Cool Yule Tools 2016: Our Top Picks

Our selections for the hottest tech toys and holiday gifts for the 2016 season.

SLIDEFEATURED PRODUCTS
  • Epson FastFoto FF-640 High-Speed Photo Scanner

    $649.99 MSRP $649.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • APC BGE50ML Back-UPS Connect, Network UPS & Mobile Power...

    $84.97 MSRP $271.18
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    on Amazon
  • Sennheiser MB 660 UC - Dual-Ear Headset with...

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    on Amazon
  • Altec Lansing IMW778-BLU Omni Ultra Jacket Bluetooth...

    $149.99 MSRP $299.00
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    on Amazon
  • SCOTTeVEST Men's OTG Jacket - 29 Pockets - Pickpocket Proof...

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    on Amazon
  • Turtle Beach - Stealth 520 Premium Fully Wireless Gaming...

    $99.95 MSRP $129.95
    View
    on Amazon
  • Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431-C5FM

    $264.99 MSRP $299.00
    View
    on Amazon
  • Peerless HDS300 Peerair Pro Wireless A/V Multimedia System

    $319.00 MSRP $549.00
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    on Amazon
  • Epiphone Les Paul STANDARD PLUS-TOP PRO Electric Guitar...

    $509.10 MSRP $832.00
    View
    on Amazon
  • Samsung Level On PRO Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones...

    $153.96 MSRP $249.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • Weego Jump Starter 44 N44 Portable Power Source & Tactical...

    $149.98 MSRP $149.99
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    on Amazon
  • CyberPower CSP600WSU Surge Protector 6-AC Outlet Swivel...

    $14.95 MSRP $24.95
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    on Amazon
  • Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum

    $109.99 MSRP $159.99
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    on Amazon
  • Eero Home WiFi System

    $299.99 MSRP $399.00
    View
    on Amazon
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Credit: Stephen Sauer
Digital disruption at Santa's Workshop

Santa's not the only one going digital - here are our favorite digital products to give (or receive) for the holidays. The next 20 slides are the "best of the best" from this year's Cool Yule Tools, now in its 17th incarnation. To access the entire guide, head here.

Cool  Yule Tools Sony PlayStation VR
SONY PLAYSTATION VR

Sony has done an outstanding job with its virtual reality headset, integrating it well with the existing PS4 console and providing enough games to whet the appetite of gamers. The headset fits nicely in between lower-end models (such as the very inexpensive Google Cardboard style) that use a smartphone, and the upper end models that can cost $600 or more and require additional computing power (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift).

epson
  • Epson FastFoto FF-640 High-Speed Photo Scanner

    $649.99 MSRP $649.99
    View
    on Amazon
EPSON FASTFOTO (FF-640)

This desktop scanner can quickly scan large batches (up to 30 at a time) of photos at about the rate of one photo per second, letting you get through that shoebox of photos a lot faster than trying to it with other scanners. The scanner also can scan documents into PDF format, perfect for digitizing all of the different tax documents you end up with at the start of the new year.

Cool Yule Aera Home Scenting
AERA HOME SCENTING

The Aera Home scenting device brings the world of fragrant aromas into the modern era. This small device plugs into any power outlet, and has a slot/loading tube available for several different fragrances. Users pop a scent into the loading tube, and the system starts pumping out the scent throughout the room the Aera is plugged into.

Cool Yule Tools Lenovo Yoga Book
LENOVO YOGA BOOK

There are some very cool innovations with the YogaBook – mainly the sketch pad area that can digitally transform real paper-and-pen writing or drawings. The same area can also transform into a virtual keyboard – it lights up and offers haptic feedback for users who want to type on this book-sized device.

Cool Yule Tools APC Network Battery
  • APC BGE50ML Back-UPS Connect, Network UPS & Mobile...

    $84.97 MSRP $271.18
    View
    on Amazon
APC NETWORK BATTERY BACKUP AND MOBILE POWER PACK

The Network Battery Backup and Mobile Power Pack serves two purposes. First, it’s aimed at protecting your broadband modem and one additional device (such as a router). Plug those devices into this device, and they’re protected by the battery in the device. The second purpose is that the mobile power pack can be removed and act as a portable power charger for use on the road for your smartphones or other USB-connected devices (cables sold separately).

sennheiser headphones
  • Sennheiser MB 660 UC - Dual-Ear Headset with...

