The theme for my annual guide is futuristic tech gifts and how to live a life filled with pleasurable, little interactions that elevate you from the conventional present. All technology is inherently futuristic, but some scream “sci-fi” more than others. There are gadgets that speak to our primal conception of “cool” and without further ado, let’s get started.

AirPods

Yeah, you’re reading the right site. Every pair of Bluetooth headphones that I’ve used before AirPods fail at the pairing stage. It was a clunky experience that often required a repair depending on the environment. With AirPods, it has been seamless and I very rarely have to head back into the Bluetooth menu of my Pixel 3, or any other previous Pixel for that matter.

With that basic step out-of-the-way, the compact form factor is brilliant. The bud that goes into your ear is near weightless and there are times that I forget it’s there, while the stem that houses the battery and radio is functional as it is useful to remove from your ear. Every time I wear them I marvel at how small, yet long-lasting AirPods are. Another great joy is the case. I just love opening/closing the case and sliding in the AirPods to charge.

I of course would prefer the gestures allowed by Pixel Buds, but the basic technology of miniaturization goes a long way to make AirPods feel futuristic today for only $159.

Where to buy AirPods:


Google Pixel 3

Simply put, Night Sight is just mind-blowing in what it can capture in low-light conditions. I especially enjoy using it to take pictures of signs and random posters when there’s barely any illumination.

On more than one occasion, the resulting night shot looked exactly like what I was seeing with my own eyes. It’s a game changer for night photography, and this is before factoring the fast software updates, optimized experience, and early access to the best of Google AI. I am personally fond of the smaller $799 Pixel 3 given its compact size.

Where to buy Google Pixel 3:


Fitbit Charge 3

This selection dates back to the idea of the quantified self. I think it’s important to have a record of how active you were day-to-day. All fitness apps take that data and make a basic graph, but I hope the real value of this information comes later in the future with better analysis and correlations.

I picked Fitbit because they are an established third-party that is focused on making fitness trackers for all. Yes, there are the likes of Garmin and Suunto that make devices for pro-athletes, but Fitbit’s value is knowing and investing in what the average consumer wants.

Fitbit provides particularly great sleep insights that are beyond how long you were in and out of bed. It notes disruptions and patterns that take into account deep sleep. It’s insightful and actionable. Meanwhile, the company’s latest Charge 3 is a solid piece of hardware at $149, with the company’s design chops finally kicking in.

Where to buy Google Pixel 3:


Smart lights

There are many ways to control lighting from a simple Wi-Fi connected plug to more dedicated systems, including lights that have the technology built right into the bulb. Regardless, controlling everything with your voice harkens to that “Star Trek” future. The most interesting bundle for most people is the one Google and GE are selling that includes a Home Mini and seamless set up at $55.

Where to buy Google Home Mini bundles:

Google Home Mini bundle


Google Home Hub

I’d also like to give a mention to the Google Home Hub, which I love placing at my desk. With Home View, it becomes a control panel to the smart home from lights to music playback. While voice commands are cool, sometimes you want faster and more discreet interactions to get things done. It retails for $149, but definitely expect to get it for less this holiday season.

Where to buy Google Home Hub:

Google Home Hub

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