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Session With John Falcone

John Falcone is the Executive Editor at CNET.com. You’ll be able to see his full session here.

Q: Which gaming system makes the most effective Christmas gift for families with a wide span of ages?

A: My top pick for a family gaming system could be the NES Classic retro console, which incorporates 30 classic 1980s Nintendo games for just $60. The issue? It’s almost impossible to find right now.

That said, Best Buy is supposedly getting a limited shipment this week.

The Nintendo Wii U can also be a great choice for families, but it’s on its way out. That’s because Nintendo’s all-new game console, the Switch, is coming in March 2017. (Of course, no kid wants to get a 90-day IOU in his/her stocking on Christmas morning.) Wii U review: A fun system for youths, but you should probably anticipate the Switch, Nintendo Switch: What we know up to now.

So: NES Classic is hard to seek out, Wii U is going away and Switch isn’t here yet. What to do?

I’d go for a Nintendo 2DS handheld. It’s just $80, and it features a Mario Kart game. So it’s pretty much ready to play right out of the box. (Well, after you download the game, anyway.) It’s also possible to buy new and used 2DS/3DS cartridges at GameStop and elsewhere: The no-frills 2DS is great for kids and cheaper than ever.

The 3DS XL plays all the identical games because the 2DS, and has a more practical clamshell design ?but it surely costs greater than twice as much: The new Nintendo 3DS XL almost nails it.

Otherwise, you possibly can choose between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S. They’re both great game consoles and cheaper than ever before ($250 with a minimum of one game). But they both have extensive catalogs of M-rated games (equivalent to an R rating on movies). Keep away from those and make sure to choose up more family-friendly titles (cE, E, E 10+ or T) ?plenty can be found. For example, the Xbox One is on the market bundled with Minecraft. That’s a perfect kid-friendly game (rated E 10+).

While these 2016 versions of the Xbox One and PS4 are “new,?they are mostly identical to the older models. So there’s no must get one of those if a family already has an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. But when you’re replacing an Xbox 360 or PlayStation *3,* this is the right time to take the plunge.

Xbox 360 owners should definitely go for Xbox One because many of the 360 games now work with that console. Unfortunately, the identical isn’t true for PS3 owners upgrading to PS4.

Both of those units double as great video streamers and DVD/Blu-ray players, too. In truth, the Xbox One S plays 4K Blu-rays, too (if in case you have a 4K TV).

Xbox One S: Microsoft Xbox One S review: The Xbox One S is here, just three years too late.

Sony PlayStation 4: PlayStation 4 Slim review: Your old PS4, but smaller — not that anything’s wrong with that.

Game ratings explained: ESRB Ratings.

Q: What are the best gifts under $20 for an office Secret Santa exchange?

A: There are a handful of headphones, wireless speakers and handy accessories I’d recommend.

Logitech X100 wireless speaker: This Bluetooth model is discontinued, but still widely available for under $20.

Divoom Voombox Travel 3: Much like the Logitech, but it’s splashproof as well. Also about $20.

Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120: Because everyone needs a spare pair of earbuds. These are about $10, and they sound good for the worth.

Anker PowerPort 2 24W Dual USB Wall Charger: With 2 USB ports, this $11 charger can charge your phone *and* a second accessory (wireless headphones, wireless speaker, etc.) simultaneously.

LaCie Petite Key USB drive: A USB drive that matches on your keychain. The $15 one costs only about $15.

AmazonBasics Bluetooth Audio Receiver: Turn any old stereo or boombox into a wireless receiver for a smartphone or tablet for just $20.

More gifts under $25: Best holiday tech gifts available for under $25.

Q: What are some suggestions for gifts for millennials for Christmas 2016?

A: Headphones, wireless speakers and video streamers are my go-to choices for young people, and there are some great choices in the sub-$50 range.

Beyond that: game consoles, fitness bands and, of course, new smartphones are great gifts, too.

