Best holiday gifts under $250 for 2019
With holiday season right around the corner, here are eight can't-miss options for the best holiday gifts under $250.
Nintendo Switch Lite
This thing rocks. Kids, adult gamers and frequent flyers will find it perfectly sized for handheld gaming, with everything they need to access Nintendo's immense and celebrated library of games. It has a microSD card slot to expand its storage, and a USB-C port for charging and connecting to wired controller accessories. And it's $100 cheaper than the full-sized Switch. Sure, you can't dock it or detach the controllers -- but neither of those are deal-breakers for most people. Straight up: This is probably the best mobile gaming system on the market. .
Sony's WF-1000XM3 ear buds deliver excellent audio quality, strong battery life and a quick-charging USB-C connection. My colleagues who've tested them tend to get a bit breathless when talking about them, claiming they're hands-down the most comfortable earbuds on the market with active noise cancellation. .
I wore the the Garmin Forerunner 235 all summer. It's a full-featured fitness tracker that accurately captures all of the details of my workouts, whether I'm running or on my bike. I wear it around the clock, into the shower and while swimming in the ocean, and it tracks my steps and sleep. It has an optical heart-rate sensor and can offer up some pretty complex training data -- including an estimate of my VO2 Max and predicted race times and recovery periods. The battery life is stellar; I charge it about once a week. There's a specific use case for this Garmin watch, and it fits me exactly. I wanted a watch that that was free from the uber-connectedness of an Apple Watch -- I don't need any more distractions. (I also tested the newer and more attractive , which is more refined but also $100 more expensive, and cluttered with more traditional smart watch features.) Compatible with both iOS and Android, I think the $230 Garmin 235 is a great choice for both casual and hardcore athletes who don't want a phone on their wrist. That noted, since introducing its newest model in September, Apple has marked down the to a very reasonable $199. That's a solid deal and a very respectable alternative if you're already in the Apple ecosystem or want those emails, texts and other notifications streaming across your wrist. .
Lego Technic 4x4 X-treme Off-Roader
These Technic Lego sets are expensive -- but, in my experience, worth it. In my house, the kids are always excited about a new Lego set. They spend a few hours building it, life is great and then one of two things happen: they plant their new creation on a side table and never touch it again or jettison it into the colossal Lego morass we keep in an oversized cloth bag. Finis. Late-stage capitalism crushes us again.But the Technic sets can have a longer lifespan. Because once you're done building this 958-piece 4x4 truck, you have a remote-control car that you can drive with Lego's intuitive Technic app. That has a bit more lasting power. The company says this set is designed for kids ages 11 and up, but I think that even younger kids will appreciate it -- if they have the support of an adult to help them problem-solve.
A colleague bought this thing for me and it's become one of my most prized possessions. It's expensive -- and I wouldn't have spent my own money on it -- but it's become an essential, almost sacramental part of my morning coffee ritual. The concept is simple: The porcelain Ember Mug keeps your coffee the perfect temperature -- technically, 130 degrees, though that's adjustable via the iOS- and Android-compatible app -- for a little more than an hour.Note that Ember recently released . My colleague Brian Bennett found that it's marginally better -- but even more overpriced. Fair enough. I'll be testing it myself in the near future. For now, the older model remains available on Amazon at a considerable discount. .