderbolt 4 devices and a USB-A device as well. Ideal for workflows that require multiple devices from cameras to monitors, mixers, and graphics tablets. Turns the M1 iPad Pro into a first-class computing device.
The Clear Enduro ANC Headphones set the benchmark for sub-$150 head[hones. Bluetooth 5, aptX™, a wired makes great sounding headphones universally useful.
Campfire Audio’s Mammoth EIMs offer outstanding range with a few quirks that only deep audiophiles may notice. They sound best on bass-heavy R&B, EDM, and Rock, with occassional moments of annoyance when horns, clarinets, or saxophones sit forward. For those upgrading from wireless they will likely prove a step function ahead, especially when paired with lossless, Dolby Atmos remixes.
A ring of magnets that can make all wireless phones MagSafe compatible, and offers cool mounting systems even for non-Qi devices. Great for those who opt for charging features over fancy case. Works best with a naked phone. Accessories work on all Apple MagSafe phones as well. Rated one star less that the top because the best use case is a naked phone.
One of the best notebook computers we have seen. From the gorgeous display to a best-in-class keyboard, excellent sound, and enough ports to keep most user experiences dongle-free. This is a thin, light, well-designed computer only gets slight markdowns for its legacy pointing stick and 3-button trackpad, along with its mundane power supply, and lack of SD slot.
The Zagg Pro Stylus writes up a storm on modern iPads and iPad Pros. At $69.99 it costs significantly less than the $120 Apple Pencil 2 but it does swap features like wireless charging and pressure sensitivity for its reduced price.
The Cleer Ally Plus II true wireless headphones deliver outstanding sound, wireless charging, Qualcomm aptX Adaptive codec, up to 33 hours with just earbuds and case, and all-day comfort. These earbuds should be on any shortlist of sub $200 earbuds. Yes, sub $200!
The Mophie Powerstation Rugged Go suite of ruggedized batteries brings a wealth of extras, from floodlights and jumper cables to emergency flashers—and one with AC power. All models include a carrying pouch for accessories, cables, and air compressor tips (depending on the model). Highly versatile batteries for travel, be it work or play. Marked down on design for lack of rugged certifications.
JBL fit a lot of sound into their rather simple AirPod inspired JBL Tune 215TWS earbuds. Enjoyable basic earbuds that won’t break budgets or intertragical notches.
The HP Spectre X360 14 offers an outstanding but pricy addition to the HP lineup. Should be a top choice for all by those seeking a primarily tablet experience. Includes rechargeable stylus and a slipcase. Elegant and powerful.
If you need an extra monitor on the road, and HD is good enough, then the ViewSonic TD1655 monitor is more than good enough. The lightweight, ease of connection, capacitive touch, built-in stand, and speakers make this an ideal travel companion for working on the road.
The FAMETEK Star Trek Enterprise 1701-D Bluetooth Speaker warps solid sound into any work or leisure area. Lights and play mode adds to the fun.
The Star Trek Power Bank is a must-have for any Star Trek fan on an away mission. The 10,000mAh battery will keep phones and tablets charged for extra hours. And all that charging time will show off the owner’s love of all things Trek.
First of all, this Star Trek Qi Wireless Charger sports a Starfleet Academy logo (also comes in Starfleet Command and a stained glass window version). So way cool. And it lights up! And it’s also a battery, which charges wired devices. It works as a Qi wireless charger even when not plugged in. And yes, it charges two devices at a time. Make it so! Would benefit from a USB-C upgrade.
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Daniel W. Rasmus, the author of Listening to the Future, is a strategist and industry analyst who helps clients put their future in context. Rasmus uses scenarios to analyze trends in society, technology, economics, the environment, and politics in order to discover implications used to develop and refine products, services and experiences. His latest book, Management by Design proposes an innovative new methodology for the design workplace experiences. Rasmus’s thoughts about the future of work have appeared recently in Chief Learning Officer Magazine, Government eLearning!, KMWorld and TabletPC. A wildly popular article on CIO.com titled, 10 Lessons from Angry Birds That Can Make You a Better CIO, went viral on the Internet.