Every year when the holiday season comes around and webmasters start searching for gifts to give their coworkers, employees, family and friends, it gets more difficult to stay ahead of the curve. A career where you work to get a competitive advantage every day through innovation and design tends to attract early adopters who are already keenly aware of most of the consumer electronics and gadgets available. This year AVN has put together a list of ten worthy tech gifts that may be missing from your collection, or may bring the biggest smile out of someone sharing the warmth of this holiday season with you.
1. Sonos Sound: The Total Home or Office Sound System
Providing superior sound and simple search no longer requires different players, wires and music formats in each room. With Sonos you can get a starter kit for under $200 and gradually add more speakers whenever you wish to bring a central sound system to another room of your home or office.
2. Slingbox: Your Own HD TV Server
Many cable companies and television providers claim to let you watch shows on your tablet or smartphone. The fact is they all have restrictions on which shows you can watch, or when and where you can watch them. The Slingbox costs less than $200, plugs into your cable box and allows you to port the signal directly to any computer, tablet, laptop or smartphone. You literally watch and control your home television from a proxy device and it works beautifully.
3. Roku 3: The World’s Best Streaming Set Top Box
Watching Netflix, HBOGO, Hulu, or dozens of adult sites that offer compatible content just got a whole lot easier. Stream 1,000-plus channels of movies, television, sports and more to any HDTV with a simple plug-and-play device that costs under $100.
4. Makerbot Replicator 2: Revolutionary 3D Printer
Forget 3D movies—the real revolution going on right now is 3D printing! Makerbot is the industry leader in consumer-targeted 3D printing devices capable of generating store-quality plastic items for whatever use you have in mind. Now, with the launch of the Makerbot Digitizer 3D Scanner (sold separately), hobbyists can scan and print just about any solid object that fits in the 410-cubic-inch device. Some may see it as being too pricy with a sale tag of $2,200—but those are probably the same people who told you computers were an overpriced fad ten years ago.
5. Fitbit Force: Fitness Tracking Bracelet
Stay motivated and keep moving with true real-time stats right on your wrist. The Fitbit Force is a stylish wristband that tracks steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes throughout the day. At night, you can even track your sleep habits or use it to wake up silently with a vibrating alarm. Priced at $129.95, it’s an easy and affordable way to use your progress today as your motivation for tomorrow.
6. Bitponics: Hydroponic Gardening Hub
Does your herb garden need more water or is it getting too much? Can you tell if the soil you are using has all the proper nutrients for the particular plants you are trying to grow? Forget trying to rely on luck or a green thumb. Go with science and get yourself a Bitponics Hydroponic Gardening Hub for around $500. Once the device is plugged into the soil it tells you exactly what your plans want and enables them to grow better than ever before. Keep in mind that recent legal changes in Washington state and Colorado may make this an especially attractive gift for some webmasters.
7. Kindle Paperwhite: Making Paper Books Obsolete
Reading on a tablet has some drawbacks due to battery life, screen glare and the weight of the device in your hands. That’s why some Luddites still prefer to sit down with an old-fashioned paperback. Now those excuses are all gone, thanks to the Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon, the world’s biggest book seller. A battery that lasts for days not hours, pristine viewing clarity even in bright sunlight, and a design that is about a third lighter than any tablet. Amazon even gives you discounts on e-books for using their e-reader.
8. Beats By Dre: Wireless Headphones That Cut the Cord and Keep the Sound
Once famous as a legendary rap music performer and producer, Dr. Dre seems to have gone a step higher up the musical food chain with a line of listening devices that include these kickass wireless headphones. Beats By Dre connect to any device via bluetooth and pump out sound that will satisfy all but the most discerning audiophiles, anywhere you go and without an annoying cord to contend with. The web is already migrating to mobile—so should your music!
9. Neat Desk Scanner: Scan Business Cards, Receipts And More
If you work late with a television on in the background you have undoubtedly already seen their infomercials, but the webmasters we spoke with all said it works as well as advertised. Pile up business cards from trade shows, expense receipts and whatever other odd-shaped information you want to associate with your contacts. Press one button and watch it all get digitally sorted, sifted and saved to your computer hard drive or an optional cloud-based service.
10. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 + Galaxy Gear Smart Watch
The reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart Watch have been less than stellar. It doesn’t handle email or a lot of other things future versions will undoubtedly manage to accommodate. Even worse, Samsung inexplicably designed it to only be compatible with the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone (so if you have an iPhone, HTC or Galaxy4 you won’t be able to use it). All that being said, it is the first watch that ever allowed a person to make video calls like the old Dick Tracy comics portrayed, and for the gadget lover who absolutely has to be the first of his friends to own one ... sometimes that matters more than anything else.
Readers may have noticed that of the ten items listed, not one is made by Apple or Microsoft. That was not intentional and is not the result of any editorial bias. It is, however, very telling that when asked to name items on their wish list, webmasters skipped over anything the folks at the headquarters in Cupertino and Redmond have been working on recently. Good luck finding the very best gifts this year and have a wonderful holiday season!