Finding the right gift for a tech-savvy person can be a daunting ask: What do you get for the person who’s (literally) plugged into everything? Don't worry; we've got you.
“Innovative new tech categories are showing up on more wish lists than ever,” says Steve Koenig, senior director of market research, Consumer Technology Association (CTA). “Products like home robotic vacuums and especially voice-activated smart speakers will be some of this season’s hottest items, as 2017 marks a significant uptick in consumers using voice computing in their everyday lives.” Many of the most popular gifts this season are “smart,” meaning they’re enabled with Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant, allowing people to streamline their lives and make things easier. “The growing range of abilities of digital assistants makes them particularly popular in tech right now,” Koenig says.
Here, the ten tech gifts your loved ones will drool over this holiday season. Yes, some of them are pricey, but according to the experts, they’re worth every penny.
According to tech writers, the Sony OLED XBR-A1E is the TV of the season, boasting an impressive range of specs, including wide-viewing angles and incredible, bright color. Organic light-emitting diode technology is relatively new, and it’s buzzy because OLED TVs are much more energy efficient than other TV panels. The Sony OLED is also cool because the sound comes through the entire screen (as opposed to just through speakers on the sides), which will really allow you to immerse yourself in those Netflix binges, plus it’s Alexa-compatible with voice commands. It's on the higher end of the price scale, but for small-screen aficionados, it’s the best TV money can buy.
Instagram is great for showing your friends your #travellife and #foodporn, but there are studies that show that having physical snaps up around the house is good for us. Enter: the Polaroid Pop Digital Camera. Tiny, but with a LCD Viewfinder touchscreen for ease of use, the Polaroid is the newest version from the classic company, instantly popping out 3x4” photos with that iconic white border. For the young’uns, don’t worry: there’s a selfie self-timer, plus no computer or printer needed — the Polaroid Pop will print the photos directly from the camera, and can also be shared via the Polaroid app. You may want to put a few up in the office: Studies show that looking at pictures of animals can make you happier and more productive, and that just looking at an image of nature can improve focus and performance.
If you’re nostalgic for old-school games like Legend of Zelda, you’re in luck with the coveted Nintendo Switch gaming console, which brings back beloved favorites alongside new games like Super Mario Odyssey. The Switch is incredibly buzzy, mostly because it’s both portable and can connect to your home system, meaning you can play games — including cardio-workouts like Just Dance and the soothing sim game Stardew Valley — both home and on-the go. And studies show that playing video games helps relieve stress — especially at the office! — so don’t feel guilty about taking a few minutes out of your day to indulge. The Triforce awaits you.
The world's first wearable assistant, these wireless headphones are not only Alexa-compatible — meaning you can hear the news, check into your flight, book a restaurant reservation and scroll through millions of songs — but are Siri and Google Assistant compatible, too. The unit can block and display ambient noise according to preferences, features an advanced voice processer and is microphone and Bluetooth-enabled for calls. For busy professionals on-the-go, it’s a no-brainer — and it’s comfortable to wear, too.
A 4K streaming media player and gaming console, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV is a media game-changer, streamlining your home system. It’s the first TV-connected unit with complete hands-free Google Assistant home integration functionality — meaning you can say, “OK, Google,” to your TV, and it will answer questions about the actress on screen (“What else has she been in?”), run down your calendar for the next day, fast forward the movie twenty minutes, send an email to your sister … you get the picture. It also features Amazon Instant Video, runs a slew of apps (including Amazon Fire, Kodand 4K Netflix), and can be a SmartThings hub, turning your place into a smart home.
Widely considered the most beautiful Alexa option available — it’s like an Amazon Echo, but in a sleek 13-inch LED ring — the C by GE Sol lamp is praised by tech writers for merging form and function. In addition to the usual suite of Alexa features — including music, news, weather, search engine functionality and home lighting control — this beautiful, centerpiece smart lamp includes a visual kitchen timer and clock, a time of day indicator and hue variation for a variety of lighting options.
If you love taking panoramic photos with your phone, your Camera Roll is clogged with travel photos and you wouldn’t dream of posting an Instagram photo without an edited filter, you’ll flip for the irresistible GoPro Fusion. Small, waterproof down to 16 feet and hands-free with voice commands and spherical surround sound, it allows for 360-degree photos and videos: basically meaning the coolest vacation mementos you’ve ever seen. The camera — which is GPS-, wi-fi and Bluetooth enabled — also has an OverCapture feature allowing for reimagining of the 360 snaps in flat (and comprehensive) 1080p videos, as well as regular old photos up to 18-megapixels.
Google's newly released answer to the virtual reality trend, the Google Daydream View works with any Android phone and is considered the most comfortable headset — not to mention the most accessible for beginners, with a price to match. The system, which features an over-the-top strap to slide on top of your head (even glasses-wearers can use it), includes motion controllers, and can also be streamed to a TV via Chromecast so others can enjoy and play along. While VR is still in its relative infancy, the World Economic Forum speculates on future potential including everything from increased empathy to better academic performance to treating PTSD.
Vacuuming has always been a pesky chore on every single person’s to-do list — until they open your gift, that is. The concept of a robot vacuum intelligently scanning the home for debris and dirt isn’t brand-new, but still feels like something out of The Jetsons. iRobot’s newest offering, the iRobot Roomba 890, features a proprietary technology called iAdapt Navigation which uses acoustic and optical sensors to figure out which areas need to be cleaned. The vacuum automatically returns to its dock when the battery is low, has a 360 degree camera that can scan the entire room, and is also excellent for nabbing pesky pet hair. Looks like some free time just opened up in your calendar for another episode of Stranger Things.
Releasing just before Christmas, Amazon’s newest Echo is a small, clock-sized Alexa with a screen. Compact enough to place anywhere in your home — even in a cramped space — the Echo Spot includes the ability to make video calls, see video flash news briefings, see your calendar, view weather at a glance and set a photo background in addition to all the standard (and awesome) Alexa features. If your home is filled with Echos, it also responds intelligently from whichever screen you’re closest to. Talk about connected.
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