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It’s gift-giving season again, and iDB is back with its annual Holiday Gift Guide. So for those of you panicking because you still haven’t figured out what to get that special someone, never fear, we have come up with some excellent suggestions for you.
I personally tend to do a lot of research when buying things for myself, to ensure that I get the best value for my money, and this is definitely reflected in my gift-giving. Below, you’ll find a list of a few things I think would make excellent gifts this year.Apple TV
I’ve selected the Apple TV for my holiday gift guide 3 years in a row, but I have to say that this time, it barely made the cut. Last updated in 2012, the set top box is really beginning to fall behind newer players from Amazon and Roku in terms of features.
Alternatively, if the person you’re buying for doesn’t own an iPhone or iPad, you might be better off with the Roku 3. The third-generation device offers a lot more content than the Apple TV, comes with a much better remote control, and its beautiful menu system makes it easy to navigate. The Roku 3 retails for $99, but you can typically find it for around $80.iPad mini 2
For me, a tablet is one of the best gifts you can give to a close friend or family member that doesn’t already have one. They can be used to play games, read books, watch movies, and pretty much anything else you can think of. And with over 600,000 tablet-specific apps, and the mighty iTunes ecosystem, I think the iPad is (by far) the best tablet available.
Choosing which iPad model to buy is a little more subjective—things like price and screen size come into play—but for me, the iPad mini 2 offers the best bang for your buck. Priced at $299, the mini 2 features a powerful A7 processor and gorgeous Retina display, and it’s both portable and easy to hold in one hand. Yes, Apple released a new mini this fall, but it’s essentially the exact same tablet with Touch ID, and that isn’t worth the extra $100.Garmin Vivofit
I don’t typically recommend giving fitness-related gifts, but wearables are an extremely popular item this holiday season. As you’d expect, there are dozens of models to choose from, but for this guide I’m recommending Garmin’s affable Vivofit. It doesn’t have push notifications, sweat analysis or any other high-end smart watch features, but it does offer accurate activity-tracking and best-in-class battery life. Where other fitness bands last 3-7 days, the Vivofit can last up to one year—that’s right, 365 days— before its watch-style batteries need replacing.
Additionally, the band has an always-on display that shows the time, your steps for the day, and a progress bar that motivates you to move. It’s also water resistant, and comfortable to wear by most accounts, meaning users will be less likely to want to take it off—a notable issue with other trackers. The Garmin Vivofit retails for $130, but Amazon currently has it priced at $76.Logitech UE MINI BOOM
Bluetooth speakers are another item I love giving because they dramatically enhance the smartphone or tablet experience, and fall in that $100-ish sweet spot (not too cheap, not too extravagant) for loved ones. In the past I have recommended Jambox models from Jawbone because they’re beautifully designed and easy to use, but this year I’m going with the Logitech UE Mini Boom.
The Mini Boom isn’t as pretty as the Jambox, but it’s not ugly either. A metal grill protects two 1.5-inch drivers, and the whole thing is wrapped in a rubberized shell that feels both well-made and durable. The speaker is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket, but it’s capable of pumping out 86 dB—enough to clearly fill a room with warm sound and handily beat the in-class competition. Other benefits of the Mini Boom include large, idiot-proof buttons for syncing and volume control, a battery that offers up to 10 hours of playback, and a crystal-clear speakerphone mode.
Again, the Jambox is still a good product, and seems to go on sale quite frequently these days, but for my money the Logitech UE Mini Boom is currently the best sub-$100 portable Bluetooth speaker. It retails for $99, but Best Buy has it right now for $69.DJI Phantom FC40 Quadcopter
Quadcopters have outgrown their once-niche place among hobbyists and are quickly going mainstream. Equipped with onboard cameras, these drones can be used to take stunning aerial photographs and photos, and thanks to their easy-to use controls, they’re a joy to fly. DJI is one of the most respected names in consumer drones, and is particularly well known for its Phantom series. And while it’s not the top model, I recommend getting the FC40 because it strikes a good balance between cost and features.
