The support shared among readers in the comments section is one of the things we love most about the Engadget community. Over the years, we’ve known you to offer sage advice on everything from Chromecasts and cameras to drones and smartphones. In fact, our community’s knowledge and insights are a reason why many of you participate in the comments.
We truly value the time and detail you all spend in responding to questions from your fellow tech-obsessed commenters, which is why we’ve decided to bring back our “Ask Engadget” column. This week’s question concerns small, but useful, tech gift items. Weigh in with your advice in the comments — and feel free to send your own questions along to email@example.com!
What are the best tech stocking stuffers?
Bureau Chief, UK
It’s boring but just so darn useful. A new USB cable. Specifically, Anker’s Powerline II cable, a USB-A cord that transforms into USB-C, micro-USB and Lightning. In short, it works with everything.
Even if your giftee uses an Android phone, maybe they have a friend with an iPhone. Conversely, they might own an iPhone, but what about their Kindle? What about charging a battery pack? One cable for all means less worries. And fewer cable tangles, too. At 0.9 meters it’s a decent length as well.
Community Content Editor
Two things come to mind: First, portable smartphone battery packs, which I gift to everyone because they’re useful to have on hand in a purse, backpack or glove box. If you want a heavy-duty option, this one from Anker is fantastic, but it’s pretty easy to find smaller and cheaper options. I even found a pretty decent lightweight, no-name battery pack in line at an Office Depot a few weeks ago.
The second thing that I seem to always be searching for, and never have enough of, are wall socket chargers with USB ports. Amazon has them both in the single cube version and in a multi-port version, and both have their advantages.
Even with the switch from micro-USB to USB-C now well under way, I still find myself hunting for a good cable more often than I’d like. Add in that most cable come with devices are too short, the questionable quality of a lot of early releases, and the mess that is competing standards, and I’ve grown to appreciate a good reliable cable.
All told, I’ve purchased a half-dozen braided cables from Anker (Monoprice also makes good ones) and strewn them about my house, car, work, friends’ houses, anywhere they might be needed. With good prices, a durable (and cat-proof) braided construction, and supporting Qualcomm Quick Charge, these are my go-to for charging pretty much any device. Just a note, while these reliably deliver power, they won’t deliver full USB 3.0 transfer speeds, though if moving files is what you need, Anker has you covered there, too.
Senior News Editor
True wireless earbuds might be a little pricey for what most people consider “stocking stuffers,” but there are some solid options available this holiday that won’t break the bank.
Apple’s AirPods with wireless charging case will be on sale pretty much everywhere that sells them (besides Apple, of course). Walmart, for example, will have them for $129 during its Black Friday sale. In addition to the fancier case, these second-gen earbuds offer hands-free access to Siri, which is worth the upgrade from the original model.
Jabra’s Elite 75t didn’t arrive in time for our best true wireless earbuds list, but they would’ve definitely made the cut. The company improved sound quality and extended battery life while making the earbuds themselves much smaller. They don’t come with a wireless charging case, but you should be able to get one soon if you really want it. And at $180, they’re a great value. Sony’s WF-1000XM3 is still our top pick, but they’re pricer at $230. It’s early in holiday discount season, but we might see some discounts on those as well. If they drop around $200 or below, that’s a crazy deal for the sound quality and powerful noise cancellation Sony packed in.