UPDATE: We've added a couple of more items to our growing list of Valentine's Day gift ideas – perhaps your dear one's heart will flutter at the sight of the tiny but very useful Google Home Mini smart speaker. We've also added another option for our audiophile lovers hoarding their vinyls.
Let’s face it: it’s bloody hard shopping for a Valentine’s gift for that special someone in your life, and cards, chocolates and flowers are a bit of a cliché these days. A much better way to spoil them is get them a great piece of tech to keep up with the digital times.
The good news is that the best tech doesn’t always have to blow a hole in your bank balance either: with this guide, TechRadar’s Aussie team has scoured the realm for some of the coolest gadgets with the dreamiest price tags to treat your tech-loving better half to some amazing new gear.
We've divided our gift guide into sections to make it easy for you to go through the list that we'll keep updated right through till the big day arrives:
- Photography and smartphone gift ideas
- Fitness wearables and audio gear
- Travel tech
- Tablets and home automation
- Gaming gear and toys
For creatives and explorers
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
This little camera will bring instant frivolity to those special moments this Valentine’s Day. The Instax Mini 9 is the latest addition to the instant camera range from Fujifilm and makes taking pictures a whole load of fun. There’s a selfie mirror to make sure you’ve got the framing right, there’s a close-up lens attachment for shooting up to 35cm away and you can adjust brightness to your satisfaction. There’s a few bright colours to choose from and is priced below $100.
GoPro Hero6 Black action camera
For anyone who wants to capture their adventures (or misadventures, as the case may be), GoPro has given its latest action cam a massive upgrade that allows 4K 60fps and super-slow-motion Full HD 240fps video capture. It would definitely make a great gift if you’re willing to spoil that adventurous special someone.
Another great beginner DSLR, the Nikon D3400 also has a compact design and comes with a great battery. It does, however, lack touchscreen functionality, but its image quality is good. If you aren’t after a full kit, you can grab the Nikon D3400 body only for about $450, but a kit with a single lens will set you back about $500.
For phone addicts
Has your Valentine held on to their old phone even though it might be on its last legs? You can bring them up to date with the Oppo A73 smartphone which packs flagship features into a budget chassis. It sports a 16MP front camera and a 13MP rear snapper with the best software for all those lovely selfies. Plus face recognition and fingerprint unlock, all for just over $350.
Motorola Moto G5 Plus
If you’re looking for more budget smartphone options, Motorola’s Moto G5 Plus is an excellent choice. A fingerprint sensor, generous heaps of internal storage with microSD support, Google Assistant, fast charging, 4K video capture capability – the features list goes on – packed into a 5.2-inch phone that costs less than $400.
For fitness freaks
Your Valentine’s wrist deserves the best companion and the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. Let your loved one take calls, answer text and maintain a fit lifestyle, among other things, with this smart little gadget that’s easily customisable, has great performance and looks pretty darn neat too. You can get the Apple Watch Series 1 for $359 or spoil the special someone with a Series 3 Watch carrying a price tag starting from $459.
Samsung Gear Sport
Ladies, if Apple doesn’t light a spark in your relationship, then Samsung’s Gear Sport might do the trick. It’s slim and small without losing its macho oomph factor. It’ll look great on your man’s wrist while keeping him on track on his fitness regime. It’s even compatible with iOS, making this smartwatch a great alternative to Apple for a similar price tag.
For the audiophiles
Audio-Technica AT-LP120 turntable
If you’ve been hoarding vinyls from the years gone by, now is a great time to dig them out of the attic and serenade your Valentine with some of those old romantic tunes. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is a direct-drive turntable that boasts a USB output to connect to external devices like your computer and Mac- and PC-compatible Audacity software that digitises your LPs. If you’re keen on wooing that special someone with music, this turntable will set you back by about $450.
Pro-Ject Essential II turntable
If you’re budget doesn’t stretch very far but you are keen on getting a turntable, the Pro-Ject Essential II is a minimalistic turntable with a price tag of around $350. Despite the budget pricing, the sound is warm with a low-vibration brushless motor.
UE Boom 2
Shakespeare said, “If music is the food of love, play on.” But getting your partner a lute may not be the best idea. Instead, opt for one of the best Bluetooth speakers available today, ideally in red. The UE Boom 2 is the 360-degrees wireless speakers with a powerful bass and a waterproof design. With up to 15 hours of playback and a price tag of $159, it’s a great gift idea.
Bose SoundLink Micro
There is no doubt that Bose has some of the best audio gear in the market today, and the company’s latest product is no exception. The Bose SoundLink Micro is a palm-sized Bluetooth speaker with big sound. It can go everywhere and keep everyone entertained. Moreover, the Bose SoundLink Micro is available for around the $150 price point.
