Desktops

Holiday Gifts for the Gadget Geek

Epson Expression Premium XP-830, $200

Perfect for the home office, this versatile Epson Expression Premium XP-830 inkjet printer is speedy, spitting out 10 text pages per minute (at 5 cents per page). It has a touch-screen display and a document feeder for copying and scanning, and it lets you send paperless faxes with your PC. It also prints very good photos on glossy paper, as well as text pages or images from a mobile device using a WiFi connection.

Brother MFC-J680DW, $120

This inkjet printer is a great gift for the family photographer. The Brother MFC-J680DW quickly prints very good photographs on glossy paper (only fair on plain paper) and has a separate tray for snapshot-sized photo paper. Its 1.3-inch touch-screen display lets you preview the images on a memory card reader. It also prints two-sided copies and has scan and fax functions and built-in WiFi networking.

Roomba 960 Robotic Vacuum, $700

Yes, this Roomba (shown at top) costs maybe as much as your first used car, but the idea of never having to push a vacuum again is priceless for some. Our tests demonstrate its excellent cleaning capability on carpets and bare floors alike. This latest version also allows you to control it via an app on your smartphone—nice for when you need to clean up in advance of unexpected visitors.

Dyson V8 Absolute, $600

Once you get past the price, there’s nothing you won’t like about this new model—the best stick vacuum we’ve ever tested. Dyson V8 Absolute aced our carpet and bare floor tests and picked up pet hair like a pro. It’s also surprisingly quiet. We wouldn’t blame you for stuffing the V8 into your own stocking. Just don’t turn the thing on!

Shark Rocket DeluxePro TruePet HV322, $230

Battery-powered stick vacuums are convenient for quick cleanups, but to vacuum an entire home you need a corded model that will go the distance. This Shark is our current favorite. The Shark Rocket DeluxePro TruePet is one of the few recommended stick vacs that provides impressive suction on both carpets and bare floors. We also like that it converts easily to a hand vac, which you can carry far and wide, thanks to the generous 30-foot-long cord.

Eero Home WiFi System, $500

Now you can give the gift of good WiFi all throughout anyone’s home. The three routers in this Eero Home WiFi System pack work in unison to create a “mesh network” that helps eliminate dead zones in the basement, backyard, and other nether reaches. The setup takes roughly 15 minutes, and the network can be managed via an app on your smartphone.

Linksys AC2600 Router, $240

The reigning king of routers (at least in our labs), the Linksys AC2600 can admirably handle a legion of smartphones, laptops, and other internet-connected devices with ease in even very large homes. It also comes with automatic firmware updates, an admirably easy setup, and four Ethernet and two USB ports. Power users will appreciate its speed and many settings for optimizing their network.

Apple Watch Series 2, $370

The old Apple Watch was aimed at keeping you connected. This new one has added some serious fitness tracker muscle. It’s water-resistant to a depth of 50 meters and has built-in GPS to map your runs, and the heart-rate monitor and step tracking features are plenty accurate. The updated watchOS 3 operating system also lets you share workout data with family and friends.

Samsung Gear S2 Classic Smartwatch, $350

Don’t let the fancy facade fool you: This state-of-the-art Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch is water-resistant and loaded with functions, including GPS tracking, a heart-rate monitor and step counter, and the ability to make and receive telephone calls—and even to pay for transactions at stores via Samsung Pay. The watch will work only with Android devices running Android 4.3 Jellybean or higher.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8, $350

This 8-inch tablet has an excellent OLED display that’s one of the best our testers have ever seen. Crisp and bright, it provides accurate colors, deeper blacks, and better viewing angles than most other tablets. What’s more, the Galaxy Tab has a fingerprint reader, a pre-installed file manager, an 8-megapixel camera (but no flash), 11 hours of battery life, and the ability to connect to USB storage devices.

Nvidia Shield K1, $200

This 8-inch tablet is an excellent performer—especially for gaming. What it lacks in all-day battery life the Nvidia Shield K1 more than makes up for with an excellent high-res display and expandable storage. Toss in plenty of processing power, a Mini-HDMI port, support for Nvidia’s line of gaming accessories, and access to Google Play’s gaming library, and it’s a Borderlands 2 player’s dream machine.

ZenPad S 8.0 Z580C-B1 (32GB), $170

A fantastic screen, fast performance, excellent touch response, and good battery life make the ZenPad S 8.0 Z580C-B1 tablet an easy choice even for demanding web surfers and gamers. With a sharp, 328ppi resolution display, this ZenPad is outstanding for watching videos, and its full access to the Google Docs app market provides a large and varied selection of apps.

For the latest results of our robot face-offs, go to ConsumerReports.org/bots1216.

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Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the December 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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