Wireless is the word this holiday season. Here are some of the hottest new products for streaming, remote controlling, connecting and getting your Bluetooth on for the tech geek on your gift list.
Speakers of the House
Give the music lover on your list something to sing about with Sonos. This versatile wireless streaming speaker system, controlled by a simple app for MAC/PC, smartphone or tablet, allows you to play music in every room you have a speaker. Play the same song, or a different song, from your music library or any podcast, Internet radio station or service like Pandora or I Heart Radio. Give a Sonos PLAY: 1 Gift Pack ($199, including Sonos Bridge, http://www.sonos.com) compact speaker as a starter, which delivers powerful HiFi sound all by itself; or a pair it with a second speaker for truly rich stereo sound; or build it out year by year into an immersive multi-room set up that will rock the house.
For the frequent traveler on your list, keep them connected with Kanex mySpot ($49, http://www.kanexlive.com) a travel-sized access point that can turn a hotel live Ethernet connection into a wireless-g signal. Plug mySpot’s USB cable into your laptop or charger for power, and with a click you can safely and securely connect all your wireless devices to your own personal wireless network.
Lots of Hub Hub
Keep the plugged-in addict on your list powered up and connected on the go with the IOGEAR Wireless MediaShair Hub ($99.95, http://www.iogear.com). The paperback book-sized device charges up – using USB or included cigarette lighter charger — and then serves as a hub for media storage devices to stream music, movies, photos and files to up to seven Wi-Fi enabled devices. The hub doubles as an access point when connected to an Ethernet cable. Equipped to stream from a SD card, flash drive or external hard drive using a USB connection, the hub’s built in power station battery can charge other devices and lasts for up to five hours.
Three’s a Charm
The thrice-as-nice-as-the-original-Roku, Roku3 ($99, http://www.roku.com), raises binge TV watching to new heights. For the show monger on your list who can’t get enough streaming video, this amazing and diverse palm-sized powerhouse delivers Netflix, HBO GO, VUDU Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and over 1000 other free and subscription services to any HDTV. The simple hook up includes an HDMI connection to your TV and a wireless connection to your home network. The sleek remote control handset comes with Roku’s signature purple earbuds for personal listening – ideal for late night viewing that won’t wake the rest of the house. The improved and easy- and fun-to-use interface includes a one-stop search across multiple channels, so you can comparison shop those episodes of Breaking Bad or Downton Abbey.
For the Helicopter Parent (and Kids)
It’s been said the difference between men and boys is the size of their toys, but the MOTO TC and the HELO TC by Griffin Technology proves size doesn’t matter. Designed for users age 14 and up, and coveted by men (and of course women and girls) of all ages, the toy remote touch control monster truck and helicopter utilize free apps for IOS devices for control. Powered by a 4.8 V @ 600mAh NI-MH fuel cell, the Tonka-sized truck can slide, tilt and track with a virtual steering wheel and throttle or perform figure eights and laps. The twin-rotored HELO TC indoor helicopter app can record up to three flight plans and use a touch control throttle and joystick or tilt-and-steer control to move the helicopter forward, back and side to side. HELO TC’s built-in battery recharges from any USB power source. The Flight Deck module requires 4 AAA batteries. (HELO TC $49.99, MOTO TC $59.99, www.griffintechnology.com and retailers nationwide).
Volume-limiting headphones keep sound pressure down to safe levels for young ears
You’re sitting in a restaurant with fidgety little ones, and the appetizers haven’t even been served. You give them your iPhone or tablet, but along with all those kids games you loaded just for this situation are complete with plenty of bells, whistles and other random sound effects.
Before your neighbors at the next table give you the evil eye, plug in Griffin Crayola myPhones so that you and everyone around you can get some peace and quiet, and you get peace of mind knowing that your kids won’t blow their ears out. These super cute earbuds and headphones are sized for little ears – and they have built in technology to keep the volume to a safe listening level. Compared to normal conversation at 60 dB, myPhones play at 85 dB, lower than an MP3 player at maximum volume, or by comparison, an ambulance at 120 dB.
The earbuds are shaped like the tip and end of a Crayola crayon, so kids love the illusion of wearing a crayon through their head, though the pointed tip might be a bit confusion when they are first trying to figure out which end goes into their ear! The earbuds come with three sizes of silicone ear cushions in a carrying case shaped like a Crayola. For more than one child, you can get different colors so they can tell their own earphones apart from their siblings and friends. The sets comes in Purple Pizazz, Cotton Candy, Caribbean Green and Blue Berry.
The over-the-head style headphones are also sized for children, featuring soft padding for comfort. Kids can decorate the headphones using a variety or cool patterned stickers designed to fit on the headband or ear cups, or they can customize them using the included plain stickers and three Crayola color markers.
The sets are available in pink/purple and blue/green color combinations. Earbuds are priced at $14.95, and headphones are $24.95 at www.GriffinTechnology.com.