TVs and tablets top holiday gadget lists

November 20, 2015


There’s a reason you see a lot of doorbuster deals on TVs and tablets during the holidays. Consumers consistently place those items at the top of their holiday gadget wish list — and 2015 isn’t any different. TVs are the first, and tablets the second most wishedfor item in the Consumer Electronics Association’s annual study of the most desired tech gifts of the holiday season. Smartphones, laptop computers and video game consoles rounded out the top five. That syncs pretty closely to what Black Friday sites have been finding. spoke with more than 1,100 shoppers, 43 percent of which said they’ll be primarily hunting for deals on electronics. And those shoppers will be buying. The CEA’s research finds 65 percent of all Americans (roughly 160 million people) will buy tech gifts this year — the highest level in at least three years.

Total spending on those gadgets is expected to hit $34.2 billion — a 2.3 percent increase over last year. “CEA’s 2015 holiday forecast suggests the holiday shopping season that lies before us will be the biggest on record,” said Shawn DuBravac, the association’s chief economist and senior director of research. Electronics manufacturers will have plenty for those shoppers to choose from this year. While Samsung, LG and Vizio all have new highend HDTVs on the market — and each will work with retail partners on doorbuster specials — it’s less pricey items that will probably wind up under most trees this year. Headphones and earbuds are likely to be the most purchased tech items, with the CEA estimating them to be given by 28 and 27 percent, respectively, of gift-givers. Also hot: portable speakers and every item from the ‘most wished-for’ list — except TVs.

This could also be a breakout year for video game hardware. There are quite a few highly anticipated games hitting stores this holiday season and the push is on by manufacturers to convince owners of last-generation systems to upgrade. “With the launch of ‘Halo 5’ Xbox One has a ‘system seller,’ and ‘killer app’ that could see many 360 holdouts upgrading to the Xbox One,” said Liam Callahan, a games industry analyst at The NPD Group. “PlayStation 4 comps would … have been tough due to [the system’s] success last holiday, but the recently announced $50 price drop is certain to help sales.”

Smartphones and tablets are likely to get a boost, as they do most years. Apple’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus got off to a record start in September, selling more than 13 million units in just three days. And Google’s heralded Android Marshmallow, which improves battery life, standardizes support for fingerprint scanners and offers several new features, is ushering in a new line of Android phones. Meanwhile, the iPad Pro, which launched recently, is a tablet whose 12.9-inch screen and slim design could be very popular with power and business users. And Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 has won rave reviews from critics and has been hailed as a laptop replacement for die-hard Windows users.

Demand is also on the rise for fitness trackers like Fitbit (up 5 percent from last year) and action cameras, such as GoPro. And interest in drone purchases has jumped from 3 percent last year to 7 percent this year as the hobby becomes more mainstreamed. “Whether Americans want the latest upgrade of their favorite tech device or to try out the newest emerging tech on the market,” said DuBravac, “it’s apparent that consumer enthusiasm for tech will be substantial this holiday shopping season.”