Blaine Kyllo and Lynn Greiner
Special to The Globe and Mail
(List goes from cheapest to most expensive, our list of 10 gifts UNDER $100 is here)
FitBit Force ($130)
The latest fitness tracker from Fitbit does so much more than count the steps you’ve taken in a day. The flexible wristband has an OLED display that also monitors calories burned and distance travelled. And the altimeter means your vertical effort is also counted if you’re doing the Grouse Grind, the CN Tower or Mount Royal. You can even have the Force track your sleep habits and wake you, with a gentle vibration instead of a blaring alarm. Bluetooth connectivity and a future update should allow your Force to receive notifications from your iPhone.
Handpresso Wild Hybrid Espresso maker ($129)
No surprise that you’ll find this handy item at Mountain Equipment Co-op. It’s an espresso maker but wouldn’t be out of place in the gear bag of a cyclist or climber. Unlike most of the gadgets in this guide, the Handpresso requires no power and is portable enough that you can take it anywhere, and it works with ground coffee or pods. Simply pump the unit, pour in boiling water, and press out a shot. You will never have to go without, whether you’re at a campsite or in a convention hall. Seems not all great gadgets need computer chips.
Kobo Aura ($150)
Available in two either black or pink, the latest Kobo is the e-reader for those who like to read on public transit. The 174 gram device is super light and can easily be held in one hand while the other holds on for dear life. The 6-inch e-ink display has adjustable illumination for those long, dark mornings. The Aura, like all Kobo readers, supports multiple file formats, including those used for comic books, and you can also read electronic books checked out of your local public library. The 4 GB hard drive is sufficient to hold a couple of thousand titles, but you can store more using microSD cards. And with a battery life of up to two months, your bus could be stuck in traffic for a long time before you’ll run out of things to read.
Toshiba Dynadock U3.0 ($150)
You can never have enough ports. This universal dock plugs into a PC via USB and provides six extra USB ports (four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0), extra video output via an integrated video card, audio and even Ethernet. But be sure to follow the installation instructions exactly.
Braun CoolTec ($150)
Folks with sensitive skin know that razor burn isn’t unique to straight and safety razors. Braun’s CoolTec electric shaver confronts the problem with an aluminum “cooling bar” that cools the skin while you shave. It’s also waterproof, so you can use it in the shower. For an extra $50, the CoolTec comes with a “clean and charge” station that will keep this shaver maintained and ready for the morning routine.
Toshiba Canvio Connect ($80-$150)
This portable USB 3.0 drive draws its power from your computer. It comes with backup software that you can install on your PC, or not as you choose. And it lets you share content from anywhere, via the cloud, or through a shared folder on your PC.
LG Pocket Photo printer ($170)
This mobile printer will easily fit in a stocking and it fits in the palm of your hand, too. And because it weighs a measly 215 grams you’ll barely notice it’s there. The Pocket Photo prints 2 x 3 inch photos in only 45 seconds. It connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth – NFC if you’ve got an Android device – and pulls from your mobile’s photo gallery with a free app. The Pocket Photo uses “zero ink” paper so there’s no messy toner to worry about, and the prints it makes are full of character, like the kind of image you used to get from a Polaroid. The paper comes in 10-sheet pack, and you get three packs for $16.
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean ($230)
Would you believe a toothbrush with a USB port? The Sonicare recharges by induction so you just plug a USB cable into the case to juice it up from your computer or a/c adapter). It has five programmed cycles: clean, white, polish, gum care and sensitive; it also helpfully beeps to remind you to move to a different area of your mouth. Useful tech. It comes in black or white.
Sony QX10 ($250)
This slick gadget looks like it’s simply a camera lens, but it’s actually a self-contained camera. It can connect to your mobile device with NFC or Wi-Fi and can even clip onto the front of your smartphone, turning the combo into a point-and-shoot camera. Or you can use your mobile device as a viewfinder and hand-hold the lens. Jettison the mobile altogether and you can take pictures directly on the QX10, which is equipped with a microSD slot. The companion QX100, available for twice the price, is more fully featured, with a 20-megapixel processor and Zeiss lens.
Breaking Bad on Blu-ray ($300)
What techno-geek didn’t lust after the final episodes of Walter White’s saga? Now they can binge on the entire Breaking Bad series without having to suffer weekly withdrawal symptoms. This Blu-ray special edition, which comes in a replica meth barrel, includes every episode on 16 discs as well as 55 hours of special features, including stars Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul talking about their favourite moments, the cast talking about the scenes that were most shocking to them and creator Vince Gilligan leading a conversation about the dynamics of the White family.
Dyson Hot + Cool ($450)
In case you aren’t familiar with the engineering exploits of British inventor James Dyson, he’s the guy who figured out how to build a better vacuum. Then he figured out how to build a better fan. The Hot + Cool does one better by adding a heating unit, making sure that you can use that air mover year round. What makes this bladeless device so much better than a simple space heater/cooler is in how the air can be circulated through the room.
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