The best gadgets of 2017 to give as holiday gifts, from the Amazon Echo to the iPhone X

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Tech Holiday Gift Guide 2017

The best gadgets of 2017 to give as holiday gifts, from the Amazon Echo to the iPhone X

New present
FatCamera | E+ | Getty

2017 has been loaded with excellent gadgets ranging from exciting new smartphones to smart speakers and home security products.

Fortunately, as CNBC's in-house technology product editor — and someone who has spent his entire career testing gadgets — I was able to call in and test dozens of new products that launched this year. That meant taking some home, installing them and seeing which ones worked better than others.

In some cases, I picked new versions of what was already the best product on the market, and tested to see if it succeeded beyond the original. Other times, I tested products that were so bad they didn't even make it to the site.

The following are, I think, the best gadgets for gifts this holiday season, and one is easily the best I tested all year. I've even purchased many of them for myself -- enough times that my wife shudders every time a new package arrives at the house, which should say something.

Here's what deserves to get wrapped this year:

  • Bose QC35 II headphones

    The original Bose Quiet Comfort 35 headphones never leave my travel bag and, this year, Bose updated that model with new support for Google Assistant. That means you can tap a button and pull up Google to answer any question you might have, or even to play specific music right on your phone. The Quiet Comfort 35 II are still comfortable, especially during long plane rides, and do a fantastic job cutting out background noise.

    Price: $349
    Buy now: Bose QC35 II headphones

    I really like the Bose QC 35 II headphones
    Anita Balakirshnan | CNBC
  • Omnicharge Omni 20

    I called this gadget in specifically for holiday gift guides and have been using it for the past several weeks. It's a massive battery pack that's perfect for travel and can recharge a smartphone nine times, recharge a tablet eight times or fully charge a laptop. There's even a standard three-prong power port and plenty of laptop adapters in the box. I love its small OLED display that shows how much juice is left, and that it recharges quicker than most power packs this size. It's hefty, for sure, but worth it if you're worried you might be sitting somewhere without a power outlet for a few hours (like the floor of an airport.)

    Price: $249
    Buy now: Omnicharge Omni 20

    The Omnicharge Omni 20
    Omnicharge
  • Amazon Kindle Oasis 2018

    I just reviewed the Kindle Oasis 2018 and fell head over heels for Amazon's new eReader. It has an aluminum design with great balance for long periods of reading, a large and bright 7-inch eInk display, support for reading back Audible audiobooks through a Bluetooth speaker and dedicated page-turning buttons, which I love.

    Just keep in mind that, while it's the best eReader out there, it's also the most expensive. The entry-level model starts at $250 and includes ads on the display. Too rich for your tastes? You'll also love the watered-down Kindle Paperwhite, which starts at $120.

    Price: $249
    Buy now: Amazon Kindle Oasis

    This is Amazon's newest Kindle
    CNBC | Todd Haselton
  • All-new Echo

    It's time you and your loved ones own an Amazon Echo. Now that multiroom audio support is enabled, you can play music in different rooms throughout the house. You can also use an Echo to call and leave messages to other Echos, order goods from Amazon, control the lights and more.

    The new Echo sounds great and is more compact than the original. At $99 it's also an affordable option for a smart home speaker. You might also consider the $150 Echo Plus if you're starting a smart home, too — it includes all of the internals to get you going.

    Price: $99
    Buy now: Amazon Echo

    I love the oak shell that was sent with my demo unit
    Todd Haselton | CNBC
  • Apple AirPods

    You'll look goofy wearing AirPods, but I'm willing to put up with looking silly for their fantastic ease of use. Just open the case and, suddenly, your iPhone will bring up a prompt to pair them. No more digging through Bluetooth menus.

    Plus, they work with the new Apple Watch Series 3 for streaming audio without your smartphone, give you quick access to Siri and sound pretty darn good for the price. They also have a stellar battery life with a case that helps them stay juiced. I don't leave home without them.. though I'm still getting used to wearing them out in public.

    Price: $159
    Buy now: Apple AirPods

    CNBC: AirPods 3
    Todd Haselton | CNBC
  • Apple Watch Series 3

    The Apple Watch Series 3 is the best smartwatch on the market, hands down. I prefer the connected LTE model, which allows me to place phone calls and stream music even when I'm not near my phone.

    The GPS-only model is still great, though, and lets you answer and receive calls, notifications and more, so long as your iPhone is nearby. Don't own an iPhone? Check out the Samsung Gear Sport — it's my favorite option for Android devices.

    Price: $329 and up
    Buy now: Apple Watch Series 3

    Apple Watch Series 3
    Nina Raja | CNBC
  • Apple iPad Pro 10.5

    The iPad Pro 10.5 was so impressive that I ended up selling my iPad Pro 9.7 and buying the new model. I love the large display in a form factor that isn't too cumbersome to toss into my backpack.

