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Gadgets

These are our 15 favorite gifts for grads in 2019

Everything a recent grad needs -- online and IRL.

airpods-2-2019-4
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Some grads may soon move into their first college dorm room. Some college graduates may soon be living in their first apartment. And others may be moving right back in with their parents (not that there's anything wrong with that). Regardless of what the next step entails, we've rounded up a batch of gifts -- ranging from practical to traditional to trendy -- that most grads will appreciate. 

Disclosure: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

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The complete culinary starter kit for living on your own. Mark Bittman's foundational text does exactly what it says, providing instructions on how to make everything from hummus to chicken salad to brownies. It's authoritative, well-written and comprehensive information every kitchen novice needs. The hardcover book looks cool -- but the $10 app offers lots of information, too. 

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Instant Pot

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Another critical kitchen tool for the student who's moving into new quarters. With an enthusiastic fanbase, this beloved pressure cooker makes it easy and fast to prepare a remarkably wide variety of meals. This model, the six-quart Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 V3, is both versatile and affordable at $70.

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Baloo weighted blanket

Baloo

Weighted blankets, which are all the rage these days, may smooth your graduate's transition into a new bedroom. Baloo makes a premium-looking cotton weighted blanket and offers a separate french linen duvet cover. It's big enough to cover the top of a queen mattress and there are two weight options: 15 pounds for $169 and 20 pounds for $189.

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Roku Streaming Stick Plus

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After the toils of graduation, it's advisable to rest, kick back and catch up on some shows. Roku has a whole portfolio of excellent video streamers that turn any HDMI-equipped TV into a gateway to online entertainment bliss: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, HBO Now and literally hundreds of other streaming channels.

The $60 Roku Streaming Stick Plus -- an Editors' Choice -- delivers 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price. You get a dead simple user interface, tons of 4K HDR apps, great search functionality, lightning-fast speed and good video quality.  

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Bose SoundLink Micro

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The Bose SoundLink Micro is for anyone who values ultimate portability in a waterproof wireless speaker. You won't find any other speaker this small that sounds this good. Especially for only $99. 

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Apple AirPods

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Sure, they've become a status symbol -- if your graduate doesn't already have them, they probably want them -- but they're also damn good earbuds. The second-generation AirPods add a couple of small but key improvements to the original, including always-on voice recognition and a wireless charging case option. 

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Apple Watch

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The Apple Watch puts a modern spin on a traditional graduation present. The Series 4, which starts at around $385 on Amazon, features a large, crisp display, blazing-fast speed and a loud speaker. It also adds heart-rate detection and a host of other health and wellness features.

That noted, there are plenty of older Apple Watches on the market that are considerably less expensive. You can pick up the Series 3 for $229 and a refurbished Series 2 -- they're hard to find brand-new these days -- is even cheaper. 

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Apple MacBook Air

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Completing the holy trinity of Apple products, the 2018 MacBook Air has tons of style, contemporary (though not cutting-edge) components and a few features (e.g., the beautiful Retina display and Touch ID) that were previously exclusive to the more expensive MacBook Pro. Amazon is currently selling it for $950, which is a total steal.

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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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Give your graduate all of the benefits of an e-reader without the distractions of a tablet. For most people the Paperwhite is hands-down Kindle choice. That's why we awarded it a CNET Editors' Choice when it was released in late 2018. Just wait until it goes on sale for $100 before you take the plunge. 

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Black & Decker 60-piece drill and tool kit

Black & Decker

It can take years to acquire all of the tools needed for a household. This 60-piece kit will give your graduate a leg up by equipping them with everything they'll need. You get an eight-volt drill, a hammer, a level, a tape measure and a bunch of wrenches and screwdrivers -- all neatly packed into a handy carrying case. 

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Black & Decker Lightdriver Cordless Screwdriver

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If a complete tool set is overkill, this combination cordless screwdriver and flashlight covers the basics. It has an adjustable pistol grip and includes both standard and Philips head bits. It's powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and the LED light can be toggled on and off independently, so it's good as a standalone flashlight, too. All for less than $20.

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Peak Design Travel Backpack

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Whether your student is traveling, working or heading back to school, the $235 Travel Backpack is a graduation-caliber upgrade. This tasteful, streamlined bag comes chock full of removable dividers that let you configure the main compartment however you want. It's got large zippered panels, tons of storage pockets and a padded laptop compartment. And the whole thing is weather-sealed and water-resistant.

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Spotify and Hulu bundle

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Pretty much every graduate will appreciate a Spotify subscription, which includes unlimited access to pretty much all of the music. Spotify normally costs $9.99 per month on its own, but this bundle throws in free access to Hulu, which usually costs $5.99 per month. You can sign up for this special deal now through June 10.

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Amazon Prime

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Hook your graduate up with Amazon's streaming video and music services, unlimited cloud storage for photos, 5GB of space for documents and videos, free PC games, discounts at Whole Foods and more. Prime membership costs $119 for a year (or $39 for three months) -- but even moderate Amazon and Whole Foods shoppers will get multiples of that in value.

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Bombfell or Stitch Fix gift card

Graduates entering a new life stage may require a wardrobe upgrade. Stitch Fix and Bombfell make this task easier with a monthly delivery of curated clothes, shoes and accessories delivered right to your graduate's door. Then can try them on, keep what they like and send back the rest in a prepaid USPS envelope. 

Stitch Fix gift cards, which can be printed, emailed or snail-mailed, are available in denominations from $20 to $1,000. Bombfell's gift cards are available in any amount up to $2,500.