Ever get a fruitcake for Christmas? How about a sweater grandma made? Every year the same song and dance and in the back of our minds we dream of the latest new tech gear. Check out these cool gadgets for stocking stuffers that won’t break the bank.
Protect your valuables with Tile Slim, a handy Bluetooth tracker. As thin as two credit cards, it slides easily into your wallet, attaches to a laptop (adhesive not included) or coat pocket. If the item goes missing, you can use the free iOS or Android app to ring it or see the last place you had it. On the flip side, you can use the Tile Slim to ring your misplaced phone, even if it’s on silent. While the Tile Slim only works for items in a short to medium range of distance, you can access the Tile community’s global network consisting of more than five million Tiles to locate missing objects. The non-replaceable battery will last you up to a year, after which you can replace it with a new Tile at a special member price.
Echo Dot (2nd Generation)
What some are calling the “Model T of smart home devices,” Amazon’s second-gen Echo Dot is a smart speaker that’ll cost you less than a Benjamin, about half the price of the previous model. It can pull off all the same party tricks, plus a slew of new ones, thanks to the growing library of third-party voice app “skills.” Simply wake the speaker by saying “Alexa,” then give your command or ask a question, like “Set my alarm for 6:00 AM,” “Order me an Uber” or “What are today’s news headlines?” The Echo Dot will record your inquiry and send it via the cloud to Amazon’s servers, which will decipher your request and notify Alexa how to respond. The magic? It’s all done in a matter of seconds. On top of that, this model has great microphones, so the device can pick up on your voice even if music is playing in the background.
iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum with Manufacturer’s Warranty
For those who hate vacuuming, the Roomba 650 is a godsend. Its three-stage cleaning system “agitates, brushes and suctions floors,” and once its job is done, it automatically docks and recharges. Using iAdapt Responsive Navigation, it maneuvers your unique floorplan, avoiding clutter and stairs — and pets. Its suitable for all floor types, including carpet, tile, hardwood, laminate, and at less than four inches tall, it can sneak under beds sofas and other furniture. While newer models of the Roomba are available, the 650 will certainly get the job done, and for about $500 less.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is one of our favorite gifts to give, not only because it looks cool and is environmentally friendly, but because it will actually save the recipient some cash. Simply use it for a week as you normally would, and the smart device programs itself according to your family’s habits. If you like to sleep at 68 degrees, for instance, it quickly learns that you’re regularly in bed by 10 and will automatically drop the temperature at that time.
With the Nest app, you can control settings remotely and even access a daily Energy History report and monthly Home Report. Independent studies show that the Nest saves an average of 10 to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills, which means it covers its cost in about two years. Best yet, it integrates with Amazon Alexa so you can use voice controls to adjust the temperature.
The beauty of the Corsair K95 RGB is that every key and button is backlit and can be programmed to glow any color you can imagine — a rare feature among even the best gaming keyboards. It has 18 dedicated macro keys and 16.8 million colors. Gamers will love the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE), a dashboard for customizing all the macros and colors, which also lets you add effects such as changing colors after a keystroke or color waves across the keyboard.
The keyboard is one of the most solid you can find. It’s made of aircraft-grade anodized-brushed aluminum and comes complete with a removable and textured wrist rest that is a treat for your hands. It has Cherry MX RGB mechanical key switches, which give you satisfying tactical and audible feedback, plus 100 percent anti-ghosting full key rollover. It’s not only a masterpiece to look at, but one to use as well.
Funded by more than 3,000 Kickstarter backers, the much-anticipated Gnarbox hit shelves in summer 2017. The device lets photographers and videographers back up, edit and share their RAW photos and 4K videos from DSLRs, GoPros and drones without having to lug around a laptop.
On the outside, the product looks like a rugged hard drive but in lieu of a spinning drive, it packs an integrated 1.92 GHz Intel Quad Core, four GB of RAM, 128 GB flash-based SSD, Wi-Fi and a 4000mAh battery that’ll last you up to seven hours. It also has several ports, including a USB 3.0, a micro SD slot and a charging port. Using the accompanying app, you can edit clips on the go, and while it’s not powerful enough to replace more powerful editing programs, it’s not really meant to.
This amazing little quadcopter is the perfect gift for a first-time drone flyer. It’s tough and rugged, meaning it can withstand the occasional crash and its six-axis gyro stabilization system helps the drone recover after stunts and sudden moves. The Predator also uses a headless flight system, which means its orientation remains fixed relative to the pilot, making it easier to fly. Reviewers on Amazon knock it slightly for its cumbersome controller, but it still earns a commendable star rating due to its responsiveness, ease of flying and impressive price point.
We love the PowerShot ELPH 360 for its compact form factor that doesn’t disappoint when it comes to quality. It comes in blue, red and black and weighs just under five ounces, making it easy to slip into your pocket. It features a 20.2-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor plus a DIGIC 4+ Image Processor, which together deliver top-notch image quality. It also captures HD video in 1080p HD and has 12x optical zoom, plus an optical image stabilizer.
It has a limited ISO setting limit of 3200, which means it lacks performance in low light settings, but its beautiful three-inch, 461,000-pixel LCD screen might distract you from this fact.