Neowin Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Entertainment devices

It's that time again. It's the most wonderful time of the year, but also the time when you'll be spending the most money. Luckily, Neowin is here to give you some awesome ideas for gifts for everyone in your life.

This year, we'll be breaking it down into different categories, and this list will focus on entertainment devices.

Set-top boxes

Here's the cool thing about set-top boxes: everyone needs one, and a lot of people don't have good ones. This is what people can use to watch anything from Netflix to YouTube on their TV, while many are still just watching these shows on a phone or tablet. And even if you're buying a gift for someone that has one, they might need an upgrade. There are plenty of people using streaming boxes that only support 1080p to play content on their 4K TV.

Roku Ultra

The cool thing about a Roku is that it's platform-agnostic. With thousands of apps to choose from, it offers options from Amazon and Google, and you can even purchase movies and TV shows from providers on it (this sounds like it should be a given, but it's not).

The Roku Ultra supports 4K HDR playback, and the remote control has a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can watch TV at night without waking up the whole house.

If you're looking to spend a less money, Roku also offers a variety of streaming sticks. You lose out on the option for wired internet, and there isn't as much processing power, but you can save some cash.

Apple TV 4K

Once you get beyond the platform-agnostic Roku, you're going to want to be aware of what ecosystem the gift recipient lives in. If they like Apple products, then look no further than the Apple TV 4K. In fact, like many people, they might have an old third-generation Apple TV that they're still using, which doesn't even have an App Store, let alone 4K support. It also supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

One thing that's cool about the Apple TV, and iTunes, is that Apple doesn't charge extra for 4K movies. You get the same price as when it was HD, while other companies are charging a premium.

On a side note, while the Apple TV does offer an app for Amazon Video, you can only play content that you've already purchased or is available through Prime. To purchase new content, you'll need to use the browser on your PC or phone.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Amazon has three choices in streaming solutions, the top end of which is the Fire TV Cube. Obviously, the interface is built around Amazon services, and there are no apps for Google Play or iTunes available.

Fire OS is a fork of Android though, which means that you can easily sideload apps onto Amazon's devices. The Cube also has far-field voice microphones for Alexa, whereas the Apple TV forces you to hold a button on the remote to access Siri.

If you're on more of a budget, you can check out the Fire TV Stick 4K, which doesn't have wired internet or far-field voice microphones.

Xbox One S or Xbox One X

The Xbox One X has it all. While boxes like the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV let you play games that are primarily built for mobile devices, the Xbox One is a gaming console. You can purchase and play movies from Microsoft's Movies & TV service, and there's an Amazon Video app as well.

Both the Xbox One X and the One S allow you to stream content in 4K HDR, but only the Xbox One X lets you play games in 4K HDR.


Watching TV might not be for everyone. What about the reader? We've got you covered.

Kindle Oasis

The Kindle Oasis is the Cadillac of e-readers. It's meant for one-handed use, with a thick spine that you can hold and two physical buttons for turning pages. It has a seven-inch E Ink display, making it pretty big for an e-reader. It also has Bluetooth, so you can hook up your headphones and play audiobooks.

But the Cadillac of e-readers isn't for everyone. You might just want the Kia of e-readers. That's where the Kindle Paperwhite comes in. It only has a six-inch touchscreen, so there are no physical buttons, and there's no spine, so it's not as good for one-handed use. It is waterproof though, making it easier to take to the beach.

Smart speakers/displays

The fun thing about smart speakers and displays is that they serve plenty of uses, from telling you the weather, to playing music, to controlling your lights. The other good thing is that a lot of people don't have one, making it a perfect gift.

Lenovo Smart Display

The Lenovo Smart Display uses Google Assistant, and it adds another dimension with a screen. You can watch videos on YouTube, play music with Google Play Music, and more. You can ask it to bring up your day from your Google Calendar, or tell it to show you a recipe when you're in the kitchen.

It comes in eight-and 10-inch flavors, and the eight-inch one is 50% off right now at Best Buy.

Amazon Echo

Of course, if you're not into Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa is the way to go. Amazon offers a variety of products, from Echo speakers to smart displays.

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