FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 15, 2014
Holiday tech gifts include new phone gadgets, app-driven robot, LEGO Technic, Skylanders tablet game
Look for a mention of one or more gift items – tech or not – that you'd like.
This also is the season of holiday events. Try to find news of a local performance or display that’s appealing.
Lastly, can you spot coverage of people or groups helping the less fortunate this month?
Parents shopping for holiday season presents that will interest you far longer than a few days, weeks or even months can pick from new tech gadgets and diversions. Choices get cooler and more interactive each year, as with any electronics. Popular categories include apps, video games and consoles, audio gear and all sorts of programmable stuff. Even an old favorite your grandparents know – LEGO kits – now come as Technic sets that include a digital project guide that has 3D models and turns building into a game.
An Anki Drive car-racing car set, for instance, uses software to give a different personality and powers to each miniature vehicle on an oval track -- similar to characters in a video game. There are evil cars, canny cars, cars with special weapons and others that make defensive maneuvers. Another action-toy offering is Ollie, a new app-driven rolling robot that’s controlled from an Android or iOS phone and can reach 14 mph on two colorful "tires." An LED allows night use outdoors. Speaking of outside fun, two models of Razor electric scooters can zip along at up to 15 mph and go 40 minutes before a recharge.
Fans of taking selfies can ask for the OlloClip, which attaches over a phone to add photo options such as fisheye, wide-angle and two macro lenses. For music listening, new V-Moda XS headphones have a headband hinge that lets the padded ear cups fold for storage in a hard case that’s included. The set comes with a microphone that can be used with Apple iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows hand-held devices. And for the Skylanders crowd, a new Trap Team video game from Activision is the fourth installment and the first to work with a tablet. Players snare villains in a "Traptanium" and use them to fight the evil Kaos.
Toymaker says: "There used to be this growing gap between the toy side and the video game side, where there was a depth of character and personality and interaction in the virtual side that was never possible in physical toys." -- Boris Sofman, chief executive of Anki Drive in San Francisco
Parent says: Skylanders Trap Team "is insanely fun and my daughter literally has to pry the controller from my cold, cramped hands. I just love this new game." – Jennifer Jolly, writing in USA Today
Tech writer says: "Romo [from Amazon] is basically the toy I dreamed about as a child come to fruition. . . . The toy robot can be driven around like a remote control car. . . . I haven't had this much fun reviewing a product in a long time." – Alex Colon, PCMag.com
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