If I had a dollar for every gadget I’ve bought since Part 1 was published yesterday, I could buy four more gadgets! I’m almost done though. As we’ve grown GeekDad, so has the number of authors and the number of gadgets we collectively love. Here’s the next dozen gadgets we love, in no particular order. I’ll have a few stragglers to post tomorrow, so stay tuned.
Sometimes, responsible adults just want to experience adventure. Whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, LARPing, or camping on the weekend, the Cube from Enevu is a great gift for the modern adventurer. The Cube is a 2″ cubical light designed to produce a steady light for about 11 hours on high, and up to 48 hours in “emergency flash” mode. The lighting options built in to each of these unassuming boxes include low, medium, high, color-changing, color-static, and emergency flash. The Cube is also highly durable, and nearly waterproof. Finally, the low price point lets you get one for each of your adventurers.
Ray Super Remote
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about the Ray Super Remote, but it’s won my over and is now my favorite universal remote. Setup was very easy and took me less than 10 minutes. The remote guides you through a handy wizard to setup your devices. It appears to be running Android, but boots directly into the Ray user interface. Once connected to the house WiFi you let the remote know who your TV provider is, then walk through your devices one by one answering simple questions as it determines the IR code sets needed for each. Each source becomes a button on the remote, so if you want to tune to the Xbox, just click that button and everything, TV, sound bar, stereo, etc. powers on and switches to the appropriate inputs. Also included in the remote is a handy TV guide. Clicking on a program gives you the option to tune to that channel, or for future shows you can set reminders.
I’ve been looking for a compact (and wireless) speaker for my kitchen so I can stop piping my music through the television, and I am 100% completely digging this Paww Soundbox 10. First, it’s small — 2 x 2.75 x 4.75″. Second, it’s got a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and provides up to 8 hours of playtime. Third, the sound is amazing — the deep bass from such a small footprint is hard to believe until you hear it yourself. The whole thing is housed in a uni-body piece of CNC-carved aluminum with touch-controls on top. The Soundbox10 also acts as a conference speaker system. You can connect a device via Bluetooth or a 3.5 standard connector (and it even works with NFC-enabled phones – tap and connect). Comes with the speaker, USB charge cable, and 3.5mm cable and 1-year warranty.
DeWalt Bluetooth-Enabled Cordless Tools
DeWalt has come out with a line of cordless tools that use a 20V re-chargeable battery with Bluetooth capabilities. You download an app for your phone, sync the battery to the app, and then when you’re out on a jobsite, you’ll never wander away from your tools (or have them ‘wander’ away from you) ever again! In this case, the Bluetooth battery and charger come as part of a 1/2″ impact drill kit.
Wacom Bamboo Spark
Hold a ballpoint pen in your hand. Write on paper. Press a button. Watch as your thoughts, lists, sketches, or notes get uploaded to the cloud. Edit your files, and then send them wherever you want them to go (e.g., Dropbox, Evernote, Slack). This pen-to-paper-to-digital tool is perfect for students, artists, or anyone sitting in a meeting and jotting down ideas. The Bamboo Spark comes with one of three different folios: gadget pocket (for phones), tablet sleeve (for tablets with up to 9.7″ screens), and snap-fit for iPad Air 2. In addition to the folio, the set comes with a Bamboo Spark pen, a 30-page notepad, 2 replacement ink cartridges, a nib removal tool, and a USB cable. Wacom makes a variety of other pens, and you can use any paper you want. You’re not confined to any sort of proprietary paper. Like taking notes the old-fashioned way? Know a student who does? Know an artist who likes to sketch on paper but then tweak the image digitally? Wacom is respected name among digital artists, and the Bamboo Spark will only expand that notoriety. Add this one to the list for the student or artist in your life.