The FC40 comes ready (sans AA batteries) to fly within minutes from the factory, and includes a built-in 720p HD video camera that can stream live video to a companion Android or iOS app. Other features include self-tightening propellers, and a return-to-home option that will automatically land the drone in the event its pilot gets into trouble. The FC40 retails for $650, but it’s not hard to find it for under $500. That’s quite a bit pricier than my other gift suggestions, but for me it falls into the “what to get for the gadget lover that has everything” category.
If you’re looking for a cheaper drone option, the Syma X5C has a built-in HD camera (though it won’t live stream video) and is well-liked by reviewers. It has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, where it sells for $63.Ray Ban Wayfarer
Gadgets aren’t for everyone, so for my final gift suggestion I’m recommending Ray Ban’s classic Wayfarer sunglasses. I like them because they aren’t really gender or age-specific—the iconic accessory has been around since the 1950s—and they fall in the same $100 sweet spot that I mentioned above. Plus, most everyone wears sunglasses. Pricing will vary depending on size and color combination, but you can find a standard pair on Amazon for around $80.Gifts under $30
Since everything I mentioned above is fairly pricey, I’ve listed some more affordable suggestions below.
Streamlight MicroStream LED Key Light – for me, flashlights are one of those things that a person can never have “too many” of, and my favorite one right now in this price range is the Streamlight MicroStream. It’s small, measuring just under 4-inches, and has everything you’d want in such a tool, including a waterproof body and unbreakable polycarbonate lens. The lightbulb itself is super bright, runs on AAA batteries, and thanks to its tailcap switch, it can be easily operated with one hand. The Streetlight has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, where it sells for $18.
Leatherman Wingman Multi Tool – a multitool is another item that always comes in handy, so of course it makes for a great gift. There are several to choose from in this price range, but I’m recommending the Leatherman Wingman. It’s not Leatherman’s top model by any means, but it should beat out most of the other options in its class. Obviously, it would take a while to name all of the tools it offers, just know that all of the staples are there—knife, pliers, screwdrivers, and bottle opener. Amazon has the Leatherman Wingman for $29.99 right now.
RAVPower 13000mAh External Battery Pack – since it’s almost 2023, I shouldn’t have to sell you on why an external battery pack would make a great gift, so let’s just jump right into the pick: the RAVPower 3rd gen deluxe 13000mAh. Admittedly, I’m compromising here since some of the better packs (like this Limefuel) are on backorder right now, but the RAVPower is still a solid choice. It features dual USB ports (each capable of the faster 2.4A charging), a built-in flashlight, and an LED status bar. The pack has a 5-star rating on Amazon (user reviews are particularly worth reading in this category), and is currently on sale for $29.99.
iTunes Gift Cards – gift cards for iTunes also need little explaining in this day and age. These cards can be purchased in virtually any denomination between $15 and $100, and they work in any iTunes Store, meaning they can be used to purchase apps, games, books, music and movies.
Google Chromecast – even though I’ve already mentioned a few media streamers, I’d be remiss not to mention Google’s Chromecast in the under $30 section. It’s not as capable as the Apple TV or Roku, but what it does for its price tag is nothing short of impressive. Whether you own an iOS or Android device, you’ll find a slew of apps in your app store that support the stick, allowing you to stream movies, music and games to your HDTV. We use ours to play multiplayer trivia games with friends and watch Boardwalk Empire on HBO GO. Like I said, it’s an impressive device at just $30.
Zojirushi Travel Mug – like the multi tool and flashlight, a travel mug is never a bad gift idea, but it can be a really good one. There are dozens of reasons why a person would want a mug to keep their beverages hot or cold for long periods of time, and if you give them a Zojirush Travel Mug, they’ll reach for yours every time. I could go into detail about its stainless steel vacuum tech, or some of the other features, but all you need to know is that the Zojirush will keep your drinks either scalding hot or ice cold for up to 6 hours. That may seem impossible, but reading through the 1,500+ reviews on Amazon, this mug is capable of that and more. Get it here for $27.