HEADPHONES:

Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120: Because everyone needs a spare pair of earbuds. These are about $10, and they sound good for the price.
Best holiday tech gifts available for under $25

Moshi Mythro: Nice $30 earbuds. Moshi Mythro: Quality earphones at an affordable price

Skullcandy Grind Wireless headphones: These $90 headphones are one in every of our favorite wireless models in the sub-$100 range. Skullcandy Grind Wireless headphone review: One of the best Bluetooth headphones for lower than $100

Jaybird X3 ($130): This is a top-notch wireless headphone, and it’s been selling for as low as $100 in the course of the holiday shopping season. Should you see it at that price, buy it ?it’s an awesome deal. Jaybird X3 review: Improved design and performance make this a top wireless sports headphone

Bose SoundSport Wireless: Bose’s most affordable ($150) wireless headphones are among essentially the most comfortable models we’ve ever tested. Bose SoundSport Wireless review: The most effective overall in-ear Bluetooth sports headphone to date

WIRELESS SPEAKERS and STREAMERS:

Divoom Voombox Travel 3: Much like the Logitech, but it’s splashproof as well. Also about $20. Divoom Travel 3 review: You will not get a greater micro Bluetooth speaker for $20

Google Chromecast Audio: For $35, this little puck turns anything with an “aux in?port into an ideal audio streamer. Chromecast Audio review: Easily link your phone to your audio system for less

Amazon Echo Dot: Whether you’re using it as a hands-free kitchen timer or to manage your Nest thermostat and Hue smart lighting, this $50 smart speaker is a great introduction to smart home technology. It’s an honest wireless speaker, too, but you possibly can connect it to an even bigger stereo for better sound. Amazon Echo Dot is the future, for fifty bucks.

JBL Clip 2: For $50-60, this waterproof wireless speaker sounds great and travels well. (I bought this one for myself a couple of weeks ago.)

UE Roll 2: This $100 wireless speaker is a bit larger and than the tiny JBL, and it’s waterproof, too. (I got the original Roll as a gift for my brother last year, and he loves it.) UE Roll 2 review: An incredible waterproof wireless speaker gets even better.

Bose SoundLink Color II: For a bit greater than the Roll, this Bose delivers great sound (and can be water-resistant). Bose SoundLink Color II review: Small in stature, big on sound.

VIDEO STREAMERS:

Roku Streaming Stick: The most effective overall video streamer for the worth. This $50 streamer gets the most channels and it works with any HDTV.

Amazon Fire TV Stick: An excellent alternative to the Roku, this one costs less ($40) and has Alexa voice support built into the remote.

Apple TV: It costs 3 to 4 times as much as the entry-level Roku and Amazon models, however the $150 Apple TV box delivers a more upscale, refined streaming video experience.

GAME CONSOLES:

If you’ve got deeper pockets, a new Xbox or PS4 ($250 each) works, too.

Xbox One S: Microsoft Xbox One S review: The Xbox One S is here, just three years too late

Sony PlayStation 4: PlayStation 4 Slim review: Your old PS4, but smaller — not that anything’s wrong with that

FITNESS TRACKERS:

At this point, Fitbit and Apple Watch are the 2 best choices here. The Apple Watch Series 1 is ok if the gift recipient isn’t a hardcore swimmer or runner.

Charge 2 is the most effective Fitbit yet (review).

The most affordable Apple Watch is the very best bet.

Apple Watch Series 2 review: Getting it right the second time.

PHONES:

And no millennial could be disappointed by a brand new phone. These are the best phones of 2016:

Apple iPhone 7 review: Everything you need in a phone, except the headphone jack.

iPhone 7 Plus review (updated): Loads of reasons to go big.

Our Google Pixel review: Pure Android at its absolute best.

Damn OnePlus, back at it again with the 3T.

Samsung Galaxy S7 review: Nailed it.

Why Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge is the splurge phone you want right now (review).

GIFT CARDS:

But for last-minute gifts, you can’t go wrong with a gift card, either. Just make sure that you’re choosing a retailer (or digital treasure trove) that they actually like and use. (Don’t get a Google Play gift card for an iPhone user, or an iTunes gift card for an Android user, as an example.) Last-minute gift ideas.

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