It’s a weird season of gift giving. These tech gadgets are sure to make someone happy.
If the mom, dad or grad in your life is stuck, I mean safe at home, these gifts will make quarantine a little easier to deal with. It’s a long list but here goes:
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Gadget gift ideas for mom
*DrinkWorks by Keurig
It’s a cocktail/mocktail maker from the company that brought us K-cups of coffee. The mix comes in those ‘K-Cups’ from Keurig, similar to those one-serving coffee cups. You add the alcohol and the Drinkworks cocktail maker adds the mix and in seconds you have the perfect cocktail, every time. It’ll make margarita’s, daiquiris, even Moscow mules. You can find them at Walmart, Best Buy and most online retailers. They’re currently on sale for about $200
Women who’ve tried these love them. You put them on and connect the shorts to an app on your smartphone. It’ll then show you your correct size of jeans, based on where you’re shopping. As this mom explained to me, when she’s shopping online, sometimes she’s a 2, sometimes a 3 and sometimes a 4 or 5, and she has to return them because the jeans she bought online do not fit. When she used the Like a Glove Smart Shorts, the app gave her the right size. $80
If mom would like a practical gift, the Townew smart trash is a cool gift she doesn’t have already. You wave your hand anytime you need to throw something away. The lid opens and closes. Others do that, but here’s where this gets cool. When the trash bag is full, the Townew trash can ties off the trash bag and notifies you that it needs to be replaced. When you take the full bag out of the can, it automatically puts a new trash bag inside. It’s about $120
These are top of the line earbuds. If mom is an Apple user, these are probably the best choice of earbuds. They pair with phones instantly, charge in the case and fit securely in almost anyone’s ears. But they’re on the expensive side. $235 at Amazon.
Anker makes really good earbuds in the style of Apple’s AirPods. The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 wireless earbuds are much cheaper at $80 at Amazon. They have noise canceling, 28 hours of playtime, charge in the case too. These fit most ears, come in black and white. The white ones look almost identical to the AirPods.
My personal favorite earbuds are the Creative Outlier Gold.
They’re listed for $100. They’ve got a great battery that plays for almost 40 hours. Which is better than the AirPods 24 hours. Plus they have software called Super-X-Fi which enhances the sound of the music. The software can make the music sound like you’re in the studio with the musicians. It’s a dramatic difference you’ll hear with music and videos too.
They’re totally wireless, charge in the case and are sweat proof.
There’s also the Blackweb Wireless bluetooth earbuds. These are found only at Walmart for just $40. They look different and wrap behind the ears. Once you put them in your ear, you twist it just a bit which gives you a snug fit. My son has used Apple AirPods for several years but when I got him a pair of these, he switched saying they actually sound better on his runs. He’s an Apple fan but sold his AirPods and uses these instead now.
GIFTS FOR FITNESS
Does mom like to run? These insoles are great for serious runners. They’re the Nurvv Run insoles. These go inside the shoe and captures your running technique, giving feedback on how your feet are hitting the pavement or treadmill. If you’re having any pain while you run, the Nurvv run insoles will analyze your run, capturing 1,000 times per second and coach you to run more efficiently and reduce the risk of injury . They fit inside any shoe. And are $300
Speaking of expensive fitness equipment, there’s The Mirror. We’re all familiar with Peloton fitness bikes, the Mirror is similar. You can sign up for classes where a real live instructor appears in the mirror and can watch you as you go through the exercises. You can also exercise to recorded sessions, and turn off the camera built-into the mirror. There are classes of all types, yoga, strength training, kickboxing. It makes a big difference to see yourself in the mirror as you try to do the same exercise and make sure you’re getting your form correct. They’ll send someone to set it up for you too. The Mirror is $1,500 and there’s a $40 per month fee for the live classes.
These speak for themselves. The Apple Watch is the most popular watch in the world. You can check email, text messages, play music, talk on the phone, check your calendar and take advantage of all of Apple’s health apps, track your steps and heart rate. If they already have an Apple Watch, check out the after-market bands. You’ll find some really cool ones for moms on Amazon. The Apple Watch 5 is $649 the Apple Watch series 2 is $200. and you can find just-as-good-as Apple Watch bands for under $20.
You’re familiar with Alexa, but Google makes a pretty darned good smart speaker too. It does most of what Amazon’s Echo devices can do, is a little smarter actually and it has a good speaker to play music. Best of all this Google Home speaker is just $30 at Best Buy.