Be on the lookout for more gift guides from all iDB editors:
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Christmas and the end of Hanukkah are only a week away. You’re looking for a last-minute gift that’s guaranteed to arrive in time for the holidays. We’re here to help with a collection of top picks for Apple fans, all at great prices.
Welcome to 9to5’s Last Minute Apple Gift Guide!
All of the items featured in our Last Minute Apple Gift Guide are currently available to ship in time for holiday delivery. Some of the items are heavy, so if you like to shop at chúng tôi and aren’t yet using its flat-rate Amazon Prime two-day shipping service, now’s the perfect time to give it a try for free. Prime has more than paid for itself every year in shipping alone, and Amazon routinely adds great free videos, free streaming songs, and other perks that make the service great.
If you’re looking for a particularly nice Lightning cable for your home or car, Moshi’s USB Cable with Lightning Connector (review) combines great looks with metal-clad durability for $22. Cheaper Lightning cables like Amazon’s AmazonBasics models use larger and less case-friendly plugs, but sell for half the price.
Cases can also make great stocking-stuffers. A few of our favorite picks are Speck’s $28-$32 CandyShell Grip for iPhone 6 Plus and $21-$28 CandyShell for iPhone 6, Griffin’s $13 Reveal for iPhone 6 Plus, and Twelve South’s $60 leather-bound BookBooks for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The larger iPad and MacBook versions of BookBook won’t fit in most stockings, but they’re beautiful.
If you want to see what one of the best AirPlay speakers can do, Bowers & Wilkins’ A7 is a whopper, packed with four stereo drivers and a large 6″ Kevlar-reinforced subwoofer. For $800 (new, versus $700 used), you can expect powerful, audiophile-quality sound in a totally classy metal and fabric enclosure.
Most speaker companies have switched entirely to Bluetooth, though some (including Geneva Lab, maker of the Geneva Sound Model S, M, L, XL, and XXL speakers), are still offering older Apple 30-pin Dock Connector speakers alongside AirPlay and Bluetooth models. The beautifully piano-lacquered $300 Geneva Sound Model S is shown above, with the furniture-like $3,500 Model XXL as a flagship model with AirPlay and other features.
Bringing a MacBook back to a desk full of cabled accessories is a hassle – unless everything’s already connected to one box, leaving you a single cable to make everything work with your laptop. That’s what Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock does (review), providing a one-cable connection to everything from a monitor to speakers, hard drives and a printer. If you have a newer Mac or MacBook with Thunderbolt 2 support, you may be able to drive a 4K monitor and super-fast peripherals using the Dock; for the same $230 price, it’s considerably improved over and every bit as compatible as its same-priced predecessor.
Last but not least, here are a few of my favorite camera picks and accessories, all of which are available to ship in time for the holidays. They’re not strictly Apple products, but work with Apple products if you really care about creating great photos and videos. In an iPhone 6/6 Plus world, there’s not as much need to carry around pocket-sized cameras any more, but larger DSLRs are still light years better in image quality and low-light performance.
My favorite DSLR is Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III, which continues to be a very well-regarded all-around performer due to a combination of excellent full-frame still image quality, speed, cinema-quality 1080p video capabilities, and build quality. It’s not cheap at $2,800 after rebate, but a free accessory bundle will get you set up with a 32GB memory card, tripod, and starter backpack. As crazy as this sounds, I wouldn’t recommend anything below Canon’s $1,000 EOS 70D as a starter DSLR, with the $1,800 EOS 7D Mark II as a step up that’s better, but not up to the same image quality standard with the 5D Mark III. If you’re going to bother with a big camera as an alternative to the super popular, point-and-shoot iPhones, it needs to deliver a markedly better experience. Picking budget-priced lenses and camera bodies is the easiest way to moot the added investment and weight.
