The best gifts for the new grads in your life

Surviving years of college is no small feat, so the graduates in our lives deserve rightful praise and celebration. Whether your graduate is going out into the world to get their first job or continuing with their education, there are a number of gadgets you can gift them that will make them smile and also come in handy on a daily basis. If you’re stumped on what to give to the tech-savvy grad in your life to celebrate their big accomplishment, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite graduation gift ideas for you to consider.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

Smart TVs are getting more affordable, but a quality one still isn’t cheap. If your grad wants to smarten up their existing TV, the $50 Roku Streaming Stick 4K can do so by opening up a huge selection of streaming options. The dongle plugs into the TV’s HDMI port and, on most sets, stays hidden behind the screen. The Roku interface is straightforward and the remote can even be used for voice commands. In addition to supporting most streaming services available, Roku also has its own set of channels with free live TV, movies, shows, sports and news. – Amy Skorheim, Commerce Writer

Apple Watch Series 8

If your grad is an iPhone user, an Apple Watch could end up being their favorite phone accessory. Not only is it the best smartwatch available for those that have iPhones, but we consider the Series 8 to be the best smartwatch, period. This graduation gift has a comfortable, simple design that you can jazz up with funky bands of all materials, and it does a great job of keeping you connected to your phone even when you don’t want to whip it out. Call, text and app alerts from your phone are delivered directly to your wrist, and that’s while the Watch passively monitors your activity all day long. It’s a fantastic workout wearable as well, giving you access to a bunch of trackable activities, and of course, it works well with Apple Fitness+ classes, too. Performance is solid, even if not that much better than the Series 7 that came before it, and the Series 8 supports crash detection, ECG measurements and blood oxygen monitoring. — Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor

YouTube TV subscription

Regardless of whether or not your giftee has a Chromecast, we think a YouTube TV subscription will make an excellent grad gift for them. The service essentially replaces cable or satellite, and your graduate can easily use their phone, laptop or connected TV to access it. The platform offers pretty much all the standard network and cable offerings including sports channels like ESPN, so they won’t have to worry about missing their favorite team’s game. You can either pay for the subscription directly or buy them a Google Play gift card. — Nicole Lee, Commerce Writer

Sony WH-1000XM5

There’s a good chance that your graduate will be working from a few different locations when they start their first job. Maybe they’ll spend half of their time in an office and the other half in their new apartment, but you can help them stay focused anywhere by gifting them the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones. These are our current favorite high-end cans thanks to their excellent sound quality and equally stellar active noise cancellation. Their Adaptive Sound Control feature automatically changes the level of noise cancellation depending on your location and what you’re doing, blocking out as much of the world as necessary without the user needing to do much work. There’s also multi-device connectivity, so your graduate can seamlessly go from listening to music on their laptop to taking a call from their smartphone. — V.P.

Chipolo One

Losing stuff is a bummer for anyone, grads included. I tried out Apple’s AirTags, Tile trackers and Chipolos for our Bluetooth tracker guide and ended up picking the Chipolo One as the best option for most people. That’s because it simply does what it’s supposed to do without hassle: help people locate their keys and let them know when they’ve been left behind. Chipolo One doesn’t have the massive, community-enabled (and potentiallycreepy) location tracking of Apple’s FindMy, but it rings loud with a tap from your phone and sends alerts about forgotten items faster than any other tracker we tried. – A.S.

Instant Vortex Mini air fryer

The Instant Vortex Mini is a powerful little air fryer that any new college grad should be able to fit into even the most cramped of kitchen setups. It has an easy to use touchscreen with a few different cooking modes, but we expect most graduates will use it to cook snacks like mozzarella sticks and reheat leftovers to crispy perfection. We recommend checking out our air fryer guide if you want to give them something a little bigger that can cook more food at once — but if you’re only looking out for your grad and maybe their partner or favorite roommate, the Instant Vortex Mini will feed them well. — V.P.

Apple iPad Air

If your grad needs a new tablet for checking emails, reading e-books or binging YouTube, the iPad Air is the best mix of price and long-term performance. The top pick in our guide to the best iPads, it has a fast M1 chip, an elegant design, a 10.9-inch display, wide accessory support and the extensive app library you get with any iPad. All of this comes at a much lower price than the iPad Pro. No iPad is a bad buy, though, so the 9th- or 10th-gen models are worth a look if your grad uses their slate more casually. — Jeff Dunn, Senior Commerce Writer

Marshall Emberton II

The Marshall Emberton II is a stylish Bluetooth speaker that offers impressively smooth and balanced sound for its compact size. It’s not the loudest or most bass-heavy device of its kind, but it’s a pleasant listen for smaller get-togethers and personal use. The six-inch frame has an IP67 rating, so your grad can safely use it to listen to podcasts in the shower, and Marshall says it can last up to 30 hours on a charge. Most appealingly, the guitar amp-style design looks classy in both its cream or black finishes. All of this was enough to earn the Emberton II a spot in our guide to the best Bluetooth speakers. — J.D.

Logitech Brio 500

There’s a good chance your grad will have to take regular video conference calls at their new job, even if they go into the office from time to time. Sure, they could use their laptop’s built-in basic camera, but a webcam like the Logitech Brio 500 can help them put their best face forward on every call they take. The Brio 500 shoots 1080p video and they can customize aspects of their feed, including brightness, contrast and additive filters, by using the free Logi Tune software. But most of the time, the cam will do the hard work for them: it has remarkably good auto-light correction, which will help them look better in dark environments, noise-reducing dual microphones and auto-framing with RightSight. If the latter is enabled, your grad can shift in their chair and move around and the Brio 500 will adjust automatically to keep them in the center of the frame. And when they’re not on a call, there’s a handy shutter that covers the camera lens for extra privacy. — V.P.

