Holiday Tech Gift Shopping

From Apple’s fresh array of products, to Facebook’s new home speaker system, technology companies have announced exciting new products that you may want to consider purchasing this holiday season.

In recent months, Apple has refreshed much of its product lineup, such as adding to their Phone collection, with the iPhone XS and XS Max, followed by the iPhone XR. The XS provides small upgrades over the iPhone X, offering a very similar design with better internal software, while the XS Max offered a much larger display, at 6.5 inches diagonal versus the 5.8 inch XS. The XS starts at $999 for the base model, while the XS Max costs $1,100, or more for increased storage. Apple also launched the iPhone XR, a more colorful, cheaper model of the iPhone X with slightly downgraded internal components. Starting at $750, it is available in a wide variety of colors, and boasts a 6.1 inch screen. While it is by no means cheap, it still offers the latest iPhone experience for a fraction of the price, while sporting a larger display.

In addition to these incremental iPhone updates, Apple surprised users by announcing upgrades to forgotten members of its product line: the MacBook Air and the Mac Mini. The MacBook Air, which started the trend of Ultrabooks back in 2008, has not been given an upgrade since 2015. Earlier models sported an aging fifth generation Intel processor, along with a 1440 by 900 pixel display (the new MacBook Pro sports a 2560 by 1600 pixel display). Apple finally announced a complete redesign, which will have touch ID, improve the display resolution, and replace the 5th generation Intel processor with an 8th generation processor.

The Mac Mini, last revamped in 2014, has also gotten its own spotlight this year. The Mac Mini, other than now coming in a space grey color, retains almost exactly the same design as its predecessor, with the exact same dimensions. However, it now contains Intel’s eighth generation processor and is capable of holding 64 GB of ram, a massive upgrade over the previous 16 GB limit. While it is not particularly powerful, this machine offers a Mac operating system experience on the desktop for prices much lower than that of the iMac. The Mac Mini retails for $799, with a second model priced at $1,099. Fully upgraded, the Mac Mini price can skyrocket to $4,199.

Two more interesting offerings this holiday season are Facebook’s Portal, a home speaker, and Microsoft’s Surface Headphones. The Portal, priced at $199 for the smaller model and $349 for the larger Portal Plus, features a large display along with an always-on camera and microphone. Given Facebook’s questionable history concerning privacy, this could be concerning to many consumers. The device itself works well, with “room-filling audio” and overall sleek design. However, given how new the product is, it does not have the functionality that many other home speakers, such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo, do but it is still an intriguing holiday purchase. The Surface Headphones, coming in at $349 are also interesting, being that this is Microsoft’s first official audio product. These headphones offer noise-cancellation and bluetooth functionality, along with a minimal, modern design. These headphones have been called an excellent debut for Microsoft, and in a world where headphone jacks are increasingly hard to come by, these headphones may be a good find.