AUSTIN, Texas — Most years, when I look at the gadgets and devices on offer for Black Friday sales and the push into Christmas, there are clear winners and losers: stuff that would make great gifts depending on your budget, and stuff you should clearly avoid.

For instance, in past years, ebook readers were solid choices as gifts, but 4K TVs suffered from a lack of enough content to make them worthwhile and Internet of Things devices were typically more frustrating than they were worth. How things change!

This year it’s hard not to recommend 4K TVs, as long as they include the ability to display HDR (high-dynamic range), which have dropped in price dramatically, or devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo lineup, which work with so many other devices and are so useful and inexpensive, they make great gifts.

If the person you’re shopping for is needing a nudge to a phone upgrade, there are great choices: Apple’s new iPhones are solid options, the entire Samsung Galaxy line is worthy of a purchase for Android lovers and Google’s Pixel 2 phones boast fantastic cameras that may be worth the price alone.

The only devices I might shy away from are 4K Blu-ray players unless you’re shopping for someone who is adamantly anti-streaming or who doesn’t have a good enough internet connection to enjoy high-def video services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. 4K (or Ultra) movies are typically pricey and many of us are leaving behind disc-swapping altogether for an all-streaming lifestyle.

Whether you’re shopping for phone chargers, tablets, or even an inexpensive drone for a flight enthusiast, there are plenty of quality options out there and not as many pitfalls for early adopters than in years past. Let online reviews be your guide and be merry.

Omar L. Gallaga writes for the Austin American-Statesman. Email: ogallaga(at)

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