These smart devices have screens. That’s the Home Hub on the left, the Alexa Echo Show on the right, the smaller screen. You can use these as a virtual assistant, an alarm clock, speaker or video player. The difference: Google’s Home Hub has a larger screen to watch YouTube videos. Great in the kitchen. But the Echo Show has a camera where you can make calls to other Alexa devices either by audio, or if they have one, over video. I use the Echo Show to check the Ring doorbell to see who’s at the door.
The Home Hub is $80 the echo show 5 is $50. Which is a really good deal on a really good gift.
If mom really digs having Alexa around, the ROAV Viva puts the smart assistant in the car in the form of a car charger/adapter. Just plug in the Viva into the cigarette lighter, connect it to a smartphone app, and Alexa will answer when you call. Make phone calls, play music, turn on smart devices at home. Everything Alexa can do at home, she can do in the car. The ROAV Viva is $29
Of course, Facebook’s Portal is another smart device option. It’s got a screen, a camera, the reason to choose the Portal over another device is you can have a video call with anyone over Facebook Messenger. The portal starts at $79 through Mother’s Day.
If mom goes to the gym, she might lock up her things and the Tapplock is a padlock where she doesn’t need a key or combination. Just lock up and it uses your fingerprint to unlock again. It’ll save a few different fingerprints and you can unlock it with your phone too. The Tapplock is $70
The NanoPresso is a handy way to take espresso on the run. Here’s how it works. I put coffee grounds in a filter basket, and add boiling hot water in the other end. Then can then toss it into a bag, or in the cup holder in a car. When you get ready for a hot cup of espresso, just press this button. It has an espresso sized cup attached. The NanoPresso is $50
I believe you can never have enough bluetooth speakers. As someone who listens to podcasts, music and audible books, I need a speaker in every room. There are seemingly hundreds to choose from. I’m a fan of the earfun portable speaker. It’s waterproof, a good size to take on the road and has 24 hours of playtime. You can find more expensive speakers but I think the Earfun is one of the best. It’s $40
Digital picture frames are great gifts for moms, dads or grads. The Nixplay line of digital frames have some of the best resolution I’ve seen in frames like this. The 10-inch frame comes in a wood style and metal. What’s great about these is mom doesn’t have to fool with uploading photos to it. There are no SD cards or hard drives. You can add photos instantly from your smartphone or email. You can even set it up to send photos to a frame automatically when you take them. The 10’inch frame is $150.
GIFTS FOR DADS
Portable video projector. It’s about the size of a large soda can but projects an HD image from a connected laptop or DVD player, or a Roku or Firestick. It also has Google Assistant built-in and can play videos from Google and YouTube with an internet connection. It’s also battery powered and can display a 2 hour movie on a fresh charge. It also has a 360-degree speaker built in. We’ve used one of these projectors once a week during the quarantine for backyard movies. I put up a portable screen from Elite Screens, build a fire in a fire pit, bring out the lawn chairs and have a social distancing movie night with friends. The Nebula Capsule II, the one you’re looking at is highly rated on Amazon and is $579. Think of it as a gift for the entire family. Of course you can use it inside too.
Thermapen IR meat thermometer
This is a meat thermometer for the grill. It gives a reading in just 2-3 seconds. There is a prong you place into the side of chicken, beef or pork on the grill. The Thermapen IR also has a built-in infrared thermometer. I use it to do slam burgers in a cast iron skillet on the grill. You don’t want to put burgers in a skillet until it’s hot enough. So I use the infrared sensor to make sure it’s hot enough, then use it to make sure the meat is cooked to the right temperature. All you need to know is the correct temperature for rare, medium and well done. I never grill without it. The thermapen IR is $140 while the Mk4, without infra-red is $79.
This is a popular gift especially for guys and their dads. I don’t know why chess is mainly a guy’s game, but it seems to be. It’s a chess set straight out of a Harry Potter movie. You connect with another player somewhere in the world. They could be using the same set or the Square Off app. After starting a game, and move a piece, when they move their piece, their game piece magically moves on your set. It’s really impressive. The dad who tried it for me, bought two sets. One for his dad and one for him and he tells me they play many times. The Kingdom Set, which you’ve seen is $389 or 2 for $700. The company is offering free shipping right now and $80 off a two Kingdom set.
