The following was published in the November 21st editions of Foster’s and The Portsmouth Herald. Due to family circumstances, I am just getting around to posting this now, but with many Black Friday deals still in effect, you will hopefully find this helpful.
Editor’s note: As is an annual Thanksgiving week tradition, we present technology columnist MJ Shoer’s high-tech holiday shopping guide.
There is no shortage of excellent tech available for those on your gift list this year. So, without further ado, here are some recommendations for those special people on your gift giving list this year.
If you find yourself in the market for a new TV, there really is no better option than a Samsung SmartTV. With sizes as large as 55 inches for less than $500 for 4K ultra high definition, these are more affordable than ever this year. One of the reasons I like Samsung so much is that out of the box, they are ready to cut the cord should you so desire. The Samsung interface is intuitive and easy to use, which is important if you intend to wade into the world of streaming.
Speaking of streaming, give the gift of YouTube TV. It’s the best option out there if you are looking for local stations, as well as streaming options for a mere $40 per month. You can set up to five users on the same account, so it’s great for families. Premium channel options are also inexpensive to add on an as needed basis with no long-term commitment.
Add an Amazon Fire Stick, if you are a Prime member, or Roku Streaming stick to your SmartTV and there should be nothing you will not have that you didn’t with your ever more expensive cable TV subscription. Sorry Comcast, this ship has sailed.
Speaking of Amazon, if you are in to Amazon’s Echo, Dot and Show devices, Amazon has promised a Black Friday sale that will make your wallet happy. If you want to give someone the gift of voice and video control of the home, Amazon is the best in the business.
With both Apple and Samsung releasing the latest versions of their popular iPhone and Galaxy smartphones, I’m sure these will be on many lists. If you do gift a smartphone, or know someone with one, consider a pair of touch-screen winter gloves as a practical gift. These gloves allow touch-screen smartphones to be used without removing the glove. If you want to protect your loved one from frostbite while they reply to all those urgent texts, these are a great gift. North Face makes a wide variety of touch capable gloves that are good looking and affordable. If you want to go for broke, spring for a $150-plus pair from Canada Goose.
If a smart home is on your list, options from Nest, Ring, Simplisafe and Abode are better than ever. You can turn these into home surveillance, security, lighting, appliance, leak alert, smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alerts and more. It’s easier than ever and the prices continue to come down, so this year is a great year to give the gift of a smart home.
While you may think setting up a smart home is expensive, you can get the ball rolling for well under $50 with smart light bulbs, WiFi cameras and plugs from a variety of manufacturers. Check out all the options, either online or at stores like Best Buy, Home Depot or Lowe’s.
Who doesn’t like to get a pair of wireless headphones or noise cancelling headphones for the holidays? Bose remains my brand of choice, but they are not for everyone, primarily due to cost. If you take care of your headphones and don’t look for the latest and greatest every year, they are a solid investment with unmatched sound, but there are very good options available for less money. Brands like JayBird, JBL, Jabra and more offer similar products. My advice is to go to your local electronics store and test them out and see what you think. For the serious traveler on your list, there is simply no better option than Bose QuietComfort QC 35 II’s. Just be prepared for it to use up a lot of your gift giving budget.
Wireless speakers are also an excellent gift. Who doesn’t want to have a great sounding wireless speaker? Just remember, if you’re on the ski slopes or out in public, no one wants to hear your tunes. That’s why the headphone recommendation came first. But in the privacy of your own home, check out the options from Bose and JBL. The sound is impressive.
Some additional more budget-friendly recommendations may be things like a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard to make typing on a smartphone or tablet more convenient. Logitech has always been an innovator with their wireless keyboards and their latest versions are no exception. They are small, lightweight and inexpensive.
With wireless charging finally becoming mainstream, consider a wireless charger for those on your gift list. The handy little docks make it easy to charge a compatible smartphone and you won’t have to worry about losing your cables all the time.
In years past I have recommended certain computers, gaming systems and smart watches. The market is so diverse this year, it really is hard to make these recommendations. I’m sure most of you have your preferences for each. All the manufacturers update their product lines for the holiday shopping season, so whether you are looking for a Windows or Mac computer, an Xbox, Play Station, Apple Watch or FitBit, check out the available models and make your selection. No matter what you choose, the recipient of your gift will surely be thrilled.
I could fill the pages of this paper with more recommendations. Hopefully, these ideas will help you get through your holiday shopping a little earlier. Thank you for your continued readership.