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The Ultimate Techie Gift Guide

Published on Nov 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm in Tech Trends, Tennessean Articles.

We all know someone who is tethered to a smartphone. Technology is ubiquitous and always improving, which can make gifting the latest and greatest gadgets seem like a futile endeavor. But don’t despair!

This holiday season, the most innovative technology ranges from home security software to the newest toy droid on the market. Here are some gifts that will tech up your house and remind everyone from Dad to the dog what holiday spirit feels like.

Tech-ify the house

If you’re headed out for Black Friday, make the Amazon Echo your first buy. CNET has called it “the closest thing we’ll have to a Star Trek computer at home.” It’s a wireless cylindrical speaker and voice-command device that responds to the name “Alexa.” Using cloud-based voice-recognition software, you can effortlessly control your entire household by calling out, “Alexa…”

Buy the Echo early and use it for the holidays. Its seven microphones can pick up your commands from across a loud room, so speak your grocery list while you rummage through the fridge. Change the thermostat during your holiday party without winding through the crowd, or ask Alexa to run a load of laundry in the LG Smart ThinQ Washer. (Add that to your gift list, too! LG Smart ThinQ is a new generation of appliances that are remotely controlled and monitored.)  You can even use the Echo to order presents as ideas come to mind. Amazon offers two-hour delivery in the Nashville area — that’s faster than Santa!

Secure your new tech domain

With all your new technology, it’s a good idea to think about security and how to protect your house. Nest offers a 24/7 wireless security package including cameras, smoke alarms and other services that keep you safe at home. Its live video can stream in HD to your mobile device with a 130-degree view of the room, complete with a zoom feature. If you’re not into sitting around watching an empty room, get alerts when Nest detects motion or sound. See the dog thinking about jumping onto the couch? Tell him not to through the built-in microphone.

Nest Protect is the alarm system that complements the camera. When it detects smoke or carbon monoxide, the device tells you where to check. If you’ve just burned the fruitcake, you can silence the alarm without climbing on a chair to take out the battery.

Veg out

Apple TVs are cool, but they’re not the latest and greatest. Touchjet Wave is the smartest television set on the market. The Android software (also compatible with Apple) can turn any flatscreen monitor into a touchscreen. Download apps and customize your dashboard, play games, video chat and stream without connecting to other devices. Don’t want to stand next to the TV using your finger as a remote? Sync your smart TV with your mobile device, and let your fingers control everything from the couch.

Or get out

Are you worried about all of this technology keeping the kids inside? Check out some drones that are best enjoyed outside. Parrot offers a line of mini drones that race, jump and fly and, more recently, the Hydrofoil Drone that propels through water and air. The toys are piloted with mobile devices using an app called FreeFlight 3 that allows users to drive the robot at speeds up to 11 MPH in the air or 6 MPH in water. For the most affordable drones, look into the UDI quadcoptor, a flying robot equipped with a video camera for less than $50.

Don’t forget the petConcept Technology Inc. Whistle

After a successful crowdfund, Whistle GPS is recently on the market to track your pet’s location and health. The collar uses reliable tracking technology to show you where an escaped dog may be sniffing. If your animal friend tends to stay within the yard or block, customize a “whistle zone” to designate his safe area. If he leaves that zone, you’ll get a notification before he gets too far. Beyond keeping tabs on your pet’s whereabouts, Whistle monitors health trends according to the animal’s age, weight and breed. It also tracks progress and connects with others who care for him, like the vet or the dog walker.

Techies love getting connected but hate when their cool gadgets don’t work. Avoid frustration by ensuring that your technology gifts communicate over reliable Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and don’t forget to keep them charged. Follow these tips and your gift is sure to be the favorite this year — batteries included.

This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.