Best holiday gifts under $500 for 2019 – CNET

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This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2019, your source for the season’s best gifts and deals, hand-picked by the experts at CNET.

Don’t look now but the holidays are almost upon us. And while it’s easy to come up with a cheap last-minute gift, you’ll want to take some time to decide on the perfect tech gadget when you’re feeling generous. And by generous, we mean something in the $250 to $500 range.

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Here are a few ideas, from the obvious (game consoles and iPads) to the not-so-much (security cameras and a revolutionary breast pump). 

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Nintendo’s massively popular platform may have a newer, cheaper entry in the Switch Lite at $200, but the original also got a minor improvement this year in the V2 version with improved battery life. The big difference between the two? The Switch Lite is strictly portable, without the big-screen TV dockability and detachable controllers that make the V2 so unique. We break down the differences here; the main thing to know is we still consider the V2 the best overall choice. Just make sure you’re getting the new Switch, not the old one.

The new version of Apple’s flagship iPad just came out September, increasing the display size to 10.2 inches and adding a dock connector for new smart keyboards. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same as the 9.7-inch version that came out last year, making that slightly older iPad an arguably better deal since it’s often available for $250 or less. But if you just want to get your recipient the best iPad under $500, this is the one. Read our Apple iPad 10.2-inch 2019 review.

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This thing really sucks, in a good way. Dyson’s most powerful cordless vac yet costs more than your average dust buster, but its combination of power and convenience could be worth it for the neat freak on your list. Compared with the original V8 the battery lasts longer and the chamber empties from the front, not the bottom, to better prevent spills around the trash can. Read CNET’s Dyson V10 preview.

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No, you can’t get a truly high-performance TV for less than $500, but you can get one with a nice-size screen and the best streaming system available for $300 (or maybe less when you read this). In our review the S425 had “just OK” image quality. But if that’s fine for you, its excellent app access thanks to the built-in Roku makes for a tremendous bargain. Read the TCL 55S425 review.

Read more: Best TVs in 2019  

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So maybe your gift recipients already have a nice TV, but they’re stuck listening to its terrible built-in speakers. A soundbar is the easiest way to fix that problem, and this Yamaha was our favorite in this price range. As a bonus it also works with Alexa, so you can ask Amazon’s voice assistant to play your tunes even when the TV is turned off. Read the Yamaha YAS-209 review.

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This convertible Chromebook’s ability to seamlessly switch from computer to tablet mode makes it stand out among cheaper competitors. Our reviewer loved its comfortable keyboard, its display and its peppy performance. And the included stylus makes it an even better bargain. Read our HP Chromebook x2 review.

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The sheer flexibility of the Arlo Pro 2 is what sets this system apart from the pack. The weatherproof design makes the cameras suited for indoor or outdoor use, they can run on battery power for up to six months and they’re easy to install just about anywhere. Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility seal the deal. Read the Arlo Pro 2 review.

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Willow changed the way mothers feed their babies with the first all-in-one, hide-it-inside-your-bra, wearable breast pump. Sure it costs a lot more than many other options, but the convenience and freedom of go-anywhere pumping are well worth it for moms on the go. CNET’s Bridget Carey says, “I can pump while playing with my kids, getting ready for work, cooking dinner or other tasks — it takes away the fear of not being able to provide for my baby when time is in such short supply.” Read Bridget’s take.

Best Buy/Arcade1Up

Sure, you could get that lucky giftee one of Arcade1Up’s classic stand-up machines, but nothing beats the nostalgia of sitting in a chair, drink comfortably in place, while you chase the latest high score. Two sets of controls face one another across a 17-inch screen that lets you play any one of eight games. In addition to the original Pac-Man, you get Pac-Man Plus, Pac & Pal, Pac-Mania, Super Pac-Man and Pac-Land, along with Galaga and Dig Dug. Tragically missing from the collection, however, is Ms. Pac-Man. Read the Pac-Man cocktail table preview.

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