Even though Black Friday and cyber Monday have passed, there are still some great deals for the 2016 Chanukah shopping season. The good news for those of us shopping for personal consumer electronics and tech gadgets for friends and family this holiday season is that there are some real bargains to be had.
Tech innovation has improved dramatically over the last year and, because of competition, prices are coming down.
Always remember to check online for the lowest current prices on these items as most will be discounted as we get closer to Chanukah. Remember, Chanukah begins on the evening of
Dec. 24 this year.
GoPro HERO5 Black: GoPro has been in the news a lot lately because of its falling stock price, but don’t count this company out yet because its cameras are still the best. HERO5 Black is the most powerful, easy-to-use GoPro with a 2-inch touch display, simplified controls and video resolutions up to 4K at 30 frames/second. You simply won’t find a better holiday gift for your active friends who would love professional-quality video of their outdoor experiences. This GoPro is waterproof without a housing to 33 feet and boasts advanced wind and noise reduction. $399.99. Gopro.com.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4: I’m currently putting this Gift Guide together using this awesome two-in-one. It’s super lightweight at only 2.4 lbs. and extremely thin making it the best alternative to a laptop. The Surface Pro 4 is the perfect holiday gift for a loved one looking for a device for work or play — especially for the student who doesn’t want to schlep around a heavy computer laptop. Powered by an Intel Core processor, it has nine hours of battery life. Paired with the $60 Surface Pen, you can use it for detailed sketches and handwritten notes. $899. Microsoft.com.
Parrot Swing Drone: I often hear people say they’d love to buy a drone, but the cost is a barrier. Apparently, Parrot heard this too and responded with a couple of affordable new mini-drones just as impressive as the more expensive models. The Mambo and Swing are Parrot’s two new mini-drones that will be great starter drones this holiday season. I had a chance to test out the Swing and found it to be easy to fly and very stable. It combines the best of a quadcopter with the power of a plane. Swing is the only plane with autopilot and a vertical take-off and landing mode. With the Parrot Flypad controller, it’s simple to fly with ultra-precise control. $139.99. Parrot.com.
GrillBot: This was one of my favorite award-winners at the CES tech trade show and I was thrilled the 2.0 version has been released. GrillBot has become such a popular consumer electronics product for one main reason: No one enjoys cleaning their BBQ grill. This fully automated device makes grill-cleaning possible with the simple push of a button. The replaceable wire brushes pop off for easy cleaning and are dishwasher safe. It runs on a rechargeable lithium ion battery, and the LCD alarm and timer let you set the GrillBot, walk away and return to a fully cleaned grill. Amazing! $129.95. Grillbot.com.
TomTom Adventurer Sports Watch: I don’t understand why more people don’t include TomTom when they talk about fitness trackers. The Adventurer has modes for hiking, biking, snowboarding, swimming, skiing or running all with GPS, compass and barometer tracking. The built-in heart rate monitor is more accurate than competing sports watches. An integrated music player even holds up to 500 songs (3GB) to let you work out or hike to your favorite tunes. $349.99. Tomtom.com.
ASUS ZenPad Z8: ASUS has been my computer maker of choice for the past six years so I wasn’t surprised I fell in love with the ASUS ZenPad Z8. Exclusively from Verizon, this trusty little tablet boasts a 7.9-inch 2K IPS display with enhanced sharpness, contrast and color. It’s ergonomically designed for comfort, and its speed will impress you. This makes an ideal gift for anyone from students to grandma. I keep this in the glove box of my car so I’m never without a tablet at a meeting. $99.99 with two-year Verizon contract. Verizonwireless.com/tablets/asus-zenpad-z8.
Brinno TLC120 Timelapse Camera: This wi-fi and Bluetooth-enabled time-lapse camera is compact and weather resistant/waterproof. It creates HDR time-lapse productions easily in any environment. With Bluetooth app control and wi-fi transfer, capturing and sharing time-lapse videos has never been simpler. The new Brinno App (Apple or Android) makes it stress-free to frame the scene, set the capture interval, playback rate, white balance, exposure value, custom colors and timer as well convert from AVI to MP4 videos and share them via social networks. $299. Brinno.com.
CleverPet: I spent close to an hour at the CleverPet booth at CES in January just watching the dog play with this amazing contraption. You have to see this to believe it, but CleverPet is the first company to offer unlimited adaptive All-Day Play for dogs. Your dog’s mind will be engaged and exercised with custom light, touch and sound puzzles. CleverPet’s software, built by PhDs in computational neuroscience, includes puzzles using touch pads, lights and customizable sounds, paired with food-dispensing rewards. New games update automatically on the CleverPet Hub via WiFi. $299. Cleverpet.com.
XYZ Printing da Vinci Mini: If you think it’s impossible for a top-performing 3D printer to cost under $300, you’d be wrong. The da Vinci Mini is perfect for designing and printing 3D prototypes for businesses and replacing parts and pieces of items around the home. The unit comes with embedded Wi-fi capabilities, offering portability and simplicity. The Mini automatically loads the filament and has an auto-calibration feature. This will be the perfect Chanukah gift for creative kids or adults. $289. Xyzprinting.com.
Nucleus: Created by an Orthodox rabbi who wanted to keep an eye on his newborn baby, Nucleus is a home intercom system with video, a mobile app and wi-fi capabilities that puts you instantly in touch with the people that matter most. It’s perfect for the modern family. Equipped with a wide-angle camera and speakers, Nucleus improves family communication between rooms in your home and between loved ones outside your home. I’ve been watching the steady growth of Nucleus since before its product launch, and this is one impressive communications tool for any family. $249. Nucleuslife.com.
Fitbit Charge 2: Fitbit Charge 2 has become the company’s most popular fitness wristband, featuring an enhanced exercise experience, new health and fitness tools powered by PurePulse heart rate tracking, smart notifications and a new sleek design. The display is larger and easier to read, and the tracking is more precise. Multi-sport modes allow for tracking specific workouts like runs, biking, weights, yoga and more. $149.95. Fitbit.com.
SkyBell: This smart HD-video doorbell makes homes and neighborhoods safer with an easy and affordable home security solution. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices. SkyBell’s live video stream allows residents to see, hear and speak to visitors from anywhere. This is the type of holiday gift that shows you care because it improves the recipient’s safety. $199. Skybell.com.
Rabbi Jason Miller is a technology entrepreneur, educator and blogger. He is the tech expert for the Detroit Jewish News and the president of Access Computer Technology in West Bloomfield. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.