From gaming to golf, to home security and safety, check out these tech gift ideas for everyone on your list.
Photos courtesy of Rabbi Jason Miller
In case you blinked, this holiday shopping season is bigger than ever! Plus, who doesn’t love shopping for deals? From phones and drones to TVs and cameras, this year’s top gifts these holidays will bring a smile to anyone’s face.
What follows is my list of the tech-related gifts you’ll want to get a head start on because the savings will be great, and you can’t guarantee they’ll be available as we get closer to the holidays.
So, no matter who is on your shopping list this year, you’ll want to get a jump on things to guarantee the best deals. Remember Hanukkah begins Sunday, Dec. 22.
Here are two things that may surprise you about vinyl: One, it’s the way young people are listening to music at home; and, two, turntables now stream music! The comeback of vinyl records has led to the top personal consumer electronics companies, like Como Audio, to reimagine the turntable.
Como Audio’s first streaming Turntable is designed by Tom DeVesto, and it is impressive. The turntable is precision belt-driven with a real wood veneer or multi-layer high gloss piano plinth with medium-density fiberboard (MDF) substrate and an anodized aluminum speed button, all designed to perfectly complement existing Como Audio music system finishes.
It can be connected wirelessly via Bluetooth or with an audio cable using the integrated moving magnet phono pre-amp output to any Como Audio or other music system’s Auxiliary input. The time-tested belt-driven design offers motor decoupling, and the speed is selectable at 33 or 45 RPM. This is the perfect holiday gift for the audiophile on your gift list! https://www.comoaudio.com/products/turntable
This is a really cool tech product for the pet lover who wants to know how much their lovable furry friend is eating each day. The unit recognizes a pet’s identification microchip or a Sure Petcare RFID collar tag and it will accurately record daily food intake. The feeder can also prevent other pets in the household from stealing food. Features include the ability to set the food type, keep track of the quantity and frequency of a pet’s meals, check when pet was last fed, monitor how much a pet eats and notice changes in feeding behavior. Available at Amazon.com
If you don’t want to lug around a heavy hardcover book on vacation, but also don’t want to bring your expensive iPad to the pool, the Kobo Libra H2O is ideal.
The Kobo Libra H2O combines the features readers love like ergonomic one-handed page-turn buttons, waterproofing technology, ComfortLight PRO, a 7” HD Carta E Ink glare-free screen and convertible SleepCovers. It’s available in classic black and white, with four SleepCover options in black, grey, rose and aqua. The newest device provides the fully customizable experience readers need with the modern design they want. It comes with enough storage for 6,000 books and weighs just 192 grams. http://www.kobo.com
I’ve been a fan of 3Doodler products for several years, and for good reason. Their products are fairly priced and give the gift of doodling (and who doesn’t love doodling?). This leather edition is ideal for dads, moms, executives and those deemed “tough to shop for.”
Draped in Italian leather, the limited 3Doodler Create+ Leather Edition reinvents the “executive” pen, offering an office-worthy tool appealing to those who are notoriously “tough to shop for,” including gadget lovers, James Bond wannabes, or individuals who want to sign their “John Hancock” … in wood. Yes, this pen 3D prints … in wood. It is also available on Amazon. https://3Doodler.com
Sometimes a great holiday gift is the one that reminds us that winter won’t last forever. That’s the case with the Smartfire unit that comes with an accompanying adaptor for a smoker. The Smartfire app (iOS or Android) prompts you through the setup process.
The Smartfire BBQ controls the fire temperature by regulating the smoker airflow and lets you know when food is ready. The native and desktop apps mean pitmaster control is at your fingertips. You can get some shopping done, sleep through the night during overnight cooking and enjoy your guests while Smartfire BBQ is cooking your BBQ food perfectly. https://smartfirebbq.com
Plain and simple, Brilliant’s smart home controls work brilliantly! Brilliant lets you effortlessly control all of your smart home devices from one easy-to-use control panel on your wall or a single app on your phone. It replaces any standard light switch in the home and provides access for everyone so that you don’t have to rely on your phone.
It can be easily installed with no additional hubs, wiring, batteries, or programming. Brilliant instantly gives you voice and touch control over all of your smart home products, and is compatible with leading smart home products from makers including Honeywell, Nest, Wemo, SmartThings, Ring, Sonos, Ecobee, Google Assistant and more. With Alexa built-in and a video intercom system for room to room chat and remote monitoring, you can instantly turn smart home complexity into simplicity. https://www.brilliant.tech/home
Thinkware has made a name for itself with high-quality dash cams. Their latest model, the F800PRO, is the most impressive one yet. It comes with a Sony Exmor R STARVIS Image Sensor that provides rich colors and the optimal resolution.
The STARVIS technology improves Exmor R’s low light sensitivity by providing optimal image quality in visible ray and near-infrared range, allowing clear imaging in low light environments. Dash Cams are commonly used outside of the U.S., but they’re gaining in popularity. They add more safety for drivers and therefore make this a really nice holiday gift. I’m putting one in my son’s car since he’s a new driver, allowing me to have a recording of his driving. https://us.thinkware.com/products-f800pro/
Are you shopping for any avid golfers this holiday season? You can’t go wrong with the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor (MLM). It allows golfers to improve their game by providing pro-level data like shot distance, ball speed, launch direction and more.