High-quality DSLR lenses are expensive, but the results they deliver are astounding. My top two lenses are Canon’s 24-70 f/2.8L II ($1,849 after rebate) and 70-200 f/4L IS ($1,099 after rebate), the former a “walkaround lens” to capture everyday shots of people and events, the latter a powerful zoom lens for nature photography, visits to the zoo, and so on. The number of “perfect shots” delivered by these lenses justifies their prices; it’s impossible to put a price tag on all of the potentially great photos you’ve lost due to using lower-quality, slower lenses.
If you want to import DSLR photos to your iPad, Apple’s $29 Lightning to SD Card Reader and $29 Lightning to USB Camera Adapter are both options. The iPad Air 2 is wicked fast at bringing in photos for editing; the iPad minis aren’t slouches, either. Most MacBooks have SD card readers built in, and they all have USB ports, so you won’t need any extra hardware besides the camera’s included USB transfer cable.
Need more picks? Check out my earlier holiday gift guide for Mac, iPhone, and iPad gear, which is packed with great options from earlier in the year. Happy holidays!
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The Apple device ecosystem has heralded new ways for creative game makers to realise their vision, often by combining physical elements with apps, to form engaging and addictive experiences. Most of this guide leans on casual gaming where a whole family can join in together, but there’s also a consideration for the serious side of games too.
We feature the endearing Beasts of Balance, the Osmo game system, MFI game controllers and more. Read on after the jump for the full list.Family Fun Gaming Gift Guide
Beasts of Balance is an incredible modern tabletop game that uses a complementary app as a central part of the game. It takes the universal concept of ‘build as tall a tower as possible’ and fleshes it out into a rich, endearing, modern board game. The Beasts of Balance plinth communicates with an app running on iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.
Players set cute animal figurines onto the plinth to start building a tower. The plinth includes an NFC reader which scans the object as they are placed, which causes special events to happen on the app display. Interlocking cross parts cause mutations in the virtual creature which is artistically brought to life on the iOS device screen.
You also have other challenges to keep on top of as the tower is built, like remembering to change the moon to a sun. If the tower falls, the app shows a bubbling volcano and the tower has to be quickly rebuilt before it erupts. There are wonderful tradeoffs built into the gameplay; awkwardly-shaped objects have higher point scores but a much higher risk of toppling the tower altogether.
The build quality of the stackable animals and artefacts is stellar; everything in the physical box and digital app is beautifully illustrated and designed. You can set it up in the living room with Siri Remote and Apple TV, or play in a bedroom with a single iPhone or iPad. It really is fun for the whole family. Buy the kit for $99, the app is a free download.
There are a lot of interesting games to play on the App Store, but you often feel limited by the touch interface for controlling your character or moving around the world. The Gamevice attaches to the iOS device — I use it with my 12.9 inch iPad – to add gamepad buttons and analog joysticks on both sides of the screen. Read my full review here.
If you loved using a Gameboy Advance as a kid, this is basically an iOS version of that. MFI game controllers have been possible for a while and now there is a big library of games that support them. Because the Gamevice is essentially a handheld dock, it will only work with a single form factor of iPhone or iPad. If you buy a newer iPad in the future, there’s a good chance the Gamevice will no longer fit.
Check out the full Gamevice range here for almost every iOS device on the market; pricing varies around $100 mark.
This is the second MFI controller recommendation. Whereas the Gamevice (above) snaps onto an iPhone or iPad to make a handheld, the SteelSeries is a traditional external controller design. It’s just like a console gamepad and communicates wirelessly with iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.
If you play any games on Apple TV, even simple one-button titles like Mr Jump or Crossy Road, using a real game controller is so much nicer than the Siri Remote. It also lets you dive into richer titles like Rayman Adventures and Oceanhorn; touch controls simply cannot beat physical buttons for games like these. The convenient thing about the Nimbus controller is that it doesn’t require a particular form factor; it just connects via Bluetooth to any iOS or tvOS device. Unlike the Gamevice though, you do have to remember to charge the Nimbus battery separately.
