2017 Holiday Gift Guide Part I – Gifts for 50+ 1 of 2

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Time to jump in with what we think are some of the best Holiday Gifts for the 50+ crowd. But before we do, just a brief preface. Last year we got beaten up pretty good for doing separate sections for 50+ Men and Women. And since these days I’m the one who deals with cooking and kitchen appliances, I get it. So this year we’re doing two sections of gifts for our generation. Hope you enjoy.

Smartphone Our favorite smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Its main advantage over the competition is the ability to take notes right on the screen, then store them – all without even turning on the phone. It has a big, intensely colorful screen, a terrific camera, and the ability to multi-task using different windows simultaneously.  It also provides Micro-SD card storage.  It has a very versatile camera with two lenses that will allow you to take a variety of shots simultaneously, even reset and refocus after you’ve taken the picture. You can read our full review here. If you want to buy it as a gift it’ll cost anywhere from about $949 to $972.

Mechanized UmbrellaShedRain e-Motion Motorized Automatic Open and Close Compact Umbrella  Anyone who’s fumbled with an umbrella while carrying groceries and trying to open a door will appreciate the ShedRain e-Motion umbrella. It’s the first model to open–and close–using a built-in electric motor. Up and down buttons in the handle operate the rechargeable device, which lasts for about 150 open-and-close operations between charges (it will also work without power). To keep the water off, it has a Teflon coating and fiberglass ribs. My only complaint after weeks of testing is that you can inadvertently press the up/down buttons when stowing the umbrella. A lock button would be a great addition. Price is $99 from Amazon and elsewhere.

Upright Vacuum Cleaner – Hoover React Powered Reach Plus Upright Vacuum Robotic vacuums like the Roomba may be great for entertaining cats, but they’re not very good at dealing with challenging cleaning jobs like sucking up pet fur from deep pile carpets. For that, you need a human-directed vacuum, such as the Hoover React Powered Reach Plus. It not only handles hair and dog and cat fur with ease, it also has an auto height sensing system to automatically adjust the vacuum as you roll from carpet to hardwood floors and back—no more bending over to make brush adjustments. The React Powered Reach also has a HEPA filter and a smartphone app that monitors the filter. Better still, it’s $200 less than the posh Dyson Animal 2 vacuum while delivering arguably better performance. Hoover recently lowered the price to about $250.

Hi-Res Music Player – Fiio X7 Mark II As more people discover the joys of Hi-Res or lossless music files, they’re making the move from MP3 players to portable Digital Audio Players (DAP).  Chinese based Fiio has been making Hi-Res players for a while, but the X7 is its flagship product with 64GB of internal memory along with two micro-SD card slots (the slots are more like smartphone SIM holders that are protected from the elements). The X7 has some features we’ve not generally seen elsewhere including both optical and coax outputs. It also has separate headphone jacks for both 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm outputs. It will play just about all of the current crop of lossless formats but is not able to reproduce the highest quality MQA streams (possibly in a future firmware update). Price is just about $650 at Amazon.com.

Noise Canceling – Hi-Res Bluetooth Headphones – Sony WH-1000XM2 Sony just keeps getting better and better at this. It was one of the first companies to figure out how to combine noise canceling with Hi-Res. Not an easy task since the two technologies sometimes appear at odds. The previous version of these phones, the MDR 1000X won the Tech50+ Boomie Award for best headphones. We think the newer model may follow suit. Among the new features: An app that will let you adjust many of the features including noise canceling levels and adaptive sound control, improved sensitivity for making adjustments by swiping the outside of the earcups, adaptive sound that will adjust based on your activity and outside ambient noise levels, and the ability to adjust the phones so you can hear things like airport announcements even as you listen to music. They do a good job of reproducing lossless tracks, despite the noise cancellation. Price from Sony is almost $350. Amazon price is only about $2 cheaper.

Stand and Sit DeskThe WorkFit – T from Ergotron. Does your favorite 50+ ‘er spend so much time hunched in front of the computer that he or she is starting to look more like a question mark than an exclamation point? Time to spend more time standing and less sitting.Studies have found that taking a sedentary position for much of the day is really unhealthy. The Workfit-T converts from a sitting desk to a standing desk. It will raise their computer and monitor by as much as 15″ making it comfortable to work from a standing position while offering support for wrists and more comfort in the long run for the back and neck. Price at Amazon is $396.23.

Fitness TrackerHuawei Band 2 Pro Huawei is a relative newcomer to the fitness band market in the U.S., but this entry packs a lot of features into a reasonably priced package. We’ll admit that it looks a bit like other trackers on the market such as those from Fitbit. But it comes with a host of features including GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, and sleep tracking. It also has both a breathing coach and a running coach. Of course, it also has the fitness measurements you’ve come to expect. All of this can be displayed on your smartphone using an app that runs on both Android and iOS.

The Huawei Band 2 Pro’s menu interfaces are quite responsive and are smooth in their transitions, and the animations for the different modes (run, swim, bike) are fluid and pleasing. It comes in a number of colors and is very comfortable on the wrist.  It’s waterproof down to 5ATM. Price at Amazon is just about $70.

