Shelly Picks the Best Tech Gifts for Grads


It’s just about that time of the year again when, as Alice Cooper would say, “school’s out for summer.” But for some students, “school’s out forever.” What does that mean? It means it’s time for a graduation gift! Whether they’re graduating high school or college, just about every grad needs some kind of tech gadget to prepare them for the next phase of their life. But with so many things to choose from, where do you begin? Here are my choices for the best tech gifts for that special grad in your life.

MacBook Air

Macbook Air

One of the most powerful laptops on the market is also one of the lightest. The MacBook Air has been the King of the laptop market for a few years now … and every version just keeps getting better and more powerful. You’re able to customize an Air in just about any way you’d like, and can load in a top-of-the-line processor and up to 500GB of storage in its ultra-slim form factor. Whether your grad is continuing with their education or heading out into the professional world, the MacBook Air will give them all the power they’ll need in a package that’s light enough to carry anywhere and everywhere. We may be entering a post-PC market, but the MacBook Air is still more powerful than any tablet out there. Speaking of tablets…

iPad mini

iPad Mini

Portability is key, and the iPad mini has got it to go! It fits in my outside jacket pocket and I can speed-type with my thumbs standing up – a trick that Is much harder to do on a 10” tablet. Whether your grad is stuffing one into a backpack to head to school in the fall or is looking for something to use during a subway ride to work, the iPad mini is a great fit. You can buy the mini with LTE, keeping your grad connected on the go. Need to download and edit a book report on the go? The mini’s there for you. Need to finalize a presentation? Mini’s got your back. There will almost certainly be a new model coming sometime this year, but at the moment, this tablet is the one to beat.



Unless your grad majored in photography, chances are the best video camera they have is built into their smartphone. But, if your grad is into action/adventure or just love outdoor living, the GoPro HERO3 is an intriguing option. At  $200-$400, they’re much more affordable than top-tier video cameras. But cost isn’t what makes a GoPro a cool gift – that’s a result of their versatility in mounting and usability options. They’re small, lightweight and easy to carry along wherever you go. Want to see some of the awesome videos GoPro camera capture? The GoPro site has a “video of the day” section that shows off some of the awesome possibilities of where you can stick one of these cameras to capture truly unique footage. Bonus points if your grad is traveling abroad or cross-country — the GoPro line of cameras will help them document and remember every moment.

iPhone 5 / Samsung Galaxy S IV

iPhone 5 and Galaxy S IV

To truly succeed in today’s connected world, you need a top-tier smartphone. This is where your input is more valuable than mine. The iPhone 5 is an extremely popular (and awesome) smart phone and the Samsung Galaxy S IV though new, is super-powerful and also awesome. The iPhone is a great phone, but it’s “long in the tooth” as smartphone technology goes – so you’re relying on its “ultimate fashion accessory” status for “cool factor.” When you compare the specs on these phones, the Galaxy S IV is a clear winner.  So this one is up to you: Does your grad really want an iPhone? If so, nothing else will do. However, if your grad wants one of the coolest, most powerful phones money can buy, the Galaxy S IV is the easy choice. Both are available on all major carriers.

Digital Content Cards (iTunes, Amazon, etc.)

Digital Content Cards

What if your tech-savvy grad already has a great computer, tablet, camera and phone? What do you do then? Give them the gift of customization: digital content cards to their favorite e-marketplaces. For the Apple-heavy grads, you can’t go wrong with iTunes gift cards. From apps to music, movies to books, iTunes gift cards deliver the endless possibilities of all things digital, easily delivered and accessed on every Apple device your grad already has. Amazon gift cards bring the power of the Kindle store, as well as Amazon Instant Video … plus, they can be used for anything else on, including physical items. It may not be as personal of a gift as the rest on the list, but you’re showing that you want them to get what they want … since they already have all the other cool tech goodies on the list.

Congratulations, grads! Now, grab these tech gadgets and get ready to succeed in the connected world!!!

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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