Amazon Fire TV/Fire Stick
If you've not yet cut the cable, you've surely heard from the growing number who have. Essential to the new wave of entertainment consumption is a good streaming box. Currently, a competitive market (with options including streaming from Smart TVs and set top boxes) leader for this holiday season is Amazon. The Fire TV ($99) and the Fire TV Stick ($39) were both expected to be hot sellers in their first holiday shopping season. Similar to offerings from Roku and the Apple TV, the advantage goes to the newest of the lot due to a large increase in processing power, offering a faster menu and streaming experience. Tight integration to Amazon's various services, room for third party apps, and an expanded game offering make the Fire TV the most attractive of the current Amazon hardware offerings.
Moving past the current offerings and listening for the future is Amazon Echo. Not yet released, the Amazon Echo is a personal assistant that doubles as a bluetooth speaker. In the vein of Siri, Echo listens for your questions, helps you create lists, gives you alarm and timer functions, as well as plays music guided by your vocal command. Currently available by invite only, it seems that Amazon is interested in avoiding the overproduction problems they had with the Fire Phone. However similar to the technologies introduced with the phone, the company continues to be very interested in creative ways to help you buy more, more easily. From one click ordering to none at all!
If you know a music lover, the growing high-end speaker and headphone market provides some great devices for gifting. Although a lot of bluetooth options exist (see below), Sonos has stepped out in front of the Hi-Fi Wi-Fi category. The PLAYBAR in particular offers a lot of flexibility and sound quality with a very integrated and easy-to-use structure. Connecting to your home network with ease, the Sonos PLAYBAR (as well as their PLAY:1, PLAY:3, and PLAY:5) allows you to stream music from your phone, tablet, or computer. Equipped with an optical input, the PLAYBAR can also serve as the sound source for your TV. By using your network instead of bluetooth, the Sonos systems allow the user to roam throughout the house without loss of sound. In addition, each of the mentioned products can join together, offering a continuous chorus throughout your home.
If you have to be (or like being) in an office all day, you likely sit too much. Standing desks are a growing trend to combat this problem. With NextDesk, you get the best of both worlds. Mentioned in Roman's recent Gadget Tech presentation, we have a couple of these that have popped up around the office. In short, they are quite impressive. Sleekly designed, these desks have all the needed capacity of a normal desk, including power adapters and cable holes. The primary feature, of course, is the ability to move from a seated to standing height without disturbing your abounding cup of coffee.
Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Headphones
Number one on my list was yet another set of headphones, and yet another Bose product. Quite simply, I still have all of the Bose products I've ever owned, and they all still work flawlessly. Though some may not prefer the sound, I've been impressed by their entire line. Boasting 15 hours of wireless listening and the option for using a wire when the battery is low, these compact on-ear headphones look like another great release. Additional features include A2DP for stereo sound, multi-point technology to connect two devices simultaneously, and built in mic, allowing for calls and commands.
JumPack Portable Power Pack – Need some extra charge on-the-go, a flashlight, or a jump? This compact device can charge your USB device multiple times, comes complete with a light, and can jump start most car batteries. I think we have all needed this at some point...I just better not need it any time soon.
Fitbit – Although it's still an industry waiting for that product to ignite widespread use, wearables is still a quickly changing industry. Will you wait for Apple Watch? Or does the new Fitbit line meet your needs in a watch replacement?
Dell P2314H 23" Monitor – A great, reasonably-priced monitor, if you need more screen space in the new year.
Kohler Moxie Showerhead – Gone are the days of FM radios in the shower, but if you can't stand a moment without your tunes or casts, sync your phone to this shower head speaker, and you won't miss a beat.
Perfect Drink Scale – Along with companion app, this scale measures each ingredient to mix your favorite cocktails.