Some of the best gifts for the people on your holiday shopping list have huge discounts in December.
Our analysts monitor prices year-round to predict when a product can be expected to have the lowest price.
December is a great month for a range of products from electronics to appliances. Because this month is all about gift-giving, we’ve listed six items that almost anyone would be happy to receive.
For a more comprehensive list of products on sale in December—and throughout the year—check our deep discount calendar.
Headphones are a perennial gift-giving favorite and are on deep discount during December. In this year’s gift guide there are a number of selections that offer great sound quality at relatively low prices.
Choosing the right headphones can be tricky. Do you prefer in-ear, over-ear, or on-ear? Do you want added features such as noise canceling? What will the headphones be used for in addition to listening to music? Are they for your workout, your commute, for home listening, or work? Are corded models better than cordless?
Before heading out to the store, check out this headphone buying guide. It will help you identify the right ones for your lifestyle.
For headphones, we recommend trying out different styles before buying because a good fit can affect sound quality, the effectiveness of the noise cancellation, and comfort. If you’re ordering online, find a retailer with a good exchange or return policy.
Another gift option for audiophiles is wireless speakers. Here, too, there are a number of choices.
First decide whether the speaker will be for in-home or outdoor use. There are numerous options, with some better at withstanding water and sand if you take them to the beach.
Also decide which type of connectivity you want. Wireless speakers can be connected to Bluetooth or WiFi, or sometimes both.
Each type of connectivity comes with pros and cons. WiFi speakers tend to offer a longer range than Bluetooth. They’re also good if you have a few speakers you want to connect. But if you’re sharing your WiFi with many other devices—such as laptops, phones, and tablets—sound quality may be reduced.
Bluetooth speakers lack the range of WiFi speakers but are simple to connect and are compatible with a wide variety of devices.
Fitness trackers come with a variety of options and prices to match.
This nifty holiday gift guide can help you find one for less than $200.
Some trackers are simpler than others. But they all use sensors to monitor your movements and often connect wirelessly to your computer or mobile device to store data about your daily activities.
Other trackers are much more sophisticated. They include sensors that monitor heart rate, steps taken, and sleep time, plus things like GPS, gyroscopes, and barometers aimed at more active lifestyles.
Before you buy, make sure the tracker fits your needs. If you’re starting a fitness routine, you probably don’t need anything too fancy. But if you’re training for a race or participating in active sports, you’ll want to make sure your gadget can keep up with you.
The differences between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker are becoming more difficult to distinguish. Many of today’s smartwatches include features commonly found on fitness trackers, though their capabilities tend to go beyond that.
In general, a smartwatch is a wrist-worn minicomputer that can notify you—via a wireless connection to your phone—of incoming calls, texts, instant messages, and social network updates.
But today’s options can be much more than an extension of your telephone. Some models can perform many advanced tasks without being paired to a nearby phone. Wireless technologies, such as near field communication, also let you use your watch to make mobile payments at the register.
Depending on the product you choose, prices can range from around $300 to $1,500.
Before you buy, make sure the smartwatch will be compatible with your existing smartphone or other smart device that you plan to pair with it.
Take note of the battery life. It can range from a day to a week or longer depending on how you use the watch, how much power it requires, and the sophistication of the watch technology.
A cordless drill is often the most important power tool you’ll buy. But before you purchase one, be sure you’re getting the right tool for whatever job is at hand: heavy-duty, general-use, or light-duty.
You won’t find drills labeled this way for sale, so make sure you look at the chuck size to determine its intended use. The chuck is the three-pronged clamp that secures bits at the business end of any drill. The bigger the chuck, the more powerful the drill.
Also make sure that you take note of the battery power. Most cordless drills these days run on lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. They deliver more power and longer run times. Because batteries have such a direct impact on performance, their capabilities figure heavily into CR’s cordless-drill testing program.
Cordless drills are sold in three configurations:
• As a standalone tool with one or two batteries and a dedicated charger.
• As part of a collection of cordless tools from a single brand, called a kit.
• As a bare tool, with no battery or charger.
Make sure you select the option that’s right for you. If you want only a drill and don’t own any other power tools with compatible batteries, go for a standalone tool. The bare tool is the least expensive but the worst value.
This is a good time to buy a tablet, and it’s not just because they are often on deep discount in December. Tablet performance has improved a lot in recent years, especially among lower-priced products.
You can get a great 7- to 8-inch tablet starting at less than $200. Even normally high-priced Apple is offering a less expensive model, the iPad Mini, for $250. Tablets with larger display sizes cost more, of course. But very good 10-inch tablets are out there for about $350.
If you want to read comfortably, watch movies, type out documents with a separate keyboard, and use standard productivity apps, you might want to consider a larger tablet with at least 12 hours of battery life. Be prepared to spend at least $400.
Also, don’t forget who will be using the device. If you have young kids, make sure the product can withstand the knocks, drops, and goo that it will surely have to endure.
The above was first reported by Consumer Reports.