Having trouble keeping up with the onslaught of new gadget tech these days? Youâ€™re not alone. Even for someone like me, who loves gadgets and who keeps track of all this stuff every day, itâ€™s easy to get overwhelmed. So let me simplify things for you: Hereâ€™s a list of gadgets that anyone would love to receive as a gift. Thereâ€™s no need to worry about specs and such â€” these are all devices that work without much fuss, even if the recipient isnâ€™t very tech-savvy.
Google Chromecast: The simplest way to stream media to your TV
Google didnâ€™t have much luck trying to reinvent television with its unloved Google TV project, but the company finally found a media hit with theÂ Chromecast ($35), a tiny gadget that plugs into your TV and streams media from your iPhone or Android device or laptop. You can use it to throw YouTube videos from your phone, tablet, or laptop right onto your TV, such as. Other developers are quickly updating their apps to support Chromecast streaming. Perhaps best of all, itâ€™s cheap enough to deploy across all the TVs in your house.
Jawbone Up24: A glamorous fitness tracker
Fitness gadgets are trendy, and Jawboneâ€™s third version of its Up health band is its best yet. TheÂ Up24 ($149)Â can track your steps and sleep patterns, and you can also follow your eating habits in its accompanying apps. The company stuck with the Upâ€™s attractive, bracelet-like design and finally added wireless synchronizing capabilities, so you can view the steps youâ€™ve taken without even thinking about it. Iâ€™m a fan of Jawboneâ€™s focus on simplicity. The Up24 resembles jewelry more than a high-tech gadget, and it offers plenty of ways to visualize all the data it collects about you. (And I guarantee you that it will help you get a better nightâ€™s rest).
Alternative:Â Fitbitâ€™s ForceÂ wrist activity tracker is slightly cheaper and has a small display, which means you can use it as a watch (and, soon, incoming notifications from your phone).
Over the past few years, wireless speakers have gone from an expensive and niche gadget category to a must-have for anyone with a smartphone who likes$200 UE Boom speakerÂ is one of the best around now, with great (and loud) music quality as well as 15-hour battery life and a water-resistant skin. You can send music to it over Bluetooth from your smartphone, tablet, or computer or use a standard line-in jack to play back music from older sources. The UE Boom begs to go outside â€” but itâ€™s just as useful in the house for music and podcast listening.
Alternative: If you want something even more portable, check outÂ Jawboneâ€™s revamped Mini Jambox.
Nexus 7: A cheap and powerful tablet
If you know someone who needs a tablet,Â Googleâ€™s second-generation Nexus 7(starting at $229) is the one to get. Itâ€™s a fast and portable Android tablet that doesnâ€™t feel at all like a â€œbudgetâ€ product. Android is also quickly growing to be a great tablet operating system, with better apps and an overall more consistent interface. Alternative: Amazonâ€™s Kindle Fire HDX is the same price and offers a simpler interface for novices. But youâ€™ll pay for that simplicity: The tradeoff is that it doesnâ€™t support all Android apps, just those in Amazonâ€™s store.
Nintendo 3DS XL: Portable gaming glory
Nintendoâ€™s 3DS portable console got off to a rough start a few years ago, but with its larger cousin, the 3DS XL, Nintendo did just about everything right. At $200, itâ€™s far cheaper than the original 3DS, and thereâ€™s now a healthy choice of games to choose from (I recommend picking this up with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds). The consoleâ€™s 3D effect is also far better on a larger screen.
Alternative: Sonyâ€™s PlayStation Vita (starting at $200 without a memory card) is a technically superior portable console, but its library of games isnâ€™t as strong. It may be a better choice for a PlayStation fan, though.
Pebble smartwatch: A glimpse into the smartwatch future
It may only sport a black-and-white screen, but theÂ Pebble smartwatchÂ ($150) offers the clearest glimpse yet at how wearable gadgets will become as essential as smartphones. The Pebble can alert you of incoming calls, texts, e-mail, and other notifications. The company has also opened up the watchâ€™s software so that other developers can build their own Pebble apps. Samsungâ€™s Galaxy Gear smartwatch may have a far prettier color LCD screen as well as many more features, but itâ€™s twice the price and doesnâ€™t do nearly as much as the Pebble.
RavPower Element battery: All the gadget juice you need
You can never have enough battery life.Â RavPowerâ€™s Element external batteryÂ is cheap, light (it weighs just 8 ounces), and fully of extra power. It packs in a 10,000 mAh battery, which is enough to charge a typical iPhone around five times or almost fully recharge an iPad. Given just how much we all rely on our smartphones and tablets these days, itâ€™s always a good idea to have some extra power on hand. And at this price, you can give it to just about anyone. It is only USD 33 during this December of 2013. Grab it now before the price rises
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