The Apple Store has a special bundle by the way for this item; you can get Minecraft for Apple TV and this controller at a reduced combo price. There’s also a Stratus controller which is half the price, and about half as nice to hold.
The Osmo game system is a fun accessory that you can gift to kids and play together as a family. You set an iPad up on the special stand and attach a special red mirror that angles the camera downwards. The Osmo comes with physical objects that the app detects through the camera to create an interesting combination of physical and digital world. Move a plastic block on the table and the iPad app tracks the motion and uses it in the on-screen game.
Most of the games are targeted at younger children, with a few activities for older ages and adults. You can get kits for drawing, learning vocabulary, music sequencing and basic building blocks of programming, and more. The Osmo packs are pricey but you can buy a Starter Kit to begin with and gradually add in additional sets to expand the experience. Read my hands-on review of the Osmo Monster kit from last year.
I like the Osmo because it integrates the iPad — which most kids regard as a mere portable TV screen frankly — with a kinaesthetic activity. You can even argue there is some educational value amongst the entertainment. They have also recently released a base for some models of iPhone, if you don’t want to use an iPad.
Nevertheless, I still think the Apple TV is a fun casual games machine. Most titles are simply ports of games from iPhone and iPad, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. The Siri Remote works decently for simple one-button and motion controlled driving games, of which the App Store has plenty. tvOS plays host to a lot of family games too; shout out to SketchParty TV for something to play as a family this holiday season.
There are a handful of sophisticated titles too; I loved playing through Oceanhorn and I’m really looking forward to the visually-enhanced sequel due in 2023. Does it compare to an Xbox? Of course not — but fortunately the Apple TV does a lot more than just play games.Mac Gaming
Slightly off-topic but I want to include a quick word on the state of Mac gaming. In short, it’s okay as long as the games you want to play are available on macOS and aren’t looking to max out every visual effect in the settings screen. There are a lot of caveats compared to a Windows machine but you can get pretty far with just a MacBook Pro. My addiction League of Legends (and Starcraft before that) all began on a Mac, and the arrival of Steam on the Mac platform has expanded the ecosystem of available titles considerably.Grab Bag
It’s hard to disagree that Nintendo had a huge impact on the gaming world this year, launching their new console generation that can dock into a TV and be picked up to use on the go, the Nintendo Switch. Despite being technically less powerful than an iPad Pro, the Nintendo Switch ecosystem features AAA titles that the iOS or tvOS App Store simply can’t compete with, including game of the year candidates Mario: Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Apple TV Siri Remote Loop
Everyone remembers the horror stories of breakages that happened with the Nintendo Wii years ago. Unfortunately, the Apple TV shares much of the same issues with its Siri Remote. A lot of the dumb fun Apple TV games rely on accelerometer motion controls. At the same time, the Siri Remote is made of metal and glass — it is prone to both breaking and breaking other things.
Apple actually has a solution for this: the $9 Remote Loop. It slots into the Lightning port and adds a little wrist-strap for when you are using the remote. It’s kind of silly to include it in a gift guide roundup but if you are buying an Apple TV for the first time and have an inkling to try out the game offerings in the tvOS App Store, pick up a remote loop while you are at it.
Philips Hue lights
A regular feature on my yearly holiday gift guides is some kind of smart lighting solution. Philips Hue are independent bulbs that you just screw in — you don’t have to change wiring or wall sockets — and you quickly get up and running with HomeKit supported (optionally multi-colored) smart lighting. Set them up in your living room and use Apple TV’s Siri to change the ambiance when you watch a movie or settle down for some late-night gaming.
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See also: When is Black Friday 2023?
