TechGifts: Whats Great for 2021?
by Luigi Oppidoi
One of the hardest things about the holiday season is buying for someone who is tech-minded. There are so many items and things that exist in the tech world right now, it’s hard to keep up! They say we are innovating at 3x the speed. Meaning if you love a technology, and want to stay on top with the latest and greatest, you’ll only catch every 3rd iteration of your product! Let us dive into what 2021 has to offer!
Not your Grandma’s Typewriter
If you know someone who spends time building or tweaking PC’s, ask them about mechanical keyboards. An entire art form has been created around these input methods including custom keys and specific feeling button-clicks. This is the main input method for a computer, always nice to have a better keyboard. Mechanical keyboards start around $89 and go up for more in depth kits with lights and quirky styling.
A nice input method is the best way to have a good experience on your computer, and a good quality Logitech gaming mouse will always be exactly that. You really cannot go wrong with a Logitech mouse, no matter which model you choose. Wireless or wired, these mice will always be among the best of the peripherals. Always an awesome gift. Starting around $29
Birds Eye View
The world of drones has exploded into first person versions to racing versions, to photography based models. DJI is one of the largest producers of commercial and consumer drones. Drones are usually a small plastic bodied, remote control flying menace. They consist of 4 propellers and sometimes come with a controller but most times you use a cell phone linked to an app. Drones can be as inexpensive as $39 for a small 4” model or $699 and up for a larger camera packed, feature filled models. They take little to no skill and can be used directly on day one from the box. Super fun!
Digital Age Library
If you have a book reader in your life, an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite E-reader is an awesome gift to liberate the literate. This device can store 1,100 books at once, and is easy on the eyes. Paperwhites run about $129 and use an e-ink display that can be read outside easily and with their variable backlight, it won’t disturb your partner even in the darkest rooms. I really enjoy mine, and the battery life is awesome.
Chargers are always nice to have. We ALL have things to charge. Wired chargers have been the norm for 50 years. If you own an Android or Apple, most of us now have the capability to wirelessly charge. Anker is one of my favorite brands that works with almost anything. A nice Anker wireless (or wired) charger will quickly allow an Apple or android phone user to set their phone down to power up (or any wireless charging compatible device!) should run around $30 and is super handy to have.
Speaking of chargers, power is something we all run out of. Why not give the gift of power? A powerbank charging module (also produced by Anker) will allow you to charge all sorts of devices. Depending on the size you purchase, all will charge a phone or an iPod, most will charge iPads and larger tablets, and some of the higher end versions will charge laptops and MacBooks. Usually the device will speak of which devices its designed for, and prices run anywhere from $25 – $129
Hassle Free Listening
Headphones have come a crazy long way, and if your loved one has an iPhone, get them a set of Airpods. Better yet, get them the Airpods Pro. Noise canceling features, wireless charging case, spacial audio and they work really well. If you’re good, you can find the few left of the Airpod pros before they switched to the new magsafe case and save yourself about $50. Still awesome, either generation.
Light it Up
The internet of things (IoT) has also been evolving by the day into all sorts of connected devices to do conventional things in a different way. One could be the Hue system from Philips. They take an LED light bulb and put a multi color LED array as well as Bluetooth, smart device connection and app control to turn a normal room into party central or the ultimate light accompaniment to movie night. There are a ton of companies that make smart lights, HUE lights are not cheap but they will last for years. My current set has been running over 6 years, and they’re still as fun as the first day. Kits start around $99, and the add on bulbs run $19 and up.
Speaking of lighting, Accent Studio came out with a northern lights aurora projector. This device turns any room into another world full of calmly moving light and sound (with its built in Bluetooth speaker). It has a timer so you can fall asleep to it (1 hour or 2) and a remote control to have it across the room for the extra comfy. They’re currently on sale and a very cool gift that virtually no one has. Around $59 and you’re in another world.
Stalk Your Devices
I misplace a lot of stuff. People also take a lot of stuff. Apple came out with a product that allows you to track your lost stuff. They’re called Airtags ($29/each) and they allow you to ping this tiny coin attached to your not-lost item. They come in single packs or 4 packs ($99). If you’re into the Apple world, they work fantastic with all Apple devices to help you locate your lost stuff. The Tile company produced the first tag, and were the trackers that dominated this idea for years. They didn’t have the infrastructure and enough people running the protocols to make them work well. Apple phones are everywhere, and for that reason, the Airtags work better than any tracking system before it.
A million Titles at your Finger tips
Maybe your loved one wants to watch streaming services or even play certain mobile games on a television. A streaming device allows more and more everyday with expanded software beyond watching TV. Roku players ($39-$99) turn the controller into a gaming remote as well as the nVidia shield ($99). Apple also is in the game with their Apple TV ($199). Streaming devices allow you to mirror your phone onto your TV, and quickly share something on your phone to the room, as well as the original intended use of a streaming device… streaming! Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, CBS. These players will do it all. More storage means more apps, but also more cost. Basic players usually will do everything you would need.
Smart devices also allow a vocal doorway in to the internet. A Google home (starting at $39) or Amazon echo device (starting at $39) allows the user to ask a virtual assistant questions about the world around them from the weather and time, to setting alarms, appointments, order food and groceries, or even tell a joke. They require an internet connection to work, and can be a fun way to get an internet reluctant person into the world of computing and the world wide web.
I hope this holiday season is full of non-frustration and love. From your favorite tech guy, Have a wonderful relaxing holiday season. We’ll see you next time!
Luigi Oppido is the Owner/Technician at Pleasure Point Computers. [email protected] PleasurePointComputers.com Listen to the Computer Man Show! Every Tuesday night from 6-7pm on 90.7 FM KSQD, and KSQD.org