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Front Page Talking Points


Holiday tech gifts: Check out what's new, innovative and affordable


1.gifCan you spot gifts – digital or not – that you want?

2.gifFind news of a local holiday performance, display or other event that sounds like fun.

3.gifLook for people or a group helping the less fortunate. Who benefits and how?

Tech devices and accessories that you give or get this season can be practical as well as cool. Check out new digital gadgets and electronic tools in the categories of apps, games, consoles, cameras, audio gear and streaming devices.

"Deathloop" ($40) is the latest hit from Bethesda Softworks studio. Time-loop mechanics let players learn from their mistakes and try new paths with each playthrough. For those lucky enough to have PlayStation 5, "Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart" ($70) has distinctive twists, colorful characters and gameplay that uses the adaptive triggers on the Dualsense controller. And for Nintendo gamers, a $20 hardshell case from RDS Industries can hold your Switch and a cartridge case. There's also an adjustable viewing stand for propping up your Switch while inside — an improvement on the flimsy kickstand originally supplied. It's $40 at GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon.

A new $50 webcam from VisionTek has 1080-pixel resolution and a 77-degree field of view that keep people in the frame even if far from the camera. A tripod mount is included. For hands-free phone use, the MagicMount Pro2 is designed for iPhone 12 and 13 models that have a built-in circle of magnets. The $40-$50 accessory is useful for watching videos, taping TikToks or chatting without holding a phone.

Here’s more to consider asking for or picking up as a gift:
  • The X-Cap Light Up Hat is amusing and useful. It’s a $35 acrylic cap with a 120-lumen forehead lamp that pops out when the hat needs washing or the light needs a recharge through its USB port. It provides about four hours of use per charge, plenty for after-dark walks, outdoors sports, camping and other activities.
  • Budget-priced $30 earbuds from Skullcandy are said to fit snugly while running or working out.
  • If you get the urge to belt out a song or two wherever you are, the Karaoke Microphone Speaker may be ideal. The $50 device connects to your music app or library via Bluetooth, so the mic amplifies your voice and acts as a speaker. It recharges with a USB cable and hold power for eight hours of use.
  • For on-the-go recharging, Power Pod (two for $20) is a keychain that can juice up Android and Apple gear for another two hours.
  • No need to have gross AirPods, thanks to a $13 AirPod Cleaner Kid cleaning kit, available at Best Buy and Amazon.
  • The Backyard League Gaming Baseball ($89) takes playing catch to the next level. It has sensors to detect speed, height and other data that appears in its companion app. The metrics can help improve skill and also be used to play games.
  • Catch up on the world of "Cowboy Bebop" with a four-disc collection of the classic anime series before diving into the new live-action Netflix version. The Blu-ray set ($29-$33) has commentary tracks and interviews with the original voice cast.
  • The Tello Drone from Ryze Tech ($99) is still is an affordable starter drone with a beginner's coding project included. It's easy to fly, has a camera for basic aerial photography and videos, and can be programmed using a mobile app that supports Scratch (a coding platform designed by MIT).
  • Trendy T-shirt: Non-tech choices include shirts from Billionaire Boys Club, a maker of Gen Z-friendly clothes with tie-dye, punchy graphics and quotes. The brand, carried at Nordstom, also gives back to charitable organizations as a core part of its mission, including Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate, mental health charities and more.

    Card game: ESPN Trivia Night is a $19 no-tech alternative with 1,000 sports-based questions and fun mini-games. Target sells it.

    Chest-strap pack: Totes that used to be called fanny packs are actually stylish now—but only when strapped across the chest. Those made by Herschel come in 25 colors and patterns. Amazon has 'em.

    Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2023

    Front Page Talking Points Archive

    Common Core State Standard
    SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.