FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 17, 2018
Tech and electronic gifts: See what deserves spots on your holiday list
Look for a mention of one or more gift items – tech or not – that you want.
Find news of a local holiday performance, display or other event that seems like fun.
Try to spot coverage of people or groups helping neighbors in need.
Choices of tech gadgets and electronic diversions get cooler, more portable and more interactive each year. Check out a bunch of new offerings that you many want to give or get in the categories of apps, games, consoles, audio gear and streaming devices.
One of the hottest new video games is Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, released this month for Nintendo Switch and earning strong reviews. It brings together every fighter from the series with more stages, faster combat and new attacks. Another popular title is God of War, a hyper-realistic Norse mythology survival saga for PlayStation. A device getting attention is the Amazon Fire TV Stick's new 4K version. Users can stream movies, TV shows and games to a handheld device or larger screen. If Alexa is in your home, the stick can be connected to change volume or selections with voice commands. Another practical present is the N30 Retro Bluetooth Gamepad, a $22 item that syncs with your player wirelessly and is compatible with a range of devices including Switch, Steam and Raspberry Pi. For Switch users, a $40 battery charger case doubles gameplay time.
Handy gadgets include a compact, portable electronic password keeper for those who'd rather not store sensitive info on Post-Its, a memory stick or directly on a hard drive. The $20 item, called passwordsFAST, is a bit bigger than a credit card and stores up to 125 encrypted user names, passwords and PIN numbers. In the audio category, Bluetooth speakers are a cool way to rock an iPod Classic, stream Spotify on your phone or share music from another smart device. Compact models include the Tribit Portable ($36) and Amazon Echo Dot ($30 for new style or $20 for second-generation version). Another small choice is the splashproof Sony XB01 ($23), suitable for shower use available in multiple colors. The Fire 7 Tablet is a small $50 tablet for watching videos, surfing the web, reading ebooks and listening to music.
For good headphones at a budget price, a site called Shack News recommends the Superlux HD668B for $43. "They are a Chinese knock-off of a popular AKG design, and they sound just as good as options that are four times the price," it says. Catch this: Now you can make two-by-three-inch prints of phone photos while on the go, thanks to an HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer that uses Bluetooth technology. And here's an unflashy accessory that's useful daily: Samsung's Qi Wireless Charging Pad ($20) is a fast recharger for any new Android and iOS phone. Set your phone on top and it starts charging, no cable needed. Colored lights show when it's back at 100%. Lastly, a novelty tech toy: The Sky Viper Dash Nano Drone ($20) is a mini quad copter that can fly inside or outside, and land in the palm of your hand. It has auto and manual modes, and knows eight stunts it can do with one touch.
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