11 Great New Tech Gifts
Sometimes it's tough to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest, greatest tech gadgets. And since market surveys show that LGBT people tend to be early adopters of new technology, it can be even harder to wow the techie in your life with something stunning this holiday season. Luckily for you, we've toiled for hours investigating this season's cool tech toys. So go ahead and grab the latest gadget at the links below, and be the hero of the holiday when your loved ones unwrap what they (or you) were really hoping for this year.
Gaming On the Go
I don’t care how old you are, the must-have gift this year is the new all-in-one entertainment system that brings all of your live cable TV, movies, games, music, and apps together in one simple, elegant system: the Xbox One.
Forget what you know about gaming consoles; this isn’t one. This is a modern living room media center that does everything you need in one device — hell, you can even do video conference calls via Skype. And after you’ve tried it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Used with the new Kinect (which now has a 1080p HD camera and much better motion tracking than earlier generations), you can turn on both the Xbox and your TV with the sound of your voice. Xbox One will remember your face and automatically sign you in to your personalized home screen with all of your favorite media ready to go. You don’t use a remote — you just tell Xbox what you want to do (you do have to be precise, though) or motion with your hands. You can switch from a game, to TV, to music, to an app, and back in a matter of seconds — and you can keep watching TV while you play your game on the side of the same screen.
And yes, if you’re a gamer, you can still play games — offline or online — using discs or the instant downloads from Xbox Live. The Xbox One games have won numerous awards already this year. But I’m betting a good number of people who will fall in love with Xbox One won’t even be playing games on them. Yes, it’s that good. Now the challenge will be finding one; many stores are already sold out. $499, Xbox.com
Cute and useful, let’s call Porkfolio the world’s smartest piggy bank. The bank wirelessly connects to an app on your smartphone or tablet so you can track your balance from anywhere. You can also set up financial goals, but more importantly, the piggy’s nose lights up in celebration every time a U.S. coin is inserted — and it holds up to $100 in quarters. $69.99, Quirky.com
The Future is Now
Remember on the classic sitcom Get Smart, when the undercover agents had watches that they talked to, or got information from, as if they were computers or TV sets on their wrists? We’re there, baby boomers!
With Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Smart Watch, you sync up with your smart phone (right now, it has to be a Samsung) and surreptitiously check your email during staff meetings, and get notifications for texts, emails and phone calls — all on your wrist. You can use it to help find your phone, auto-lock the phone, organize apps, change the camera setting, and make hands-free calls. And don’t worry about losing Siri. Galaxy has S Voice, which lets you use simple voice commands to make calls, compose messages, turn on alarms, add things to your calendar, check the weather, and pretty much anything that Agent 99 could do on Get Smart. $299, BestBuy.com
Good Morning, Sunshine
Hate the jarring alarms of traditional clocks? The Peaceful Progression Wake Up Clock makes those — so much more — a thing of the past. It uses gradually increasing light, stimulating aromas, and peaceful nature sounds to wake you. It starts with a soft glow 30 minutes before you’re supposed to be awake, then gets brighter and brighter until it’s time to rise. It simultaneously releases aromatherapy scents (my preference is lavender, but there are others, and you can use your own essential oils, too). Then come the nature sounds (you pick between ocean surf, thunderstorm, white noise, spring rain, mountain stream, and forest stream). And if that doesn’t wake you up, at the set time it sets off a more traditional chime — that gets louder if you don’t hit the Off switch. You can also set it to fall asleep to these natural sounds, with ocean breeze pumping out into the air. It's like a spa indulgence in a clock. $79.95, Hammacher.com