The MLM turns any iOS device into a portable monitor, giving instant feedback and video playbacks that can be viewed whenever and wherever. Rather than lugging around a full monitor on vacation, this device comes with a traveling case making it easy to pack and take with you anywhere this holiday season. https://rapsodo.com/product/mobile-launch-monitor/
My kids are all very familiar with my rule about their iPads. If it’s not in a Brydge case, it doesn’t leave the house. Plain and simple, Brydge makes the most protective cases for the iPad. Its snap-on magnetic cover protects the back of the iPad against scratches and other damage. It uses Bluetooth 4.1 for fast pairing and lag-free typing. With Dual Connectivity, you can connect via USB-C to charge and type with the security of USB. The Brydge cover features Tablet Mode and Movie Mode for an unrestricted experience. Like all Brydge products, this keyboard/cover comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. https://www.brydge.com/
Audio-Technica headphones are bound to give users an epic gaming experience. These headphones feature powerful 45 mm drivers and a detachable mic. The headphones offer up to 20 hours of use on a full charge and can also be used in wired mode.
These headphones boast a Selectable 7. 1 surround sound mode offering breathtaking, in-the-game sound. Mute, volume, and surround sound controls are conveniently located on the ear cup for easy access. The state-of-the-art, flexible (and detachable) Boom microphone, with highly directional pickup, provides crystal-clear in-game voice communication. https://www.audio-technica.com
I love recommending fun tech games under $20. The Pictionary Air came out this past fall and is the newest Pictionary experience that is just as much fun as it is innovative. The game includes a special light-up pen tip and pairs with a Pictionary Air mobile app. The gameplay is similar to the original Pictionary, except the drawer uses the light-up pen to illustrate each clue in the air. The guessing team points the in-app camera at the drawer, and their masterpiece will appear on the screen. It also includes the option to record the drawer’s turn for hilarious replays! https://www.mattelgames.com/en-us/family/pictionary-air
When it comes to paper airplanes, we don’t think of technology. Yet, the POWERUP 2.0 Free Flight (under $20) takes your homemade paper plane and powers it for up to 30 seconds of flight with just a 20-second charge! This kit is meticulously engineered to turn your paper airplanes into actual flying machines — they’ll have enough juice to stay airborne for over 30 seconds on a single charge.
The engine also works with an impressive range of paper plane designs so there’s really no limit to the kinds you can pilot. The pack even comes with two sample designs that you can start with and build on as you become more experienced. This is the ideal gift for tweens and teens because it is also an educational experience that meshes origami, physics and incorporates all the components of STEM, (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math). This unique combination allows schools and teachers to educate students using project-based learning and learning the principles of flight and aerodynamics. https://www.poweruptoys.com/
Giving the gift of web security shows you care. The YubiKey is an easy-to-use device that lets users protect their online accounts on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and more! It is convenient and affordable, but it’s also the most secure method to combat hackers.
This small but mighty device gives people peace of mind and a sense of safety. With a simple touch, the multi-protocol YubiKey protects access to computers, networks and online services. It is much easier and safer than authenticator apps. The recipient of this gift will no longer have to reach for their smartphone or re-typing passcodes. They just plug in the YubiKey, tap and let it do the rest. https://www.yubico.com
Small wireless earphones are all the rage right now, but anyone who sweats a lot knows that it can be a hassle when your sweat ruins your earphones. These little guys are sweatproof and will give 30 hours of battery life. They boast 10 hours of playtime and an additional 2X of charges in the USB Type-C charging case.
The earbuds charge automatically each time they are placed back in the case for storage. They are equipped with the latest Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX/AAC, so you can be sure of uncompromised and uninterrupted wireless audio quality. Users can access smart assistants like Siri and Google Assistant by pressing twice on the earbud paired as the main unit. They can make a call, select a playlist, or turn up the volume control — all it takes is a double press on the button. https://us.creative.com
No one loves having to wake up early in the morning, but you can help your friends and family do it a little easier with the gift of this cool device. It connects wirelessly to a smartphone and then you slip the sonic bomb under the pillow, schedule your wake-up time via the app and wake on time.
The sonic bomb is guaranteed to get you out of bed without disturbing others. You can set multiple alarms and notifications with an easy-to-use-app, plus the wireless alarm will keep you alert to text messages, phone calls, and it connects with Gmail. The user chooses their settings, including the vibration pattern, strength, alarm duration (from 15 seconds to 10 minutes) and snooze duration (from 5 to 30 minutes). It comes with long-lasting battery life and it’s great for individuals suffering from hearing loss, hard to wake, college students, teens or travelers. Available on Amazon.com.
Rabbi Jason Miller is a local entrepreneur and educator. He is president of Access Technology, a computer consulting firm in West Bloomfield. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason