Last year the holiday season snuck up on me and I failed to get my guide done last year. This year isn’t much different as once again the season just kinda appeared and the next thing you know it’s the last week fo November and here we are. I try to get this done before Black Friday (which has become Black November), but as they say better late than never. If you have a techie or photographer on your holiday gift list, here are my top recommendations for gifts that they are likely to appreciate. In no particular order:
Anker Qi Wireless Charger for iPhone/Android smartphones
Wireless charging is so convenient and this Anker charger is my favorite. Fast, low profile and it just works.
Logitech Circle 2 Wired HomeKit compatible security camera
My top three favorite home security cameras are from Nest, Ring and Logitech. I find myself adding more and more Logitech Circle 2’s because they are cost effective, easy to setup and the only ones (that I like) that work flawlessly with Apple’s HomeKit.
One of the things I hear from photographers again and again is that they want to travel with less gear. One of the things that people want to do is carry an iPad instead of a laptop or not carry a computer at all. The DJI Copilot is a solution that lets you backup your images in the field AND use your mobile devices to review, edit and share your images. Yes, even your raw files. With 2TB of storage and all the connections you need it’s a great solution.
I know it’s late, but it’s here. My 9th annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide is here. Rather than the usual full blown guide I’ve noticed that people prefer the “short list”. In other words these are my top picks for the gadget lovers on your list. So in no particular order here are my 2016 top picks:
Amazon Echo Dot
I’m a fan of the Amazon Echo, but when Amazon introduced the much less expensive Amazon Echo Dot, it was a no-brainer to put these around the house. Not only do I love the fact that I can ask it various questions like “what’s the weather like?”, “what’s in the news today?, “play my Beyoncé Pandora radio station”, but also things like “turn on the outside lights”. While the Echo Dot lacks the nice speaker in the Amazon Echo, it can connect to any speaker you have via an audio cable or bluetooth.
One of my favorite gadgets of 2016 is the Lutron Caseta dimmers and wall switches. I have upgraded 90% of the wall switches in my house to Caseta switches as well as all the lamps. Now not only can I control these lights with my iPhone and their app, but also the Home app built-in to iOS 10 (it’s HomeKit enabled) and Amazon Echo. “Hey Siri, turn off the downstairs lights.” You can expand the system to up to 50 devices. I did it over time and couldn’t be happier with my smart home.
I’ve always been a fan of Apple TV, but the 4th generation model takes it to the next level. Unlike previous generations, the latest Apple TV allows you to install Apps from the App Store. Also with the rumors that Apple is working on deals to allow you to watch movies that are still in theaters, it’s never been a better time to get an Apple TV. You can also use it to display/stream content from your iOS mobile devices and Macs.
That’s right it’s my guide to help you with you holiday shopping for the gadget lover (freak) on your list. The way this thing started was each year towards the holiday season all my friends started asking me and emailing about what my picks were in various categories and of course the answers were usually the same. So I decided to compile a list and just email it to the folks that asked.
Once again I’ve put together a Holiday Gadget Gift Guide to help you pick out gifts for the techies and gadget lovers on your gift list. I’ve chosen Amazon.com simply because they are the one online retailer with not only the largest presence, but also the one that carries 99% of the items I recommend. Another advantage is that I can continue to add things that come up all the way up to the final days of the holiday season. In previous years I would always find some cool gadgets after the static gift guide was published.
Something NEW This Year!
I’ve simplified my guide this year. Instead of including dozens of products each year (yeah it was overwhelming to me too), I’ve selected only the TOP 9 Products in any one category. This forces me to only pick the BEST items for my gift guide and makes it a whole lot easier for you to pick a gift.
How did you pick the items that you recommend?
Simple! If it’s in my guide it’s because I either use it now, have used it in the past or one of my close friends or colleagues use it and I trust their opinion. Now in some cases there may be an item in the guide that is NEWER than the one I use and I had to list that one because my model is no longer available. Unless I’ve used it or know someone who has, it doesn’t get in PERIOD.
How does the gift guide work?
The guide is broken out by Category so that you can shop accordingly. This way you can pick your gift by the kind of person you’re shopping for. I know that sometimes you have to buy a gift based on a certain dollar amount or budget (like gifts for co-workers), so I’ve given you a couple of dollar amount categories too. Happy shopping and in case I don’t see you later, Happy Holidays to you and your family! You can go straight to my 2015 Holiday Gift Guidehere.
My Top 10 Picks for 2015
While the guide above has my TOP PICKS for 2015 that I like and would recommend, here are my Top 10 picks for BEST GADGET GIFTS OF 2015:
As a frequent traveler with gadgets I’m always looking for opportunities to charge up. Anytime that I have more than a 15-minute wait in one spot I check my surroundings to see what power options are nearby. If nothing is around then I don’t worry about it, but if there’s an opportunity to juice up I’ll usually take it. I fly Delta 99% of the time and Delta has been doing a good job in equipping their gate areas with not only standard AC power, but also USB power. This means that you can easily just plug in your phone or tablet without having to plug in a power adapter/brick. This leaves the regular outlets for those that need to charge up other devices such as laptops.
While regular power outlets and USB powered outlets are a welcome sight in the gate area, I do wish that airlines and the rest of the transportation industry would move faster towards having power available at every seat on planes, trains, etc. Delta was one of the first if not the first to equip most of their entire fleet with WiFi! Yay! Gogo WiFi is great. However, it’s only as good as having enough juice to actually use it. Since I’m a top tier flyer on Delta (Diamond Medallion), I get upgraded a lot and more often than not there is power at the seats in First/Business Class. This is great, but it shouldn’t be limited to just one part of the cabin. What happens if I don’t get upgraded and I have a lot of work to do? Also even when I do have the benefit of having power at my seat, it doesn’t always work. It’s really hit or miss if the outlet will actually function and power my MacBook Pro.
