Gift Guide 2013: Last Minute Tech Gifts
Everyone has a friend that just seems to be half-cyborg, their entire life is made up of wireless connections, cloud-sharing possibilities and always have the just-released gadgets. Choosing gifts for these people seems easy at first, until you are swarmed with the endless supply of tech-options and gadgetry from the internet.
A few editors and I sat back down this week for round two of our Gift Guide Season, and this time we asked what we would want in the tech-world right now, and what most people wouldn’t already have. That last part was the trickiest, any gift-guide could rattle off the most popular tech-gifts (an iPhone, a Google Nexus or a Kindle HDX), but these need to be a bit more personal, and a lot more creative. These items are the gifts we feel your tech-friend would love.
The Ring Clock (shown above): (available at RingClock for $195)
It’s on the more expensive-side of our list this year, but the Ring Clock is a definite charmer. The ring-clock is sleek, minimalistic and very functional; we felt that it is a perfect gift for the tech-junkie in your life.
The time is clearly shown when you rotate the ring, it features wireless charging (a gift from the future), sports an ultra thin battery thanks to the energy-saving LEDs that display the time, and it is easily worn by both sexes. We would also love it on a long-chain necklace we (I) decided.
The LEDs display three different rows that represent the hour, minute and each second as it passes by. Each turn on the device lights up the time for up to a minute, so you can check in and go about your day. Other great tidbits on the device is that it is water-resistant, crafted out of stainless steel and is allergy free. The ring won’t turn black (oxidize) either, so it’s a keeper. One charge should last one-week on normal use, but charging it back up only takes two hours according to the manufacturer, so it can easily be charged after a run on the treadmill, or each night when you go to bed.
The Nest Learning Thermostat (available on promotion at amazon.com for $249)
This is one of this season’s hottest items – the NEST thermostat. It has been shown on Oprah, Ellen, The Today Show and countless other morning shows; and we think it’s a perfect tech-gift. This marks the second generation NEST, and it is quite amazing. The thermostat features a ton of extras that allow you take control of heating and cooling your home wirelessly (even when you are away from home). You can set it to Auto-Schedule, meaning the Nest remembers the temperatures you like and programs itself accordingly, or set it to Auto-Away, a feature thats Saves energy by automatically turning itself down when you’re out of the house or you can simply use the Remote control.
This is one of the NEST’s most popular features, you can control the thermostat from any room in your home thanks to the Wi-Fi control. Now when you’re hot or cold, just turn on the app on your smartphone, laptop or tablet and get comfy again.
To install the Nest thermostat the company states that most people do it “in 30 minutes or less,” and reviews of the product have been terrific. You also can get it on promotion at Amazon (when this was written). You get a $40 Amazon.com Gift Card with Purchase of a Nest Learning Thermostat if you hurry. That’s almost another present for someone else (or you) for free!
Google ChromeCast (available at amazon.com or google for $35)
When Google announced the Chromecast this year it sounded too good to be true. An easy 1-step way to stream video from your devices to the TV without wires? Obviously that’s witchcraft we know. Many companies have achieved this in the past, but none have ever made it so hassle free and easy to use than Google did with the Chromecast. Not to mention cheap, the Chromecast is yours for only $35.
The device has seen tremendous support, allowing the Chromecast to work with almost every mobile device, PC and Laptop on the market, and almost all of the apps that you might use everyday are already onboard. The Chromecast allows you to stream online video or music to your TV using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. It already supports Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and Google Play Movies and Music mobile apps as well as select content through Chrome browser.
The device works with Android, iOS, Chrome for Mac, and Chrome for Windows and using it couldn’t be easier. Just plug into any HDTV and connect to your home WiFi network, boom you’re done. You’ll get the Chromecast, an HDMI extender, a USB power cable and a power adapter when you order. Everything you need to plug it in, and start streaming.
WeMo LightSwitches and Sensors (available at amazon.com starting at $49)
Belkin is a leading name in the wireless networking industry, and the company has quite a few gadgets out now to make life a little easier. The WeMo line works with your existing Wi-Fi router and you can add just one, or keep adding switches and stations at your house as you go along making your life more convenient.
