Shiny New Tech Toys for 9 Personality Types on Your List
The best devices for technophobes, college students, gamers and more.
Your entire media center literally under your thumb, Roku video streaming has now shrunk from box to flash drive-size. Yet another thousand cuts to the lumbering beasts that are the cable companies, the Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into an HDTV's HDMI port. Roku users can expect the same entertainment options -- just in a smaller package -- including Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Amazon Instant Video (NASDAQ:AMZN), Pandora (NYSE:P), and Hulu -- jointly owned by NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA), ABC (NYSE:DIS), and FOX (NASDAQ:NWS). A new "Play on Roku" feature has been added to the company's mobile apps that allows users to stream music and photos from their smartphones. Available from Roku for $100.
Let's just get the e-book out of the way, shall we? It's been the foregone gadget conclusion for the literary set since Amazon released the first Kindle in 2007. This year we think Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) has the edge with the Nook HD and Nook HD+ ($200-$300) in terms of size, weight, and screen clarity.
But, sometimes, thinking outside the box leads to a box itself. Assuming the bookworms on your list are all set with e-readers, let them wrap their devices up with a book jacket case fashioned in a choice of 11 iconic out-of-print covers. Classics like Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, and Lolita, printed on actual book board and cloth, will not only satisfy their nostalgia but will let the kids know what real books used to look like. Available from Out of Print for $45.
If you're the type of geeky gear head who's always tinkering with settings, then you're likely an Android fanboy or gal. And the deeper that Android love, the purer you want your Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) experience -- especially when it comes to its flagship line of smartphones. As per annual tradition, Mountain View will soon release its fourth-generation LG phone, the Nexus 4. For its 4.7-inch HD display and a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, among other features, Engadget calls the Nexus 4 a "veritable dreamboat when it comes to looks and specs." Available from Google for $299.
What gadget could be more perfect for a generation raised on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) than one that records nearly every waking moment? For the ultimate in sharing overload, the tiny, 36mm square Memoto Lifelogging Camera and GPS simply clips onto kids' clothing and automatically shoots five-megapixel, geotagged photos every 30 seconds. These no doubt thrilling slices of teenage life are then organized and accessed via the Memento app and browser. Available from Memento for $250.
When it comes to heating their homes, we all know that granny and gramps tend to keep the thermostat on the "sauna" setting. Thanks to "Father of the iPod" Tony Fadell, they can roast smarter, more cost effectively, and in sleek Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) style. The self-programming Nest 2.0 thermostat learns the dweller's preferred temperature, indicates when an energy-saving one is achieved, lowers it when they're out, and can be controlled remotely from an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. A monthly report shows heating and cooling usage and offers further tips on cutting down the bill. Available from Amazon for $250.
The fitness-forward now have a trainer, life coach, and personal cheerleader working for them around the clock. The One wireless tracker from Fitbit with Bluetooth 4.0 tracks steps, stairs, distance traveled, calories burned, quantity and quality of sleep at night, and then wakes you up with a gentle vibration the next morning. Results can be accessed with a tap, and stats are automatically synced to your computer or smartphone. Available for pre-order from FitBit for $100.
Attention button mashers: Get up to date on your shots. A new strain of Pac-Man fever is upon us. The format in which we play classic arcade games has evolved yet again -- from coin-ops to home consoles to mobile devices... and now to HDTVs. The soon-to-be-released GameDock system is the latest advancement in retro gaming, allowing iOS owners to turn their iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches into a two-player, big-screen experience of Atari's greatest hits -- complete with two Nintendo-esque controllers -- on their own TV. Available for pre-order from Cascadia Games for $89 ($119 with HDMI adapter).
For years, the only name in the tablet industry was Apple. But just like the iPhone gained new and better-specced competitors, the iPad no longer rules the roost. Cash and credit-strapped students (you know, the ones whose parents decided not to loan them their tuition) may be far better served with Google's Nexus 7 tablet. Equipped with a better screen resolution, the buttery smooth Jelly Bean OS, and a minus-$130 sticker price, the Nexus 7 has all the features students need without that budget-busting Apple logo. Available from Google for $199.
In an ever-increasing technological world, Luddites have three choices: beat 'em, join 'em, or block 'em out. Those opting for the latter will be hard-pressed to beat the society-silencing power of Bose's QuietComfort 15. The company's fourth-generation of noise-canceling consumer headphones topped CNET's best-of list for its comfort and advanced circuitry.
As an added bonus, wearers will get to be all alone with their gizmo-fearing thoughts while sporting a pair of old school-looking cans instead of those unnervingly newfangled earbuds. Available from Bose for $300.
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