2017 Holiday Gift Guide Part 5 – Gifts for 50+ 2 of 2

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In our second installment of Gifts for 50+’ers we’ve gotten a little more adventurous. We think that befits the generation that’s still reinventing itself. Though there’s still plenty of traditional tech fare as well.

Laptop Computers – Dell 2-In-1 laptops are nothing new. Laptops that convert to tablets either by the screen detaching from the keyboard or simply bending over backward have been around in one form or another since 2002! So here at Tech50+ we’ve been having a debate that sounds a little like the old Bud Lite commercials: “Tastes Great – Less Filling.” Only in our case, its the Dell XPS 13″ (less weighty) versus the Dell Inspiron 15″ (bigger screen for declining vision). One of our contributors with a bad back says she definitely prefers the lighter weight version, while I’m partial to more screen real estate. We’ll let you decide which is the better traveling machine for your favorite 50+’er.

Convertible Laptop – Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 – It starts with a beautiful InfinityEdge display which pushes the screen to the full limits of the laptop’s frame. The model we tested includes 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, a fanless 1.3 GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor, and a 1080p touchscreen display. It has a 360-degree hinge that is very stable. Many convertibles have screens that wobble. It has a great backlit keyboard but the arrow keys are a bit too narrow. However, the fingerprint scanner next to the trackpad is convenient to use. There is a microSD card slot, two USB-C ports (one of which supports Thunderbolt 3), and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The machine is so quiet it is hard to know when it is turning on. This is a top-level full-time low-weight laptop for those who like to travel and also like the convenience of a tablet. Prices directly from Dell begin at about $1000 and head up from there. 

Few machines we’ve seen are as fast or elegant as the new Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-In-1. This latest Dell laptop is built around the new Intel 8th Generation processor, sometimes called the Kaby Lake Refresh line, but all you need to know is that these are the newest, fastest mobile processors, increasing processor speed by up to 40% by using four cores instead of two. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-In-1 is under 5 pounds, and that’s with a 15-inch touchscreen, backlit & spill-resistant keyboard, gesture-enabled touchpad, an infrared-capable webcam and a pair of tuned speakers. Our review model came with a 256 GB solid-state drive, and there are a variety of drives available up to 2 TB. The review model had 8 GB of RAM but the Inspiron supports up to 16 GB. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-In-1 – as reviewed – is currently $879 direct from Dell and there’s a model $30 less, as well as configurations that will cost over $1000.

Advanced TrackballLogitech MX EEGO Wireless Trackball – If your favorite 50+’er spends a lot of time at the computer, especially in cramped quarters, this might be an ideal input device. This trackball lets someone navigate with precision movements but without having to find surface space for a mouse. It gives the user 20% less muscular strain compared to a regular mouse. MX ERGO features a unique adjustable hinge for personalized comfort and the latest tracking, scrolling and power management technology. With Logitech FLOW™ they can use the trackball to effortlessly move across different screens or devices. Price direct from Logitech is just about $100.  Same price at Amazon. 

Desktop Computer SpeakersLogitech MX Sound – Not everything that’s done at a computer is business or productivity. It’s also a convenient way to watch movies or listen to music. But finding room for a good set of speakers can be a problem. The Logitech MX Sound Bluetooth speakers were specifically created for the desktop. Besides Bluetooth they can be wired to a music device with a 3.5mm cable. They’ve been getting great reviews for deliverihg terrific sound at a very low cost. And they have a pretty innovative design as well. Price directly from Logitech is just about $100.

In-Ear Monitors1More Quad Driver in-Ear Headphones – If your favorite 50+’er likes their tunes, they’ve probably discovered lots of ways to listen. Sometimes you can’t use speakers because they will disturb others. Certainly they’ll need another audio solution if they are on the road listening on a hi-res music player or even a smartphone. But high-end in-ear phones can cost more than $1000 while many of the lower priced offerings have a weak, often tinny sound. 1More’s Quad Drivers are like having four speakers in each ear. And with that fourth driver, these phones bring new quality to high end audio. Price from 1More is about $200. But they’re about $50 less expensive at Amazon. 