It’s not easy to narrow down the perfect gift list. Everyone is different, so we’ve tried to cover a full range of gifts on our list. We have options for the gamers, the power-thirsty battery junkies, and even the smart home engineers. This is far from an exhaustive gift guide though, so be sure to check back for new recommendations.
The best holiday gifts for under $50
Editor’s note: We’ll update this list of the best holiday gifts under $50 as the holidays roll closer.
Echo Dot (4th Gen)
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
The Echo Dot has been an extremely popular holiday gift ever since it launched a few years back. It’s the easiest way to bring a little smart home power to your living room, and the 4th generation is better than ever. Amazon ditched the signature hockey puck design, opting for a small globe instead. While it won’t be as easy to stash around your house, the new Echo Dot should allow for much louder streaming from Spotify and other platforms.
Roku Streaming Stick Plus
The holidays are a great time to grab a new TV, but you’ll have trouble finding one for under $50. Instead, you can make your current TV much smarter with a brand-new streaming device. One of your top options is the Roku Streaming Stick Plus.
Anker PowerWave II charging pad
Wireless charging is finally becoming a go-to feature on many new devices. Whether you need to recharge a watch, juice up your new Pixel 5, or power up new wireless earbuds, you’ll need a charging pad you can trust.
See also: The best wireless chargers: A buyer’s guide
The PowerWave II is one of the best options that Anker has to offer. It is also one of our more affordable holiday gifts under $50. The charger automatically switches between 5W and 15W wireless charging so you can get the perfect stream of power. Anker also chose a five-foot power cable which should offer plenty of flexibility.
Tile Starter Pack
Before you head over the river or through the woods, you’ll have to find your wallet and keys. That’s easier said than done in the holiday chaos, but a Tile Starter Pack can help to fix that.
This handy two-pack includes one all-purpose Tile Mate and a wallet-ready Tile Slim. The Slim slides right into one of your card slots as if it were just another slice of plastic, and the Mate fits perfectly on your keys as needed. Even better, if you misplace your phone but you have your Tile then you can use it as a tracking device.
RAVPower 20,000mAh power bank
There’s nothing worse than waiting to charge your new devices after you unwrap them. Luckily, RAVPower’s 20,000mAh power bank features separate USB-A and USB-C inputs.
See also: Best portable chargers and power banks: A buyer’s guide
The USB-C port works with speedy 60W Power Delivery to recharge your capable devices in a hurry. While there are only two total ports on the RAVPower 20,000mAh power bank, it recharges at speeds of 30W so you can get back to full capacity in just three hours. Unfortunately, the charging block is not included so you’ll have to look around for your best options.
Blink Mini camera
If you do get the chance to leave and visit family over the holiday season, it can help to have some peace of mind at home. One way to get that peace of mind is with a handy little home security camera. The Blink Mini is a great pick, and it’s pretty affordable.
The tiny camera can fit anywhere. It supports 1080p video, motion detection, night vision, and Alexa support. The app also offers alerts, making this a great way to get started with your home security on a budget.
Logitech G502 Hero
The holidays are a great time to catch up with your favorite games. Sure, the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 might get a lot of attention this year, but we all know that the PC master race is the place to be.
See also: The best gaming mice you can buy
With that in mind, maybe it’s time to splurge on some new accessories. Logitech is one of the main gaming gear manufacturers around, and the G502 Hero is an amazing contender. If you want to get into the action with 11 programmable buttons and 25,600 max DPI, this is the best holiday gift under $50 for you.
JBL Go 3
Winter and the holidays also mean that it’s almost time to break out your skis or your snowboard. While you’re shredding down the mountain — or the bunny hill — you just might want some holiday tunes to go with it. The JBL Go 3, as its name implies, can be taken around wherever you may roam.
Here: These are the best Bluetooth speakers
It is both water and dustproof, thanks to its IP67 rating. And while it may look small, it has enough battery to run for five hours on a single charge.
SoundCore Liberty Neo earbuds
Another great holiday gift for hitting the slopes is the SoundCore Liberty Neo earbuds. They match JBL’s Clip 3 with an IPX7 rating, but this time you can keep the music all to yourself.
