best laptops and tablets for holiday gifts

One of the best holiday gifts anyone can receive is a new laptop or tablet. If you haven’t had a new one in a while, you’ll be amazed at how much better they are than even just a few years ago. Expect to see upgrades including faster processors, more powerful graphics, higher resolution displays with better colour accuracy, improved stylus support, and better battery life. A new laptop or tablet makes a great gift for anyone (think social media, web surfing, streaming video and light gaming), but these devices are especially well-suited for students. They make excellent family gifts as well.

To help you choose from the hundreds of new laptops and tablets currently available, I’ve put together a list of top choices.

best laptops and tablets for holiday giftsGoogle Pixelbook Go

Chromebooks are hot these days. School boards prefer them thanks to their affordable cost, locked down security and ability to run Google’s G-Suite apps. The latest and greatest in the category is the new Pixelbook Go from Google. It’s slim, light (just 1.05 kg), powered by an 8th generation Intel Core processor, and features 12-hour battery life. The 13.3-inch touchscreen display is Full HD, and the keyboard is exceptional.

best laptops and tablets for holiday giftsGoogle Pixel Slate

Google’s Pixel Slate is the ultimate tablet for Chrome lovers. By far its most outstanding feature is the 12.3-inch Molecular display with 3,000 x 2,000 resolution. However, the Pixel Slate has many other premium features including an 8th generation Intel Core CPU, USB-C ports and 2 x 2 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Add the optional full-size detachable keyboard with backlit keys and a Pixelbook Pen to turn the Pixel Slate into a full-blown mobile design studio. 

best laptops and tablets for holiday giftsMicrosoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft wrote the book when it comes to prosumer tablets, and they don’t get much better than the Surface Pro 7. No matter what configuration you choose, this is a powerful Windows 10 tablet with a 10th generation Intel Core processor and a big, bright, 12.3-inch PixelSense display. Microsoft offers a full range of Surface accessories (each sold separately) including the Surface Pro Signature Type Cover, Surface Pen stylus, Surface Dial, and Surface Arc mouse.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop 3 comes in two sizes: 13.5-inches or 15-inches.

Whichever you pick, you’ll be getting one of the sleekest and most stylish Windows 10 laptops available. Surface Laptop 3 is also a performer, featuring the latest Intel and AMD processors, and a PixelSense display.   

best laptops and tablets for holiday giftsSamsung Galaxy Tab A

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A with Android 9.0 offers one of the best mobile Android experiences.

With a spacious 10.1-inch TFT display at 1920 x 1200 resolution, this tablet is ideal for watching streaming videos, playing Android games, reading, or keeping up with friends and family on social media. The 13-hour battery means you can keep streaming through a long flight. The Galaxy Tab A keeps its 3.5 mm headphone jack but headphones aren’t necessary for great sound thanks to the tablet’s dual speakers with Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound.

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

best laptops and tablets for holiday gifts

I reviewed the Chromebook Flip C434 in October and I cam away very impressed. Build quality is top notch, with an all metal body and premium touches like diamond-cut anodized aluminum edges. With its beautiful and bright, 14-inch Full HD Nano-Edge display, this Chromebook has an 87% screen to body ratio. And the ErgoLift hinge lets you effortlessly rotate that display 360 degrees, so the Flip C434 can be used in tablet, stand, or display mode as well.

best laptops and tablets for holiday giftsASUS ROG Strix G 15.6-inch gaming laptop

If gaming is something your family enjoys, then they’ll love the ASUS ROG Strix 15.6-inch gaming laptop. It’s budget-friendly, but includes powerful components like a Full HD display, 512 GB PCIe SSD, an Intel Core i5 CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card with 4GB of dedicated RAM and real-time ray tracing support.

The ROG Aura Sync backlit keyboard looks the part of a gaming rig, while its ROG Intelligent Cooling thermal system keeps things cool to prevent throttling during intense gaming sessions. 

best laptops and tablets for holiday giftsDell XPS 13.3-inch laptop

Dell revolutionized the world of laptops with the Infinity Edge display on the XPS 13, and the latest version of this ultra-thin, iconic laptop is better than ever. The newest XPS 13 offers a premium experience in every way, from its all-aluminum construction (with carbon fiber palm rest), to the ultra-powerful 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and the inclusion of Killer Wi-Fi 6. Plus, of course, that Full HD Infinity Edge display. 

If someone on your shopping list wants a high powered productivity machine with killer good looks, this is it. 

best laptops and tablets for holiday giftsHP 15.6-inch touchscreen 2-in-1 laptop 

Looking for a solid, all-round performer of a laptop for the home? This HP 15.6-inch touchscreen 2-in-1 laptop delivers. Storage is all solid state with a 512GB SSD, for lightning fast saves, loads and snappy performance. It supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard (catch up on what that means here), and it has a full range of ports for accessories, including USB-C. The WLED 15.6-inch Full HD touchscreen display has the room and resolution to make the most of all your content, and it can be rotated up to 360-degrees for optimal viewing. It even includes an HP digital pen!

Accompanying that display is a front-facing HP Wide Vision HD webcam and dual speakers with Bang & Olufsen audio, making this laptop a smart choice if you want to keep in touch with family using video chat.

best laptops and tablets for holiday giftsGoogle Nest WiFi

The final item on my holiday gifts list is clearly not a laptop …

However, the one thing that will make every laptop better—along with TVs, video streamers, smart home devices, PCs, game consoles, and smartphones—is better Wi-Fi performance. Google’s new Nest WiFi mesh router system is designed to blanket your home in fast, reliable Wi-Fi, ensuring every devices gets the best possible connection.

Want to learn more about the all-new Google Nest WiFi can do for your home Wi-Fi network? Check out Jon Scarr’s hands-on review.

If you do end up picking a laptop or tablet as a gift for someone special this year, don’t forget that accessories like Bluetooth mice make great stocking stuffers.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.

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