LED Lighted Portable DrillDeWalt 20V Max Lithium Ion Compact Power Drill – Here’s a power tool that solves one problem facing the Do-It-Yourselfer on your list. The problem with cordless power tools is that when we go to use them for that weekend project, half of the time, the battery’s dead. The DeWalt 20V Max minimizes the chances of that happening because it can hold a charge for over a year. The two-speed drill’s battery can also be recharged in 30 minutes. Better still, I found the DeWalt handled all the projects I threw at it with steady power, and the built-in LED aiming light was a helpful feature, especially when I had to use it under counters or in dark corners. Available at Amazon for $99.

Dual Screen SmartphoneZTE Axon M -Smartphone screens simply aren’t large enough to properly view maps, spreadsheets and a raft of other information. Enter the new ZTE Axon M, which has not one but two screens. The fold-out phone lets you stretch maps and other applications across two 5.2-inch 1080p LCD panels, effectively creating a mini tablet. The bigger picture makes it more legible, and it can do nifty tricks like display an app on one screen while you type on a virtual keyboard on the other. The Axon M also has a headphone jack (hooray!) and a 20 megapixel camera. ZTE includes a 2-year protective warranty. For now the phone is only available on AT&T $725 or $24.17 for 30 months.

Portable SpeakerCreative iRoar Go – This 5-driver speaker is solidly built and beautifully designed with high quality materials.  It has some rubber that covers the connections and buttons for its water resistant IPX6 rating. With the Creative iRoar Go your favorite 50+’er can play music using Bluetooth, a microSD card, connect to their computer using the microUSB port, or just plug a device into the AUX port or a USB flash drive into the USB port. There’s also and input for a microphone (karaoke anyone?) It is very versatile, has great sound quality and is small enough to fit into a backpack. The Creative iRoar Go is rated with a 12-hour battery life which varies depending upon usage. It can also charge your smartphone or tablet or be used as a speakerphone. Available at Amazon for about $130.

Tech/Travel BackpackTylt Energi Pro Backpack – This is a strong well-built bag with plenty of padding and great weight distribution. It has a ridiculous number of pockets and will easily carry and charge a 15-inch laptop, a tablet and aphone using a 20100 mAH battery. The bag weighs 4 lbs. with the battery and has an internal system for running wires to all your products so that they don’t interfere with anything else you may have packed. Among the positives about this bag are that you can also use it without the battery if you want to lighten your load; it has a handle pass-through; is TSA ready; and has a hidden water bottle pocket. The warranty can be doubled if you register it online.  Available direct from Tylt for $105.

Blowing In The Wynd – Sorry for the pun but the Wynd Air Purifier is a 7-inch tall cylinder that provides personal air quality where ever you want: home, office, travel. The Wynd can clean 8 liters of air per second of particles larger than .03 microns, which includes mold, pollen, cat dander, dust, some smoke and most bacteria. The airflow is adjustable and there’s even an app. An included Tracker will tell you when the air gets dirty and can be used to automatically turn on the Purifier. Said to last all day on a 4-hour charge, or leave it plugged in. $199 direct.

Save Your Peeps – They’ll never know there’s a Brinno PeepHole Camera in the front door. The SHC500 model looks just like a regular peephole from outside, but behind the door is a camera that with a push of the button lets those inside see who’s outside day or night on the 2.7-inch LCD screen. Add a microSD card and visitors are recorded for any necessary playback. Easy to install if there’s already a peephole in the door, otherwise someone needs to drill first. The SHC500K model comes with a wireless knocking sensor, attached separately, which starts it recording when someone knocks. Both are battery powered. Available in stores or on Amazon for under $175, or under $220 with the knock sensor.

Popcorn Specific Microwave. You know that unpleasant odor of burnt popcorn kernels. For some making popcorn in the microwave is hit or miss. But the Sharp Orville Redenbacher’s Microwave takes the worry out of popping. Sharp produces three different models, all designed to deliver the perfect pop when you hit the popcorn button. Is this shameless promotion? You bet. But if your favorite 50+’er has scorched more than their fair share of kernels, this makes perfect sense. The microwaves come in three different models, which vary in size and finish. Available at Amazon for under $140.