See also: Best true wireless earbuds
The buds are light as a feather, yet they manage an impressive five hours of battery life that jumps to 20 hours with the charging case. SoundCore even boasts that the new Liberty Neo achieves 43% more bass than previous versions. You should stay connected with ease thanks to the Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
Moment phone case
One last great holiday gift for under $50 is a brand-new phone case. Not just any phone case though, a Moment one. It may not be as durable as an Otterbox, and it’s not crystal-clear, but the Moment case does much more than guard your device. Instead, it’s a creator’s phone case. You can grab a series of additional camera lenses that attach directly to the Moment case itself to completely transform your phone camera capabilities. Moment currently offers cases for Apple, Samsung, Google, and OnePlus devices.
It’s not exactly the Oscars, but the Gomez Web Performance Awards give companies significant bragging rights for having a top Web site in their market segment.
Gomez, a division of Compuware (NASDAQ: CPWR), said Web site awards were given for three main criteria: best performance on average for 2009, response time (including how fast pages load and end-to-end processes like searching on the site or loading an image), and availability and consistency (measuring how consistent performance is across geographies, networks and times of day).
Web site performance can vary greatly. For example, a site with a related Superbowl ad campaign on TV or an e-commerce site during holiday shopping season can see a huge spike in traffic.
Poepsel also noted that some of the bigger e-commerce sites set a high bar for consumer expectations so it would be a mistake for a company that, for instance, had the best-performing insurance site, to get too comfortable.
“When you’re looking for a book on Amazon you might have a great experience in that shopping mode and you expect that same great experience when you go to a banking site,” said Poepsel. “Consumers don’t think, ‘Oh I’m in this vertical site so it should work differently.’ They expect it to be easy and responsive.”
Poepsel noted that companies have to engage in a delicate balancing act between performance and adding too many features. “Take the airline sites example which is like a workflow engine,” he said. “If you have too many bells and whistles on the site, you sacrifice performance. Consumers have choices and they’ll move on to a competitor’s site if there are broken links or other things that affect performance and accessibility.”
He also said even sites that have relative consumer lock in or customer loyalty can be hurt by poor performance. For example, consumers unable to use a site effectively end up calling tech support or the company’s call center which is a much bigger hit to the bottom line than if they were able to get their questions answered or orders placed on the Web site.
The full list of awards, runner ups and more detail is available here in PDF format.
David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at chúng tôi the news service ofRELATED NEWS AND ANALYSIS
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Most employers in the United States treat Thanksgiving Day as a paid holiday.
In recent years, more employers have given their employees the day after Thanksgiving off, though that figure varies across industries.
Expansive paid-holiday policies can benefit companies’ reputations, increase workplace morale and improve overall productivity.
This article is for human resources professionals and small business owners who are curious about how various businesses handle holidays, especially around Thanksgiving.
At most U.S. companies, employees have a paid day off from work on Thanksgiving so they can spend time with the people who matter most. The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, has become increasingly recognized as an extension of the holiday. In fact, 20 states have designated the fourth Friday in November as its own distinct state holiday.
Whether you’re a small business owner who’s preparing your business for Thanksgiving for the first time, an HR professional whose company is restructuring its holiday policies, or an employee who’s curious about how your employer’s policy stacks up against other companies’, you might be wondering how businesses typically approach the Thanksgiving season.The rise of the two-day Thanksgiving holiday
Local and state governments often consider the day after Thanksgiving a paid holiday. Public and private schools across the U.S. are also closed the Friday after Thanksgiving, so students have an extra-long weekend. And, in recent years, more employers have begun following their lead and treating the day after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday.
It’s not just about extending Thanksgiving into a four-day weekend. There appear to be tangible benefits for employers, like improved employee morale and increased productivity. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks holiday policies as part of its National Compensation Survey. By looking closely at the ways businesses approach tricky “holidays” such as Black Friday, you can glean some insight into how to choose which days to designate as paid holidays.How do employers handle Thanksgiving weekend?
