For years, the stars of many holiday gift guides have been those that used technology in creative and interesting ways.
High-tech gadgets and toys continue to take center stage in gift-giving. The obvious choices include new gadgets that interact with smartphones via applications; tablets made for the iTunes App Store (the iPad), Google Play (Android-compatible like the Samsung Galaxy) or the Windows app store (Windows Surface Tablet); e-readers such as the Nook and the Kindle and music players that play digital music such as the iPod Touch.
Also, accessories to go with each device are easy to find in all designs, so keep those in mind, too, whether you're looking for a protective cover, stylus, headphones, etc.
If you're the type who wants to stay really ahead of the trends and look into the future, or at least find tech gadgets that you might see NEXT Christmas, take a look at kickstarter.com and indiegogo.com, where many inventors are seeking “crowd-sourced” funding to raise money to manufacture the next big idea.
While these are interesting, you're probably looking to a tech gift guide for ideas you can buy for your loved ones today, whether they are tech enthusiasts, children or pragmatic types who turn to technology to find new ways to make their lives easier.
Here is an assortment of tech gifts that might help complete your shopping lists:
• Air Hogs RC Battle Tracker ($99 from Spinmaster) comes with a helicopter and a missile-tracking turret console, along with foam darts and disks. For ages 8 and older, the Battle Tracker lets you fly the helicopter by remote, shoot saw blades at the turret to try to deactivate it while it fires foam missile darts at you. A friend can control the missile device from the ground with remote, or you can set it to automatic play. Available at Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and Kmart, and others.
• Withings Wireless Scales. These body scales connect wirelessly to your smartphones and transmit health-related data, like your current weight and body mass index, and analyze your diet and fitness regimens. It helps monitor fitness information for your entire family by managing it for up to eight users. The WS-30 model doesn't require a PC and retails for $129.95, while the Wi-Fi Body Scale is $159 and sends data to the Web. Withings sells online at withings.com and in stores locally like Apple and Verizon.
• Crayola DigiTools. These are Crayola-made accessories for the iPad. The iPad isn't included, but each pack of DigiTools at various prices comes with a free app to help you use them, whether you buy a pack with a digital crayon, airbrush, stylus, stamper or glasses. Find retailers at www.crayola.com/where-to-buy.
• Samsung Chromebook. You may have seen the commercials that bill this laptop as one “for everyone” — “for one,” “for two,” “for keeping the peace,” “for play time,” “for dad time,” “for homework,” “for first timers,” “for experts,” etc. — and the Chromebook from Google (nearly $250 for the Chromebook with a Wi-Fi connection and $330 for a 3G one) aims to be many things to computer users of various needs, from children to seniors. The laptop uses web apps available in the Chrome Web Store and comes with cloud storage for your documents, photos, etc. Go to www.google.com/chromebook for information.
• Native Union POP Phone. This retro-style headset pugs into smartphones, laptops and tablets and looks like the headsets that came with landline phones that plug directly into wall jacks. The phones come in a variety of colors, start at $29.99 and have the added benefit of reducing cellphone radiation that comes with holding a mobile phone directly up to your ear. Buy them or find out if your device is compatible at www.nativeunion.com.
• Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet With Stylus. This tablet is popular at Copelin's Office Center in Norman, although because of shipping problems they have been in short supply in recent weeks, said owner Lin Copelin. It's like an electronic scratch pad for notes that comes in two sizes, an 8.5-inch and 10.5-inch writing surface (measured diagonally), and starts around $30-$40 for the basic unit.
• WEARCOM Touchscreen Gloves. If you've ever had to remove your gloves to dial your touch-screen phone on a chilly night, then you understand why these $19.50 gloves came to be. These gloves are made with a synthetic/cotton blend and have “conductive fingertips” that allow users to swipe and pinch a touch-screen through the gloves. They are available from the company's website at alphynind.com
• Sphero Robotic Ball. This ball from Orbotix, featured recently in The Oklahoman and online at NewsOK.com, is an innovative ball controlled by an iOS or Android device, like your iPhone or another smartphone. More than 20 applications are available to control it, drive it, play games with it, etc., depending on your system, and developers are releasing more regularly. It's $129 from major retailers and at the website, www.gosphero.com.
• Out of Print eBook Jacket. Dress up your iPad, Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 to make it look like a hardcover book. Each protective cover looks like a bookbinder from a classic novel, including “A Clockwork Orange,” “Moby Dick,” “The Great Gatsby” and “Lolita,” among others. Find them for $45 to $50, depending on device you want to cover, on the website at www.outofprintclothing.com.
• Jawbone UP wristband. This wristband, designed to be worn 24 hours a day, including in the shower and when you sleep, helps you track your activity, sleep, mood, daily patterns and even your eating habits. You can then review your activity online or on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (Android capability coming later), and the app analyzes your data and gives you personalized insights. It was originally released last year, but pulled from the market for a few months for major retooling and testing. It is now back on the market. Available for about $130 from AT&T, Apple and Best Buy retailers and at the website, www.jawbone.com.