Total Home Wireless Storage – The WD MyCloud Home Duo is a single device that can store data from any of your devices and keeps all your information available to you at any time from anywhere in the world. The newest version of this product is simple in its approach and easy to use. I tested a 16 TB unit that has a gigabit ethernet port and two Type-A USB 3.0 ports. You can get it in either single drive or dual drive versions. The single drive starts at 2TB and goes to 8TB. The two drive system goes up to 16TB. The default for the two-drive My Cloud is to mirror itself so you’ll have a double backup of all photos and data from any device you own, splitting the device into dual 8 TB drives. It’s easy to set up. Connect to your router, plug it in and sign in at www.mycloud.com/hello from a mobile product. At that point, a password is selected and you enter a code supplied with the product and you are good to go. You can have multiple users and you can share files. MyCloud is available as a single or dual drive product at different price points beginning at about $160 for a 2TB single drive version and heading up to $700 for the 16TB version we’ve been using. 

Connected Video Doorbell – Ring Doorbell 2 Ring, which helped popularize the video doorbell is back with the 2nd version with even more features.  It now offers an easy to swap rechargeable battery pack. If you get two of them you can always keep one charged up. It saves the hassle of having to remove the device to replace batteries. It can still be hardwired to the existing doorbell wiring. It includes a speaker and microphone so your 50+ ‘er can converse with whoever is at the front door no matter where they are so long as they have access to an iOS device, Android, Mac, or Windows 10 PC.

The Ring Doorbell 2 has night vision, a motion detector, and 1080p HD video.  We’ve seen it priced anywhere from $169 to $199.

50″ 4K UHD Smart TelevisionRCA Roku Smart LED TV – Many seniors and baby boomers grew up in the days before there was color television.  Can you imagine?  Then RCA changed all that with the first color TV’s.  RCA is long gone as a company, but the brand lives on, and so does a new generation of budget-priced smart 4K/UHD televisions with Roku already built-in to provide access to a huge range of streaming services.  This set allows seamless access to over 450,000+ streaming channels including the 4K Spotlight channel, the easiest way to find 4K content across popular streaming channels such as Netflix, Vudu and YouTube. The simple remote and dual-band wireless make it fast and easy to access favorite content. This 50″ 2160p 60Hz LED HDTV has three HDMI inputs for connecting your DVD, Blu Ray player or preferred video game console.

It’s compatible with an over-the-are antenna. With a tuner built-in, Roku TVs allow you to connect an antenna and enjoy over-the-air entertainment. It’s available at WalMart for $378.58.

Whole Room Air PurifierMolekule  Is the 50+ ‘er in your life one of those who wakes up every morning with a runny nose, or itching eyes?  Maybe it’s not the fault of allergies, but indoor air pollution.  While most air purifiers trap particles in a filter, Molekule claims it doesn’t just trap them, it destroys them.  The sophisticated nano-technology that accomplishes this was developed by researchers at two Florida universities over a period of 20 years. It uses two separate filtration systems to break down pollutants on a molecular level. Allergens, mold, bacteria, viruses and airborne chemicals are completely eliminated, not just caught. This new technology is the only one able to destroy pollutants of any size including those 1000x smaller than what a HEPA filter can catch. It’s done with a complex light- activated nanoparticle filter that creates a catalytic reaction on the filter surface that breaks down the molecular structure of pollutants. It claims to get rid of mold, bacteria, and even viruses and will clean a 600 square foot room.

The device is also an industrial design work of art, part of the Museum of Modern Art collection.  It’s not cheap, with a $799 pricetag.  In addition, there’s a year’s subscription of $99 for the two different filter types (this discourages the user from using it without active filtration.)

Here Comes The Sun – The BEDDI Glow Intelligent Alarm Clock can slowly wake up sleepers with an ever-brightening light, simulating sunrise. But wait, there’s more. It’s also a regular clock with four alarms, or it can play music from Spotify or give traffic and weather updates. The BEDDI Glow can also be a nightlight, a mood light, a white noise generator, a high-quality Bluetooth speaker, and it has two USB charging ports. And of course, it’s customizable with an app on your phone. $79.99 direct or on Amazon.

Java Break Coffee represents a significant part of my work day, from first thing in the morning often into the late hours if I’m working on a project. I don’t particularly like to brew a whole pot and then just leave it. So I’ve become quite fond of the Keurig one cup brewing system. One of the newest models is the Keurig K-Select Coffee Maker. This is a compact unit, great for the counter in your home office where space may be at a premium. And while you can buy K-cups in many flavors, we like to grind our own beans and use the reusable basket. Among its features: Brews multiple cup sizes, Strong brew button, Large 52 oz. water reservoir,   Smart Start brewing technology, Programmable auto-off feature.  It’s available in Matte Black and Vintage Red.  Price is about $130.

