Some friendly advice for holiday shoppers: Don’t buy clothes for someone else – they may smile and thank you for the lime green cardigan but they’ll hunt for the gift receipt when they get home.
Lottery tickets and gift cards are copouts.
Jewelry is too personal to pick out.
And don’t even think about fancy bath soaps. They still haven’t used what you bought them last year.
Instead, consider some cool tech for your loved ones. And no, you don’t need to break the bank to pick great gadget gifts.
So, whether you’re in need of high-tech ideas or want to indulge in something for yourself (go ahead, you deserve it), the following are a few sweet suggestions.
Google Nest Mini
This 2nd-generation smart speaker makes for a great gift – especially as it’s only $39 until December 18 (and then back to $69).
You know the drill: Wake up your Google Assistant by saying “OK Google” or “Hey Google,” and then ask a question or give a command. Your trusty virtual companion will answer you clearly in a soft female voice, as “she” dishes weather info, sports scores, your favourite music, audiobooks, news, recipes, and much more. Or use your voice to control your smart lights and other supported home tech. Or make free phone calls to any Canadian or U.S. number.
Available in a few colours, Google’s latest donut-shaped (and wall-mountable) smart speaker is 40 percent louder than its predecessor, has smarter A.I. (artificial intelligence), and is now made from recycled materials.
Fitbit Versa 2
At less than half the cost of an Apple Watch Series 5, the Fitbit Versa 2 ($249) might be able to help motivate you to reach your physical fitness goals in 2020.
As you’d expect from this attractive smartwatch, it tracks your calories burned, steps and stairs taken, distance traveled, and heart rate – and even your sleeping patterns – and shows you information clearly on its large 1.34-inch display, as well as the Fitbit companion app (for a deeper dive into the data that includes handy graphs, progress charts, and more).
The water-resistant Fitbit Versa 2 also syncs with your iPhone or Android phone, so you can see notifications, such as texts, emails, calls, social media posts and calendar appointments. There’s even Amazon Alexa built-in, so you can use your voice to ask for weather, set timers and alarms, control your smart home devices, and more.
Sony In-Ear Truly Wireless Headphones
Now this is some sound advice: Consider picking up Sony’s teeny wireless Bluetooth earbuds (model # WF-1000XM3). Why? They sound amazing, thanks to Sony’s heritage in driver technology, plus it offers active noise cancellation, which electronically blocks out ambient noise around you.
Featuring 4.5 hours of battery life (or up to 24 hours with the matching charging case), these $249 earbuds also have a sensitive microphone for clear calls, a comfortable and snug fit, touch controls, and a built-in Google Assistant.
Like many of Sony’s over-ear headphones, these earbuds have a “Quick Attention” feature that turns the volume down and lets in ambient sound when you place a finger over the right earbud, which allows you to instantly chat with someone without taking the earbuds out.
LG G8X ThinQ
A $0 phone on a 2-year carrier plan, the LG G8X ThinQ is a remarkably different smartphone as it boasts twin 6.4-inch displays — for double the productivity and double the fun – whether you’re at home or on the go.
Imagine streaming a TV shows or watching sports on the top screen, while also doing a Google search, reading email, or scrolling through your social feed on the bottom screen. Or playing a game on the top screen while using the bottom screen as your gamepad. You get the idea.
Plus, LG has added a 2.1-inch Cover Display, a handy extra that lets you check the time, date, battery charge, notifications and other useful info – without opening the Dual Screen.
Other features include impressive cameras, great sound (twin 1.2-watt stereo speakers), a fingerprint sensor for added security, and expandable memory.
Samsung’s The Serif TV
Style meets substance with Samsung’s 55-inch 4K “The Serif” TV ($1499), which looks like a piece of modern furniture, thanks to its curved “i”-shaped profile – like a serif font style – you can place anywhere in the room (minimalist black metal stand included).
This QLED quantum dot-based TV offers 100 percent colour volume, along with impressive contrast and brightness, and features an “ambient mode,” which shows high-resolution artwork on its screen when not in use (instead of seeing a black rectangle when turned off).
Built-in NFC (near field communication) means you can lie your smartphone on top and your music will immediately start playing through the television’s speakers.
“Only On PlayStation” PS4 Bundle
On sale for $249 instead of $379, you can pick up a 1-terabyte PlayStation 4 (PS4) system, with three award-winning Sony titles: The Last of Us: Remastered, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition.
This is a fantastic deal on the popular console, given it usually costs $379 by itself.
The PS4 boasts one of the best libraries of first-party (and exclusive) titles in the gaming industry right now, including these three gems, plus the machine is also a great Blu-Ray player, media streamer (including support for apps like Netflix), and supports virtual reality content (with purchase of PSVR headset), online multiplayer, live streaming, and more.
While it’s more science than technology, the AncestryDNA kit — $89 instead of $129 at the time of writing this — gives the gift of family history. In fact, it’s a great gift for those hard-to-buy-for friends and family.
Provide some saliva in a tube and have Ancestry’s lab analyze your entire genome — all 23 pairs of chromosomes — which carries genetic information from both your parents, passed down through the generations.
In a few weeks, you’ll get back a map which shows the regions you’re from, percentage of each nationality, possible relatives, and more.