Avoid supply chain shortages. Secure holiday gifts that arrive via the Internet rather than by truck. Avoid standing in line or risking COVID-19 to gift someone. Instead, gift a subscription to Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV +, Disney +, Amazon Prime, Showtime, HBO, Peacock, Paramount, Pandora, Spotify, or any other entertainment streamer.

Annual subscriptions range from around $ 65 to $ 150. Content providers vary prices based on the presence of advertising and / or the number of screens / devices you can enjoy it on. Netflix bases its costs on video quality, with 4K resolution costing much more than basic SD DVD quality.

When the person receiving your gift of entertainment sits down to enjoy it, they will repeatedly think of you even more than a physical object.

You can also offer easy-to-use streaming devices that enable all of these video (and audio) services, assuming you want more flexibility than a so-called “smart TV”. Prices start at $ 18 for the basic Amazon Fire TV stick, with the 4K version for $ 25, going all the way up to the Apple TV 4K box for $ 180. In between are a wide range of Roku keys from $ 20 to $ 86 and Google Chromecast TV keys from $ 25 to $ 95. The Nvidia Shield, an exceptional device for video connoisseurs, costs $ 150.

EBooks from Kindle and other online book sources are also easy to order and deliver to friends and family. After receiving an email announcing your giveaway, they just click a few links. The book appears on their e-reader, tablet, phone and / or computer. This also applies to audiobooks.

Another array of virtual but tangible gifts includes software and apps that are easily sent to someone for download. Just make sure the app you select is running on the recipient’s specific phone (Apple or Android) or computer (Mac, Windows, or Linux).

Most free apps offer more useful and stylish versions when you pay for them. For example, Wunderground Weather, arguably the best weather app online, is abandoning advertising and offering detailed information when you pay to subscribe. Sometimes paid antivirus software is more effective and includes more features than the free version.

Bitdefender and Kapersky rank highest among antivirus programs. Likewise, every Windows user should use a third-party backup program beyond what Microsoft offers. Again, the paid software offers some critical features that are missing in the free version. Macrium Reflect is a great backup program.

Most apps and software online include a money back guarantee, so if the recipient doesn’t like it, they can exchange it for something more useful, or cancel and you will receive a refund. You can then ask what the person might prefer.

The advantage of offering “intellectual property” rather than “stuff” is that it does not waste any resources on packaging, freight or delivery. There is no need to recycle the box, because there is none.

However, if you want to make a big statement, big screen TVs may never be cheaper. Even with the current shortage of chips and shipping bottlenecks, big screen TVs remain widely available at incredibly low prices.

Headphones, especially noise canceling models, resonate with competitive prices. While Bose only brands older QuietComfort phone models, Sony has significantly lowered the price of its comparable models, current and in demand.

To follow, other brands have followed suit. The Sony WH-1000XM4, one of the best and most versatile wireless noise canceling headphones, sells for $ 100 off the list price of $ 349. The in-ear WF-1000XM4 also now sells for $ 249 or less.

We’ll have a full review of the WH-1000XM4 in a month, but first impressions rank them well above the Bose QuietComfort 35, which costs $ 50 more.

My dad gave me my first electronic Christmas present, the Koss Pro4AAA, under the tree. He put them in a suit bag as a joke, because he knew clothes weren’t my thing. Being small and easy to pack, without a costume bag, the helmet makes an ideal gift.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime consumer electronics critic. Email him at [email protected]