Electronic Pain Relief – Quell Wearable Pain Relief Device  – Anyone who has chronic pain – or has gone to physical therapy – is probably familiar with a TENS device (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). It’s designed, as its full name says, to electrically stimulate the nerves for a hopeful therapeutic response. Wearable TENS devices have been around for some 40 years, starting with battery operated models with electrodes that attached to a person’s back to help control chronic back pain.  Quell is a TENS device with a difference. You don’t necessarily put it where your pain is, but where it likely isn’t – the calf of one of your legs. NeuroMetrix, which produces Quell, says it delivers Wearable Intensive Nerve Stimulation or WINS  and claims that, from your leg, it will block pain signals in the rest of your body by triggering a natural pain relief response. You can wear the device strapped to your calf both during the day and while you sleep. Its cycle of nerve stimulation is controlled by an app on your smartphone, with which it communicates by Bluetooth. Price is $249 on Amazon.

Immersive Entertainment Headset – Royole Moon 3D Virtual Mobile Theater  From the outside this may look like a Virtual Reality headset, but it is anything but. This is more like a movie theater for your face, complete with stunning display and noise-canceling headphones. That makes it an ideal traveling device.  The display projects an image that is the equivalent of an 800″ curved movie theater.  You can store videos on an included storage device.  Sony Entertainment has teamed up with Royole to offer free select titles to buyers.  The Moon has two separate parts, the display/headphones combo, and a box about the size of a smartphone that includes a rechargeable power supply as well as 32GB of storage, and inputs for a mini-HDMI and micro-USB. That allows you to plug in your own content from a variety of sources, including a Blu-Ray player or some smartphones. You can also download movies from your own collection, though the device does not play all file formats. If you50+ ‘er likes or needs to travel, and would rather be entertained and isolated on the train or plane rather than be productive or engaged, this is a great solution.  It doesn’t come cheap, $799 from Amazon and elsewhere.

Classic Style Smartwatch Fossil Q Neely and Fossil Q Jacqueline – If your favorite 50+ man or woman has toyed with the idea of a smartwatch to stay connected, but would rather be fashionable than techie, Fossil has come out with a new line of its Q series hybrid watches that are not at all clunky looking, have classic style, a smaller wrist-print, but still have smarthwatch functionality.  Both come with traditional leather straps.  They use the Q-App that links with both Android and iOS devices.  On the fashion side, the watches have a wide range of interchangeable straps.  On the function side they feature most of what you’d expect from a smartwatch including:

Activity TrackingBuilt-In Fitness Tracker
Notifications: Social Media / Text / Email / App Alerts / Multiple Time Zones / Alarm Clock / Calendar Alerts
Functions: Take a Picture / Control Your Music / Sleep Tracker / Step Tracker / 
Connectivity: Bluetooth® Smart Enabled / 4.1 Low Energy
Price for either line of watches is $155.
Room-Filling Music SystemRiva Wand Festival  – There’s a boatload of connected music systems on the market right now.  But we haven’t heard any that have quite the room-filling high-quality audio that’s pumped out by the Riva Wand Festival.  Designed by rock promoter turned touring band audio creator Rikki Farr, this speaker uses Riva’s patented Trillium technology to make it sound like a single speaker enclosure is putting out a big stereo sound.  The product’s designers set out to recreate a live concert experience. Relying on its own app, and wi-fi connectivity, the speaker does a wonderful job of reproducing Hi-Res audio files, as well as streaming from Spotify and other services.  The speaker can be mated to other Festivals to fill a home with sound.  You can read our complete review here.  On sale through Christmas for $399.
Voice Enabled Connected Smart SpeakerGoogle Home with Google Voice Assist – The reason we like the Google Home speaker is that it connects seamlessly with the rest of the Google world.  Let’s face it, you’re more likely to do a Google Search or request a recipe or directions more often than you are to ask your device to turn on your light.  And those are the places where the Google Voice Assist really stands out. The Google Home pulls info from a personal Google account to keep you informed about your calendar appointments and the traffic on your route. The Home even remembers previous questions to better answer you in the future. It can also control some smart-home gadgets along with your TV and speakers if you have Chromecast video or audio streamers. Price is $129 in black or white.
A One-Suiter in a Backpack CoPilot Backpack from Henty – This is one of the most innovative pieces of luggage that we’ve come across.  It’s great for the 50+’er who still spends time in the air either for business travel or a quick getaway.  It starts off like a garment bag that can hold jackets, slacks, shirts, skirts, and shoes.  It also has a pouch that will hold underwear, toiletries, etc.  You wrap the garment bag around the pouch and with the integrated backpack straps just put it on and whiz through airports.  That means they will have two hands-free to carry a computer bag in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.  it’s available in two colors.  Price is $279 which may sound pricey, but again, we’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Air Fryer – Gourmia GTA2500 Electric Digital Air Fryer Griller and Roaster – If your favorite 50+ ‘ers have a passion for fried foods, but you have a passion for making sure they eat healthy, the Gourmia Air Fryer deliver great crispy taste without the oil or grease.  It circulates air, crisping exteriors while moistening and tenderizing insides. Let convection cooking and air frying replace traditional oil frying, leaving them with incredible tasting, healthier meals.  It comes with 11 versatile attachments providing the power to do more with Gourmia’s FreeFry 360. Bake, fry, grill, steam, roast and more, all in one appliance.  It has an easy to clean interior liner that is non-stick and removable for easy cleanup. Price is $173.97 at Amazon.

 

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