Although the most recent BLS holiday data comes from 2023, it can still provide some instructive information and guidance as you consider the best paid holiday policy for your situation.
All federal workers receive Thanksgiving off from work, as it’s a federal holiday. While nonfederal employers are not required to provide paid holidays, the vast majority do offer employees paid time off (PTO) for Thanksgiving. The BLS reports that 97% of civilian and private industry workers have PTO for the holiday, as do a whopping 99% of state and local government workers.
Service occupations, which include retail and food service, are the least likely to have the day off; on average, 91% have this day off, compared with 99% of management, business, financial and professional laborers. This is because, while administrative offices almost always close for the holiday, many grocery stores, large retailers and restaurants remain open, though they may operate on altered hours. Despite these exceptions, most businesses are aligned in offering the day off.
Holiday policies for the day after Thanksgiving vary much more than for Thanksgiving Day. Overall, 43% of all workers get a paid day off on Black Friday, but the differences across types of businesses are substantial.
At the lowest end of the scale, only 21% of private industry service workers have a day off with pay. Civilian service workers are somewhat more likely to have the holiday off, at 30%. These figures are unsurprising, as Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Many retailers do elect to offer employees who work the grueling Black Friday shifts a bonus or time-and-a-half pay, even when they are not legally obligated to. Government service workers, on the other hand, are significantly more likely than the average worker to have the day off, at 68%.
The group most likely to have a paid holiday the day after Thanksgiving, however, comprises state and local government construction, maintenance and natural resources workers, at 73%. Overall, 69% of government workers have the day after Thanksgiving off, compared with 43% for civilian workers and 39% of private industry workers.
Interestingly, far fewer state and local workers in the Northeast have a paid holiday on Black Friday than in any other region. While Midwestern, Southern and Western states give employees the day off between 65% and 77% of the time, Northeastern states do so only 47% of the time. Overall, the percentage of companies providing a longer Thanksgiving holiday has remained significant, especially in comparison with the early days of the survey.
Nearly all employers that offer paid holidays include Thanksgiving in their policies. Many also include the day after Thanksgiving, but it varies significantly across different industries and workplace types.What are the benefits of giving employees holiday time off?
For several years, retailers experimented with opening earlier on Thanksgiving evening to prepare for the Black Friday rush. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic has shown people the essential role that workers in retail settings play in our society, expecting employees to work on Thanksgiving could actually hurt retailers’ reputations. According to a 2023 Accenture survey, 76% of consumers want stores to remain closed on the holiday so workers can spend time with their families.
Offering employees holiday time off is not only helpful for maintaining your company’s reputation; it’s also important for fostering a positive company culture and preventing employee burnout. In addition, a competitive paid-holiday policy can help you attract strong candidates to your company. It signals that your business values your employees’ work-life balance, respects their needs and boundaries, and appreciates them as members of your team. In turn, these policies also minimize employee turnover. Showing your employees that you value their time and well-being fosters a culture of trust and mutual respect.
Did You Know?
Black Friday isn’t the only nontraditional holiday that has vexed employers. Due to high absenteeism, some groups have called for the day after the Super Bowl to become a paid holiday.Choose the right holiday policy for your workplace
While it’s generally a good idea to offer a robust and generous paid-holiday policy, the details of that policy will depend on your company’s needs. When possible, include the whole workplace in that decision. Companies with remote or hybrid staff, for example, may find that employees don’t want the day after Thanksgiving off because they can work on the go. Instead, they might want to replace it with a different day.
It’s also important to note that federal holidays are not always the holidays your employees might celebrate, so you might want to swap them with other days. Floating-holiday policies can also be a great fit for workplaces with many employees from a wide range of cultures and religious traditions. No matter the situation, paid holidays are important for your company’s morale and your team’s well-being.
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