    View
    on Amazon
SENNHEISER MOBILE BUSINESS (MB660) WIRELESS HEADPHONES

These very nice headphones can cancel noise from the outside world (annoying co-workers, airplane engines, etc.), but also are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. These feel like two pillows on your ears. Also works with VoIP systems so you can communicate via your computer as well.

Cool Yule Tools Altec Lansing Omni Jacket Ultra
  • Altec Lansing IMW778-BLU Omni Ultra Jacket Bluetooth...

    $149.99 MSRP $299.00
    View
    on Amazon
ALTEC LANSING OMNI JACKET ULTRA RUGGED BLUETOOTH SPEAKER

Bluetooth speakers have gone large - very large. This model is heavy, but the extra heft makes it waterproof, sandproof and produces great sound. If you're heading to the beach over the holidays to escape the snow (it's snowproof, by the way), bring this with you.

Cool Yule Tools ScotteVEST OTG jacket
  • SCOTTeVEST Men's OTG Jacket - 29 Pockets - Pickpocket...

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    on Amazon
SCOTTEVEST OTG JACKET

This jacket includes 29 different pockets, with two front Rapid Access Panels that can hold a full-size laptop without it looking like you’re shoplifting or pretending to be pregnant (or both). Additional pockets include the company’s Clear Touch pockets (an inside pocket that lets you access your smartphone without getting it out of the pouch) and an RFID-blocking pocket (if you are concerned about thieves stealing your data via RFID).

turtle gamer headphones
  • Turtle Beach - Stealth 520 Premium Fully Wireless...

    $99.95 MSRP $129.95
    View
    on Amazon
TURTLE BEACH STEALTH 520 WIRELESS HEADPHONES (PS3 OR PS4)

The Stealth 520 is designed for the Sony PS4 or PS3 gaming consoles, and utilizes Bluetooth wireless technology, meaning you won’t have a cable going from the headset to the game controller. It comes with one if you don’t want to use the wireless option, but we prefer the cord-free route. However, this does mean that you need a free USB port in order to plug in the Bluetooth dongle, which also has a small wire that connects to the back of the PS4 console for digital optical audio.

lenovo gaming notebook
LENOVO IDEAPAD Y900-17ISK

This 17.3-inch notebook has tons of high-end features aimed at gamers. This includes things like a mechanical backlit keyboard (programmable, of course), NVIDIA GTX 980M graphics, the latest Intel Core i7 processors, and thermal cooling optimized to keep the temperature of the system from getting too hot. If you're a hardcore gamer, or are looking to get back into the game, start here.

Cool Yule Tools Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431-C5FM
  • Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431-C5FM

    $264.99 MSRP $299.00
    View
    on Amazon
ACER CHROMEBOOK 14 CB3-431-C5FM

If someone on your list wants a PC, does most of their activities on the  Web and doesn't want to spend a lot of time learning anything about computers, this version is perfect. It features a 1080p 14-inch display, alumninum frame (people may mistake it for a MacBook), 4GB of RAM, two USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out. The price is right!

peerless hds300 peerair
  • Peerless HDS300 Peerair Pro Wireless A/V Multimedia...

    $319.00 MSRP $549.00
    View
    on Amazon
PEERLESS HDS300 PEERAIR PRO WIRELESS A/V MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM

If you want to send HDMI-based video somewhere in the house beyond the cable box, the peerAir Pro system from Peerless hits the mark. Supporting full HD (1080p) video, this will stream video content quite nice from your source to your receiver (TV set) without latency or glitches. Highly recommended!

Cool Yule Tools Epiphone Les Paul electric guitar
  • Epiphone Les Paul STANDARD PLUS-TOP PRO Electric...

    $509.10 MSRP $832.00
    View
    on Amazon
EPIPHONE LES PAUL STANDARD PLUSTOP PRO ELECTRIC GUITAR

You can put a really, truly excellent electric guitar in the hands of that special person on your gift list for around $550. Excellent in the sense that, for almost everyone, it’s indistinguishable from those $2,000+ models in terms of look, fit, finish, quality, playability, value, and, most importantly, tone.

samsung noise
  • Samsung Level On PRO Wireless Noise Cancelling...

