2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Gadgets

Reading Time: 9 minutes

I think the love of gadgets is a universal trait, shared by most people. As geeks we seem to have a place in our hearts for elegant, useful, or just plain cool gadgets. What follows are just a few of the gadgets, tools, and neat things we covered this year.


Your new constant companionKindle Oasis
Suggested By: Anthony Karcz
Mfg: Amazon
Price: $289
Purchase: Kindle Oasis

Amazon’s highest of high end Kindles is one of the best e-readers the company has ever produced. While the screen is the same excellent “paperwhite” screen found in the $199 Kindle Voyage and $119 Kindle Paperwhite, the Oasis earns its premium. It sports the most LEDs of any of the other Kindles, making for even lighting and less eye strain in dark rooms. It’s weighted on one side, making it easy to read with one hand, especially since the Oasis sports the return of physical page turn buttons, something its siblings lack. One of my favorite features though, is the charging cover. Whereas with the other Kindles you have to purchase a separate cover, the Oasis’ cover is included, connects seamlessly to the back of the device, and will power your Kindle for weeks. It also opens like a book (as opposed to the notebook style covers that you have to flip up on the other Kindles), which seems like a small thing, but it makes me happy every time I use it. If you’re shopping for an e-book lover, this will be their favorite present of the year.


Goal Zero Torch 250 FlashlightTorch 250 Flashlight
Suggested By: Brad Moon
Mfg: Goal Zero
Price: $79.99
Purchase: Torch 250 Flashlight

The Goal Zero Torch 250 has quickly become my favorite flashlight for home emergency use and for camping. There are multiple LED lighting options: flashlight, floodlight and red emergency light. Charge the 4400mAh battery using USB, hand crank or built-in solar cells. The Torch 250 has an integrated USB cable that can charge your devices, too.


Crosley C10 TurntableC10 Turntable
Suggested By: Brad Moon
Mfg: Crosley
Price: $277.81
Purchase: C10 Turntable

Have a vinyl lover on your shopping list who’s looking to move up from their record-player-in-a-suitcase?
The Crosley C10 is essentially a re-badged Pro-Ject Carbon Debut turntable, including Pro-Ject’s aluminum tonearm with sapphire bearings and shock absorbent feet. With an Ortofon OM5e cartridge and natural Birch veneer plinth, this turntable looks as good as it sounds, but at $100 less than the Pro-Ject version.


Meural is motion sensitive.Meural
Suggested By: Dave Banks
Mfg: Meural
Price: $595
Purchase: Meural

Meural is a piece of art that changes with your moods. It can be mounted horizontally or vertically and comes with access to more than 30,000 images. If you grow tired of a picture, simply wave your hand in front of the screen and motion sensors will respond, making another work of art appear. You can also control Meural with your smartphone or Web browser and its 27″ HD display has an ambient light sensor, which can adjust the brightness of the display, making the output more soothing and prolonging the life of the Meural. Best of all, you can add your own photos to the device so your living room can be decorated by Van Gogh, Klint, and Thanksgiving with the in-laws.


Thermo, a WiFi thermometer from WithingsThermo WiFi Thermometer
Suggested By: Dave Banks
Mfg: Withings
Price: $99
Purchase: Thermo WiFi Thermometer

Sniffles and fever season is upon us and fussy, sick kids don’t want to mess with having their temperature taken, which is why Thermo is so fantastic. A simple swipe of the forehead and you have a reliable, accurate reading in seconds. The device interacts with an app, which keeps a history of temperatures for each kid and provides you with helpful advice for dealing with the illness. Read the full review.


Image: V-ModaZn Earbuds from V-Moda
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: V-Moda
Price: $180
Purchase: Zn Earbuds from V-Moda

The most comfortable earbuds I have ever worn, the Zn earbuds from V-Moda also have incredible sound, as befitting this high quality brand. I swear my by V-Moda over-ear headphones, but sometimes you need something more portable. The Zn earbuds include a 3-button microphone, carrying pouch, and plenty of accessories, including four different sizes of tips for a perfect fit. Read my full review.