    Also, with the $99 Apple Pencil, I can use it for jotting notes during meetings. iOS 11, Apple's new operating system, also improves multitasking so you can do even more with the iPad, like running multiple apps side by side.

    Price: $649 and up
    Buy now:
    Apple iPad Pro 10.5

    CNBC Tech: iPad Pro 10.5 review 2
    Todd Haselton | CNBC
  • Microsoft Surface Pro

    Microsoft's Surface Pro has grown on me over the last several months. I own a bulky Windows 10 laptop that's chock full of hardware, but I turn to the Surface Pro when I need something light, still powerful enough for photo editing, and that's easy to work on.

    It has a large and sharp display and supports pen input for jotting notes on the display. Just make sure you're buying at least the Core i5 edition ($999), which adds a bit more power, and the must-have $159 keyboard.

    Price: $799 without a keyboard; we recommend buying the $999 model
    Buy from: Microsoft Surface Pro

    CNBC Tech: Surface Pro review 9
    Jeniece Pettitt
  • Amazon Fire HD 8

    I fell in love with the Fire HD 8, strangely enough, while reviewing the larger 10-inch model. The HD 8 costs just $80 and offers a portal into Amazon's ecosystem of movies, music, TV shows and more. It even has Alexa built in, so you can hold the home button and control your lights or ask any question that comes to mind.

    It looks and feels cheap (because it is) but it's a great budget option for folks who want a tablet but don't want to break the bank. Want something larger? Get the 10-inch model.

    Price: $80
    Buy now:
    Amazon Fire HD 8

    I ended up buying the smaller Fire HD 8
    Todd Haselton | CNBC
  • Google Home

    You're either in Amazon's ecosystem or you're not. If you fall in the latter camp, the Google Home is a must have smart speaker. Like the Echo, it can be configured to play music around your house, call phone numbers, answer queries (how far is it to Idaho?) and even play TV shows and movies on any TV with a Google Chromecast installed. Google also sells a mini version of the Home that's cheaper, but we haven't tested its quality yet.

    Price: $129
    Buy now:
    Google Home

    Google Home
    Source: Google
  • Philips Hue light bulbs

    I've been buying Philips Hue smart bulbs since smart bulbs became a thing a few years back. You can use them to turn the lights on and off by voice (with a smart home speaker like the Echo or Google Home, or your smartphone.) Some bulbs even have millions of colors, in case you want to set some mood lighting.

    Hue bulbs work with the most ecosystems in my experience, and have been the most reliable of any smart bulbs I've owned. Check out a starter kit with a Hue Hub included, or set them up one by one with an all-in-one hub like the Amazon Echo Plus.

    Price: $99 and up
    Buy now: Philips Hue light bulbs

    Handout: Philips Hue
    Philips
  • August Smart Lock

    The August Smart Lock is my favorite smart lock of the year. The new $149 model is no frills, but works well with the August App. You can unlock or lock the door from your smartphone, so long as you're standing near it, and even add preapproved users — like friends coming for the weekend or a cleaning person — so that you don't need to hand out a physical version of your key. I recommend pairing it with the August Doorbell camera, coming up next.

    Price: $149
    Buy now:
    August Smart Lock

    The August smart lock
    August
  • August Doorbell Camera

    The August Doorbell Camera is a perfect accessory to the August Smart Lock. Combined, they're two of my favorite gadgets to launch this year. The Doorbell Camera alerts you when someone's at your door, allowing you to pull up a live video feed. Or, if you miss the alert, you can get a quick snapshot of who stopped by. With the Smart Lock installed too, you can unlock or lock the door depending on who's knocking.

    Price: $199
    Buy now:
    August Doorbell Camera

    A new smart doorbell installed!
    Todd Haselton | CNBC
  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    If you're not in the iPhone camp and still want a really great smartphone, check out the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus. You'll find an almost unreal display that seems to pour over the edges of the phone, support for Samsung Gear VR out of the box, expandable storage, first-class cameras, wireless charging and more. If you have a bit more dough to spend, check out the Galaxy Note 8, which adds an S Pen for jotting notes and an even larger display.

    Price: $725
    Buy now: Samsung Galaxy S8

    A view of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 at its Samsung launch event, March 29, 2017 in New York City.
    Drew Angerer | Getty Images
  • The iPhone X

    The iPhone X is the best smartphone I've ever tested and I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a new smartphone this season. In fact, it's the best gadget of the year. It features new functions like Face ID, which lets you unlock the phone by looking at it, to first-class front- and rear-facing cameras that take professional-looking photos. Wireless charging, a gorgeous and colorful OLED display and stereo front-facing speakers round out the features of the best smartphone of the year.

    Price: $999 and up
    Buy now: The iPhone X

    The iPhone X is displayed during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on Sept. 12, 2017 in Cupertino, Calif.
    Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
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