The Best Tech Gifts for Today's Grads

06/02/2017 11:02 am ET Updated Jun 05, 2017

Today’s graduates will be among the first generation of humans who won’t think that autonomous cars are a reality and not reserved for television cartoons about the future. That means that it takes a lot to impress these high school, college and grad school graduates with technology. They have come of age using 3D printers, iPads, GPS, drones and high-end headphones.

When it comes to selecting the perfect gift for a 2017 graduate, one must consider a few things: First, does the graduate desire something practical? Second, will this gift become obsolete in only a few short years? Third, will the graduate be impressed by this technology? I’ve put together a nice mix of various tech gifts that I think this year’s graduate will really appreciate. Many of these products have been discounted for Father’s Day and graduation season, so check online for the best prices.

VIZIO SmartCast E-Series Ultra HD Home Theater Display and VIZIO SmartCast 45” 5.1 Sound Bar System - VIZIO is really making a name for itself with its high-end televisions and sound bars that won’t break the bank. Their SmartCast home theater displays offer full-array LED backlight and up to 16 Active LED Zones that dynamically adjust to onscreen content. Google Chromecast (built-in) is fully integrated for a robust smart experience. The SmartCast 45” sound bar is unquestionably one of the best sound bars I’ve heard and it’s the perfect compliment for the VIZIO HD display. Prices begin at $549.99 for the 55” and go up to $3,399.99 for the 80” display. Sound Bar: $499.99 vizio.com

Hook & Albert Briefcases – One of the best gifts I received when I finished graduate school was a leather TUMI briefcase. I fell in love with the beautiful leather and quality craftmanship. I never thought I’d even consider replacing that briefcase until I touched a Hook & Albert. Today, we need leather cases for all our gadgets -- laptops, smartphones, headphones and chargers are schlepped around daily and require a luxurious bag to keep everything organized and safe. Hook & Albert’s new solution driven briefcases combine both the functions of a briefcase and laptop bag with the company’s top grain matt pebbled leather with smooth leather accents. There are more customized pockets than you’ll ever use. Prices vary. hookandalbert.com

Bluesmart One Smart Carry-on Luggage – Whether for business or pleasure, recent graduates are going to be traveling a lot and they’re traveling with a lot of gadgets that need to stay charged. Bluesmart One bags have an array of features that make traveling more efficient including a battery charger that can power all your devices. You’ll never have to fight other travelers for the limited electrical outlets and USB charging stations at the terminal. These smart suitcases have a weather-resistant hard-shell polycarbonated body with a nylon front compartment and also come with a TSA-approved remote lock, digital scale to check your bag's weight via your phone and a location tracker that can find your bag anywhere in the world if it gets lost. On sale for $314 through Father’s Day (regularly $449) bluesmart.com

Fitbit Surge – There are so many fitness trackers on the market, but Fitbit is still the tried and true brand in this space. As the #1 selling GPS watch in the U.S., Surge adds so much more than just fitness statistics. With text notifications and music control, your workout will feel easier and more fun. The GPS tracking displays pace, distance, elevation, split times, route history and workout summaries for smarter training. Today’s young people expect to have a tracker on their wrist when they go for a run and the Fitbit Surge will be something they’ll appreciate for years to come. $249.95 fitbit.com/surge

Travelpro Crew11 22” Exp. Rollaboard Suiter – Imagine getting to the airport to head off to your new college and your smartphone is completely dead and there are no available outlets at the gate. With Travelpro’s new Rollaboard Suiter, you can charge right into the suitcase with its Power Bank. In addition to the USB connected Power Bank, the suitcase offers a patented PowerScope aluminum extension handle to minimize wobble, a high quality ballistic nylon fabric with Duraguard coating and SUPRA Zipper heads to resist damage from daily use and abuse. Prices vary. travelpro.com

Chipolo Plus – Giving a recent grad the gift of a Chipolo Plus will help them become more organized. Known as the world’s loudest Bluetooth tracker, Chipolo Plus will help grads keep track of their first set of apartment keys, wallets, cell phones, backpacks and other items while easing them into new adult responsibilities. Chipolo also doubles as a remote shutter for your phone’s camera to capture campus-life adventures without needing a selfie stick. Prices vary. chipolo.net

ROVA Flying Selfies – The Class of 2017 doesn’t remember a time without selfies. ROVA will take their selfie game to a higher level. With its portable design, accessible price and user-friendly app for flight control, ROVA removes the intimidation from military-grade drones, so anyone can. It has object avoidance technology so you can fly the drone indoors without worrying about it hitting walls. Comes with a portable hard carrying case, 16GB Micro SD card and 2 batteries. $299 theiotgroup.com

booq Nerve – If you want your favorite recent graduate to feel like a fashionable professional, they’ll need the new booq Nerve stylish laptop bag. It’s big enough for a 15-inch MacBook Pro or a 16-inch laptop. It features a stylish ballistic nylon exterior with a water-repellent flap to wishstand the elements and a densely padded, interior laptop compartment. $195 booqbags.com

