29 Nov Top Tech Gifts for 2016
Skipped Black Friday and missed Cyber Monday? Or, maybe you are on top of your shopping game, but just have one or two more gifts to buy. Fear not. There’s still plenty of time to find the perfect gift, and we have a dozen suggestions for you. These smart tech gifts are sure to impress, and there are options to fit any budget.
Amazon Echo: Let’s start with an oldie but a goodie. The Echo was on last year’s list and, as predicted, it’s a hit and improving. This voice-controlled helper responds to the name “Alexa” and will answer questions, play music, report on traffic and weather, among other useful tasks. It can also be used to control lights, thermostats, and switches with compatible home systems. The Echo sells for $180* on Amazon. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that there’s a new gal on the block. Google Home offers a similar assistant, however it is not compatible with as many home systems nor does it have quite the repertoire of skills that Alexa does (yet), but the price is lower at $130.
Anki Cozmo: Arguably all tech gifts are “toys,” but Cozmo probably fits best into that category. This small robot offers a playmate that develops a personality based on its owner. It needs a phone to pair with, and it will learn names, recognize faces, and play games, including some with blocks which it likes to stack. As you play games, new features and tricks are unlocked to keep things interesting. Cozmo has been described by reviewers using terms such as “endearing,” “cute,” and “charming.” The retail price is $180.
Apple Watch Series 2: The Series 2 is here and it’s faster, brighter, and water resistant to 50 meters. It has built-in GPS and more accurate fitness tracking, even swim tracking. This newer version also supports more third-party apps. The Series 2 sells for about $370.
AUX to Bluetooth Adapter: With Apple getting rid of the auxiliary port on the newest iPhones, these phones can’t be used for sound (maps, music) in a car without a Bluetooth connection. If you have a new phone, but an older vehicle, this presents a quandary. This handy gadget allows audiophiles to connect their phone via Bluetooth to the adapter, which in turn is plugged into the car’s aux port. The Audiovox BCSI Bluetooth interface kit sells for about $50.
Drones: Remote control gifts always seem to show up this time of year, but a flying drone that can take aerial photographs is a whole new level of cool. A great low-budget option is the Syma X5C Drone with a HD camera that sells for around $50. This quadcopter has 6-axis gyro stabilization that lends to its high performance flying. It also comes with spare propellers and blade guards. For the more advanced drone enthusiast (or a gift giver with a bigger budget) the DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter gets great reviews. Some features include fully automated GPS functionality, a high-end camera, and top-of-the-line stabilization technology. It can avoid obstacles and lock onto objects it is tracking for video. And, if you have the need for speed, the DJI Phantom 4 is fast — over 44 mph. The price tag for this gem is around $1,200.
Fitbit Charge 2: If you don’t need the price or all the fanciness of the Apple Watch, but do want to give the gift of a good a fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge 2 sells for about $150. This tracker offers constant heart-rate monitoring and a five-day battery life. It has GPS and a new, larger OLED touchscreen display that provides data such as time, date, steps, and heart rate. Calls, texts and calendar notifications can be displayed, too. The Charge 2 tracks sleep, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes. Interchangeable wristbands make it attractive as well.
Instant Photo Printer: Ever harken back to the days of printed photos you could view, touch and display without scrolling through your vast photo library. Some new portable photo printers give you instant gratification by working with your smartphone to print 2×3 wallet-sized prints. The HP Sprocket uses a free app, Bluetooth, and zero-ink paper with adhesive backing to make photos on demand. The Sprocket is the size of a thick smart phone, and the price is $130. You may not be surprised to learn that Polaroid also offers an instant printer. The Zip printer offers the same technology at a slightly lower price point.
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth Speaker: This device promises to instantly increase the owner’s popularity on vacations. The UE Boom 2 is a portable speaker that is fully waterproof and has a long battery life of 15 hours. Importantly, the 360 degree sound is excellent. It weighs just over one pound and is only 7 inches high, making it easy to take along. Offered in a number of festive colors, the UE Boom 2 sells for about $200.