Virtual Reality HeadsetSamsung Gear VR  In case your favorite 50+’er hasn’t heard, virtual reality isn’t just for gamers any more. Starting with incredibly immersive entertainment titles such as Everest, Star Trek, and Google VR Earth, and programs for virtual travel, shopping for a cruise cabin, a new car, or relaxation therapy, there’s plenty to find in the VR world.  The Samsung Gear VR is compatible with the Oculus Library and is a great way to get started without investing a lot of money. It does require a late model Samsung phone. Adding a good set of headphones is highly recommended to enjoy the experience. The newest version comes with a game controller to help your 50+’er maneuver the virtual world. It’s available direct from Samsung for about $130 or from Amazon for $86.47.

Glasses Mounted CameraPogoCam – If you remember Google Glass you might well scoff at PogoCam. You shouldn’t. It’s goals are more modest and so is its price. It’s tiny and unobtrusive. It attaches to almost any pair of glasses, and it can take up to 100 photographs or half a dozen short videos on a single charge. Of course there’s an app so you can view the pictures or videos on your smartphone. The device itself does not have any on board removable memory such as a micro SD card. The idea behind PogoCam is that it will let your 50+’er capture those non-virtual reality moments without having to think twice about carting around camera gear, or even using a smartphone. Price direct from Pogotec is $149.

Warm and Fuzzy Wrap  –  Sherpa Puffy Blanket by Rumpl – The folks at Rumpl made their reputation by coming up with a line of warm, cozy, and colorful  down travel blankets that double as wraps and couch throws. Now they’ve expanded into fuzzy fleeces with their Sherpa Puffy Blanket. I’ve been trying this out over the past few weeks and love it. I have a living room with big glass windows that’s imposible to keep warm during the winter. Snuggling in the Sherpa has been hands down the coziest way to watch television. I’m willing to guess that your favorite 50+ man or woman will feel the same. It’s available direct from Rumpl for $127.20

Voice Clarifying SoundbarZVOX SB500 – This soundbar is certain to enhance the television experience for the 50+’er on your list.  For starters it has AccuVoice, ZVOX’s hearing aid technology that enhances the dialog in movies and television pograms that often gets muffled in the mediocre speakers that come with most televison sets. The SB500 comes with built-in subwoofers so there won’t be a problem making a big, clunky box unobtrusive. It also has output leveling that keeps commercials from blasting through the tranquility of the living room. It’s available direct from ZVOX for $399 and from Amazon for $327.03.

Wired and Wireless Indoor and Outdoor Security CameraLogitech Circle2  Camera  – One of the things that struck us about this home security system is the combination of flexibility and simplicity. The Circle 2 has a variety of mounting solutions so you can put it almost anywhere, from inside the living room to outdoors on a tree. It’s weatherproof, and incredibly quick to setup and connect with the smartphone app. It integrates with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. It has a 180° lens, providing a broader view than many other cameras, and also has night vision. The Circle 2 is not just one camera, but comes in several models including wired and wireless. You can buy anything from a single wired camera for about $180 or $200 for a wireless model directly from Logitech, and there are a variety of combo packs as well.

Stylish Sport WatchSamsung Gear Sport – Fitness trackers are getting more popular every year, and manufactuerers are stuffing in more features to set themselves apart. The Samsung Gear Sport is stylish and comes in two colors, a low-key black and a high visibility bright blue. Of course the watches will pair to a smartphone so being out for some exercise doesn’t mean your 50+’er will have to miss a connection. The Gear Sport has all the fitness tracking and coaching modes you might expect. It is not only waterproof but also helps you with your swimming strokes. Available from Samsung for just about $300, about $2 cheaper at Amazon. 

