Check out The Wonder of Tech in The Philadelphia Inquirer: The Wonder of Tech: Wantful – Giving gifts that are wanted.
The holiday season is upon us, dear readers! That’s right, it’s time once again for the annual Wonder of Tech Holiday Gift List. In a tradition that dates back to 2011, I compile the most fun and functional tech gifts for your loved ones. Whether your budget is tiny or unlimited, you’re sure to find a tech gift that’s perfect for techies and non-techies alike!
It’s a rule of tech that the more devices you have, the more cords you have. Keeping them them getting tangled can be a challenge, but a nifty invention called Cordies can solve that problem.
Cordies can keep your charge cords, headphone cords and USB cords from becoming a knotted mess on your desk. Available in pink, white, blue and charcoal, these handy holders don’t take up much space as they keep you organized.
Cordies are available from Quirky for $9.99.
Shaped like the Greek letter Π, this mount will keep your mobile device off of the floor or kitchen counter as you are charging it. The Pi Mount snaps onto a square plug (not included) and then cradles your phone above the plug to (hopefully) protect it from danger.
The official name of the product implies that it can only be used for the iPhone 4S, but I have two of these mounts and have used them for Android, Windows Phone 8, Kindle Fire, iPod Touch and other mobile devices as well as my iPhone 4S. The opening is about 5/8″ or 14.9mm wide so you can nestle your phone in the Pi Mount even if you keep it in a case.
The Pi Mount Cell Phone Holder for Apple iPhone 4S is available from Wireless Emporium for $12.99.
Give your friends and family a domain name with their personal names. They may not need it now, but someday they may be very grateful to you for securing theirname.com. Your kids might use their domain name for a school project, for a fun website, or to direct to their Facebook or Tumblr page. If they ever start a business, having a domain name with their name may make searching for them much easier. Someday when they are in the job market, they can direct their domain name to their LinkedIn account.
Domain names start at $15 per year from Hover.com.
Like and Dislike Stamps
For Facebook fans, check out Like and Dislike stamps to express your feelings in real life. If you ever wish you could vote thumbs up or thumbs down when you’re not on Facebook, these stamps may come in very handy.
You may get so spoiled by these stamps that you’ll crave a Dislike button on Facebook even more than you do already.
The Like and Dislike stamps come as a pair for $15.89 from Firebox.
Revive Solar External Battery Pack
Charging electronic devices took on new importance with the arrival of Hurricane Sandy last month. Whether you’re on a camping trip or waiting for power to be restored, you can use this solar charger to juice up your devices. The Revive Solar External Battery Pack can be charged by the sun or by plugging it into an electrical outlet.
This battery pack has a USB port and can charge your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android device, Kindle and other devices. It’s about the size of an iPhone so you can take it with you wherever you think you’ll need a charge.
The Revive Solar External Battery Pack is available from Amazon for $27.99.
Toast Hand Warmers
If the person who controls the thermostat in your office likes to keep your temperatures bit frosty, check out these handy hand warmers. Although this toast cannot be considered tasty, it can keep your digits toasty warm as you try to type.
Much more useful than actual slices of toasted bread, these hand warmers plug into any USB port and have controllers so you can adjust the heat to your hands. USB Toast Hand Warmers are available for $31.99 from ThinkGeek.
If you want to turn your iPhone into an arcade gaming machine, check out the iCade Mini. This accessory works with the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, as well as the iPod Touch 4th generation. The iCade works with over 150 iCade-approved games in the iTunes App Store.
The iCade Mini is available for $49.99 from ThinkGeek.
The Makey Makey may be the coolest tech ever invented. This invention kit turns any object into a keyboard, mouse or video game controller. You have to watch this video to see it in action:
No coding is required. If you can attach a clip to an object and plug a cord into a USB port, you can turn ordinary objects into keys. I have a Makey Makey and will be doing a full review in the future, but if you’re looking for a unique gift for a budding inventor, check out the Makey Makey.
The Mackey Mackey is $49.99 from ThinkGeek.
One Direction Zappar Boxed Set
If you have tweens on your holiday shopping list, check out the One Direction Zappar Boxed Set, including a CD, picture book stickers, a T-shirt and wristband. Zappar technology makes the picture book come to life. Using the free Zappar app, One Direction fans, a/k/a Directioners, can play their favorite songs and see exclusive videos in the book.
The One Direction Zappar Boxed Set is available for $59.99 from the One Direction Official Store.
If you want to keep your hands warm in the winter while talking on the phone, check out these Bluetooth gloves. These gloves have a speaker in the thumb and a microphone in the little finger, and sync with any Bluetooth-enabled phone (it doesn’t have to be a smartphone) to turn your hand into a telephone receiver.
Xbox 360 with Kinect/Dance Central 3
If your family likes to have fun, check out Xbox 360 with Kinect. This video game console is unlike any other in that it uses your body as the controller, getting you up off of the couch so you’re exercising as you play.
We first discovered Kinect when my 16 year old daughter and I saw a display outside a Microsoft store in our local mall. The next thing we knew, we were dancing to “Moves Like Jagger” in the game Dance Central 3 in the middle of the mall. We were having so much fun that my daughter neglected to notice that she was dancing in the middle of a shopping mall with her mother.
For a full review of Dance Central 3, check out Dance Central 3 Review for the Xbox 360 Kinect at Dragon Blogger. Included in the review by Mitra Faridian is a video of her demonstrating her dance moves, which makes her almost as brave as my teenage daughter, who has been known to dance with her mother in the middle of a shopping mall.
The Lytro camera breaks the mold of traditional cameras by letting you change focus and perspective after the pictures are taken. This unconventional camera analyzes the data of light to allow the viewer to manipulate 3D pictures from different angles.
Move your cursor over the image to see how the focus and perspective change.
More sample images can be found in the Lytro Gallery.
The camera design is equally unique, looking more like a kaleidoscope than a camera.
The Lytro camera comes in seven colors and is available for $399 for 8 GB and $499 for 16 GB from Target.
If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic, well then you’ve fantasized about a flying car. Good news, your dreams have come true.
The Flying Car has been invented by MIT students who must have been stuck in traffic at some point in their lives. This street-legal car converts to an airplane within seconds, allowing you to drive to an airport and fly away in the same vehicle.
This year put Flying Car on your wish list and forget worrying about traffic. Flying Car is available from Hammacher Schlemmer for $350,000. Yes, it’s expensive, but think of how much money you’ll save on airport parking!
Pilot’s License not included.
You don’t have to be a techie to want tech gifts for the holidays.
Did you discover any tech gifts you’ll be putting on your wish list? Which tech gifts are you giving this holiday season? Have you ever wanted a flying car? Let us know in the Comments section below!
*Gift image by Vincent van der Pas
** Lytro Camera image by Greg Tokarki