Some hotels are starting to get the point. One of the fanciest hotels I’ve ever stayed in from a technology standpoint was the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas. However, it was one of the worst in terms of power! The only available outlet during my stay was at the desk across the room. Want to charge your phone next to to bed? Sorry. Yet, recently I stayed in a Hampton Inn in the middle of nowhere and they not only had multiple outlets on the nightstand, but it also was equipped with USB ports to boot.
Happy New Year Everyone! 2011 was a great year for me and I look forward to 2012. While I did have a great year, I didn't really get a ton of memorable gadgets. As I sit here thinking about my Top 10 Picks and I look back at the last two years of picks, many are still the same or simply updated versions of ones before. However, I did get a couple of cool things this year that are new and do stand out. Here are My Favorite Gadgets of 2011:
The iPhone 4s
This is probably my most used gadget and while the iPhone 4 didn't make my list last year, the iPhone 4s has been a blast. I can't believe how much I use Siri day to day as well as the much improved camera. What really makes this all sing is iOS 5 and the faster A5 processor.
I'm surprised by how much I've been using these little gems all year. While I certainly love having a nice softbox to shoot with, when I travel I often just don't have the room to pack a ton of gear. That's why the Rouge Flashbenders are in my Top 10. They're inexpensive, easy to travel with and produce great results for speedlight photography.
It's that time of year again. My annual "So what'd you get?" I've been reviewing my favorite gadgets, services and photo gear all year long. Now it's your turn! Tell us what you got this holiday season (tech wise) that you're excited about? Use the comments section below. Tell us what it is, why you like it and provide links if you can? Did you get or give anything from my holiday gadget gift guide?
You forgot _______________. It happens. That relative or friend walks through the door that you totally forgot to get a gift for and you feel bad. Yep, it happens. Personally, I wouldn't sweat it. However, for those of you who do (you know who you are) here are a couple of things you can do to save the day.
When you go to hang up their coat, head to your computer and fire up iTunes. Then go to the iTunes Store and buy a "Printable" gift certificate. You can print it (quietly) on your printer, fold it and stick it in one of those emergency cards that you keep around. Oh yeah, you forgot those too. OK, a handwritten envelope will do. You can then explain to them that with this they can download music, books, movies, apps and more. Whew!
Amazon Printable Gift Certificates
OK, so the person that just walked in is not into digital entertainment. I get it! No problem. Head over to Amazon.com (here's the link to get you directly to the gift certificates. This way you won't be out of the room any longer than you have to be) and buy a gift certificate and print it out. Now they can go order whatever they want since Amazon sells just about everything.
Lastly pride yourself on avoiding the mall 🙂
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmast and get back to your guests 🙂
You might want to avoid shipping those big gadgets anyway 🙂
If you are like me and stayed at home on Black Friday, you know that there are some great deals online without fighting the crowds in the stores. Cyber Monday is the official day for etailers to lure us in with their online deals. Here are a few noteworthy ones:
As the world's largest etailer, Amazon will not be outdone!
If you live in the US, then chances are you've heard of Black Friday. It's the day after Thanksgiving that retailers hold special sales to lure you in to get your holiday shopping dollars. Whether you're shopping for holiday gifts or just looking for deals on stuff, Black Friday and Now Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving) are worth checking out. Sometimes the savings can be substantial and if it saves you a few bucks on something you were going to buy anyway, why not take it?
I'm not one to go out and stand in line to save a few bucks on something, however I will absolutely check out online deals for gear.
As you might imagine I get all kinds of emails advertising Black Friday deals. So I've decided to share some of the ones I've hand picked here based on technology, Adobe, iOS/Apple, Photography and the other things that I'm interested in. So here goes in no particular order:
Amazon.com has been running Black Friday deals all week on all kinds of gear:
The other night I was walking through my house and the lights were off, but I was amazed by the number of things that have LED lights that are on all the time. I like to sleep in a TOTALLY DARK ROOM. I've gone as far as putting black tape over some of the most annoying LED lights in my bedroom. In most cases these LEDs are used to tell you the current status of the device. For example, on the TiVO Premiere a red LED comes on when it's recording something. A blue one comes on when it's transferring a show from from another TiVo. However, there's a green LED that's on all the time that simply means the device is on and has power. Since you never turn a TiVo OFF I question do we really need to see this green LED 24/7. I guess you'd want to know if it had become unplugged or lost power, but as I far as I can tell no one is climbing behind my TV and unplugging things. It gets worse.
Update: TiVo does give you the option to turn them off (thanks Martha). It would be nice if MORE vendors offered this!
My bedroom TV has a red LED that is on when the TV is OFF. Again this simply means the device is plugged in and getting power. When you turn the TV on the LED goes off. I'm guessing that if there's no picture for more than a few minutes that the TV is not on. I'm also guessing that if I press the button to turn it on and it doesn't come on for some reason that there may be a power problem. In other words I don't need a continuous reminder that tells me that it's plugged in, has power and is OFF.
Most of these devices have internal clocks. At a minimum it would be nice to be able to disable the LED at night automatically as a preference or simply turn it off altogether for those that don't need to see it. I was happy that Apple chose not to put the annoying pulsing bright white sleep light from the MacBook Air. Sadly it's still on the MacBook Pro, but clearly it's not essential as it was not deemed necessary on the Air.
If you are an interface design engineer and reading this post, please kill the unnecessary power wasting LED displays wherever possible. We'll all sleep better 🙂