Tech Toys for Christmas

Soon it will be time to start thinking about Christmas and what to give to friends and family. I’d like to share some techy things that would make good gifts.

Smart Devices
Voice-controlled devices such as Amazon Echo or Alexa will continue to flood the market. You already know you can say something like “Call Arnold Saussagehanger” to your cell phone, and it dials for you. Or say “Wake me at 7 a.m.” and the alarm will go off in the morning. You can even say “switch on the Christmas tree,” and Alexa powers up the tree lights by turning on a specific intelligent outlet plug, which is really great when the outlet is behind the tree and unreachable without navigating around prickly branches.

Just to clarify, usually you can’t talk directly to a smart device, yet. You have to control it via a phone app, an Alexa integrated device, or Google Home. When you talk to Alexa, “she” sends a command to the smart device which then performs the action. But make sure those smart devices can be integrated with Alexa and Google.

With a Smart Thermostat, on your commute home you can say “set the heat to 72 degrees;” by the time you are home, the temperature is comfortable. Some can also be set in an “ECO” mode, so it saves you money by influencing the speed the system heats up or cools down, and can turn the heat down a bit in the middle of the night.

Give the gift of an upgrade, hardware or software
Be aware that technology is constantly changing. It might be a challenge to keep all your devices supported over the years to come. Just as with computers, they may need to be replaced as the technology becomes outdated.

If you still run Windows 7, consider a new computer. In January 2020, Microsoft is pulling the plug on updates. So this might be the season to upgrade or replace your system.

I highly recommend upgrading your computer system with a solid state drive. Even new systems will run faster than ever with one of these. The newest Microsoft Surface and Macbook Pro (great devices) have the solid state hard drive soldered onto the motherboard. In this case, it cannot be upgraded, so you might want to get the bigger hard drive right away. And while you’re shopping, don’t forget to grab a deal on an external hard drive and some flash drives to back up your system and data.

Mobile devices are getting faster, smaller, lighter, and more powerful. Wouldn’t someone on your gift list appreciate an upgrade? A new tablet can be a great tool to check emails, watch videos, read e-books, listen to music, and surf the web even faster than ever. To keep your mobile devices charged and organized, consider a multi charging station.

Are you or someone on your holiday list a movie buff? Consider a movie membership. If you do so, choose the “owning it digitally” format so you can watch and stream your favorite film on various devices from almost anywhere. Recently, I became a member of the free Regal Crown Club. They offer the digital copy of certain movies for free, if you watched them at a Regal cinema (with bundles such as “Watch these three movies and get a digital copy of all three for free”). I can now add these digital codes to my “Movies Anywhere” account to watch these movies at home via Comcast, Prime, and more. Combined with my Regal Unlimited™ Movie Subscription Pass (which allows me to watch any movie anytime at 400 Regal cinemas for $21 per month), I can hoard digital movies as part of my subscription. Most Bluray DVDs now come with the digital copy code in the box, too.

Happy shopping!

Klaus Fuechsel
About Klaus Fuechsel 16 Articles
Klaus Fuechsel owns the local award-winning computer repair store Dok Klaus. He and his team deal with all kinds of computer issues; data preservation is one of their top priorities. You may contact Dok Klaus via phone 540-428-2376 or visit his website.

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