Holiday Tech Gifts 2016

by John Dunker-

Holiday Tech Gifts

It’s that time of the year again and the spirit of giving is in the air. The number of different types of electronic devices has never been greater and prices are even more reasonable as well. There are devices available for anyone on your list that would bring a smile on Christmas day. Here are a few gift ideas I found interesting.

Last year I wrote about drones and they have increased in popularity this year. There are many more models to choose from in all price ranges. Some drones can even be flown using apps on smartphones or tablets. There are three basic types: Camera Drones, Racing Drones and Toy Drones.

• Toy drones are simple and fun, just like the title implies. Some people recommend buying toy drones to learn how to fly before getting a more sophisticated model. However, toy drones are actually much harder to fly because they lack sensors like GPS to keep them in one spot.
• Camera drones are those that most people are familiar with. These drones are usually ready-to-fly quadcopters that have stabilized cameras for shooting video and stills. Drones with cameras have many different uses including agricultural, industrial and personal. Some of the more popular reasons include just exploring the world, experiencing what it’s like to fly, and capturing memories in a completely new perspective. Good camera drones range from $400 and up, and new FAA regulations must be considered when operating these drones.
• If drone racing and freestyle flying sounds like something crazy you would see in a movie, you’re right! This is the intense and fast paced of drone flying. Racing drones are like race cars. They take more research and time practicing than other types of drones, but the experience you get when flying is unlike anything else in the world. Drone Racing is a real sport now days and is growing. Starting price ranges are between $300-$600. Add Virtual Reality (VR) goggles and put the person in the driver’s seat (good VR goggles cost $300 and up)

Many of us own smartphones with cameras that are capable of taking amazing photos. But, sometimes it would be nice to change up the view with a more powerful lens. And now you can. No need to lug around a large camera bag and changeable lenses. Just clip on a pocket-sized universal clip-on smartphone camera lens and you’re ready to capture some amazing shots. With a price range between $6 to $25, you can’t go wrong.

For people who love to listen to music in the shower or even sing, there are a variety of waterproof, wireless Bluetooth speaker systems available for purchase. Just connect to a Bluetooth capable device and it’s ready to go. The pool or a hot tub can use them as well. Some models even let you answer and talk on your smartphone. There are stand-alone models as well as headphones, and there is even a model contained within a shower cap. From $15 and up, you’re sure to find just the right one for that special someone.

If someone on your list has a flat screen TV that is not a smart TV, consider getting them one of several plug and play devices used for video streaming via a wireless Internet connection. With prices between $30 and $50 dollars, they make a great gift. Here are some examples:

• The Amazon Fire TV Stick plugs into an HDMI port and can stream a multitude of TV shows, videos and movies. The stick connects to video streams, such as Netflix (requires a paid subscription), and provides for simple and easy access without a connected computer or bulky device. And with the slim remote and/or Android app for a smartphone, a person can sit back and control their viewing. You can also watch hours of YouTube videos on every subject in the world.
• The Roku 3500R Streaming Stick is yet another compact stick for streaming media. It can be inserted into a TV’s HDMI port for endless hours of striking HD TV watching. Use the included remote to control streams or sync it with any iOS or Android device. It can even use mobile apps to send videos from a smartphone to the TV.
• Google has also joined the streaming media game with its Chromecast device. As with others, it plugs into an HDMI port on the TV to allow people to watch just about anything that can stream from the app on a smartphone or tablet. It works with devices running Android, iOS, Mac, Windows or via a Chromebook to send video to the bigger screen.

Tablets are also growing in numbers. The choices available are more than I will address here. I will however mention price. Starting at just $50 you can put a simple tablet in someone’s hands. These low cost tablets (Android OS) provide for emailing, web surfing, picture taking, book reading and even video calling. What a deal!

The iRoller Touchscreen Cleaner is not a glamorous, high-tech device, but is extremely handy and can be used time and time again. Neat freak users of mobile devices will be thankful every time they clean their tablet or smartphone screens. The iRoller is simple to use: Just roll it across the screen and let the safe, tacky, liquid-free surface pick up dirt, lint, fingerprints, oil and bacteria from the screen. Then rinse the roller, let it dry, and you’re ready to clean again. It can be had for great price at $20 each.

I encourage you to look up and research online these and any other tech devices you consider purchasing as gifts. Read user reviews and comments to make informed decisions on the best device to get. And have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!