When I was a kid I always found the same thing in my Christmas stocking; an apple, orange, peppermint stick and a book of Lifesavers. As such, it was always the last place I looked for cool gifts. Sometimes I didn’t even think to look in there until much later Christmas Day.
But a stocking is a great place to hide big gifts in small packages. Here are some of my favorite tech gadgets from 2017 that’ll drop in a Christmas stocking.
An Amazon Fire Stick. This streaming video player is built into a small USB or HDMI stick you plug into a television. It’s controlled by a remote or smartphone app or an Alexa device. Just say “Alexa, show movies about Christmas” and those titles will appear on-screen. There are other streaming video products such as the Google Chromecast and Roku devices but the FireStick is my favorite, especially for people who are Amazon Prime members. Be aware though that after the first of the year Google will block YouTube from being played on a Fire device.
Other streaming players include the Google Chromecast and the Roku
Personal assistant. If you haven’t tried an Amazon or Google device such as the Echo Dot or Google Home Mini, take my word for it; these things are surprisingly helpful. Place in the kitchen, bedroom, office or TV room and you can ask for help with just about anything. Both devices will control smart home gadgets (turn on/off lights, unlock or lock doors and control thermostats) they’ll also play music and answer your questions.
When you need to do more than text or update a Facebook post on your phone a Bluetooth keyboard is a big help. The iClever portable keyboard is about the size of a smartphone but folds out into a nice-sized keyboard for more lengthy writing on an iPhone or other smartphone or tablet.
You want the kids to do a better job of brushing their teeth; the key is making it fun enough to keep them brushing. The Kolibree Ara connected toothbrush turns the chore into a fun game. The Ara monitors how long they brush and whether they’re getting to those hard-to-reach teeth.
Everyone has run low on storage space on their phone because of hundreds of old photos they’re afraid of losing. The iXpand USB drives from Sandisk solves the problem. It connects to the phone through the firewire charging port and through an app, you can download every photo to the USB drive, then save the photo to a computer or even another device.
Most anyone will put these gadgets to good use. And you won’t have to wrap them!