Tim Rondeau, Service Manager
So if you find yourself like me, you have done some shopping for your family and close friends on Black Friday but you still find yourself coming up short on presents for everyone. You may also find that when it comes to buying tech gifts for your friends and family, it can be rather hard to find something for the person that lives in technology and has it all, or so they think. I have put together a list of what I find to be some of the most intriguing gifts for the holidays at prices that are within most budgets. Please note that these do not fall in any particular order.
1. Smart Lighting - $50 to over $200
Light your home or office to set the mood and tone for the day with remote controlled LED lights. There are a number of different brands on the market such as Phillips HUE and WEMO that you can choose from. HUE allows you to change the color of your lights using an app on your phone as well as other features. Lights like WEMO can be controlled from anywhere via your Wi-Fi network. You can turn them on, set them on a schedule, and even control them when you are not home. Phillips HUE brand lights will be more expensive because of the features and ability to change color but being LED lights; either of these should last for years to come. A starter set for WEMO lights will run under $50 with the Phillips HUE coming in around $200.
(Images courtesy of Home Depot, 2015)
2. Lexar JumpDrive M10 Secure - $35 and up
For the security conscious person in your life who carries a flash drive around but is always worried about losing it or who has misplaced it in the past fret not; the Lexar JumpDrive M10 Secure is here too save the day. This drive is secured by the user with a password which opens a 256-bit AES encrypted vault on the drive. This will be sure to keep your everyday thief or random person out of your personal data. Another feature I personally love about this drive is that the drive has advanced deletion protection which prevents file recovery attacks from getting to your deleted files. The drive is available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes. Prices start at around $35 and move up from there.
(Image courtesy of newegg, 2015)
3. Apple TV (Generation 4) – Starting at $149
Apple has always been a top innovator of products for personal use. The Apple TV (generation 4) is another offering from the company that does not disappoint. Apple has redesigned their remote control where you are not given a touch pad in a small hand held device that allows for scrolling and selecting of the shows and apps you wish to interact with. Siri has been enhanced as well and does all the searching for you. Once you setup your Apple TV and have all the apps downloaded for your HULU, Netflix, HBO, and other subscriptions or channels; simply hold the microphone button on the remote and tell Siri what you wish to find. You could do a search like "Show me all movies with Robert Downy Jr." and within seconds your screen is filled with all the available content ready for your digital consumption. They have also beefed up gaming on the device allowing for the pairing of a normal gaming style controller and a full library of available games. The device is very impressive and is worth the purchase for that lover of all things Apple in your family.
(Image courtesy of Apple, 2015)
4. Tile - $25
If you are like me or most everyone else that I know, you are constantly losing things around your home. Whether it be your keys, wallet, purse, etc. The simple solution to this is Tile. Tile uses small tags that attach or that can be placed inside of your purse or wallet which allows for them to be located within your home or other location with your smart phone. When you open the app you can tell it to have the Tile emit a tone that you can hear. But what if you have your keys but are missing your phone? You can use the tile to trigger a tone on your phone to aid you in locating it as well. The system works via Bluetooth and simply pairs with your phone and the small app you download. The devices run about $25 and are easily available at Amazon or other electronics retailers.
5. Amazon Fire 7" Tablet and Amazon Fire Kids - $50 - $100
While I wouldn't say this is the best tablet out there; it is the best tablet out there for $50 bucks. The 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet allows you stream YouTube, play Netflix, read some books, play games, and surf the internet with full Amazon App store access. If you are looking for a solid but cheap tablet for your friends or family this is a great deal.
Along with this you have the Amazon Fire Kids. It is a bit more expensive at $100, but what is nice about this tablet is Amazon says that it is virtually indestructible. However, if your child does manage to break it (somehow they always find a way); Amazon will replace it with no questions asked. This one features some really great parental controls for those who want to introduce technology into their children's lives with a good amount of supervision but without the constant need for looking over their shoulders.
(Images courtesy of Amazon, 2015)
6. BB-8 Droid by Sphero
Star Wars fans big and small will love this little guy. He can race around your house like a omnidirectional remote controlled car using your smartphone as the controller. It looks really awesome and the reviews are good with the only downside being that the sounds come from your phone and not the droid itself and he is much smaller in the toy form than he is in the movie. Either way, this is sure to be a hit this holiday season.
7. LG Rolly Keyboard - $120 on Amazon
Gone are the days of old when you had a rubber keyboard that could roll up when traveling with a table. The worst thing about those old keyboard in my opinion was their feel and the feel of pressing the keys. You never really knew if you pressed the key enough to register as everything was made of rubber.
Now you have the LG Rolly Keyboard! It rolls up into a small roll the size of a small stick but features fully tactile keys just like a normal keyboard. So while it is small and portable, you don't give up that nice solid feeling of knowing when you have pressed the key correctly.
(Image courtesy of LG, 2015)
8. Livescribe 3 SmartPens - $150 and up
How many times have you taken notes in a meeting and found that you need to put all those notes in a computer or email so you can send them out as meeting minutes or something else? How about scratch drawings you made diagraming something or its operation during a meeting? Welcome Livescribe. This little pen allows you to draw and take notes just like any other pen but it also allows for live feed directly into Microsoft OneNote as well as your Android or iOS device.
(Image courtesy of Livescribe, 2015)
9. Native Union NIGHT Cable
- $40 on Amazon
For those who have experience the defeat of a broken or frayed iPhone cable or for those who just hate how short and flimsy the factory provided charging cables are here is a wonderful alternative. The Native Union NIGHT Cable is a 3 meter long braided cable with a weighted knot anchor which helps to keep your cellphone from falling off of night stands and tall tables. Not only that but it's a 2.4 Amp Cable. Apple's standard cable is just over 1 Amp. Couple this new cable with a 2 Amp charger and your phone will charge twice as fast. This cable is listed as being compatible with iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 5s, 5c and 5, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini with Retina display, iPad mini and iPad (4th gen), iPod Touch (5th gen), and iPod Nano (7th gen). It can be found on Amazon for about $40.
(Image courtesy of Amazon, 2015)
10. ARC Blackout Buddy H20 by eton - $20 for 3 devices
Last but not least, I came across this little item on Amazon and that it would be great for those who like to constantly add new technology to their survival bags or home emergency preparedness kits. The Blackout Buddy H20 is a light emitting device which replaces candles and emergency lanterns. It is small and can fit just about anywhere and is environmentally friendly. It is water activated and the LED lights which give off no heat or smoke run for 72 hours once activated. If the light starts to fade simply give it more water. You can pick up a three pack of these for about $20 on Amazon.
(Image courtesy of Amazon, 2015)
Well, that concludes my review of some of the top technology products that I found interesting for the holiday season. Please remember, these are just highlights and reviews of some great gift ideas and this article should not be construed as an endorsement of these products by myself or ANC Group, Inc. I hope you enjoyed this month's blog and found some new technology gifts or sparked some new ideas for each one of you. The ANC Group staff wishes everyone a Happy Holidays!!!