Teens and tweens are a tough bunch. They can be picky, yet they've grown up knowing only a tech-driven world. Which means they understand the value of technology products, and use them through their daily lives. With that said, here are some great gift ideas.
If you're looking for a good home computer the kids can use within the Apple universe, the Mac Mini might be a good option. It offers quad- and six-core processors, up to 64GB of faster memory, and fast all-flash storage. It also includes the Apple T2 Security Chip, and a 10GB Ethernet option. Turbo Boost Speeds up to 4.6GHz and Intel UHD graphics are combined with up to 64GB of 2666 MHz memory, allowing it to load larger files into memory, run more virtual machines or manipulate large data sets. With capacities up to 2TB, it has four Thunderbolt 3 ports (twice as many as before), and can connect to high-speed storage, 4K and 5K Thunderbolt displays, and output video in three formats. It also has an HDMI 2.0 port, two USB-A ports, an audio jack, and Gigabit Ethernet. Space grey with macOS Mojave, starts at $999.
Beats by Mickey Mouse Special Edition Beats by Dr. Dre Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones
If the teen/tween loves Disney, they'll love these special edition headphones. Designed in celebration of the 90th anniversary of iconic Disney character Mickey Mouse, the special edition Beats Solo3 wireless headphones come finished in cool grey with an all-over design, and run for up to 40 hours, plus another three after just five minutes of charging. With cushioned, pivoting and adjustable earcups for a customized fit, they contain the Apple W1 chip for one-step Bluetooth connection, and the ability to toggle seamlessly among iCloud-registered devices. They come with custom felt case inspired by the materials from Mickey Mouse ear hats, plus a collectible 90th anniversary pin and decal sticker. $399.95
Google Chrome Pixel Slate
A great yet portable computer to use at home, or even for taking notes in the classroom, the Pixel Slate features the full Chrome OS browser with extensions, so kids can access the full versions of Websites, not just mobile versions. They can also access Google Play apps, and take photos using the 8MP front and rear cameras, and front-facing Duo Cam that provides an extra wide field of view and good low light performance. Offering up to 12 hours of battery life with typical mixed usage, Google Assistant is built in, along with a new launcher, machine learning-generated suggestions, and multitasking tools. Unlock it using Pixel Imprint. Add the full-sized backlit Pixel Slate Keyboard ($259), which has round Hush Keys for quiet typing, a dedicated Google Assistant key, and an extra-large trackpad. The adjustable folio allows you to comfortably work at any angle, and serves as a slim protective case when you're on the go. It works with the low-latency Pixelbook Pen ($129) launched last year. Starts at $849. Get the full she-bang for under $1,250. Google.ca
HP Tango Smart Home Printer
Printing? Teens and tweens might not quite understand this concept, since they typically consume everything digitally. In this such case, they might appreciate a small printer like this one, which serves limited printing needs, and is fully app-based and voice-activated. Thanks to cloud connectivity, you can send prints, or make scans and copies, from anywhere with Wi-Fi, using the HP Smart app (iOS and Android). Ink can be ordered directly from the app, or the Tango can order it automatically when you're running low with enrolment in HP Instant Ink, which also affords the ability to print photos for free from your smartphone. Soft materials offer an aesthetic accent, and also serve as a paper landing zone. A "guided lighting" LED illuminates the paper tray when it's printing or out of paper. $180; $240 for the X version that comes with a cover.
Toshiba Fire TV
If your son or daughter has been pushing to have a TV in his room, or basement, consider an affordable model like this one, which comes in sizes ranging from 32" up to 55". What the young'ens will appreciate most is the direct access to streaming content from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and Alexa skills. When using a Firefox or Amazon Silk browser, visit websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit. With Alexa, use your voice to find, search, and control content in French and English. Press the voice button on your remote and say, "Launch Netflix," "Find dramas," or "Watch Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan." Play music, check the weather, control compatible smart home devices, and more. Connect a Toshiba Fire TV Edition TV to any HDTV antenna (sold separately) and use the included Voice Remote with Alexa to search for and watch live over-the-air broadcast TV, or streaming movies and TV shows. They start at just $300.
