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8 tech gifts to avoid at all costs, even if that means returning them

If you’re about to give one of these to a loved one, think again


Eric Leamen


Tis the season for spending money, and if you’re still holiday shopping for that gadget lover on your list… well, it’s pretty late in the month for that, you should probably plan better next year. That said, if you are still doing some last-minute holiday shopping, there are plenty of great gift choices for the tech nerd in your life. There’s also plenty of tech crap to avoid. From the unnecessary, to the duds, to the downright stupid, here are 8 of the most disappointing gifts you can give or receive, so if you just got done wrapping one you might want to make a quick swap.


Maybe there’s someone in your life who still doesn’t have a smartphone, and you’re tempted to blow them away with an amazing new iPhone or Android phone for the holidays. Don’t. What you’re really gifting is the obligation of a $60 monthly plan and the joy of having to deal with Verizon or AT&T or T-Mobile for a few years. If your friend doesn’t have a smartphone by now, they probably don’t want one. Even if you’re dying to send Snaps back and forth with them, there are far cheaper ways to exchange nudes.

Fitness Tracker

You thought it would be a nice idea to get your partner one of those fitness trackers you’ve been hearing so much about. You even got one for yourself so you could both keep track of your daily activity, maybe even start working out together. You’re feeling good about this one, until they unwrap your “thoughtful” gift and you realize you’ve just made a huge mistake.

Accusations start flying. So you think they need to work out more, is that it? You think they’re fat? How dare you imply that with a gift! Are you ashamed of the way they look? If that’s suddenly a problem for you then why are you even together in the first place? You should probably just go, and take your damn fitness tracker with you. You can count your steps as you walk home crying.

See also: Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Smart Scale

Generic Android Tablet

Let’s be honest: one of the most compelling things about Android tablets is that they’re cheap compared to the market leading iPad. “Cheap” is a bad reason to buy anything, so if there’s someone on your shopping list who wants a tablet for the holidays, be careful. Don’t listen to the handsome young employee at Sam’s Club who assures you that a $79 NuVision Android tablet can do everything an iPad can do for a fraction of the price. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Spare that poor family member or friend from having to “be nice” and pretend they’re thrilled about receiving a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 12.1 Grand Optimus Prime Edition. They’re not, and that’s on you.


It’s a weird time to buy a TV. 1080p TVs are on their way out and 4K TVs are on their way in, but there’s not yet a compelling reason to own a 4K TV. Traditional cable television isn’t broadcast in 4K. The first 4K Blu-ray movies are still months away. Streaming services like Netflix offer only a tiny selection of 4K content, and many people don’t have the internet bandwidth or speed to stream full quality 4K content. Gaming consoles aren’t capable of running games at 4K resolution yet. Put simply, almost everything you look at on your TV isn’t in 4K, so there’s really no need for a 4K TV yet. Unless you love big pixels.


Smartwatches like the Moto 360, Apple Watch, and Pebble Time are all the rage this year, but they’re also causing all the rage this year. Smartwatches are universally slow, they crash a lot, the apps aren’t particularly useful yet, and the batteries last less than a day in many cases. It’s like giving the gift of expensive nerd jewellery that needs to be charged once every 12 hours. Silicon Valley doesn’t know what people want from a smartwatch yet, app developers don’t know what to make for smartwatches yet, and users don’t know what to do with their smartwatches yet. Don’t gift a gadget that’s likely to end up as a dust-collector after a few weeks.

Apple Music subscription

You’ve probably heard a lot about Apple Music. The fruit company has been making a big push for their music streaming service since it launched in June, even signing a deal with Taylor Swift to be the exclusive home for her 1989 World Tour documentary. But the truth is, Apple Music is still pretty buggy, and some users have complained about missing and disappearing music. If you want to give the gift of streaming music, there are other options like Spotify, Rdio, or YouTube Red.

Wii U

I used to be a Nintendo fan, then an apologist, and now I’m simply disappointed. The company’s current home console, the Wii U, is an indisputable flop, and after 3 years on the market we’re all still wondering what the touchscreen GamePad is good for. 

Nintendo has already announced that their next console—the NX—will be announced in 2016, which is why the Wii U’s recent game lineup consists of ports, remakes, and recycled ideas. While there have been some great games released over its lifetime, the Wii U is on its deathbed. Steer clear this year.


Seriously, just don’t. These self-balancing scooters are sought after by millennials, and rightfully mocked by everyone else. Nobody looks cool riding one of these things, and as if the pure aesthetics weren’t bad enough, most of these “swagways” light up neon blue and blast music from your phone over Bluetooth. Cue eyeroll. Consider that they’ve also been known to literally burst into flames, and there are safer ways to look like a toolbag in public. Just say “NO” to the hoverboard.

Photo via forayinto35mm/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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