holiday gift guide tech gadgets
By Kirk Miller / December 13, 2019 11:40 am

“We have too many gadgets!” is a refrain I hear a lot this time of year, and, well, maybe.

But let’s not quibble on quantity — what our lives lack is quality technology. 

Giving someone a gadget for the holidays shouldn’t be about adding stress and clutter to their lives — it should focus on improving them and making their decisions more streamlined. It may also improve their health, recover some memories, find a lost wallet or reimagine a movie or TV show in a new way.

So below, 15 gadgets that are cool and useful.

Tile Essentials

Tile Essentials

I keep a list of Christmas gifts I give and receive every year. Turns out I keeping buy these Bluetooth trackers for my girlfriend, meaning 1) she somehow keeps losing a device that’s supposed to help you find things or 2) she’s found these trackers indispensable. It’s the latter. The new Essentials pack features an array of different-sized Tile rings (including two sticky ones), which can help you track down your phone, bike, child, whatever, at up to 200 feet. 

Winston

Winston

A plug-and-play (seriously, set-up is one minute) hardware filter for your home computer that’ll protect your online privacy and block ad tracking, pop-ups and Facebook spying. And coming next your, you’ll be able to use Winston to encrypt traffic from your mobile devices and route it through your home network. Bad news? The December shipments are sold out, but there are still units available for January. Until then… stay offline?

Uber Fridge

Uber Chill XL Personal Mini Fridge

Our office just got one of these retro units to keep our beer sodas cold, but this “fridge” can actually keep things warm, too, at the flick of a switch. It’ll hold about 12 cans or nine small bottles, and it’s extremely lightweight — you can carry and plug this in anywhere, making it ideal for tailgates or camping trips. 

Polaroid Lab

The Polaroid Lab

Forget Instagram filters. Go analog: This counter-top darkroom converts the digital pics on your phone into actual Polaroid prints, giving you a tactile memory to share (in a modern twist, you can use the Polaroid app on your phone to help print out some cool collages). 

Epson FastFoto

Epson FastFoto FF-680W

And then there’s analog to digital. My dad has stacks and booklets filled with old photos, and previous photo scanners have been lacking. But the FF-640 works at up to one pic per second, and even scans any handwritten notes on the back (it also works with documents, kids’ artwork or Polaroids). Once digitized, you can restore and enhance faded photos, and also store, share 

Skullcandy ANC Crusher

Skullcandy Crusher ANC Headphones

Skullcandy targets their wares toward (and using) extreme athletes. Their new wireless, noise-cancelling set does feature earthquake levels of adjustable bass, but also personalized sound and two levels of noise cancellation. We dug ‘em — both for watching action movies and for everyday music listening. Plus, the deep red colorway is eye-caching and it has a built-in Tile so you’ll never misplace ‘em. 

Soundcore Wakey

Keep your nighttime area tidy. The Wakey is an alarm clock, Bluetooth speaker, white noise machine, FM radio (why not) and it’ll charge your wireless and wired devices — Anker’s latest is the bedside device of your, um, dreams. The clock includes 10 different sleep-inducing ambient sounds, but you can also create your own on the app. 

Rylo

Rylo 360 Degree Action Camera

Hailing from former Instagram and Apple engineers,  Rylo is a pocket-sized camera that promises zero shakiness, 360 degree shooting angles, one-tap editing and simple sharing options. Basically, the camera will allow you to just relax, take footage and do the editing (and social media-ing) after the fact. Plus, it’s currently (as of Dec. 13) over $100 off at Huckberry.

Nebula Capsule Max

Nebula Capsule Max

A DLP projector, the Capsule is about the size of a soda can and can display a picture up to 100 inches. Utilizing Android 8.1 and doubling as a 360 degree Bluetooth speaker, the Nebula has a 4-hour battery life (you can also charge while you play) and promises a bright and vivid picture. It’s the perfect way to watch Netflix, Hulu or your own content on the go. 

Lenovo 940c

Lenovo Yoga C940

For the person who refuses to use Apple, you can’t go wrong with this large (14”) 4K UHD  laptop/touchscreen Windows hybrid, which features a vibrant display, nearly 15 hours of battery life, webcam privacy shutter, fingerprint sensor, and built-in digital stylus.  

Master and Dynamic MW07+

Our favorite earbuds from last year were just given a huge update. The MW07s from M&D — build their ‘buds from handcrafted acetate and stainless steel. Style-wise, these are more like cool sunglasses (particularly their tortoise shell variation). And now they offer 40 hours of playtime, Bluetooth 5.0, active noise cancellation (with an Ambient Listening Mode if you need to be aware of your surroundings). 

Oculus Quest

Oculus Quest

While Oculus hasn’t solved the bulk or general ridiculousness of VR gear (yet), the Quest is pretty nimble once you put it on. Probably the best and most mainstream attempt to turn virtual reality into a portable plug-and-play endeavor, the Quest works just with just the included glasses and controller — you won’t need a powerful PC or console to get started, just a smartphone and the Oculus app. Plus, it now comes with three Star Wars lightsaber games for free. 

PhoneSoap Pro

Your dirtiest appendage? Your phone. The PhoneSoap Pro kills 99.99% of the germs on your devices (while charging some of them) using UV-C light. Need more germ-fighting power? The HomeSoap can fit a tablet, headphones, phone, remote and smaller computers, and the process only takes 10 minutes.

Awair Element

Awair Element

Measure the temperature, humidity, CO2, Volatile Organic Compunds (VOCs) and microscopic particulate matter from smoke, traffic and cooking in your home and get instant warnings if something changes from a device that most people would mistake for a nice, compact Bluetooth speaker. It also plays nice with your other smart home devices.

Strato S Movie Player

Strato S Movie Player

Your 4K HD TV at home isn’t quite a movie theater, even at 65”. And depending on your connection, your Netflix/Amazon/Hulu streaming isn’t quite at the cinematic levels. The Strato S is a hard drive that downloads new and classic films and plays ‘em back at 60fps with lossless audio and Dolby Atmos. This is the player you want if your giftee (who you love very much) has a dedicated home theater/media room and demands cinematic perfection from their sofa. 

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