The plugs and stations allow you to both remotely turn appliances and electronic devices on and off, and they let you easily monitor and control energy usage and costs from these sources in the process. You can keep track of heavy-consumption devices with schedules or choose to receive customized notifications on the energy used. They can be perfect for outside lights, lamps, decorations and other outside ports that you don’t want to be outside to turn on all the time; but they are perfect for inside the house as well.
There are quite a few options available so we suggest finding the perfect one for the techie on your list.
KOHLER Moxie Showerhead (available at amazon.com for $135)
Everyone loves a nice hot shower, and everyone sounds better while singing to their favorite songs when they are taking one. There is no shortage of shower-compatiable bluetooth speakers on the market, but this one took the top-spot on our list because it won’t take up any more room in your bathroom (and it can leave the bathroom with you).
The Showerhead has a wireless speaker that streams your playlists, news or audiobooks while you start (or end) your day in the shower. The device also has a pretty great range, with Kohler stating that smart phones, MP3 players, tablets and laptops can synch up to 32 feet away. There is a 2 GPM model, and a 2.5 GPM model to choose from as well.
The speakers are water-resistant and wireless, they just pop out when they need a recharging, no more batteries to remember or replace. The speaker can easily follow you out of the shower and into your bedroom as well, so you can take the music with you when you leave the bathroom and start getting ready to go out, or get to bed with a book.
HoodieBuddie (available at hoodiebuddie.com for $50 & up)
Living in NY I never leave the apartment without my earbuds or some kind of headset for music and videos, they are an essential part of my commute. Not having them means a terrible train-ride and lonely walk to the office while listening to nothing but beeping cars and yappity tourists (no offense).
That’s why the idea of the Hoodiebuddie seemed like a perfect fit for myself, or my friends. The company introduced a new line of sweaters and jackets with built-in earbuds, and they have some big names behind them as well (Cat Cult, Avril Lavigne, Katie Holmes) all of whom have been seen about time sporting the styles from the company.
You can pick a design out of the 10 different HoodieBuddie styles for women, guys have slightly more starting at about 15 styles currently. There aren’t just hoodies, there are jackets and heavier coats available as well.
The way they work is rather ingenious, each item comes with waterproof, machine-washable earbuds and standard headphone jacks located in the front pocket of the garment. Any device that you have that uses the standard headphone jack should work without issue (MP3 players, iPods, iPhones, tablet or other smartphone). The wires are all hidden, and are inside the drawstrings of each HoodieBuddie item.
Some of the more expensive items even have the HBmic, an inline microphone and audio control hidden in the drawstring as well.
Kymera Magic Wand Remote (available at amazon.com and thinkgeek for $74)
Now that bluetooth technology and IR sensors are practically everywhere in our homes, the time has come to start personalizing our interface with them. This wand isn’t just a gimmick, it has some pretty terrific features that you can take advantage of as well. The wand features 13 infrared remote control codes, you can activate them by firing off 13 simple to use gestures with the wand and your an instant wizard.
The wand works with televisions, DVD players, DVRs, stereo systems, and almost anything that you can think of that is remote controlled. There are simple commands like Twirling the wand clockwise to change channels, or you can program the wand to pause/play when the wand is at the ready, or is down.
You can set it up as you like, and it’s a pretty thoughtful gift for someone that is still getting used to how Muggles do things nowadays.
Nike Fuelband SE (available at nike.com for $149)
Again this is one of the season’s top tech-gifts, the newer version of the Nike Fuelband tracks the intensity of your workouts and enables sleep tracking with Nike+ Sessions. The band will count your steps though-out the day and tells time whenever you need it. The band also displays your progress in real time, while keeping you motivated through Nike+ Groups.
When ordering you can pick out different sizes and colors, the new Rose-gold (shown above) is one of the latest editions and might be hard to track-down so happy hunting as always. The USB charging cable and sizing tool is included and the device features ambient light sensor that detect environmental light levels so the display is always clear and easy to read. It connected wirelessly thanks to the bluetooth 4.0 pairing, and the software is optimized for the web (Mac OSX v10.6 and above / Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8) and works on iOS devices (iPhone 4S and above, iPod Touch 5th generation) so you will have a great UI to track your progress online.