Gift ideas for your techie friends: from smart speakers to app-enabled coffee mugs to the season’s most coveted consoles

Google Nest Audio

Make the space you’re spending most of your time in a little bit smarter with Google’s new smart speaker. “Hey Google” it and get it to play any of your favourite music, ask it the weather, connect it to your calendar or your lighting – any of that future stuff. The Nest Audio is 75 per cent louder than the original Google Home and has 50 per cent stronger bass, so expect some robust sound.

$130, the Source (First Canadian Place, Eaton Centre and many others),

Fitbit sense

Even if it’s just tracking the journey from your couch to your kitchen and back again, this piece of wearable tech is the quintessential fitness gadget. It’s got built in Alexa and can track your steps, your sleep, your stress, your skin temperature. It can deliver your texts and emails. It can even hear your thoughts (probably). For the splurger. 

$430, Best Buy (Eaton Centre, 2400 Yonge and others),

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11

Even in tech, everything old becomes new again. This instant camera (like a Polaroid but not a Polaroid, cuz that’s a brand name) let’s you snap a photo and then watch it develop like an André 3000 lyric. It’s 90s nostalgia overload with its bubbly pastel colour aesthetic, but with some modern touches: a flash that automatically adjusts shutter speed and a selfie mode. Good for young folks and folks who remember being young. 

READ  2020 has been a wretched year, but in video games there is hope - NME

$90, Indigo (Eaton Centre, Manulife Centre and others),

Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X & S

The next generation of major gaming consoles are here, just in time for us all to be begging for some video games for lockdown part II. They’ve both just dropped, modernizing graphics and gameplay engine. It might be a case of “if you’re reading this, it’s too late for your gift,” but if you sign up for the wait lists, make reservations and obsessively check the websites then you might luck out. 

Playstation 5 costs $629, or $499 for the “digital edition.” Xbox Series X costs $599 and Series S costs $379. All Access pricing from $30-$40/month. EB Games (267 Yonge, 519 Bloor West and others), and

Watch Dogs: Legion

Whether or not you have the new Playstation (or Xbox One, PC or Stadia), this is one of the big games we have our eye on. It’s made by Ubisoft Toronto, so you’re supporting local, but it’s set in a dystopian London, UK. What sets it apart is the “play as anyone” gameplay that makes its world completely wide open. There’s no one goal to hit or outcome to see, so you could play for as long as we’re stuck at home. 


Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

MobiFoto ring light kit

This is the perfect gift for someone you want to catch up with over Zoom but whose features you actually want to see instead of a dim silhouette. Ring lights might have once been a product for online broadcasters, but now we’re all projecting ourselves on screens. This lightweight one has a beautiful 12 inch LED soft light, plus there’s a phone mount, a collapsible stand and a carrying case. 

$150, Henry’s (89 Queen East),

Ember 2 smart mug

You’ve probably stepped up your home coffee game over the last eight months. Introduce some tech into it with this smart mug, which has become one of the most strangely aspirational items during the pandemic. The ceramic mug connects to your phone app, lets you choose your perfect temperature and even notifies you when it gets there. Too much for a mug? Measure it in the Starbucks lattes you didn’t buy. 

$149.95, Urban Outfitters (235 Yonge),

Moog Werkstatt-01

Unlike acoustic guitar, learning to play synthesizer isn’t so straightforward. But Moog has you covered with this kit, which is its most affordable ever and also the closest thing to a beginner’s instrument. First used in workshops at 2014’s Moogfest, it’s designed primarily for education. Learn about analog synth circuits, sampling, programming and all the other perplexing knob twisting you see happening onstage.


Nomad slim wallet

Read all of NOW’s 2020 holiday gift guides here

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. For more information see our disclosures here




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here