Greatest vacation presents beneath $250 for 2020

This story is a part of Vacation Present Information 2020, CNET’s reward picks with knowledgeable recommendation, evaluations and proposals for the newest tech presents for you and your loved ones.

Similar to every part else in 2020, the vacations are going to be bizarre and totally different this yr — and a number of us will probably be avoiding frequent journeys to the shop and as a substitute trying on-line for presents for family and friends.

The $100-to-$250 vary might be a candy spot to discover a considerate current that sparks pleasure with out wreaking havoc in your reward funds. On this vacation season reward information, you will discover a variety of concepts in our picks for the very best presents beneath $250.

Solo Range

Yard fireplace pits have been a keystone for social exercise in the course of the COVID-19 period — and that is the very best of them, hands-down. Constructed from sturdy stainless-steel, and with a vented design that promotes air movement, the Solo Range produces a good looking and deeply warming fireplace with little or no smoke or airborne ash. (Maybe better of all, your garments don’t reek of smoke the morning after.) Out there in three sizes and costs, this can be a slam dunk vacation reward for any fireplace pit fanatic. 


For those who’re trying to get your youngsters offline and out of the home — or need to really feel like a child your self once more — the Traxxas Stampede is cool (and quick) sufficient to get anybody to lookup from their cellphone. With a high velocity within the 30mph vary, this high-performance distant management monster truck can roll over a wide range of terrain and, courtesy of its waterproof electronics, via any mud puddle. I laughed and howled like a 10-year-old throughout my first few check rides.

Although there’s a bit of little bit of a studying curve — you will must bone up on lithium polymer batteries and recharging peripherals — it is no extra difficult than establishing a brand new smartphone. (An entry-level LiPo battery and charger combo will run you one other $60 or so.) And learners can even profit from the truck’s “coaching mode,” which cuts its appreciable velocity in half that can assist you domesticate your dealing with abilities. However should you do wreck your rig, it is OK: Traxxas is understood for its cheap alternative elements and restore charges.

David Carnoy/CNET

New for 2020, Bose has simply launched its second-generation Frames. Sure, they’re sun shades with wi-fi headphones built-in. In addition they sound extremely good. We actually just like the Tempo fashion proven right here, however you may as well go for the Tenor or Soprano types as a substitute.

David Carnoy/CNET

Since dropping in value throughout Amazon Prime Day, the Apple AirPods are simpler to suggest as a killer pair of wi-fi in-ear headphones. With a profitable design and match, strong sound high quality and bass efficiency, and really efficient noise canceling, they’re glorious for making calls and listening to music — even throughout a exercise. In addition they now supply an wonderful spatial audio characteristic when used with suitable Apple gadgets — one thing you will not discover on different true wi-fi headphones.

Learn our Apple AirPods Professional evaluate.


The Glow lamp is a extremely transportable, rechargeable nightlight that is undeniably stunning, straightforward to setup and nice to make use of. It is turn out to be integral to my household’s bedtime routine, and we now have two of them. We use them each night time and take them with us wherever we go. (And that is one other factor — they’re surprisingly powerful.) 

Because of its built-in gyroscope, you flip the Glow over to show it on and off, twist it to dim it up or down or shake it to set off the low nightlight setting. The lamp produces a pleasing ambient glow — therefore the identify — that dims step by step over 15 to 60 minutes. You’ll be able to management the span utilizing Casper’s streamlined iOS and Android-compatible app, and set the sunshine to come back on within the morning — a reverse nightlight, of kinds.

Learn our Casper Glow preview.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Relating to gaming consoles, your entry level for the brand new, cool stuff is principally $300 — that is the worth tag for the Xbox Collection S, the Oculus Quest 2 or a full-featured Nintendo Swap. However you will get in on our sub-$250 funds right here with the Nintendo Swap Lite, which drops the removable controllers and the TV-out performance of its older sibling in alternate for a extra wallet-friendly $200 value level. You may nonetheless be capable to play almost all the identical video games, together with Nintendo-only exclusives from the Animal Crossing, Zelda and Mario sequence. After disappearing from (digital) retailer cabinets early on within the pandemic, the Swap Lite is more and more, although nonetheless intermittently, obtainable from a number of nationwide retailers.

Learn our Swap Lite evaluate.

With a number of households working, studying and streaming from dwelling, family wi-fi networks are being examined like by no means earlier than. We put in a Google Nest Wi-Fi system at our home this spring and have been impressed with its speedy efficiency. The connection is perceptibly quicker, extra expansive and extra sturdy than our prior setup, and the $169 router will probably be ample for many properties. That stated, the range-extending Wifi level — which doubles as a Google Assistant good speaker — could also be value the additional dough. Additionally control the Eero mesh networking set. The older three-node model typically drops as little as $200, with a freebie Echo speaker thrown in, and the corporate simply debuted a new mannequin for 2020 that folds in help for the Zigbee dwelling automation wi-fi commonplace.

Learn our Nest Wifi evaluate.

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Essentially the most reasonably priced Apple Watch ever launched, the Apple Watch SE boasts a extra highly effective processor, a Retina show that is 30% bigger than the Collection 3’s show and help for Apple’s new Household Setup plan. Amazon’s $20 low cost will get us shut sufficient to $250 to incorporate right here. However the Apple Watch Collection Three is presently promoting for $169, making it the least costly possibility within the present lineup. Learn our Apple Watch SE evaluate.

Strike value: Any low cost of $30 or extra


Having spent tons of of {dollars} on awful suitcases through the years, I can say that the Monos Carry On is definitely worth the cash, and it is the proper reward for journey lovers. With an identical aesthetic and value level as Away’s lineup of recent suitcases (which you’ll have seen on Instagram), Monos delivers every part you need in a curler bag: a light-weight however sturdy shell, a pleasant number of compartments, pockets and straps and a well-engineered retractable deal with. Plus, it comes with a 100-day free trial and lifelong guarantee.


Created from recycled ocean-bound plastic bottles, this implausible duffle bag has precisely the correct amount of storage capability, with handles on each floor, and it may be worn on the shoulder or as a backpack. Personally, I like the Olive Dot Camo design.

Swiss Military

I have been utilizing this stunning Victorinox chef’s knife for the previous yr and it is turn out to be one in every of my indispensable kitchen instruments. The blade is fluted, so it will not persist with what you are chopping, and the elegant wood deal with offers it the proper quantity of heft. It is sharp sufficient to make chopping meat, fish, fruit, greens and cheeses an absolute pleasure.

Williams Sonoma

Having gone via a sequence of overcomplicated meals processors, the simplicity of this Cuisinart mannequin is interesting. There are two paddle buttons — on and off, which doubles as a “pulse” possibility — and the massive 14-cup bowl is sturdy and simple to wash. It comes with three blades and discs — do you really want greater than that? — and the 720-watt motor is robust sufficient to energy via no matter you throw at it.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I’ve a small, easy one-zone dwelling, the place the thermostat controls solely the furnace. Final yr, I purchased a number of totally different top-rated good thermostats and, with the help of my neighborhood electrician, put in and examined them one after the other. The Nest was the one I stored. It is a snap to arrange and it completely delivers on the few options I needed: scheduled temperature adjustment, interesting aesthetics, an intuitive interface and absolute management through iPhone or Android. 

That famous, CNET’s present high choose for finest good thermostat, the marginally pricier Ecobee Sensible Thermostat is unquestionably value a glance.

Learn our Ecobee Sensible Thermostat evaluate.

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