If dad loves music and either has some old records or wants vinyl records, the House of Marley Bluetooth turntable will turn his head. As a vinyl-file myself, this is a gadget I adore. It’s a real statement piece. Made of solid bamboo and recycled plastic, this turntable pairs is beautiful. It connects with any Bluetooth speaker or headphones. It also connects to a computer through a USB cable so he can transfer those records into digital files. The Stir-it-Up bluetooth version is $250, a non-bluetooth version is $200 If he loves music, he’ll love this turntable. Plus, if he has a great turntable, it gives you an opportunity to gift him vinyl albums for any occasion. And vinyl is back. You can find records now at Barnes and Noble, Best Buy and even at some Targets and Walmarts. Amazon has a huge record store.
Speaking of music, the ZVOX Accuvoice headphones are Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones with a bonus. It boosts the dialogue. In other words, it gives a boost to voices and reduce unwanted noise. I’ve had a few people try these and I get great feedback. If your dad or maybe grandfather has trouble hearing the speech of a movie or music, this can reduce the sound effects while boosting the actual dialogue.
They’re also Bluetooth and noise-canceling.
ZVOX also makes a terrific sound bar that boosts the actor’s voice while lowering the sound of the explosions and car wrecks. It’s basically a sound-bar with hearing aid technology. It automatically increases the dialogue while lowering the volume of the special effects. If you don’t need the boost, the sound-bar is a good all-in-one surround sound style TV speaker. I do find it helpful understanding what’s going on. The soundbar is $180.
As a dad myself, I’ve recorded hundreds of hours of recitals, t-ball games, graduations. And they’re all on videotapes. VHS, DV, mini-dv. Pinnacle’s Dazzle is a digital capture card and software that turns those old home movies into something you can watch on the computer or YouTube. Connect an old VCR or camcorder to a computer and it transfers all of that great video into home movies. My kids and family love that I’ve been able to save those home movies. After you save them, dad can upload them to YouTube and share with the rest of the family. Again, this is a gift, not only for dad, but for the whole family, which will make dad feel great.
Gifts for Grads
So many teens and college students are interested in creating TikTok videos, blogs, YouTube videos and live video blogs. I’m finding gadgets such as cameras and microphones are popular.
This is a small camera with a built-in stabilizer. No matter how much you move, if you’re walking, running, skateboarding, whatever, the camera shot is smooth. It shoots in 4k, connects to a smartphone so you can see what you’re shooting. Another advantage to giving this as a gift, is that there are a lot of accessories you can add to it. So that opens up gift ideas for birthdays and Christmas.
The Osmo Pocket is about $350.
Amazon Fire Stick or Roku. I believe every television needs a smart player and an Amazon Fire Stick or Roku can open up a world of movies and TV shows that are free to watch.
You already know that these devices will stream Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sling, Hulu, YouTube etc. What you may be missing is all of the free movies and
shows from streaming services IMDB, Pluto TV, Plex, Crackle, and several others. You can also tune in to local news broadcasts from stations across the country.
Either of these devices make great gifts for anyone.
In the same vein is the GoPro Hero 8. This is a very popular camera with anyone who bikes, swims, hikes. The newest GoPro’s have a stabilizer built-in that’s not as stable as the Osmo Pocket, but does improve the video if you’re riding a bike or sailing. It’s waterproof and just a good small camera to take on vacations. Like the Osmo Pocket, there are accessories to the GoPro to give later. The GoPro Hero 8 is $330. Older versions are less expensive, the GoPro Hero 7 Silver still has a stabilizer and is $200
Another stabilizer is this selfie stick called the Smove. You place your phone in this one. The phone connects with the Smove app giving you more control over the camera. My daughter and her friend loved the Smove Mobile selfie-stick. It can use either an iPhone or Android device.
The stabilizer I use most often is the Stabyl Cam. This one has no battery but uses weights to balance either a smartphone or GoPro. This link will save you $50 off the regular price
Simple tripod for smartphones and GoPros, the great thing about this is you can wrap it around most anything to hold the camera steady. These range in price from $20 up to over $100 for gorillapods that hold a full size DSLR or video camera
Rode Go Mic Mobile is a wireless bluetooth microphone that connects to a smartphone or any camera. It’s on sale now for $200.
Less expensive gift for anyone with a macbook or any laptop computer is the Anker USB C hub. Since many newer laptops do not come with more than 1 USB input, a hub is a must. The USB C hub has a USB C plug for newer laptops and Macbooks. It adds multiple USB inputs, an HDMI input, SD Card and micro SD card input.