The eBags Lifeboat. Image: eBagseBags Lifeboat and Lifejacket Quick Charge Batteries
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: eBags
Price: $15-42
Purchase: eBags Lifeboat and Lifejacket Quick Charge Batteries

With options from their Lifejacket Quick Charge Battery at 4000 mAh to their Lifeboat model at 9000 mAh, eBags has made some quality gadgets. Extremely slim and easy to put in a pocket (for the Lifejacket) or a purse or bag (for the Lifeboat), you’ll always have a quick recharge for your phone or tablet at the ready without adding bulk to what you already carry. The Lifeboat model has two USB ports allowing two devices to charge at once. Read my full review.


The Aerix Vidius HD in flight. Photo: Jonathan H. LiuAerix Vidius HD Drone
Suggested By: Jonathan H. Liu
Mfg: Aerix
Price: $75.00 – $90.00
Purchase: Aerix Vidius HD Drone

The Aerix Vidius HD drone is tiny and fits in the palm of your hand, but also live streams 720p HD video to your smartphone while you fly. The optional headset holds your smartphone in goggles mode so that you can fly it VR-style. It’s fairly easy to fly, and its small size and weight mean that it won’t crash hard if you make a mistake. Control it using either your smartphone (in controller mode) or with the included controller.


Osmo Coding. Photo: Jonathan H. LiuOsmo Genius Kit
Suggested By: Jonathan H. Liu
Mfg: Osmo
Price: $79.99
Purchase: Osmo Genius Kit

Osmo is a clever little device for your iPad that brings physical objects into its digital world, letting you play with numbers, words, coding, drawing, and more. Several apps and kits are available now, with more to come!


Image: WacomIntuos Draw
Suggested By: Rory Bristol
Mfg: Wacom
Price: $68.75
Purchase: Intuos Draw

This year, invest in your budding artist by giving them one of the most important tools they’ll need – an interface. The Intuos Draw is a tablet for drawing directly into your computer via art software. The Draw comes with ArtRage, an intuitive drawing software that makes creating great art easier for all skill levels. The Intuos can also be used (with an adapter) wirelessly, allowing your loved one to use it in the unique way that works best for them.


Image: Dirt DevilFlipout Hand Vac
Suggested By: Rory Bristol
Mfg: Dirt Devil
Price: $46.98
Purchase: Flipout Hand Vac

Everyone knows that vacuums are the stereotypical “dude” gift that gets them in the doghouse. My wife and I will never understand that one. Vacuums are dead useful, and a good one is worth its weight in dubloons. Everyone in our home is in love with our Flipout, and it’s not hard to see why. The Flipout is a small, portable, powerful tool that makes cleaning up super easy. After a movie, popcorn litters the couch; don’t flip out – Flipout. Chips on your gamer’s desk? Eraser leavings from your perfectionist artist? Flipout. We use it all. the. time.


eero Three Unit Kiteero Home WiFi System
Suggested By: Will James
Mfg: eero
Price: $199-499
Purchase: eero Home WiFi System

We lived in our three level house for four years with spotty wi-fi and a ton of deadspots. We tried repeaters, extenders, multiple routers. We still couldn’t get full, decent coverage. eero changed all of that. The eero system is completely modular and creates a wi-fi mesh across your whole home. You can get as many or as few units as you want, link them all up and, voila, a single wi-fi network that reaches everywhere. You can read my full review for more details.


Dremel 3D40 Idea Builder 2.0 3D PrinterDremel 3D40 Idea Builder 2.0 3D Printer
Suggested By: Will James
Mfg: Dremel
Price: $1,299
Purchase: Dremel 3D40 Idea Builder 2.0 3D Printer

Last year, I reviewed and recommended the Dremel 3D Idea Builder 3D20. It’s a great workhorse printer that is easy to setup and use. A year later, I am still cranking out prints on an almost daily business (I use it to make props and accessories for cosplay). The only part I’ve had to replace is one I broke from doing something dumb (and it was just a little cooling fan). This year Dremel released an updated version of the printer, the 3D40 Idea Builder 2.0. Building on the greatness of the original model, the newer model has a larger build space for bigger prints, an assited levelling system to make it easier to level your print bed, wi-fi connectivity for ease of printing, and an inproved extruder to reduce clogging. I can’t recommend the Dremel 3D printer enough for your everyday 3D printing needs