Battery Jump Start Pack – Okay, it’s not sexy, but if your favorite 50+’er lives in a cold weather location, or just wants some peace of mind, this is one way to make sure they won’t have to wait around for Triple A just because of a dead battery. The Cobra JumPack XL H2O features two ways to jumpstart a car, one using the traditional jumper cables and a secondary option that allows the vehicle to be started through the 12-volt port (CLP) inside the car for a simple, non-intimidating jump start. The JumPack also contains a powerful 15,000mAh battery with dual 3 amp USB outputs to rapidly charge two 5 volt portable devices simultaneously making it the ideal emergency battery pack for home, office, vehicle or the outdoors. In addition, it has easy to read LED status lights and a high-intensity flashlight with SOS and strobe functions for emergency. Price is $149.95 direct from Cobra or from Amazon.

Connected mini-safe – Here at Tech50+ we spend a fair bit of time talking about how to keep data safe. But what about keeping physical things safe, things like documents, presciption medicines, cash or jewelry? The iKeyp Pro storage system is a miniature connected safe that can be monitored and locked or unlocked remotely with a smartphone. It uses a clever expanding wing locking system to secure it to the inside of a drawer or cabinet, or almost anything else with two side walls. It’s a great way to safekeep some of the things your 50+’er might want to keep close at hand such as a passport, automobile title, or cash. Because it logs openings and closings, it can also be used to track when medications stored inside are accessed. Price to purchase either directly from iKeyp or from Amazon is $149.

Smart Lighting System – It may be lights out for General Electric’s lightbulb business, which Thomas Edison gave life to in 1879, but GE is still selling its innovative smart light known as C by GE Sol. The light begins with a futuristic design, a simple circle. It  features the functionality of a standalone Alexa device, so your 50+’er can use their voice to control lighting features, set timers, check the weather, tell time, and play music from an Alexa enabled music library. Sol features visual cues for clocks and timers, manual and automated light temperature variation that allows users to select the perfect hue to fit a mood or to ensure a smooth sleep cycle. It’s suitable as a lighting solution in the office, the bedroom, the kitchen or living room. The C by GE Sol is a smart light that enhances the security and convenience of any room through voice control and scheduling via the C by GE app.  Price at Amazon is just about $100. 

3D Printer – For our final gift we’re going to stray a bit off the beaten path and suggest that it may be time to look at the incredible world of 3D printing, specifically the Robo C2 3D Printer. We know this isn’t going to be the right gift for everyone, but if your 50+’er gets excited about crafts, or enjoys new technologies, or simply wants a new hobby, this could be the right gift. The Robo C2 features a compact size, it has one of the fastest print speeds in the desktop 3D space with 250 mm per second. With a 3.5” built-in touch screen as well as WiFi and mobile connectivity, it is fully compatible with Robo’s new print app, so you can 3D print right from any iOS device (android coming soon). The Robo C2 is one of the smallest and most portable of 3D printers in the market, focused on users who want a more compact offering. While it may be smaller, it still boasts a layer resolution of up to 20 microns for smooth and highly detailed prints. The Robo C2 supports over 20 materials including a majority of Robo legacy materials, including PLA, carbon fiber, wood, metal infused, and flexible material. Price at Amazon is $600. 

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Gary is an award-winning journalist who has been covering technology since IBM introduced its first personal computer in 1981. Beginning at NBC News, then at ABC News, Ziff Davis, CNN, and Fox Business Network. Kaye has a history of “firsts”. He was the first to bring a network television crew to the Comdex Computer Show, the first technology producer on ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, the first to produce live coverage of the Solar Power International Conference, and the creator of the Fox Business Network signature series, “Three Days In The Valley”. Along the way he created the History Channel Multimedia Classroom. He has been a contributor to both AARP’s website and to AARP radio, as well as to a handful of other print and web-based publications where he specializes in issues involving boomers/seniors and technology. He has been a featured speaker and moderator at industry events such as the Silvers Summit and Lifelong Tech Conferences at CES, the M-Enabling Health Summit, and the What’s Next Baby Boomer Business Summit. His column, “Technology Through Our Eyes” appears in half a dozen newspapers and websites across the country.

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