Xbox Game Pass subscription

Xbox Game Pass remains a great value for any grad who owns an Xbox or gaming PC and likes to play games in their downtime. The subscription’s library includes big-name series like Halo and Minecraft alongside more experimental gems like Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment, and it still gets you access to first-party Xbox games on day one. Each title is available to download on-demand. The Ultimate tier includes perks like cloud gaming and online play, but there are cheaper options for just Xbox consoles or PCs as well.

If your graduate plays more on PlayStation or the Nintendo Switch, there are similar services you can gift: PlayStation Plus for the former, Switch Online for the latter. These will almost certainly be appreciated if you’re buying for someone who games frequently, though they’re not quite as strong a value as Game Pass in terms of cost or included games. — J.D.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB

Audio-Technica’s AT-LP120XUSB is a versatile turntable for music-loving grads looking to start their own vinyl collection. It sounds great, its DJ-style design is durable and its USB output makes it possible to convert records into digital MP3 files. It’s simple to set up and change speeds and, because it has a phono preamp, it can work with most stereo systems right out of the box. If the LP120 is too expensive, the company’s AT-LP60XBT is a less feature-rich but still easy-to-use alternative that also supports Bluetooth. — J.D.

iRobot Roomba 694

There are a lot of things you need to learn (and remember) when you first move out of your dorm room and into your own space — keeping your home clean is one of them. And even if your grad isn’t “moving out” as much as they are moving into a dedicated portion of their parents’ home, they still need to make sure they’re tidying up on a regular basis. iRobot’s Roomba 694 is one gadget that can help them partially automate their cleaning routine. Our favorite budget robot vacuum, the Roomba 694 is dead simple to use — it can be a one-button process if they want it to be — and it does a good job sucking up dirt and debris across carpet and hard flooring. We also like iRobot’s mobile app, which is just as easy to use as the machine alone, and it gives them the ability to set cleaning schedules. If they go that route, it’s a one-and-done situation and they can sit back and watch the robo-vac do the work for them. — V.P.

Anker 633 MagGo 2-in-1 Wireless Charging Station

Anker’s MagGo 2-in-1 wireless charging station is a useful gift to give if you want to set your grad up with basically everything they’d need to never run out of power again. The bundle includes a wireless charging stand that can power both a phone and a pair of earbuds at the same time, and the phone portion detaches into a portable, magnetic, 5,000 mAh battery pack. The MagGo lineup is MagSafe-compatible, so if your grad has a newer iPhone, they’ll be able to take the slim pack with them by snapping it to the back of their smartphone. Also included is a 25W USB-C adapter, which can power the whole system with the proper speed. — V.P.

Kobo Clara 2E

Now that they’re done with syllabi, recent grads can read whatever they want (and maybe enjoy it). Topping our list of the best ereaders is the Clara 2E from Kobo, which has a six-inch, 300 ppi E-Ink display that’s far easier on the eyes than a tablet. The Clara 2E is waterproof, comfortable to hold and has a quick, responsive interface. It can access titles from the Kobo store, the local public library via built-in Overdrive integration or any other e-book source (except the Kindle store). On top of that, the warm light is great for reading late into the night – something that’s far more fun when you’re not doing so to cram for a test. – A.S.

Otterbox Otterspot wireless charger

A recent graduate might be simultaneously looking for jobs, apartments and new places to hang out, so they’ll be out and relying on their phone a lot. If they have a model that accommodates wireless charging, they could probably use the OtterSpot wireless charging system from Otterbox. It earned the top spot in our guide to wireless chargers because it pulls double duty as a desk-based charger and a portable battery. The disc-shaped accessory accommodates up to three, coaster-like 5,000mAh batteries that can charge devices on the go. The batteries stack on the charger and the phone goes on top, allowing everything to power up at once. The batteries can even deliver a charge via USB-C, too. – A.S.

Headspace subscription

Those early days in the working world can be an especially stressful time in anyone’s life. If your grad has expressed interest in using meditation to help manage their mental health, a Headspace subscription could be useful. It has a large and well-organized selection of guided meditations and mindful exercises to help reduce anxiety and build self control, including several sessions for beginners. There are one-off exercises designed to help with specific, real world crises (nerves before a job interview, for example) as well as courses that seek to address more complex states (grief, self-doubt, lack of focus, etc.) over multiple sessions. A “sleepcasts” feature, meanwhile, combines guided relaxation exercises with soothing narration to create a more healthy sleep environment. Apps like this aren’t cure-alls for mental distress, nor are they the only ways to meditate. Still, they can provide a more organized way for your grad to work toward better peace of mind. — J.D.

Blue Apron subscription

A meal kit service should be an approachable way to get your grad in the habit of cooking regularly. There are approximately two quintillion meal kit services to choose from nowadays, few of which are actually bad, and some of which may be better than others depending on your grad’s preferences. Blue Apron is an especially thoughtful gift and a no-fuss choice for newbie cooks, though, with straightforward recipes, various menu options and generally quality ingredients. Its website is easy to navigate, and while none of these services deliver meals on par with a good restaurant, they should still please most tastes. — J.D.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at 

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