    $153.96 MSRP $249.99
    View
    on Amazon
SAMSUNG LEVEL ON PRO WIRELESS NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES

We were sent a pair of these headphones to go along with our review of the Samsung GearVR virtual reality headset. These headphones are so good that you will likely finding yourselves using them a whole lot more than the VR headset, for things like listening to music or watching movies on your phone or laptop. The headphones are very comfortable, fitting not completely over your ears but covering them enough to create a good fit (you can adjust them as well). An “ANC” button provides the active noise cancellation feature, so feel free to bring these on your next flight if you want to avoid the noise from the engines or the annoying guy in the middle seat.

Cool Yule Tools Weego 44 jump starter
  • Weego Jump Starter 44 N44 Portable Power Source &...

    $149.98 MSRP $149.99
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    on Amazon
WEEGO 44 PORTABLE JUMP STARTER AND MOBILE DEVICE CHARGER

If you have a bulky pair of jumper cables sitting in your car’s trunk, replace them with this portable power package. The Weego 44 includes smaller jumper cables and a large battery that can jump start any vehicle with a gas engine up to 7L (diesel up to 3.5L). This means you don’t have to get a jump from another car, or call an auto service – you can jumpstart your own dead battery.

iphones7
APPLE IPHONE 7 AND 7 PLUS

For what was expected to be a 'boring' update from Apple, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have surprised us with fantastic camera options (especially the dual-camera setup on the 7 Plus), a revamped Retina display and waterproofing options.

Cool Yule Tools floating Death Star speaker
PLOX STAR WARS FLOATING DEATH STAR BLUETOOTH SPEAKER

Any Star Wars fan on your holiday list will absolutely LOVE this speaker, which levitates via magnetic resistance and can also play tunes (Imperial March, anyone?). Perfect to go under the tree after you've seen the new Rogue One movie in December.

surge protector
  • CyberPower CSP600WSU Surge Protector 6-AC Outlet...

    $14.95 MSRP $24.95
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    on Amazon
CYBERPOWER CSP600WSU SURGE PROTECTOR WITH USB CHARGE PORTS

With USB-based mobile-device charging now the norm, protecting them via a surge protector should be high on your list. This six-outlet protector plugs into a two outlet socket, but then includes additional USB ports for charging your devices. With the ability to swivel horizontally and some green LED indicator lights, this is a great, inexpensive stocking stuffer that protects the more expensive gives you’re giving this year.

logitech g810 orion keyboard
  • Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum

    $109.99 MSRP $159.99
    View
    on Amazon
LOGITECH G810 ORION SPECTRUM GAMING KEYBOARD.

The G810 Orion Spectrum keyboard from Logitech is a mechanical keyboard, but not one that makes the really loud “clickety clackety” sounds when you type. Logitech says that the keys are specifically designed for gaming, with mechanical switches that can “actuate up to 25% faster than standard mechanical switches.” For games that require split-second timing, this can make a difference between game life and game death. The company says the switches are tested to last for more than 70 million key presses, so you’ll likely own this keyboard for a long, long time before a key fails (if ever). Plus, it also lights up, creating up to 16.8 million color choices (customizable).

eero
  • Eero Home WiFi System

    $299.99 MSRP $399.00
    View
    on Amazon
EERO MESH WI-FI

Eero is at the top-of-the class for the new wave of Wi-Fi mesh router systems, which utilize small nodes as wireless access points that get placed around the home. This differs from a traditional Wi-Fi setup, in which a giant router is connected to a broadband modem (or integrated with the modem), and then extenders are connected to expand upon the wireless range. In the case of eero’s mesh, one of the three nodes gets connected to the broadband modem, with the other nodes being spread out to different parts of your home. Each node then talks with the other, providing for more wireless range and fast speeds (it’s all 802.11ac compatible). In addition, owners can access network functions and statistics via the eero mobile app, including the ever-popular “Pause the Internet” button that gets your kids down to dinner or back to doing their homework.