Odyssey Toys StarChaser – This in-flight VR gives you the ultimate control to fly anywhere and anytime while shooting photos and HD Video. Grads will be able to take the ultimate photos this summer and all their friends will want to borrow their StarChaser. $199.95 odysseytoys.com

Leophile EEL Bluetooth Headphones – Today’s high school and college grads don’t think twice about spending a lot of money on a quality pair of headphones. They love their music and they appreciate stylish cans. These soft silicone Bluetooth headphones from Leophile are elite and practical. Their body maximizes comfort while preventing stickiness from sweat or water. An innovative easily-adjustable double strap neckband that provides an irritation free and comfortable fit. Fully waterproof they can be under water for 30 minutes and up to 1 meter deep. $49.99 leophile.com

Aftermaster Pro - Developed to allow consumers to have convenient access to AfterMaster’s award winning and unparalleled sound from virtually all audio/video sources, this transforms television audio by raising and clarifying dialogue levels, while making all surrounding audio sound substantially better. Aftermaster Pro connects easily via HDMI to virtually any audio/video source (cable box, satellite box, video game station, etc.) and is equipped with an internal rechargeable battery and 3.5mm audio ports so it can be used on-the-go with a smart phone, tablet, computer, headphone or any other audio enabled device. Comes in four colors. $179.95 buyampro.com

Martian Watches: mVip – If you’re looking for a grad gift for a woman that she’ll love for so many different reasons, don’t look any further than this hybrid smartwatch. It was designed specifically for women and connects her lifestyle to everyday living. The discreet smart notifications appear on a 38mm round diameter. You can easily set personalized vibration patterns along with custom-assigned LED alerts through Martian’s Smart mVip app, while tracking steps, distance and sleep duration and quality using a 3-axis accelerometer. This smartwatch boasts substantial battery life. Prices vary. martianwatches.com/mvip/

Lynx Indoor Camera - The grad moving into their own place will love having a security camera to keep an eye on things. This impressive indoor camera features advanced facial recognition technology with 24-hour live video monitoring that can be used to automatically alert and recognize unfamiliar faces to maximize security and eliminate any false alarms. It’s easy to setup to any Wi-Fi network and usersl have full access to the free Tend Secure app where they can pre-load images to the Facial Recognition Library, receive mobile check-in alerts when faces are detected, and have the ability to talk and interact via the two-way audio feature. $59.99 tendinsights.com/products/tend-secure-lynx-indoor

SoleMate Pro Shoe Deodorizer – Not much surprises me in the world of technology, but even I didn’t expect to see a device that connects with your smartphone and takes care of the stinky sneaker problem. Regotech’s SoleMate claims to kill 99.97% of odor-causing bacteria in shoes simply by placing a SoleMate pod in each shoe and using the mobile app. You can create a virtual shoe closet with the iOS or Android app, which connects via Bluetooth. Your shoes will be sterilized without damaging the actual shoe. It will last for several years and can deodorizes many pairs of shoes on one charge. Also works with boxing gloves, baseball mitts and sports pads. Brilliant! $74 plus shipping on Indiegogo. solematepro.com

Blue Satellite Headphones - At CES 2017, Blue Microphones debuted Satellite, the first headphone that brings true audiophile sound to the wireless listening experience. With two separate pairs of drivers to ensure the high-fidelity experience is never compromised, these headphones offer superior performance, comfort and sound isolation, while achieving ultimate portability with foldable construction. Satellite uses Bluetooth 4.1 wireless technology and Apt-X audio codec. Grads will love how Satellite eliminates unwanted noise without compromising the rich sounds of the music. $399.99 bluemic.com/products/satellite

Cherry MX Board Silent Keyboard – Your roommate doesn’t want to hear the clickity clack of your computer keyboard late at night. This makes the MX Silent the ultimate grad gift for someone moving into an apartment with others. The keyboard’s switches have a uniquely shaped rubber pad and its integrated 2-component stem reduces audible clicks. Cherry’s silent keyboard is a sturdy housing of plastic polymer, a precise spiral spring, and the unique Gold Crosspoint contact technology. Available in red or black. $149 cherryamericas.com/cherry-mx-board-silent/