A perfect gift in an imperfect world.PROJI Projection Clock
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Oregon Scientific
Price: $24.99
Purchase: PROJI Projection Clock

I won’t lie to you; up until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t even begin to tell you the last time I so much as glanced at a clock that wasn’t on my smartphone. (I mean, I think there’s one on the microwave, but who really bothers to set those?) This all changed for me with the arrival of the PROJI Projection Clock from Oregon Scientific. With dual alarms and atomic precision packed into a delightfully diminutive footprint, the PROJI is a classy little clock with a satisfying backlit display. But what really sold me was the projection feature. At night, when both my phone and my glasses are out of easy reach, I can now simply look at the ceiling to see the current time in big, bold, red numbers. Bright enough to see during the day but without an obnoxious glare that keeps me up at night, this projection clock is the perfect solution for a problem I didn’t even realize I had! [Review materials provided by Oregon Scientific.]


It’s a truly roadworthy video capture system.Rearview Mirror Dual Car Dash Camera Recorder
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Pyle Audio
Price: $89.99
Purchase: Rearview Mirror Dual Car Dash Camera Recorder

Just like everyone else, I’ve wanted a dash cam ever since I saw the footage of that meteor exploding over Russia. Not like I expected it to capture anything quite so grand, mind you–it just seemed like a handy gadget to have. Pyle’s Rearview Mirror Dual Car Dash Camera Recorder is all that and then some. With two positionable cameras that can capture video (with audio) and save it to a Micro SD card, it’s great for everything from recording fender benders to road trips, with onboard low-light illumination for your late-night adventures. The Dual Car Dash Cam mounts quickly over your existing rearview mirror, and an ample power cable and mounting brackets make for easy installation. Most importantly, its clever design conceals a  3.5″ LCD screen in the mirror itself, which can display either–or both–camera feed. The only caveat? Even higher capacity SD cards fill up fast. Still, it’s great for short-term use, specifically for Lyft or Uber drivers. [Review material provided by Pyle Audio.]


Rallt Double Camping Hammock (shown with optional hanging straps)Rallt Camping Hammock
Suggested By: Randy Slavey
Mfg: Rallt
Price: $39.95 – $49.95
Purchase: Rallt Camping Hammock

This lightweight camping hammock comes in at just over a pound making it perfect for hiking through the mountains or just tossing in a bag for a trip to the park. Shown above with the optional hammock straps, which I highly recommend for the sake of the trees you’ll be attaching this to. The single is rated to 400 lbs. and the double to 500 lbs. Both fit into attached carrying bags that measure 5″x5″ and 5″x7″, respectively.


Aftershokz Bluez 2S Wireless Bone Conduction Bluetooth HeadphonesAftershokz Bluez 2S Wireless Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headphones
Suggested By: Randy Slavey
Mfg: Aftershokz
Price: $99.95
Purchase: Aftershokz Bluez 2S Wireless Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headphones

Aftershokz headphones use bone conduction to direct the sound to your eardrums without impeding the ear canal, allowing you to listen to music, GPS directions, or talk on the phone while staying safely connected to the real world. See full review at https://geekdad.com/2016/03/aftershokz-headphones/


Magellan MiVue 420. Image by Rob HuddlestonMagellan MiVue 420 Dash Cam
Suggested By: Rob Huddleston
Mfg: Magellan
Price: 139
Purchase: Magellan MiVue 420 Dash Cam

Magellan’s latest generation of their dash cam includes a 2.7″ screen and super HD recording. The package includes a 16GB micro SD card, but supports up to 128GB for extended recording time.
The camera is incredibly easy to use: simply plug it in to the power outlet in your car using the included cable and it starts recording your trips. It includes lane departure and forward collision warnings, and the screen will display your current speed.
The records are crisp, and the camera works well in low light situations so you can know those late-night collisions will be recorded as well.

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