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Gadgets for the grownups on your list

Okay. You’ve done your tech toy shopping for the kids – maybe after taking a peek at our latest post. Now it’s time to do a bit of shopping for yourself – or for another grownup who’d like to find a tech gadget in their stocking. The list put together by Samantha Schoech in The New York Times is a pretty good one. I’ll summarize it here for you.

Worrying about misplacing your keys? Ever have to get someone to call your missing phone, only to remember that you had the ringer turned off? If so, you’re a candidate for a Bluetooth tracker. Here the recommendation is the Apple AirTag or, for the Android users among us, a Tile Mate.

If you want to make sure a larger Apple AirTagged item – your suitcase or your cello – is securely tagged, Schoech gives the nod the Raptic Link & Lock. This combines a protective case and a carabiner lock. It’s a hefty little gadget, but be warned: a bolt cutter would be enough to remove it. Still, it would work for a less-determined, more casual thief – or for someone who’d picked up your suitcase or your cello by mistake.

You’ve probably already got one in your office, one in your car, and one in your bedroom, but let’s face it, having a portable charger would be useful. The Belkin Boost Charge Plus 10K is pocket-sized and can be used with most handheld devices, and “it has enough juice to charge most smartphones up to three times.” Even better, it comes with two cables, so it can both give and receive a charge at the same time.

If you don’t already have a charger in your car, the iOttie Easy One Touch Wireless 2 Dash & Windshield Mount will do the trick. No need for charging cords. The device mounts on an AC vent, the dashboard, or in a CD-slot base. (Do folks still play CDs in their cars? Asking for a friend.)

For Apple folks – iPhones, Apple Watches, AirPods – the Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand lets you charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously. (Alternatively, for iPhones 12 or later, there’s the Belkin Boost Charge Pro 3-in-1 Wireless Charger, which is MagSafe.

Is your smart home smart enough to warrant a smart plug, there’s the 4-pack TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim (EP25), which does just what you want a smart plug to do: “reliable control and scheduling, energy monitoring, and an Away Mode for vacations.” And the price is right. There’s also a six-outlet strip, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip (HS300).

Another gadget for smart homeowners is the Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen). Built to perch on your nightstand, this smart display is multi-talent. You should “get this smart display for anyone who wants a better alarm clock that also doubles as a sleep tracker and a handy assistant.” And it doesn’t have a camera, so there’s no danger of it spying on you while you sleep.

For folks (especially Gen Z-ers) who like to decorate with string lights, whatever the season, the Times pick is the TP-Link Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Light Strip L930-5. It sounds like one of the best things about it is that it’s easy to set up and easy to use. Who doesn’t love a “minimal learning curve.”

If you want to gadget up your backyard bird feeder, the Bird Buddy may look like a cute little birdhouse birdfeeder, but it comes equipped with a camera to shoot pictures and videos of visitors (birds and squirrels). It can also connect to the cloud to identify the specific bird that’s snacking at your place. (Not sure if it can also identify anything about the squirrel, but I don’t think there’s all that much squirrel variance.)

At over $500, it’s not exactly stocking-stuffer material, but the Bambu Lab P1P is still a somewhat affordable 3-D printer. The bed is roughly 10 inches cubed, so you won’t be able to, say, print out a new house for yourself, but for hobbyists and small-scale makers, this one might be a hit.

For photographers and videographers, the Joby GorillaPod 1K Kit can be used to mount all sorts of devices (weighing up to 1 kg). The Times “recommends it for taking time-lapses, videos, and low-light photos…[and] for taking timed group shots or selfies.

For folks who want to see an actual picture (albeit one that’s “smaller than a credit card”), the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link 2 uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone. And it comes in colors. A few, anyway: white, pink, and black. (Don’t forget to get some film, while you’re at it.)

If you like to see your pictures, but don’t care to print them out, the Aura Carver is the recommended digital photo frame. A nice touch: “it allows many people to add photos to the frame.” (A nice touch as long as you trust someone not to upload the embarrassing photo that makes you look really goofy.)

Come on. You know you want a drone. And if you want to do drone-photography, the DJI Mini 3 drone camera may be the one for you. While it’s less expensive than many other drone cameras, it still has all the requisite features, including “image and flight stabilization, an included controller, and smart flight modes, in which the drone flies itself to easily capture cinematic shots.” It’s lightweight, and has a 38-minute battery life. (No obstacle avoidance, however, so it could run into a tree or a seagull or something.)

There are a couple of old-schoolish tech gadgets for music lovers. One is the Victrola Houston. (Is there anything more old-school than calling something a Victrola?) The Houston is a tabletop FM radio that comes with “impressive sound quality [and] great reception.” With its Bluetooth capabilities, this device can be used as a speaker.

The second old-school music-related item is the Angels Horn H019 record player. It’s an all-in-one turntable, so easy to set up. Like the Victrola Houston, the Angels Horn comes with Bluetooth capabilities so your giftee can jam to their favorite records and their favorite playlist all in one place.

Nothing earth shattering, but this is a pretty good list, if only for window shopping.