At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: holiday gift guide

Six Boring Tech Gifts They’ll Love Getting

This could very possibly be the worst list of gift ideas you’ll ever read. But I believe these five ugly ducklings will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

This could very possibly be the worst list of gift ideas you’ll ever read. But I believe these five ugly ducklings will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

While everyone looks for the latest and greatest tech gifts to buy, I’m thinking you should take a few moments and consider the opposite side of that equation.

Don’t give your friends and loved ones what they want.
Get them what they really need… even if they don’t know it!
And sometimes, it might be a duplicate of what they’ve already got!
But get this… they’ll still thank you for it!

Worried that your gifts are boring?
I say stop worrying!
These could be the six-best uninspired tech gifts you’ll ever give…

Smartphone Wall Charger
How many times a week does someone run up to you in a panic and ask if you’ve got a smartphone charger to use for a few minutes?


I’m not sure what that says about our high-tech society, but apparently much of our tech-enabled planet is always about eleven minutes away from running out of juice…

I’m sure most of your friends would be very pleased to have an extra smartphone wall charger to leave at work.
(So their device doesn’t have to take a mid-afternoon siesta)

Anker can sweeten the deal with a 2-port USB wall charger…








Portable Power
Or perhaps consider a portable battery charger to get for that someone special.
They can carry it around whenever their mobile tech needs a little pick me up.
(I know… how romantic)







Extra Memory for Your Camera
How about a spare SD card for a camera?
(Don’t you always need one of these at exactly the wrong time?)








  • I just picked up an extra SanDisk Extreme 32GB SDHC UHS-1 Card.
    $10.62 on Amazon

When Martians land in your backyard, your family should be ready to capture the moment!

Portable Storage
Some people can never have enough shoes.
Others like to collect memorabilia.
I prefer lots of storage opportunities for my media. Remember, if a digital photo file or home video doesn’t live in at least two or three separate devices/locations, it essentially doesn’t exist.
(I know… that’s deep Tech-Zen to consider)

So I say there’s always a use for another portable drive.








Sure, that may seem a little pricey spending almost $200 on a portable drive.
But wait a minute…
That’s less than two Franklins for three whopping terabytes!

After that, I think you’re done.
It’s a no brainer when it comes to having enough storage in one device.

Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
I recently had to retire my old Oral-B electric toothbrush, because its non-replaceable battery couldn’t hold a charge anymore.

When I reviewed the newer Oral-B options online, I was overwhelmed with all of the choices. After a little research, I focused on these two models:

The reviews I read zeroed in on the ‘3000’ model as offering the best Oral-B brushing experience without all of the frills and cost of higher-end models.

That said, the ‘5000’ model is actually about the same price on Amazon.
(It was originally more expensive…)

And it’s got a longer-lasting battery and a battery indicator that gives you a better sense how much energy is left…

(Note… I’m not specifically interested in its Bluetooth functionality that can connect to an app on your smartphone… I just want to brush my teeth… not make it a big fitness-tracking project!)

So I bought the Oral-B Pro 5000, and it’s been great.








Yeah, I know it’s just a toothbrush… and who would ever think of buying someone a electric toothbrush as a present?

Just offering ideas.
Trying to be helpful.
Let’s move on…

Seltzer Maker
I have a confession to make…
I am officially overwhelmed by all of the empty seltzer bottles and cans at home. My family just loves seltzer!
(Especially our six-year-old son)

The by-product of all of this consumption is all of the recycling of plastic bottles and metal cans. And that requires ongoing trips to the supermarket to visit the picky recycling machines… Which may… or may not… accept your offerings.
(Sometimes you’ve got the wrong ‘brands.’ Other times, the labels are damaged beyond recognition. Occasionally, the machines just say “NO”… for no good reason.)

I say it’s time to stop the madness and just make your own seltzer.
(No more seltzer can/bottle-recycling hassle… Plus it’s good for the environment. And it’s cheaper in the long run.)

When I checked out SodaStream, there were seemingly a zillion models to choose from.
(I hate that.)

But the SodaStream ‘Fizzi’ appears to be the go-to model. It’s sold with a CO2 carbonator, which you can replace with a new one when it runs out of gas. And it comes with a reusable BPA-free plastic bottle…








Make someone happy with some bubbly water.
There are worse things you could do!

The Secret to Good Gift Giving

Whether you’ve got twenty bucks to spend or two hundred, there’s a boring tech gift you can give that shows how much you care.

It’s not about the razzle-dazzle.
It’s about supporting the day-to-day.

‘Cause a lot of life is about getting through the day… hopefully with a little smile on your face.

And tech is supposed to make that a little easier.

If you can support that simple equation, however uninspired, you’re going to be a rock star.

Holiday Gift Guide for Home Tech

What home tech do you have in your shopping cart? Here are nine winners that can get you to the finish line!

What home tech do you have in your shopping cart? Here are nine winners that can get you to the finish line!

Let’s face it. If you’re like me, you’re hard to buy gifts for.

Not to stereotype, but I think we likely share certain similarities:

  • We handle the home IT problems.
  • We manage the family’s photo and movie archive.
  • In general, we’re the senior geek in the relationship.

How is someone supposed to know how to get you a great tech gift when they are blissfully unaware what it is you actually do to keep your happy little home tech bubble operating day in and day out?


So I thought I’d share a few items on my own home tech wish list, and perhaps along the way provide a few useful suggestions for our “better halves” to use as a gift guide.

Think of it as a kinder and gentler form of “Inception.”


It’s hard enough figuring out the right tech to buy.
It ends up being a very personal decision.
In fact, you never want someone else making your big tech purchasing decisions… right?

