Technology is such a key part of life in the modern world that it’s hard to imagine anyone won’t put at least one tech gadget on their holiday wish list this year. The Consumer Technology Association, sponsor of #TNTSLC, has a long list of fun tech gift ideas, some retro, some cutting edge, some fashionable and some that simply make our home life easier.
Best Tech Holiday gifts ideas then and now
Do you remember what you wanted most for Christmas 10 years ago? According to the Consumer Technology Association, these were the top 5 wants for Christmas in 1996:
- Desktop Computer
- 27″ TV or bigger
- An “Internet Appliance”
What a difference a decade makes. The list of top five tech gift wishes for 2016 are:
- 4k Ultra HD ecosystems (TV, streaming devices)
- Activity trackers and other wearable devices
- Smart Home (gadgets that connect wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet and control everything from temperature to home security)
- Virtual Reality
CTA, the organizer of the Consumer Electronic Show each January in Las Vegas, also is the primary sponsor for a series of technology and travel programs we call TNT (Tech and Travel). Organized in partnership with our pals at Techlicious, our most recent stop was in Utah at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center for #TNTSLC. CTA brought along some hot tech to show off to local social media influencers.
Best Tech Fashion gift ideas
The hottest products at #TNTSLC, hands down, were two that stand at the intersection of tech and fashion:
The Eletronista bag from Knomo. The name is a combo of the words knowledge and mobility. This is the fashion-forward version of the backpack with a built-in battery charger. But, unlike that backpack, the Electronista would look perfectly at home at a dinner party. None of the guests would have any idea that while you sip champagne your iPad, phone and other tech gadgets were quietly recharging inside your shoulder bag.
The Misfit Ray. It seems like everyone is sporting a wristband fitness monitor these days. But unlike those not-so-attractive plastic-looking wristbands, the Misfit Ray looks like a fashionable bracelet. Even better, it can be worn as a necklace. It tracks your sleep, steps and calories burned. But the most important thing for me is the alert that reminds me to get up from my computer every so often. On the downside, there is no read out telling you how you’re doing. You need to check your smartphone for that info. On the upside, it has a six-month replaceable battery, so there’s no need to worry about recharging it every night.
Fun retro holiday gift ideas for teens
My kids never do anything that isn’t fully documented in photos stored on their phones—until they run out of memory. These two fun retro tech gift ideas for teens would be big hits with them.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 8: Remember Polaroids? This is the hip new version of instant photo prints in a cute camera body. The Instax is easy to use—just point, shoot, grab the photo as it pops out from the top of the camera, then watch as the picture develops before your eyes. This could be great fun at a party, although I suspect teens could go through many packs of film in a very short time.
HP Sprocket Photo Printer: This portable mini photo printer connects to a device wirelessly and prints cute 2×3-inch photos. Even better, the photo paper has a sticky back. I could see my daughter using it to take photos of her friends and stick them all over her dorm room. There’s even a Sprocket App for customizing the photos with borders, stickers and filters before printing.
Tech Gift Ideas for Grown-Ups
OK, maybe I should call this section “Tech Gifts I Covet.”
Google Pixel Phone: A new phone is high on my Christmas wish list, and now that I have seen what the Google Pixel can do, that new phone has a name: Pixel. I’m already a big Google user. Adding a Google phone to my tech makes sense. It includes built-in Google Assistant and an impressive 12.3MP camera.
Panasonic Lumix FZ300: I have a Panasonic Lumix ZS60 that I love. But the FZ300 is a step above. The full range F2.8 aperture (35mm camera equivalent: 25-600mm) makes it possible to clearly capture moving subjects even at a great distance. It’s splash and dust proof, which makes it a good choice for outdoors, sports and events.
Stocking stuffer holiday gift ideas
JVC Gumy Bluetooth Headphones: These wireless headphones are the antidote to my always-tangled earbuds. The headphone has a microphone and remote built into one housing for phone calls. It is easy to control volume, pause playback and skip forward and backward through tracks. The headphones are splash-proof and the rechargeable battery lasts seven listening hours. The only downside: The earpieces aren’t as comfortable for long wear as my iPhone earbuds.
Griffin iTrip Clip: With the new iPhone 7 arriving sans earbud jack, wireless headphones are growing more important. This product connects headphones wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth 4.1.
Otterbox uniVERSE Case System: I love my Otterbox phone case. After cracking the camera lens on my last phone, I broke down and bought an Otterbox for my new phone. I’m convinced it is the only thing that stands between me and a cracked screen or another broken camera. The uniVERSE Case System is like a super Otterbox. It has the protective case, but that case can attach to a number of accessories, such as camera lenses, an external battery, speaker, extra memory and more.
Smart Home Tech Holiday Gift Ideas
For many people, the holidays mean travel. These smart home tech devices can keep things running smoothly on the home front while you’re opening gifts at Grandma’s house.
Honeywell Lyric Round Thermostat: This thermostat is wifi-enabled so you can control it from your smartphone wherever you are. If I had one of those last winter when we went to Mexico for a week in January, I would not have had to pay to heat my house in Chicago while I was gone. I could have simply dialed down the thermostat from the comfort of my beach chair. There’s even an app for this—the Lyric app allows you to set temperature schedules, select vacation mode, check the weather, and even get alerts, like when your home’s air filters need to be changed—when you get home from the beach.
Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector: No bigger than a hockey puck, the battery-operated Lyric Detector and cable sensor can be placed under sinks, near appliances, close to sump pumps, or other places that could have an issue with water. When it senses water, extreme humidity, or temperature, the Lyric Detector lets you know through the Lyric App.
Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit: This is a high tech lighting system that offers natural light to help you wake up gently and go to sleep peacefully. It has four pre-set light “recipes,” including settings to help you energize in the morning and relax in the evening with warm white light. Control it via a dimmer switch or from your smartphone.
Alarm.com: This smart home technology allows you to access and control your home security system and a broad range of other smart home devices such as thermostats, HD video, locks and lights through a single screen on Alarm.com’s family of mobile apps. The system can send alerts about activity while you’re gone and responds automatically to protect your family when there’s an emergency at home.
Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Starter Kit: Control your lights, shades and other devices using the Pico remote control, via your smart phone or tablet or by saying commands like “Turn on my lights” to Alexa or Siri.
Watch the video to learn more about CTA and this year’s hottest tech gift ideas in this video from Jill Adler of SkiPlayLive.com: