This post-Christmas, here's the best tech to buy yourself with holiday cash and gift cards

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Clockwise from top left: The Aura digital photo frame, DJI Mini drone, AeroGarden indoor herb garden and Ember mug.
Use your holiday gift cash and cards to get what you really want. (Photos, clockwise from top left: Aura, DJI, Aerogarden, Ember)

Did Santa bring you cash or gift cards this year? That's awesome: It means you can pick out the gifts you really want.

If you're not sure what you want, no worries: Below I've rounded up some of my favorite tech products — some of them fun, some practical, some a little of both. I've tried most of these myself; the others are included based on reputation and popularity.

AeroGarden Harvest Elite Slim indoor garden

The weather outside is... who cares? Inside, the AeroGarden produces fresh herbs and greens all year. (Photo: AeroGarden)
The weather outside is... who cares? Inside, the AeroGarden produces fresh herbs and greens all year. (Photo: AeroGarden)

For anyone who aches through the winter months because they can't enjoy fresh-picked basil, parsley and more, an indoor garden can't be beat. This particular model — which employs energy-conserving LED lights to cultivate mini-crops — has room for six seed pods and comes with everything needed to grow an entire salad.

I own something similar and I'm watching a fresh batch of basil sprout as we speak. This from a guy with a decidedly brown thumb, but these indoor gardens are pretty dummy-proof: You literally just add water and plant food every so often. When the greens are all grown, you can choose from a large variety of replacement seed pods.

The Harvest Elite Slim normally sells for $180, but right now it's on sale at Best Buy for $100. Definitely a great choice for chefs, gardeners and salad lovers.

$100 $180 at Best Buy

Amazon Fire TV Omni Series

You don't even have to touch the remote to use Amazon's Fire TV Omni Series, which supports hands-free Alexa operation. (Photo: Amazon)
You don't even have to touch the remote to use Amazon's Fire TV Omni Series, which supports hands-free Alexa operation. (Photo: Amazon)

If you're thinking about a new TV and having a tough time deciding between Amazon's Fire TV lineup and a Roku model, Amazon just introduced a feature that might tip the scales: Zoom. The Fire TV Omni Series now supports Zoom calls, meaning you can enjoy big-screen family visits, work meetings and the like. All you need is an inexpensive USB webcam.

More good news: Every model in the Omni Series lineup is on sale right now, starting at just $310 for the 43-inch. That's $100 off the regular price and very close to the lowest on record.

See the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series

Anker Soundcore Life P3 true-wireless earbuds

For once you're not stuck with basic black or white; the Anker Soundcore Life P3 is also available in Navy Blue, Coral Red and Sky Blue. (Photo: Anker)
For once you're not stuck with basic black or white; the Anker Soundcore Life P3 is also available in Navy Blue, Coral Red and Sky Blue. (Photo: Anker)

Plucked from my list of the best AirPods Pro alternatives, the Soundcore Life P3 ranks among my favorites in that category. For just $80 you get great-sounding earbuds in your choice of some fun colors (as opposed to the usual black or white).

Like AirPods Pro, the P3 provides active noise-canceling (ANC) to reduce outside sound, like the drone of an airplane engine. The charging case can be recharged via a Qi wireless pad or USB-C; the earbuds are good for about seven hours on a charge, according to Anker.

Meanwhile, Soundcore's excellent companion app lets you modify touch-control settings, toggle between multiple noise-canceling modes and choose between various equalizer presets (or customize your own). It also has about a dozen white-noise sounds you can play to help fall asleep.

So, yeah, there's a lot to recommend here — not the least of which is the $80 price tag, literally one-third what you'd pay for AirPods Pro.

$80 at Amazon

Aura Mason Luxe digital photo frame

The Aura Mason Luxe digital photo frame features a very stylish-looking bezel.
Give yourself the gift of an Aura Mason Luxe digital photo frame. All the precious memories, all the time! (Photo: Aura)

The Aura Mason Luxe was my pick for the "best digital photo frame to give as a gift" (from the list of best digital photo frames), in part because you can set it up for the recipient ahead of time. But it's also a great gift to give yourself, as it puts precious memories on display for round-the-clock viewing.

Unlike some other frames, this one makes a genuinely stylish addition to any bookshelf or coffee table. The Mason Luxe is also noteworthy for its razor-sharp 2K display, which produces a lot more pixels than most.

$229 at Amazon

DJI Mini 2 drone

The DJI Mini 2 captures dazzling 4K video from the sky (complete with cinematic effects) and folds up for easy storage when not in use. (Photo: DJI)
The DJI Mini 2 captures dazzling 4K video from the sky (complete with cinematic effects) and folds up for easy storage when not in use. (Photo: DJI)

Look, I'm not just putting this on the list because I'm secretly hoping my wife, boss or a total stranger will decide to buy me one. I mean, that's a totally legitimate hope, because the DJI Mini 2 is pretty much the best consumer drone to date. I think anybody would like one, is my point.

That's because it's not only a fun thing to fly, but also the coolest sky camera ever. It can record 4K video and perform some amazing tricks while doing it: circle around a subject, rocket up and away and so on. Family-vacation snapshots and movies will be, dare I say, elevated to a whole new level.

