5 cool tech gifts to give this ChristmasOct 30, 2023 12:24PM ● By Adam Cochran
Gift-giving is one of my favorite things. Finding the right gift is a challenging puzzle with a significant purpose. But my empathy and habit of overthinking makes the whole process ridiculously complex. I have a hard time just settling for something that someone needs or might like. I try to find the thing that will somehow fill a void in the person’s soul.
With Christmas being only a few weeks away, I’m going to share my gift-giving superpower insights on current technology that will likely fit someone on your list. None of these are paid endorsements; they are simply items that I’ve had experience with, and/or I have given as gifts that have been appreciated by friends and family. And for you procrastinators, I’ve also indicated whether the items are online only!
Aura digital picture frame ($100). Aura picture frames are high-resolution picture frames that are connected to WIFI. Using a free smartphone app for iPhone or Android, family and friends can upload photos and short videos from anywhere to the frame owner’s Aura account.
A digital microscope ($70-$200, online-only). These are a great gift for a coin collector, crafter or someone who simply loves cool gadgets. Digital microscopes are a microscope, digital camera and monitor all in one portable device that can also connect to a laptop, television or smartphone. Most digital microscopes can view three-dimensional objects without a need for slides. They are also very light sensitive and have built-in illumination.
Stand-alone GPS ($75-200) - All smartphones have a built-in GPS and there are a number of GPS apps available. However, if you know someone who travels a lot or gets lost easily, a stand-alone GPS is an excellent gift.
Unlike the one in your smartphone, standalone GPS devices from companies like Garmin and TomTom don’t require any data service. All of the street maps are built in. Occasionally, the maps are outdated, but all manufacturers allow updates to be added for free for at least a few years after purchase.
There are also GPS devices made specifically for hikers, off-road enthusiasts and boaters. The features and prices vary, but they can be a lifesaver for those with wanderlust or no sense of direction.
Shokz bone conduction headphones ($75-200). Unlike in-ear headphones, Shokz headphones wrap over your ears and rest on the bones and skin of your temples. The sound is created through vibrations. The quality is good, but these headphones aren’t designed to drown out the world. They’re actually designed to keep you aware of the world.
I love wearing Shokz while I explore locations on foot. I can hear the sounds of a strange city, talk to others on the street and still hear the navigation prompts from my GPS or listen to music and podcasts. It might sound uncomfortable or strange, but your head doesn’t notice the difference.
Folding digital piano ($100-$200, online only). If you have a piano player or aspiring musician on your list, folding pianos are a cool gadget that most people have never heard of.
There are a number of models and manufacturers, but the one model that is always included on the best review lists is the Eastar EP-10.
There are a few smaller models, but most folding musical keyboards have a full set of 88 keys. They’re designed for portability, storage, practice and situations that don’t require a grand piano or studio keyboard sound.
All folding keyboards double as a midi controller for composing music on a computer, and most also connect to smartphones and tablets for learning to play, composing or displaying sheet music.
I recommend you research before purchasing because some folding keyboards are more durable or offer more features and better sound. But no matter what model you choose, the cool factor of pulling a full-size piano keyboard out of a carrying case that is smaller, lighter and thinner than a guitar is pretty cool.