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Splurge on the techie in your life for the holidays

DJI Spark camera drone travels well and is

DJI Spark camera drone travels well and is great for aerial photos and video. Credit: CBS Interactive

Got someone on your holiday gifting list that deserves a bit of a splurge? Or maybe you just want something really nice for yourself. These four devices are some of the best gifts CNET editors have found for less than $500.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: senior editors Joshua Goldman, Justin Jaffe, David Katzmaier, Scott Stein and Laura K. Cucullu, and senior associate editor Ty Pendlebury. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit

HP Chromebook x2

CNET rating
4 stars out of 5 (excellent)
THE GOOD The compelling design makes it simple to shift from laptop to tablet and back. Stylus and keyboard are included, the touch screen is responsive, and it has two cameras and great speakers. Battery life is respectable.
THE BAD Integrated storage is limited to a measly 32 gigabytes. The keyboard is a bit mushy and the stylus holster is awkward.
THE COST $435 to $527.99
BOTTOM LINE Effective design, peppy performance and a fine display at a killer price.

Yamaha YAS-209 soundbar

CNET rating
4 stars out of 5 (excellent)
THE GOOD The sound quality is excellent, the addition of Amazon Alexa is useful and the mics work well in loud environments. The soundbar's implementation of DTS Virtual:X offers a rich surround effect. The subwoofer is more articulate and offers more headroom than the competing Polk soundbar.
THE BAD There's no multiroom music feature and no on-screen display.
THE COST $299.95 to $349.99

BOTTOM LINE This smart soundbar offers excellent sound quality, whether it's playing music or movies.

Apple iPad (10.2-inch)

CNET rating
4 stars out of 5 (excellent)
THE GOOD The price is affordable. Smart Connector supports a few snap-on keyboard accessories. iPad OS works better than expected and is well-optimized for the A10 processor.
THE BAD The base 32 gigabytes of storage isn't enough and it’s bigger and heavier than the older model.
THE COST $379.99 to $429

BOTTOM LINE The basic budget iPad is good and makes a strong case for spending as little as possible on an Apple tablet.

DJI Spark camera drone

CNET rating
4 stars out of 5 (excellent)
THE GOOD The DJI Spark sports a tiny, lightweight design; excellent mechanically stabilized camera; USB charging and advanced features like gesture controls and obstacle detection. It travels well and is great for aerial photos and video.
THE BAD Flight time can be as short as 10 to 14 minutes. The app can be frustrating to use, especially on smaller screens.
THE COST $344.95 to $395.86

BOTTOM LINE It delivers all of the camera drone features most people need in an impossibly small package.


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