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Best Gifts Under $500 for 2023


$249 at Bose

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 have a smaller design and stellar noise canceling

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

Best noise-canceling with top-notch sound

$329 at Amazon

hyperice-hypervolt-pro-2-blue-background.png

Hyperice Hypervolt Pro 2

Quiet but powerful massage gun

$350 at GameStop

a Nintendo Switch OLED with red and blue controllers sits next to a TV

Nintendo Switch OLED

Portable gaming with a bigger, better display

$480 at Best Buy

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TCL 55S535 (Update: Currently unavailable)

Best value 55-inch TV with Roku

Graduation season is upon us: It’s time to get out that wallet and start shopping for the amazing grads in your life. There are plenty of gifts that you can pick up for $50 or less, but if you want to get them something truly special to celebrate their achievement, and don’t mind spending a little extra cash, there are also some amazing pricier options out there. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our absolute favorite gift ideas that you can snag in the $200 to $500 range. 

A pair of white Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones against a blue background

David Carnoy/CNET

Product details

Battery Life Rated up to 32 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint YesHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

When you have a product that a lot of people love, change can be risky. Such is the case for Sony’s WH-1000XM5, the fifth generation of the 1000X series headphones, which were first released in 2016 as the MDR-1000X Wireless and have become increasingly popular as they’ve improved with each generation. Over the years, Sony has made some tweaks to the design, but nothing as dramatic as what it’s done with the WH-1000XM5. Other than the higher $400 price tag ($50 more than the WH-1000XM4), most of those changes are good, and Sony’s made some dramatic improvements with voice-calling performance as well as even better noise canceling and more refined sound.

jbl-partybox-110-outdoors

David Carnoy/CNET

Released in 2021, the PartyBox 110 packs some serious punch and delivers bigger sound than many portable boombox speakers, including JBL’s own Boombox 3. There’s an integrated handle for toting the speaker, but the PartyBox 110 is pretty hefty, weighing in at 23 pounds and measuring slightly more than 22 inches tall. You can stand this Bluetooth boom box up vertically as shown in the picture above or place it horizontally, as it has rubber feet on both sides of the speaker.

Oculus Quest 2

Scott Stein/CNET

The price for Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 has gone up in the last year — it used to start at $300 for the 128GB version but now it costs $400, with the 256GB version now going for $500 (though it’s ). While it’s not quite the bargain it used to be, it’s still the best affordable cord-free VR headset and a lot of fun to play with a large collection of impressive games.

You’re receiving price alerts for Oculus Quest 2

sonos ray

Sonos

The Kindle Scribe and a stylus on a blue background

Amazon/CNET

Amazon recently released a large-format 10.2-inch E Ink e-reader that includes a stylus. One might say it is the spiritual successor to the defunct Kindle DX, which had a 9.7-inch screen. It’s available with a standard stylus for $340, or $370 with a premium stylus.

You’re receiving price alerts for Amazon Kindle Scribe

iPad Mini and 9th Gen iPad

Scott Stein/CNET

The ninth generation of Apple’s entry-level iPad came out last fall with an updated A13 Bionic chip processor that gives it a nice performance boost (a keyboard or case is not included). While prices start at $329 for 64GB of storage, it jumps to $479 for the 256GB version, so look for special offers as this iPad often gets the flash-deal treatment.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 have a smaller design and stellar noise canceling

David Carnoy/CNET

Product details

Battery Life Rated Up to 6 HoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless EarbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — Splash-Proof)

Bose’s second-generation QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are not only about 30% smaller than their predecessors, but their case is about 40% smaller and truly pocketable. They feature best-in-class noise canceling and improved sound, thanks to Bose’s new CustomTune sound calibration system that customizes the sound for your ears. Voice-calling performance is also significantly better than that of the original QuietComfort Earbuds.

theragun-prime-2.png

Theragun

The Theragun Prime is part of the fourth generation of Theragun massage guns. Its prior equivalent was the Theragun Liv, which is reviewed in-depth here.

hyperice-hypervolt-pro-2-blue-background.png

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Hypervolt Hypervolt Pro 2 is the current flagship Hyperice percussive massager, and rivals the slightly better-known Theragun in effectiveness. This new model features a digital speed dial that lets you cycle through five levels of percussion and features the same 90-watt high-torque motor and notably quiet operation (for the amount of force it generates) of its predecessor. You can get up to three hours of battery life and five interchangeable heads along with a nice carrying case.

a Nintendo Switch OLED with red and blue controllers sits next to a TV

Stephen Beacham/CNET

If the person on your list doesn’t already have a Nintendo Switch or needs an upgrade, you can’t go wrong with this gaming system. This fourth iteration of Nintendo’s Switch hybrid handheld adds a bigger, better built-in display (now an OLED screen), plus a redesigned kickstand and TV dock. It’s a splurge, but it provides hours and hours of fun with games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Metroid Dread, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Super Mario Odyssey. Check out more great game suggestions here.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

No, you can’t get a truly high-performance TV for less than $500, but with TCL’s 55-inch 55S535 you can get a great gift with a nice size screen, very solid 4K picture quality and the best streaming system available (Roku) for less than $500. If you want under $400, TCL’s latest 4-series 4K line is also a respectable choice.

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