The Amazon Fire TV has been the centerpiece of my family’s home viewing experience since mid-2014, so I was really intrigued when an updated hardware configuration was rolled out earlier this year. The big selling point seems to be its new support of 4K Ultra HD content, but the device actually offers a lot even for those of us who have yet to upgrade to 4K TV sets. The new Fire TV now boasts 75% more processing power, and it definitely shows. Apps and multimedia now load noticeably faster, and the integrated Alexa functionality is much more responsive and adaptive–especially when compared to the previous voice controls, which I still lovingly refer to as Gary Busey. It also allows for expansion of its 8 GB of internal storage via microSD card support (up to 128 GB). Of course, to truly take advantage of all the Fire TV has to offer you’ll also need an Amazon Prime subscription, which is already one of the best values in streaming entertainment all on its own. [Review materials provided by: Amazon]
Razer Mamba Tournament Edition Mouse
For the PC gamer on your holiday list, you cannot go wrong with the Razer Mamba Tournament Edition Chroma Gaming Mouse. The Mamba has a 16,000 DPI sensor, making it extremely accurate and the Tournament Edition sports a wired connection, which most hardcore gamers agree has less lag than a wireless version. I have one of these myself, and the ergonomics makes long stretches of gaming a joy. As a gift, with 16.8 million color options, it really is “one size fits all”.
Nikon D5500 DSLR Camera
The Nikon D5500 is the perfect camera for anyone looking to step up their photography game beyond their smartphone. Lightweight and with an easy-to-use touchscreen, the D5500 has an impressive 24MP sensor and supports full HD video up to 60 fps with a built-in stereo microphone. I reviewed the D5500 earlier this year, and it is still my go-to recommendation for beginners interested in dipping their toes into the DSLR waters. You can pick up a D5500 with two lenses, a 32GB SDHC card, and a bag for around $1,000 on Amazon.
Zuli Smart Plug
A fully-integrated smart device that doesn’t require hubs or other devices, the Zuli smart plug is a beautiful device that you simply plug into any socket and then use the companion iOS app to get on your WiFi and you’re all set. The app is incredibly easy to use, and even capable of controlling other smart devices such as your Nest thermostat. The $143 Presence 3-pack adds the ability to have it detect whether or not you’re in the room.
The newest model of the Microsoft Band works seamlessly with your smart phone and all of your favorite fitness apps. Use it to organize your day; be notified of emails, texts, and appointments; keep track of your fitness; monitor your heart rate; and even keep track of your sleep patterns. There is even a UV sensor, barometer, and GPS. If you use it with a Windows phone, you can even use Cortana, And the Microsoft Health app presents all of your fitness data in useful visuals and charts.
iClever Bluetooth Wireless Sport Earbuds
My absolute favorite gadget of the year is the iClever Bluetooth Sport earbuds. As an every day runner, being able to comfortably listen to music, podcasts, or Zombies, Run! is an absolute necessity. the iClever earbuds not only make it comfortable, but cordless. Not having to worry about dangling cords getting caught on things or getting tangled is such a great feeling when running. Read my full review for more details on how awesome these headphones are.
Beddit Smart 2.0 Sleep Monitor
Do you have someone on your wish list that’s addicted to tracking every health metric they can? Do they have a FitBit, Misfit, Apple Watch, Withings scale, Forerunner, and every other device under to the sun to make sure they don’t lose a second of biometric data? Chances are, as much data as they’re collecting, they’re still underserved in the sleep tracking department. While wrist-based wearables can do a passable job of keeping tabs on how long you sleep, they’re rarely convenient and can’t really give you a good idea of the quality of your sleep. The Beddit Smart 2.0 is a sensor package that consists of a heart-rate-monitor that you install on your mattress and a smart Bluetooth-enabled sensor kit that communicates with the Beddit app on your Apple or Android device. It can automatically detect when you go to bed, keep track of your heart rate and respiration to determine your degree of restlessness, listen for when you were snoring, and provide you with daily diaries and sleep tips that give personalized advice. I’ve been using mine for a month and it’s made a noticeable impact in the amount of sleep I’m getting. It’s the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to tracking your health.