By Hope King
Forget the usual holiday shopping guides for friends and family. Here's a gift guide for the most important person of them all: You.
Welcome to Cheddar's Treat Yo' Self Holiday Gift Guide ー a manual for those of you who need a little encouragement to buy the holiday gift of your own dreams.
To help me help convince you to swipe and tap to buy, I started with The Verge's Holiday Guide, then enlisted the help of CNET's Bridget Carey. Here's what I recommend:
Apple's ($APPL) AirPods: They've been out for two years, what are you waiting for? AirPods work with any bluetooth-enabled device, not just iPhones. They have great sound quality, have built-in noise canceling microphones, charge wirelessly in a floss-like carrying case, and do not fall out with activity ー I've done burpees in them, but do be careful about losing them in your scarves. $160.
Apple Watch Series 4: This is the first Apple Watch I've considered buying on my own dime. (Apple launched the device three years ago and graciously lends me devices for testing purposes.) The bigger screen with a slimmer profile, EKG feature, and fall detection means the latest generation is more functional. Plus, the new gold color is pretty hard to resist Starts: $400 (although you can find last year's model for $200 on Black Friday).
Amazon ($AMZN) Echo Dot (Third Generation): I always found the original Echo to be too big and unsightly. The Echo Dot is more compact and costs a fraction of the price for the same functionality and great speaker quality. The third generation device has a nice fabric design and a software upgrade that allows you to pair two devices together to produce stereo audio. Cheap surround sound, anyone? $50 ー On Sale for $24 on Black Friday.
Sonos One: If you want to splurge a little on a smart speaker that does your music more justice, the Sonos One is a great option. Unlike the Amazon Echo ー which works only with the Alexa smart assistant ー the Sonos One supports Apple AirPlay and will also eventually support Google Assistant. The Sonos One can also work as a multi-room system. $200.
Home Hub: Want a smart speaker with a screen? The Google ($GOOGL) Home Hub is the choice for 2018. Google launched this device earlier this year and it's gotten rave reviews ー and it's cheaper than Amazon's version, the Echo Show. The main benefits: you can use it as a digital photo frame (one that's actually useful!); it won't take up a lot of space on your countertop; AND THERE IS NO CAMERA which means you can feel a little more secure about keeping your private life private. $150 (Black Friday sale $100).
** Wemo Smart Plug:** I'm not one to make my home completely connected yet, but Bridget and my friend Dan Seifert over at The Verge recommend the Wemo Smart Plug to get a taste of a connected home life. Like your home toasty? Start your space heater when you leave work. Want to make sure those Christmas lights turn on even if you're not home? Here's where to start, Carey and Seifert say. Under $30.
The Streaming Stick +: Cord-cutting is all the rage these days. If you've thinking about doing it too but not sure what streaming device to get to replace that cable box ー Roku's Streaming Stick+ is the way to go, especially if you have a 4K TV or are thinking about purchasing one. The remote lets you control TV volume, power, and there's even a voice search feature so you can ask for content featuring your favorite stars. The only drawback is you can't use Apple Music or iTunes, but for $60 ー it's often on sale ー it's a great deal. $60.
Gaming Picks: The Nintendo Switch and the Super NES Classic Edition were all but rare earth jewels last year, but this year they're easier to find ー and are generating just as much hype. The Switch is a "must-have game system," Carey said. You can play the device in many ways, including on your own as a portable game tablet, or with friends. Bundles for Black Friday mean you'll get games such as like "Super Mario Party," "Mario Kart 9" and "Overcooked." $300 for the Switch.
As for the Super NES Classic, if you need a little throwback to your happy childhood days, just take the plunge into nostalgia. For $80 you'll also get 21 games you can save, pause, and rewind ー and two controllers. Sony is coming out with its own version of a throwback console, the PlayStation Classic next month. $80.
**And finally ... **
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9: Finally, for those who just want a good old-fashion print copy of a selfie, there's the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9. The new take on the Polaroid is very simple, comes in many colors, offers a bit more control over the final snapshot with different light settings, AND features a new tiny selfie camera so you can frame yourself and your friends just right. $70, but the film doesn't come cheap ー 20 shots for $12.
Go out there and treat yo' self. You deserve it!