The Mini 2 comes with everything you need to get started, but if you're really pulling out all the stops, gift-wise, consider choosing the DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo ($600), which includes extras like a carrying case and two additional batteries.

$450 at Best Buy

Ember Mug

You can have my Ember self-heating mug back when you pry it from my warm, dead hands. (Photo: Ember)
You can have my Ember self-heating mug back when you pry it from my warm, dead hands. (Photo: Ember)

The Ember Mug is one of my favorite tech products. Ever. Is it on the pricey side? Yes. Would I sooner cut my arm off than live without it? Also yes.

See, I don't gulp down my morning cup of coffee; I drink it leisurely over the span of half an hour or so. No ordinary mug will keep the coffee hot for that long. Indeed, you're lucky to get a 5-minute window where it's "just right." Same goes for my afternoon tea.

The Ember, however, heats your beverage to whatever temperature you like and keeps it there from first sip to last. This may sound like a minor thing, but once you try it, you can't go back. And how can you not love a coaster that doubles as a wireless charger!

The mugs start at $100 for the 10-ounce version; I'm a 14-ounce man myself ($130). It's available in several different colors and finishes.

$100 at Best Buy

Fitbit Charge 5 fitness band

The Charge 5 makes a snazzy addition to any wrist and can really help a person achieve their health goals. (Photo: Fitbit)
The Charge 5 makes a snazzy addition to any wrist and can really help a person achieve their health goals. (Photo: Fitbit)

New year, new fitness goals, right? Everyone wants to be healthier, and something like the Fitbit Charge 5 can provide plenty of incentive to get those steps in, monitor those stress levels, check sleep habits and so on.

The Charge 5 made its debut just a couple months ago to overwhelmingly positive reviews (including this one from Engadget). It features a snazzy new design and lots of useful tools, including GPS, heart-rate monitoring, a color touchscreen and a battery that can last for up to seven days (depending on how you use the watch).

This is just the time to buy, too: Walmart has the Fitbit Charge 5 for $130 right now, a $49 savings and the lowest price since the band debuted. It's available in black, blue or white.

$130 $179 at Walmart

Oculus Quest 2 VR headset

Yes, whoever wears the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset looks goofy. No, whoever's using the Oculus Quest 2 won't care. It's that awesome. (Photo: Oculus)
Yes, whoever wears the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset looks goofy. No, whoever's using the Oculus Quest 2 won't care. It's that awesome. (Photo: Oculus)

Here's a hot take: Forget the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 and Xbox; the Oculus Quest 2 is the best modern gaming console, period. Sure, you have to wear it on your face, but that's how you get to experience standing toe-to-toe (and light-saber-to-light-saber) with Darth Vader.

Seriously, if you haven't experienced this VR headset, prepare to be blown away. The games are remarkable: I wasn't kidding about Vader, but you can also climb virtual mountains, strum virtual guitars and even play virtual ping-pong against other Oculus users.

In some experiences the Quest 2 also lets you put down the two wireless controllers and rely on hand-tracking instead, with your actual hands recreated in those virtual environments. It's extraordinary.

Yes, this is a Meta (aka Facebook) product. That's the only downside to what is otherwise a genuinely special item.

$299 at Amazon

Tile trackers

Tile trackers help take the grief out of losing things -- because they help you find things. (Photo: Tile)
Tile trackers help take the grief out of losing things — because they help you find things. (Photo: Tile)

Everyone misplaces things from time to time. Keys, phone, wallet, TV remote. If only those items could have some kind of electronic tether, a way to shout out, "Hey, I'm over here!"

That's Tile trackers in a nutshell. The little battery-powered gizmos pair with your phone to enable short-range location and, in the event something gets truly lost out in the world, community-powered location help.

My favorite real-world example: My wife is constantly misplacing her phone in the house. But she always knows where to find her keys. So all she has to do is go the keys and double-press the single button on the Tile on her keychain. Instantly her phone starts singing, at high volume, even if it's set to mute.

Starting at around $18, Tiles come in a variety of shapes and sizes; I think the new-for-2022 Tile Pro is the best option, but they're all great.

See Tile options

Wyze Headphones

The Wyze Headphones are shown here with a phone, because the Wyze companion app allows you to adjust various settings.
Wyze Headphones offer great sound and features for far less than the competition. (Photo: Wyze)

Some folks prefer earbuds (like the Soundcore Life P3, above), and some like larger, more traditional over-the-ear "cans." For anyone in the latter camp, the Wyze Headphones are an amazingly good choice despite being amazingly affordable.

Indeed, although on sale for just $80, Wyze's product competes favorably with Bose and Sony headphones costing 3-4 times as much. They're comfortable, they sound great and they offer ANC that works really, really well. (In one informal test, I found that the Wyze Headphones reduced fan noise better than Sony's much-ballyhooed, much costlier WH-1000XM4.)

I particularly like Quick Conversation mode: Cover the right earcup with your palm to instantly pause playback, disable ANC and activate the microphone — thus allowing you to converse without actually removing the headphones. And speaking of speaking, onboard Alexa support lets you utter hands-free voice commands.

Icing on the cake: Audiophiles can take advantage of the Wyze companion app to tweak equalizer settings.

$80 $89 at Amazon

OK, those are my picks. What other gifts are thinking about giving yourself? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

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