If you're overwhelmed by the abundance of tech gifts available this year, here's a streamlined list of options that are fun, time-saving or will at least make the recipient the envy of all their friends. This list of favorite gifts and gadgets for 2018 ranges from reasonable to indulgent, highlighting the best features so you can make an easy and informed buying decisions for those on your gift list.
Protecting your home and loved ones is priceless and today's home security industry offers surveillance technology features of unprecedented value. The Amazon Cloud Cam has received high industry praise for its surveillance coverage, HD resolution and night vision but the free cloud storage is what sets it apart. Praised for its performance reliability, you can be notified when the camera detects activity from a crisp 1080p HD live feed.
Features: 24-hour clip storage, two-way audio, integrated with Alexa
Why you'll like it: The price point, simple installation and easy to use app make this DIY home security camera an easy favorite.
If you're looking for an immersive experience that will transport you to another time and place, this may be the most accessible method of space travel. Samsung's Gear VR with Controller is a headset that will place you in the virtual center of your friends social stories, movies, and games and takes high resolution 360 degree photos. If there are any cons, it may be that it's only compatible with other Samsung products.
Features: Engineered for a lighter feel and is accompanied by a one-handed controller that fits naturally in your hand
Why you'll like it: With the ability to take 360 degree photos, experience movies in a more immersive way, play games or interact with 1000+ apps you're not likely to get bored anytime soon.
What if the sunrise could greet you at your desired time every morning just before the sound of your favorite music gently flooded the room? That is the power of light therapy in an alarm clock. The most sophisticated of light therapy alarm clocks can help you both drift to sleep and wake up with the power of gradual simulated sunlight. While the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock is at the higher end of the price range, it also has the most to offer in unique features.
Features: Personalized light settings, no replacement light bulb needed, cool to touch (child-safe), sleek design
Why you'll like it: According to Phillips this light will "not only wake you more naturally, but also more energized and improves your mood in the morning".
Voice Controlled Video
If you're in the market for a voice activated video device, there are many options but only one stands out. In comparison to Google Home Hub and Facebook Portal, Alexa Show 2 has the largest screen size (10.1") with high resolution and a built in camera. Show 2 offers the longest list of streaming music and video services and has compatibility with a greater number of smart home cameras. You can also make direct calls and enjoy clearer sound with premium speakers with Dolby processing.
Features: (In addition to the above) 720p resolution, 3.9 lbs., 5MP camera
Why You'll Love It: Show 2 offers the best in video chat, calling and entertainment. If you enjoy cooking it also provides step-by-step recipe assistance, and functions as a remote for your smart home devices.
Price: $229.99 (Frequently discounted)
If the gamer in your life is looking for the intersection of Augmented Reality (AR) and robotics, the MekaMon Robot V2 is it. Creator Silas Adekunle got an exclusive distribution deal with Apple after demonstrating V2's impressive dexterity. Point your iPhone at this spider-like robot to bring it to life, where you'll fight virtual enemies on a single or multiplayer battlefield. It comes in three colors and has numerous creative features that allow you to test the limits of what this robot can do.
Features: Bluetooth, 1.5 hour battery life, dynamic and responsive interaction with personality algorithms, code your MekaMon with Apple's Swift Playgrounds
Why you'll like it: A "free drive" setting enables users to play with MekaMon's movements to create your own animations.
Noise Canceling Headphones
Blocking out the noise around you can be imperative for comfortable travel, conference calls or when you're trying to find some calm from the family horde during the holidays. Sony's Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones live up to their name. These headphones automatically adjust ambient sound settings by detecting your activities from sitting to traveling and they have a quick attention mode to turn down the volume without removing the headphones. The 30+ hours of battery life and integration with Google Assistant put them at the top of my list.
Features: Bluetooth, hands free calling, HD noise-canceling processor
Why you'll like it: These headphones offer superior sound quality with sleek and comfortable design, and quick charge technology.
The "smart" luggage industry encountered turbulence this year with new TSA luggage regulations. Many airlines now require passengers to remove batteries from their carry-on. The addition of Bluetooth, batteries and WiFi hot-spots to our luggage had just begun to ease long distance travel when these regulation changes signaled the end for brands like Bluesmart and Raden. However, all is not lost if you're in the market for upgraded luggage with "smart" features that won't prevent you from boarding your flight. Incase's ProConnected 4 Wheel Hubless Roller has all the modern conveniences you didn't know you couldn't't live without. The battery is easily removed, as are the wheels to better fit into crowded overhead bins.
Features: 20,100mAh of battery power, USB-C port, two USB-A ports
Why you'll like it: The Hubless Roller is well constructed, and you can charge two phones or your MacBook and still have battery power left for days.
If you are or aspire to be the next Michael Bay, you'll need a drone and the DJI Inspire 2 is the best in its class. With a remote, full feature smartphone app and the ability to switch out camera lenses, you will always have total control of the shot. It also has a metal composite body and object avoidance technology to keep it looking new.
Features: 25 minutes of flight time, 4.3 mile control range, 58 MPH
Why you'll like it: Its sleek design, power and quality easily make it a stand out. The Inspire 2 also comes as a professional or premium bundle that includes a variation of lenses, remotes and memory cards.
Cost: $2,999 (starting price)
When it comes to the holiday season and gift giving, it truly is the thought that counts. The realm of tech gift options is endless, but I hope these recommendations help you cultivate thoughtful gift ideas that will delight and/or simplify your recipient's lives.