It’s May, the time of year when recent college graduates start to filter into the workforce in a desperate search for employment. And for many of these young grads, it means moving into their first apartment—an accomplishment worthy of recognition. So why not commend the alumnus or alumna you know with a housewarming gift? We've gathered up some of our favorite tech to help them feel at home in a new place.
Google Nexus 7 (MSRP $199)
Because they’re cheaper and “hipper” than laptops, tablets make a perfect gift for an accomplishment as great as graduating from college. There really is no limit to what you can do with a good tablet. Whether for reading Game of Thrones or watching House of Cards, tablets are an endless source of entertainment. And I suppose you can reap some productivity from them as well.
Google’s contribution to the vibrant tablet market is not only affordable ($200), it’s a high-quality machine that more than competes with the market leader, the Apple iPad. In fact, the Nexus 7 beat the iPad in our 2012 Best of Year Award and is currently our topped-ranked tablet device. The battery life is extremely impressive, and the image quality makes a fool of most tablets in its price range. Sure, the iPad has the coveted Apple logo on the back, but if you want bang-for-your-buck, or if the recipient just prefers the Android OS, the Nexus 7 is a solid buy.
Sony MDR-V6 (MSRP $109.99)
Classic, legendary, all-purpose—these are some of the words that have been used to describe the Sony MDR-V6 headphones. Just looking around our offices you’ll see at least four or five pairs wrapped around the heads of our writers. They’re comfortable, modest, available for less than $100, and musician-friendly. With a frequency response of 5–30,000 Hz, you’ll hear high highs and low lows, without the distortion. I own a pair, and I have no complaints, aside from its somewhat unwieldy cord, and the fact that they're not great for ambulatory use.
Streaming TV Bundle: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime
Streaming media is increasingly becoming the future of TV, and no one knows this better than poor college students who can’t afford cable. Trust us: Buying a cable subscription for a recent graduate is like a frumpy boyfriend buying shoes for his fashionista girlfriend—it’s a shot in the dark. Young people are increasingly ditching cable in favor of streaming media like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video. Even the most stubborn hold-outs have shown signs of embracing the inevitable.
The best part about streaming is how cheap it is, at least compared to cable. Netflix streaming and Hulu Plus both cost $7.99/month. Amazon Instant Video is a perk of an Amazon Prime membership, which costs $79 per year (or about $6.58 per month), and also includes free two-day shipping and a host of other benefits. While the programming selection varies from service to service, a bundle of these services should satisfy pretty much all the entertainment needs of a recent graduate.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio (MSRP $129.99)
Aside from the odd design and senselessly long name that’ll make you want to punch something, anything, the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio is one of the best coffee brewers we’ve tested, with great performance, user-friendly settings, and an easy cleanup. It’s also very affordable at $129.99. It’s a single-serving machine, which may turn some folks off, but as far as convenience, quality, and value go—all of which are important to fledgling professionals—this gift should put you in good graces with the young grad in your life.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS (MSRP $479.99)
For a young grad with an intermediate, hobbyist interest in photography, consider the Canon PowerShot SX50. It’s a fixed-lens superzoom (50x) with a wide ISO range and comfortable handling, available for less than $500. It’s also just fun to shoot with.
Spotify Premium Subscription ($9.99/month)
Everyone likes music, but only a select groups of nerds truly value music enough to want to pay for a new Animal Collective album instead of pirating it or ripping it from a friend. These are the same people who are willing to cough up $9.99/month for commercial-free, mobile-equipped, offline access to Spotify’s massive music library.
LG 32LM6200 (MSRP $650)
The LG 32LM6200 is truly a television for a connected generation. With 3D glasses, abundant ports, a web browser, and a motion controlled “Magic Remote,” this “Smart” TV is not something you’d give grandma. But a tech-savvy kid who just graduated from college? Perfect. In addition to its solid performance, this box received both a 2012 Best of Year and Editor’s Choice Award. The downside is that it's pretty expensive for a 32-inch TV, so reserve this gift for the most accomplished of grads.
Magimix Vision Toaster (MSRP $199.95)
The perfect gift combines value (for practical use) and novelty (for surprise). The Magimix Vision Toaster meets both these demands, as it’s a durable toaster oven with glass windows that allow you to watch as your bread is toasted. At $200, it’s not the cheapest toaster on the market, but it’s certainly a nifty one, and “nifty” is a good qualtiy for most gifts. Looking for kitchen gifts besides a toaster? We have some ideas about that, too.
[Magimix photo: Williams-Sonoma]