The holiday season is upon us and thoughts turn to turkey, visiting friends and family and buying gifts. Technology has become a popular gift-giving choice, so here is my 10th annual list of the best tech gifts for the current holiday season.
Google Nest Hub Max = $230
Most people have some type of appliance that listens to voice commands. The Google Nest Hub Max combines that ability with a screen and camera. The Google assistant will also add to your calendar, give advice on where to eat, take quizzes and play music.
The screen is great as a photo frame, for viewing recipes, watching YouTube, viewing security cameras and making video calls. The Echo Show is also a nice choice, but video calls can only be made to people with an Alexa Echo Show.
This is my top pick for 2019, but also the most expensive.
Echo Auto = Under $50
The Echo Auto can turn any car into a smart car. Want to know football scores or add to your shopping list? What kind of weather is ahead? Of course, you can play music and make voice-assisted phone calls, as well.
Ubio Labs 10,000mAh Portable Charger Kit = $30
Does your blood pressure go up when your device is running low on power? Relieve that stress by carrying a portable power source.
The Ubio Labs 10,000mAh Portable Charger Kit offers complete on-the-go charging. Its 12-watt USB-A output, coupled with a durable braided USB type-C cable, provides maximum power and minimum charge times. It is compatible with most USB-powered devices.
UE Megaboom 3 Bluetooth Speaker = $200
The Megaboom 3 is a powerful, portable Bluetooth speaker. Its design allows it an immersive 360-degree sound with amazing volume and pounding bass. Have kids? No worries, it is drop-proof and waterproof!
The Megaboom 3 comes in several different colors and retails for $200.
Streaming TV = $25 to $130
As more TV stations are offering their content digitally, streaming TV is becoming the standard for watching all of your favorite shows. Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast are all great options. My personal favorite is Roku.
Installation is easy and it has thousands of channels available, with many for free. Combine that with the ability to watch anything on demand, and the Roku has become my go-to for TV viewing. A broadband internet connection is required.
Depending on features, Roku is available for between $25 and $100 or a Roku Smart LED TV starts as little as $130.
Smart plugs = Under $20
“Alexa, turn on the fan.” “OK, Google, turn on the coffeepot.” Just about any small appliance you own can get “smart” using a smart plug. They can be found to fit any budget and many are available without the need for a hub.
Tired of waiting for your curling iron to heat? Smart plugs allow you to set a schedule for anything you plug into them. Did you remember to turn it off? Don’t spend all day worrying. Open your app and check!
Amazon Echo Wall Clock = $30
The Echo Wall Clock lets you visually monitor countdowns. It is a great gift for someone with an already Alexa-enabled home.
Set a timer on Alexa and the clock lights up to show the remaining time. At the end, the clock will pulse with light and sound an alarm.
Ooma = $99
Do you know someone who dropped a landline because it is too expensive? Ooma combines with your internet to create a phone system for your home or small office.
For home services, a one-time purchase of the Ooma is $99, but the service itself is free! Plus, there are no long-distance charges ever. Even most international calls are free.
Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb = Under $17
Change those boring light bulbs with an Eufy Lumos. It can be set to over 16 million colors, so you can have light to read by or celebrate any occasion. Schedule lighting to turn on when you arrive home, or enable away mode to simulate activity to chase away would be thieves.
The "Guru of Geek,” Marlo Anderson, is host of “The Tech Ranch,” a weekly radio program featuring technology for everyday use. A serial entrepreneur, Marlo is also the founder of National Day Calendar and Pakkage. He is an active member of the Mandan community and will occasionally be seen doing the chicken dance on Main Street on the Fourth of July.