Tech Column: Tech the Halls!
A guide to getting the perfect gift for the techie in your life this holiday season
Welcome to The Reflector’s 2014 tech gift guide! There are lots of great gadgets out there for everyone to enjoy, regardless of what their interests may be. In some cases (where noted), I have recommended an older version of a product to be sensitive to student budgets. I hope this gift guide provides some inspiration for your holiday shopping!
Kobo Aura e-reader
$139.99 Chapters/Indigo and major electronics retailers
While newer Kobo models have been released with waterproofing and higher-resolution screens, in my opinion, the Kobo Aura, from last year, is the best looking e-reader ever. With an edge-to-edge 6-inch glass display, a slim profile and excellent support for different book formats, the Aura would be a great gift for any reader.
Amazon Kindle e-reader
The bare-bones version of Amazon’s e-reader is a great value. I really like the integration with Goodreads (an online book reviewing community) that the Kindle offers. It’s important to keep in mind that Kindle models have limited format support and they are not compatible with book downloads from Canadian libraries. But for someone who does not mind buying e-books just from Amazon, the Kindle would be a pleasant surprise under the tree.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Digital Camera (first generation)
DSLR cameras might offer great image quality, but they are rather bulky. The Sony RX100 offers amazing image quality thanks to its large one inch sensor. Amongst truly pocketable cameras, the RX100 is the undisputed champion of image quality and it would be a great camera to travel with!
$24.99, major electronics retailers
The GorillaPod is a pocket sized tripod with flexible legs that can attach to a wide range of surfaces. I bought one while visiting London a couple years ago, and it was quite fun mounting my camera to benches and lamp posts to get photographs from unique angles! There are a range of Gorillapod models available, depending on the type of camera one may have.
94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball
$219.99, Sport Chek
The 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball pairs with iOS and Android devices to give basketball players immediate feedback as they fine-tune their shots. The accompanying app displays information on shot speed, backspin, dribbling force and more. Also, it’s worth noting that the ball is available is both men’s and women’s sizes, so everyone can have fun improving their basketball skills!
$149.99, Sport Chek and major electronics retailers
Videos from GoPro cameras look awesome, but they haven’t been very affordable until now. The new GoPro Hero shoots full 1080p video at 30 frames per second or 720p at a buttery-smooth 60 frames per second. There also is a 5MP photo functionality. Can it make my skiing look less clumsy as I fall down the bunny slope? No. Nothing can do that! But it will be a gift that keeps on giving when that wipeout is shown on AFV.
For Music Buffs
$79.96, Amazon.ca and major electronics retailers
Rocksmith claims you can learn to play guitar in 60 days with its software for PC and all major video game consoles. With an included adaptor cable, any actual electric or electric bass guitar becomes compatible. The software adapts its difficulty to your unique level of progression, as you work through Guitar Hero-esque levels.
Grado SR60e Headphones
$109.99, Canadacomputers.com and specialty audio retailers
Grado is a small manufacturer based out of NYC that makes some of the best headphones available. The SR60e headphones are “open,” (they don’t have a sealed cover) so they won’t block out much outside noise, but the clarity of sound they produce is incredible. Listen to some of your favourite music with these and you’ll likely hear details you’ve never heard before.
Wacom Intuos Graphics Tablet CTH480
$79.99 Futureshop and major electronics retailers
If you love to draw, you might enjoy using a graphics tablet. With 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and a non battery-powered pen, the CTH480 from Wacom is a perfect graphics tablet for beginners — or anyone on a budget. I like how lightweight and slim the unit is, and it works well with Adobe’s range of creative software.
Holga iPhone Lens
$39.99 USD, photojojo.com
The Holga iPhone Lens attaches to the iPhone 5/5S, providing a set of nine different lenses to take creative photographs right from your phone. Different colours and vignette effects are all created in a delightfully old-school way. No Instagram here! For any iPhone user with a passion for photography, this is sure to give them some fun!
For Digital Media Fans
$39.99, google.com/chromecast and major electronics retailers
In a previous column, I wrote about how I think the Chromecast is one of the best values in tech today! With iOS, Android, Mac and Windows compatibility, Google’s tiny device makes it easy to get media from smartphones and computers to your TV!
Roku Streaming Stick
$59.99, amazon.ca and major electronics retailers
Roku’s Streaming Stick looks like Google’s Chromecast, but it functions a bit differently. Because the Streaming Stick has it’s own remote, it does not require a smartphone or other device to deliver media. The Streaming Stick has many native apps and paid subscription services like NHL Gamecenter.
Crock-Pot WeMo Enabled Smart Slow Cooker
A slow cooker that connects to the Internet? Yes, indeed! The Crock-Pot WeMo Enabled Smart Slow Cooker allows you to adjust the temperature and timing of the cooking vessel from anywhere using your smartphone. You need not worry about your pulled pork if you can pull in a WiFi signal!
iGrill Mini Remote Meat Thermometer
Meat thermometers are smart, too! The iGrill Mini pairs up with Android and iOS devices over Bluetooth. As soon as a desired temperature is reached, a notification will be delivered to your smartphone.
There you have it! The best tech this holiday season for anyone you are buying for!