Tile (Sport, Style, Slim, Mate)
Is that special someone in your life constantly on the move and, as a consequence, misplacing keys, money, bags and whatnot? Consider gifting them a Tile, a white square puck that will audibly let you know its location via Bluetooth as long as you’re within a 100 feet radius of it. And there’s a different Tile tracker for everyone – from the basic version called the Tile Mate to the thinnest one called Tile Slim. The Tile Style will add a touch of oomph while the rugged and waterproof Tile Sport is perfect for the adventurous folk.
Mophie PowerStation Plus portable charger
With a premium look and built-in cable tips for both microUSB and Apple Lightning, the Mophie PowerStation Plus also features a second USB port so you can charge a second device. The Powerstation Plus offers 2.1A output and smart adaptive charging technology, giving your devices a quick top-up. It not only comes in different colour options, but also various capacities. The PowerStation Plus Mini carries a 4,000mAh battery while the PowerStation Plus XL sports a huge 12,000mAh capacity.
Kobo Aura One
For readers who want the best, Kobo’s latest offering is a great gift, albeit premium. With a 7.8-inch screen designed to keep sleep patterns intact and a waterproof body, it’s a great travel companion that can store a heck of a lot of books. The Kobo Aura One retails for around $350.
If you’re in love with a bookworm but can’t make your budget stretch to $350, get them an e-reader that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. The Kindle Paperwhite is still one of the best Kindle options in the market, with a combination of a sharp screen, improved typography and an affordable price.
Wacom Bamboo Folio
Love letters and romantic Post-it notes are so yesterday. But the charm of the love note hasn’t disappeared. This smart notebook will let you indulge in romantic hand-written wordplay with your lover and never allow these sweet nothings to get lost by safely storing them in the cloud. It comprises a smart pen and pad that with the push of a button lets you convert your handwriting into 'living' digital files, perfect for the notorious notemakers. The Wacom Inkspace app can then organise, edit and share those musings and sketches with the world or a significant other.
For the workaholics
Apple iPad Pro 10.5
If the workaholic in your life needs to get work done while on the move, then the smaller iPad Pro is the best tablet for the job. The 10.5-inch screen and powerful innards ensure that tasks get done without being cumbersome. Along with the Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, it’s the perfect companion for the palm or the bag.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7
Thinner and lighter than its 8-inch counterpart, the 9.7-inch Galaxy Tab S2 features an AMOLED display, 3GB RAM, 64GB of storage and is powered by a Qualcomm octa-core processor. It may not be the latest Tab S model out there, but it’s still a great option for anyone not too enthused by an iOS device.
For around the home (it is, after all, where the heart is)
Philips Hue smart lighting systems
Add some mood lighting at home for those romantic evenings. The Hue smart lighting systems work through your home’s internet network, with the Hue Bridge directly connecting to the router. The bulbs can be controlled via an app, or via digital assistants like Siri (on HomeKit) and Google Assistant. With starter kits for the various Hue bulbs available from $145, it’s easy to add some romance to the home.
Smart speakers are just entering the market in Australia and we think the Google Home is a great gift for anyone who’s been looking for a bit of help around the house. Ask Google Assistant to search for something without you lifting a finger, or get recipes for the perfect Valentine’s Day meal. If you’ve got other smart devices, you can link those up as well and control your smart home with your voice.
Google Home Mini
Don’t want a speaker spoiling your home decor? The Google Home’s little brother, the Home Mini is the size of a doughnut and does everything the big brother can. This bite-sized smart speaker will keep your loved one entertained, organised and happy without looking intrusive if you’ve got a small space, for less than half the cost of the Google Home.
This nifty little gadget is one of our favourite streaming devices and it’s the best way to watch Netflix (and chill) or stream your favourite shows on Stan direct to your non-smart TV. It’s not capable of 4K, but Google Chromecast is a great gift that will set you back by just $57.
For the gamers and the nerds
When BB-8 made his debut in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the little droid stole our hearts. And Sphero, the company that shot to fame with the first remote controlled robot toy, has an app-controlled replica of the loveable little guy. The droid can be moved around with the dedicated app and the little fella will react to your voice with little chirrups of its own. Machine learning will see it improve with interactions and the BB-8 droid will set you back by about $200.
Sphero has even brought us R2-D2 from a galaxy far, far away as well. This astromech droid is also app controlled with its signature lights fully functional. Artoo will communicate with your through its beeps and boops and will happily explore the world of Star Wars with you. R2-D2 has a price tag of about $300.
The Switch is versatile – it can be used as a handheld device for taking along on boring commutes or can be used as a tethered console for home use. It’s got a premium feel that matches its premium price tag, but it’s one heck of a console with plenty of fun games.