House of Marley Stir It Up – In case you haven’t realized, today’s 20-somethings love vinyl. Record players are certainly trending again and there’s no shortage of options on the market. What sets House of Marley’s turntable apart from the competition is that this is the market’s most sustainably-crafted record player. It’s crafted with a solid bamboo plinth and it pairs earth-friendly materials (recycled rubber) with high-quality audio. With a built-in pre-amp and included 3.5mm stereo auxiliary cable, Stir It Up allows direct connection to various speakers from the House of Marley collection or any existing in-home audio system. The turntable features a solid metal tone arm for precise sound delivery and a replaceable, ½” mount, audio-technica cartridge, making the record player easy to maintain and customize. $229.00 houseofmarley.com

Caseta Wireless with Google Home – Members of the Class of 2017 will have a Google Home in their kitchen the same way their parents had a microwave oven. That means more smart home devices will become integrated with Google Home. Lutron Electronics is now allowing us to easily control their Lutron Caséta Wireless, RadioRA 2 and HomeWorks QS lighting systems using the Google Assistant, offering greater flexibility and peace of mind. Just speaking to Google Home you can have hands-free assistance controlling the lights in your connected home from anywhere. $99 casetawireless.com

Mophie Juice Pack Air – With the amount of texting, Snapchatting and taking photos that this generation does, they cannot have their phones running out of juice. Mophie’s protective juice pack air battery case delivers up to 100% extra battery with enough power to extend the life of an iPhone 7 to a total of 27 hours and features charge force wireless power to enable effortless charging using virtually any wireless charging technology. Comes in black, rose gold, gold, navy and red. $99.95 mophie.com

Hero by Winnergear Earbuds – Billed as the world's smallest true wireless sports earbuds with 4 hours of playtime, the Hero will certainly be every grads’ hero. There’s a sweat-proof microphone built-in that allows you to skip songs directly from the earbuds and the portable charging case makes this a no-brainer to take to the gym. With the large 8mm dynamic driver noise cancellation, these make the perfect music companion for a long flight. $149.99 winnergear.com/product/hero-true-wireless-earbuds

SteelSeries: ARCTIS 3 – This is the perfect headset for the gamer grad. Arctis 3 offers flagship-level comfort for the serious gamer, which many young people are today. With an ultra-light design, this headset has powerful, low distortion speakers combined with 7.1 surround sound. $79.99 steelseries.com/gaming-headsets/arctis-3

Evoluent Vertical Mouse – For the past 15 years Evoluent has been making a name for itself with the most ergonomic mouse. Its Vertical Mouse series provides a handshake grip that avoids forearm twisting. The mouse is stylish and comfortable, with a handsome silver finish. The adjustable optical sensor provides accuracy and it has easy to use functionality for 6 buttons through a simple and intuitive interface. Prices vary. evoluent.com

Elgato Avea Flare – Today’s college grads recognize that to create the perfect atmosphere at a party, you need good mood lighting. The Avea Flare from Elgato, with ten curated dynamic light scenes, illuminates any room for more than 8 hours on a single charge. It also provides the ideal lighting to just chill and relax. It automatically connects to iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Android phones using Bluetooth Smart technology. $99.95 elgato.com/en/avea

Beasts of Balance – Know a grad who loved playing Jenga as a kid? Did they get into the Pokemon GO trend last summer? Well, this fun new interactive game combines the best aspects of those and more. Beasts of Balance is a true testament to stacking ability and with the connected app through innovative AR technology, this game really comes to life. It’s ideal for parties or to just challenge oneself. $99. beastsofbalance.com

GekkoPod – I love this flexible mount that creates a secure hold for your smartphone or action camera. Made from a durable silicone construction with a steel internal structure, it glows in the dark and keeps your gadget safety secured. Gekkopod can be used as a selfie stick, a compact camera protection, an underwater camera mount, a car mount or an iPad stand. $24.95 zbamdesign.com/product/gekkopod

DreamWave Harmony – This elegantly designed premium speaker offers impressive sound quality that reproduces the fullness, clarity and depth of your music. Grads starting at a new office will love the hands free calling feature that automatically pauses the music and resumes right where you left off once you’re done with the call. $149.99 dreamwaveus.com

HyperX Cloud Stinger Over‑Ear Headset – Gamers will appreciate the powerful sound, audio precision and ultra-comfortable memory foam on this over-ear headset. HyperX designed these to make even a casual gamer feel like a pro. They are lightweight, but sturdy, at only 275 grams and have intuitive volume control. On sale at $49.99 hyperxgaming.com

PanaCast Whiteboard - The company that made the world's first panoramic 4K plug-and-play camera, PanaCast, has launched a new technology that instantly detects an existing whiteboard in a huddle room or classroom and displays it as its own digital screen via any video conferencing platform (e.g. Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom). This software provides remote teams with a crisp digital view of the whiteboard, essentially giving them a virtual seat in the room. The Whiteboard integrates with the PanaCast 2 camera system, in which images from three different images are captured to deliver true panoramic video without fisheye distortion. getpanacast.com

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