1Top 10 Gadgets to Help You Get Your Geek On This Holiday Season
The holidays are a time of giving, and that means finding just the right gadget or new doohickey for your favorite techie. The recent GetGeeked event in San Francisco showcased a number of innovative products that could be perfect stocking stockers, Hanukah gifts or simply a treat for yourself. With prices starting at $30 and going up to more than $500, there was something for every budget. Some of these, like the Mikme Microphone, aren’t so much a new idea as a quality and design improvement. Others, like the Touchjet Wave, transform a common appliance, the flat screen TV, into a touch screen computer for web surfing or giving presentations. Check out our top 10 picks, listed in no particular order.
If you do podcasts or want to easily record high-quality audio, check out the portable Mikme Microphone. The Mikme works wirelessly via Bluetooth to your iPhone, letting you post podcasts or other audio on the go. The Mikme app lets you sync audio from the Mikme Microphone with any video you capture with your smartphone and control recordings remotely, and wirelessly stream and sync audio with the phone. The portable, high-quality audio recording comes at a price—$499. Mikme currently works only with iPhones (iOS 9 or higher).
3EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker
The EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker is a “visual acuity screener” you can use at home to measure your vision. Priced at $29.99, it includes a simple test using the viewer (e.g., swipe left if the “E” shown on the screen is facing left or right if facing right), and you can use the results to order a new glasses prescription. The newer EyeQue Insight ($129.99) are binocular-style goggles that use your smartphone’s display and processing power and is for kids aged six and above as well as adults. Insight is available starting March 2018, but you can order it on Kickstarter at an introductory price or pledge of $75 or more.
4Pixel Toys Pixlplay
Pixlplay gives your kids a way to play more safely with your smartphone or lets them make better use of an older model you’re not using. The low-cost Pixlplay ($30) surrounds your iPhone or Android phone with a large plastic frame that looks like an old camera. There is also a related Pixlplay app that brings learning games and “hundreds of fun activities” to the display screen and doesn’t need a cellular connection.
Touchjet Wave is a nifty portable WiFi device that attaches to the top of any flat screen TV, transforming it into a touch-screen Android display you can control with your smartphone. With the Touchjet, you can display photos or call up a PowerPoint stored on OneDrive or other cloud service, turning that TV in the conference room or den into a big screen monitor for presentations. The Touchjet ($299.95) includes a webcam and also works with a keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth.
Topology Eyewear is an app that lets you create a custom set of eyeglasses online after taking a few selfies to create a 3D image of your face. You are able to virtually try on any of their selection of glasses and make adjustments online, from making the nosepiece wider to adding color or enlarging the eye frame to any number of other adjustments. When you’re satisfied with how it looks, Topology creates a set of glasses to those exact specifications. These high-end frames cost $545 (single vision) or more for progressive lenses.
7Switchmate Simply Smart Home Cube
The Switchmate Simply Smart Home Cube security device connects over any standard toggle or rocker light switch. The Switchmate companion app lets users control the switch with a smartphone. The Simply Smart Home Cube ($149.99) can be installed in just a minute (no tools required) and is set to ship by the end of November. The small cube is waterproof, includes a night vision camera and a doorbell-activated sensor that sends alerts to your phone via a motion sensor. It also streams video to your phone in response to a simple voice command.
8SanDisk iXpand Base
The SanDisk Xpand Base gives iPhone users an easy way to save photos, videos and their contacts automatically while charging the phone at the same time. Simply plug the iPhone into the portable iXband Base unit for automatic backup. The Xpand Base is available with different storage capacities (32GB/$49.99, 64GB/$99.99, 128GB/$129.99 and 256GB/$199.99), freeing up space on your iPhone and limiting the need for additional cloud storage that requires a monthly fee.
The WooHoo from SmartBeings is an ambitious competitor to “smart” home assistant products like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. The company describes WooHoo, which sports a 7-inch screen and 360-degree camera, as an AI-powered smart interactive hub that connects to your mobile devices. It responds to voice commands and also has facial recognition to do a range of tasks like turning the air-conditioning or lights on or off, playing music or changing TV channels. Availability is planned for later in January 2018, but you can preorder it on Kickstarter now for a pledge of $49 or more, far less than the planned $197 retail price.
10LIFX Smart Lights
LIFX showed off a variety of WiFi-enabled smart lights with different brightnesses, such as the LIFX A19 LED Light priced at $59.99 with 1100 lumens that is said to be 38 percent brighter than standard lightbulbs, and the LIFX Mini line with 800 lumens. LED life span is rated at over 22 years based on 3 hours of use per day. A LIFX Mini “Day and Dusk” model starts at $29.99, while the standard Mini is $44.99. A LIFX app lets you control the various bulbs throughout the house on your mobile device.
OOMA, the virtual telephone service, now offers a do-it-yourself home security product. The subscription-based service costs $5.95 per month and includes free nationwide phone service. OOMA sensors can be placed anywhere in the house. A door and window sensor costs $24.99 or you can get a stand-alone motion sensor for $34.99. You can also get the OOMA Water Sensor ($29.99), designed to send you alerts for any sign of water damage to pipes, leaky roofs and water heater problems.