But if you stick to that logic, you’re getting a lump of coal in your stocking.

The good news is there are plenty of supporting accessories people can get for your existing tech…

Camera Case for Your Pocket Camera
Point-and-shoots never come with one, and every camera needs some protection.

So this could be a really easy choice for you.
There’s nothing wrong with heading right for the case made by the camera’s manufacturer.

You may recall I bought the Canon PowerShot S100.
Canon’s case is their PSC-900 Deluxe Semi-Hard Leather Case –
$25.49 at Adorama.

Going this route is always more expensive, but it’s a sure bet to fit the camera correctly.

Or you can go off-brand, especially if you want a softer case, but it’s sometimes hard to know the fit.

I’ve had success buying cases from these two manufacturers:

As you shop around for cases, you’ll come across a myriad of styles with an assortment of options for size/zippers/velcro/pockets.
That’s great news for the gift giver, because there’s nothing wrong with having more than one case in a camera’s tool kit.

Mini Tripod for Your Pocket Camera
It’s amazing how one of these can really help out a little camera.
(especially during a spontaneous group self-portrait)

There are seemingly dozens of these on the market.
Here’s a starter list from B&H Photo.

And I’m pretty excited about the Tiltpod Camera Stand- $15.00
This mini tripod breaks all the rules by not having any feet at all!
It clips onto your keychain for the ultimate in portability.

Extra Battery Power When You’re on the Go
Who hasn’t had their mobile devices run low on power during a busy day?
It would be great to have a portable charging station always available to keep your tech alive while you’re on the go:
Here are two choices:

-Anker Astro E1 5200mAh Portable Charger – $15.99 on Amazon.
-Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh Portable Charger – $31.99 on Amazon


Portable Storage
Some people can never have enough shoes.
Others like to collect sports memorabilia.
I like lots of storage choices for my media, and there’s always a use for another portable drive.

G-Technology makes awesome drives.
I own a few of these cool little portable drives:
G-Technology 1TB G-Drive Mobile USB-C – $78.95 on Amazon

It’s a no brainer. Let’s move on.

Multiply your USB Port Capacity
If you need extra USB capacity, and really, what self-respecting geek doesn’t, here’s a nice aluminum chasis to match your Apple gear:
Satechi USB 3.0 Hub and Card Reader – $29.99 on Amazon



If you’re falling into a generic gift-giving vortex and are resigned to giving something as uninspired as gloves or a winter hat, don’t despair.
180s has their own clever tech spin on these typical gift clunkers:

Gloves that work with touch technology!
You’ll feel positively James Bond-like with this!

The 180s Glove with Tec Touch Technology allows you to use your smart phone while your finger stay toasty inside the glove:
180s QuantumHeat Foundation glove – $30

Ear warmers with built-in headphones?!
You can listen to your tunes or make a call while visiting Ice Station Zebra without freezing off your ears:
180s Degrees Men’s Bluetooth Ear Warmer with Mic and Speakers – $40 on Amazon


Wi-Fi Connected Digital Photo Frame
I know I said earlier that big tech decisions should be left to the senior geek in the house. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little research on your own and just go for it!

Today, let’s discuss the digital photo frame, which really isn’t so cutting edge.
This tech has been out for years. But the Wi-Fi option still isn’t widespread.

Wi-Fi connected units are cool, because you can add and manage photos remotely within the digital frame in someone else’s home, no matter where they are in the world.

You’d think this would be a no brainer by now, but this advanced functionality hasn’t really caught on. Maybe it’s too complicated for the average bear to figure out.
But this year, I’m hoping to be smarter than the average bear.
(We’ll see.)

According to CNET’s Rick Broida, Kodak had the best Wi-Fi digital photo frame- the Kodak Pulse,
But, of course, Kodak has gone belly-up.

Ceiva makes two good models, but if you want to use their PicturePlan photo delivery tool for the frame, you’ve got to pony up $9.95/month (or $99.95/year) for a subscription after the first year.

After doing a little more research, I found a company named Pix-Star.
They make three web-connected frames with good reviews.
However, Pix-Star isn’t really a household name.
(I’ve heard of Pixar.)

And I’m not a big fan of buying products directly from companies online I don’t know.
But Pix-Star conveniently has one of their digital frames selling on Amazon.
(Ahhh…cozy Amazon.)

It’s the Pix-Star PXT510WR02 10.4 Inch FotoConnect XD Digital Picture Frame.

Sure, $157 is steep for a digital photo frame, though it’s 10.4” screen is relatively large.
(It’s the Wi-Fi that jacks up the cost.)

While I could definitely use this digital frame to help me rescue the glut of trapped family photos in my computer, I have another use in mind for it right now.

I’m referring to my father.

Now I’ll deny this if you say anything to my dad, but I’ve been planning to buy him a Wi-Fi picture frame, so I can regularly get him fresh photos of his grandson.
(There are so many!)

How convenient.
(Let us speak no more of this.)


Caffeinate with Great Coffee
Finally, before you find yourself staying up late past midnight making your last- minute holiday purchases, (and doesn’t it always come down to this?)

Go to:

And buy some amazing coffee for yourself. (really)
You won’t be disappointed.

Don’t Give Up
I know time is short, but remember, the web made 24/7 shopping possible.
Use it to your advantage.
(Especially now that you’ve got your coffee to keep you awake!)

For other tech gift ideas, here are a few unique websites you’ll enjoy checking out:

So there you have it.
Remember, none of this was your idea.
They came up with it on their own.

What’s on your home tech holiday gift wish list?
And if you’ve made some of your own cool tech gifting discoveries, please let me know!

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