House of Marley No Bounds All-Terrain Portable Bluetooth Speaker
A portable Bluetooth speaker is probably on every teen/tween wish list. This one is lightweight, and can be used both indoors and out. It can even float in water. It's made from sustainable harvested cork, and the brand's signature Rewind fabric, non-toxic Regrind silicone, and recyclable aluminum. The cylindrical speaker offers high-performance 360-degree sound, comes with an intuitive rotating volume dial, has a built-in microphone, and can run for up to 12 hours. Stash the charging cable neatly away in the twist-bottom cork base, and pair two for stereo sound. Three colours, comes with a metal carabiner clip. MAP $120
HP Sprocket 2nd Edition
This cute, pocket-sized printer might encourage teens/tweens to make actual prints from the hundreds of photos they take with their smartphones. It connects wirelessly with a smartphone, and prints photos from the library, or directly from social media, using the app and special paper with ink built in. It comes in a number of colour options, including Luna Pearl, Noir, Blush, and Lilac. $160
Case-Mate Balloon Dogs
These little accessories are far too adorable for just teens and tweens, but youngens especially will love them. They suction to a smartphone, then use it as a stand, or for extra grip while holding the phone. You can also suction them to virtually any smooth surface. Just press it on to secure, and pop it off when done. They come in iridescent and blush for about $13 ea.
YouTube Premium Subscription
Gen-Zers love YouTube, and could spend hours watching videos on the site. Considering upgrading them to a Premium subscription, which will give them access to YouTube Original series and movies, as well as YouTube Music, which includes access to tons of playlists and music videos. It's $11.99/mo. per person, or $17.99/mo. to get the whole family on board.
Teens/tweens love taking selfies, and have pretty much mastered how to do so perfectly. But it's not always easy. They might frown on the idea of using a selfie stick, but this accessory offers a neat, alternative way to get pics of oneself, or a big group. It adjusts to clip to any phone and sticks to most surfaces. Stick and re-stick it to the wall at home, a lamppost outside, or anywhere else you desire. Mount the phone and put it in camera mode, then use the tiny remote to trigger the shutter. No one has to be left out of the photo. Get creative and mount your phone to the mirror to take bathroom selfies, or even just to watch videos while getting ready in the morning. $25 ea.; additional silicone smartphone holders are $10/3-pack; silicone lanyard $7; remote $10; tripod adapter $7.
Hiuni Interactive Telescope
For the inquisitive teen/tween who is showing an interest in astronomy, this telescope automatically aims itself at the stars you want to see. It connects to an iOS or Android app to provide an interactive Dual Live View of the night sky, positioning the telescope at the constellations, stars, and planets that you select. It will continuously auto-adjust alignment based on your location and the earth's rotation, to provide optimal viewing, with 1,280 x 1,024 resolution. The traditional eyepieces are replaced with double image sensors that provide the in-app enhanced live views, which means more than one person can experience it at a time. Using the tablet app, you can access educational content, including videos, images, and audio, story modes, tours, challenges, and even mini games. You'll need to give them an IOU, as this is currently on Kickstarter, with planned delivery in early 2019. But you can order one now for US$489, which is 59% off the planned retail price.
Alcatel 1X Smartphone
It's a question many parents need to face today: how old should your kid be before you get him a smartphone? If you're willing to test the waters, but don't want to fork over big bucks just yet for a high-end device, consider a budget phone like this one, which runs the Android Oreo (Go edition), and features an all-day battery, high-resolution front and rear cameras, and fingerprint sensor. With a suede fit finish, it has a 5.3" screen ad runs a rebuilt set of popular Google apps, including Google Go, Google Maps Go, Gmail Go, and more. It also comes with Facebook Lite and provides access to a suite of Android apps and games on Google Play. Android Oreo (Go edition) is designed to give you two times the available storage out of the box, freeing up space for you to do a lot more with 16GB built-in storage on the Alcatel 1X, in addition to a microSD slot for up to an additional 32GB of expandable memory. It has a built-in 8MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing camera, and comes with photo editing tools called Social Mode, which will allow you to take, edit and share photos in a fun and more efficient way. But the best part: it's just $150, and comes unlocked, working on the Bell, Koodo Mobile, Fido, Rogers, Telus, Videotron, Virgin Mobile, and other major networks.
Beats by Dr. Dre Studio3 Skyline On-Ear Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones
If an older teen could make use of noise-cancelling headphones, either for quiet study times, or commutes to/from school on public transit, these ones will meet both the functional and fashionable requirements. And they can run for up to eight hours per charge, and recharge quickly using Fast Fuel. $400
Belkin Mixit DuraTek Cables
It seems like no matter how many charging cables you have in the house, it's never enough. And the kids will always want their own to take with them, and keep in their room. These cables are extra-durable since they are Kevlar-reinforced, so they can take a beating stuffed into a teen's backpack, thrown into the car, or used (and over-used) as they spend hours on social media and need constant recharging. $25 ea.
Want more gift ideas? Check out our other themed gift guides.