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FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 09, 2019

Holiday tech gifts: See what's new, imaginative and affordable

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Look for a mention of one or more gifts – digital or old school – that you'd like.
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Find news of a local holiday performance, display or other event that's looks like fun.
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Can you spot coverage of people or groups helping the less fortunate?

Tech devices and accessories that you get or give this gifting season can be practical as well as cool. Some even manage to mix education and fun, such as Hot Wheels TechMods from Mattel ($30). Users build a working toy car by making choices about design and mechanics. In addition to rolling in the real world, it serves as a controller for a phone and tablet app -- which in turn operates the toy as a racecar. And for anyone without a tablet, or who needs a replacement, Amazon’s base-model Fire 7 is a best-seller at just $50 – though The New York Times cautions recently that "it's sluggish and the colors don’t look good." (It's not a iPad, in other words.)

Here's a useful $10 stocking stuffer: ErgoFit Earbuds from Panasonic, with soft tips for comfort. If you use full-sized headphones, they needn’t add to your desk clutter. Small-footprint stands are available for $20 or less. Make sure the headrest is made of rubber and flexible so it won't press an imprint in your headphones.

A flexible iPhone tripod from DaVoice ($14) is handy for long-exposure photos or for taking photos and/or videos of yourself from impossible angles when you're alone. It comes with a Bluetooth-based remote control. Another phone helper is a wireless charging pad from RAVPower ($11-$13) that works with Samsung and Apple devices that allow wireless charging. Also, consider a $10 MPow Selfie Stick with a telescoping neck and Bluetooth shutter trigger. Lastly, a multi-function charging cable from Anker ($15) has a Lightning, USB-C and a Micro USB jack on one side, and a USB-A connector on the other – ideal for every device.

Game reviewer says: "The latest 'Call of Duty' is a game that knows what it wants to be, and focuses all its attention on achieving that goal. . . . There's just that gritty, realistic return to single-player storytelling, and a more muscular, lean multiplayer offering. . . . It's a game that reminds us why we don't play with toy soldiers anymore." – Gene Park, The Washington Post

Choosing headphones: "You can still pay little for good audio accessories, but the key is to stick with quality brands. There are many options with great sound, like Jabra's $100 Move headphones or, for $30, 1More's Piston Fit Bluetooth earbuds." – Brian X. Chen, New York Times consumer technology writer

New video games: "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," (Nintendo), "Pokémon Sword and Shield" (Nintendo) and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare C.O.D.E. edition” (PS4 and Xbox).

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2019
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Front Page Talking Points Archive

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