17 Terrific Tech Gifts

With Black Friday coming up very soon, the rush begins to get our loved ones the perfect Xmas or Holiday gift. At The iMums we love seeing all the great new technology that is being created, and seeing how the connected home is evolving year upon year.  We have been busy creating all our Holiday Gift Guides to showcase some of our favorite products and help you choose the perfect gift for your loved ones. Here are 17 of our favorite Tech products for the adults on your gift list, be sure to also check out our kids gift guide, our gifts for health and wellness, our gifts for parents and our gifts under $30.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!

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Orbi- Whole House Wi-Fi

rbk50_lifestyle_livingroom_00820_medresThe single most important thing to keep all our connected home, computing and entertainment technology working well is a strong internet signal. With all the connected devices a typical household has competing for bandwidth, it is important to have a great router to optimize your Wi-Fi signal. The Orbi Home Wi-Fi system is designed to meet high demands for Wi-Fi connectivity, and comes with a base unit and a satellite. It is a mesh Wi-Fi system with a difference- the world’s first Tri-Band Wi-Fi system that has one channel dedicated entirely to connecting the router base unit and the satellite. What this means in practical terms it is delivers fast internet speeds without dead spots over a 4,000 square foot area. It is also incredibly easy to set up. As you move around your home your devices automatically switch to whichever unit is giving you the best signal, and the dedicated channel makes sure the Wi-Fi from the satellite is as strong as from the router. The Orbi router and satellite create a single high speed network where your devices can move between bands and to different parts of the home without ever having to reconnect. I love how the Orbi has eliminated Wi-Fi dead spots from my home, even in hard to reach areas where the signal has to go through interior and exterior walls. Available from Amazon,  Best Buy and other retailers  RRP US$399

 

SingleCue Gen 2

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Until recently the idea you could control your home entertainment with the hand movement was the stuff of science fiction but with SingleCue it is a reality. The newly released 2nd generation Singlecue allows you to control your TV and a whole host of other devices including Media Streamers such as AppleTV, Roku and Hulu; Cable TV boxes, audio systems; soundbars, and even your Nest Thermostat or Phillips Hue lightbulbs.  A full list of compatible devices can be found here, it doesn’t yet work with game consoles or DVD players but the manufacturer is working on adding new devices (Nest was only added this month.) You can set up shortcuts for your favorite combinations such as turning on your TV & Apple TV together and automatically switching the TV to the right output for the AppleTV. You can also mute your TV instantly with a simple ssh gesture.  You don’t need to wear any special ring or have anything in your hand, it is all controlled via simple finger movements picked up from the SingleCue box. SingleCue is a really cool device for your living room and saves hours of hunting under the sofa cushions for lost remotes! Available from Amazon for US$149

 

Sengled Pulse Link

sengledWith TV screens getting bigger and bigger we often find ourselves sitting further from the screen for an optimal viewing experience but that can lead to a less than optimal audio experience. The Sengled Pulse link is a simple solution providing surround sound without the need to wire in new speakers. The Sengled Pulse link starter set combines 2 products- a pair of Sengled Pulse Bulbs and a Pulse Link. The Pulse is an innovative smart bulb which combines a dimmable LED light and a JBL Bluetooth Speaker. The Link is a box that connects to your TV, via included 3.5mm or RCA cables. and allows it to remotely connect with the Pulse bulbs. They work with the Pulse app allowing you to control your lights from the app, listen to your TV through the Pulse JBL speakers and play music via Bluetooth from your phone or tablet. A really simple, flexible way to bring surround sound to your living room and play audio from your TV or audio device to JBL speakers . Available from Amazon for US$179.99

 

Petcube Play

petcubeplay The newly released Petcube Play might just be the ideal gift for the pet lover on your list. This new version of the Petcube is more compact and has an upgraded 1080 HD camera with night vision, 2 way audio and 3x digital zoom. It also features a built-in laser pointer controlled via the Petcube app so you can play with your pets when you are away from home, keeping them active and entertained. Even when your schedule is busy you can still get them playing by using the autoplay mode. The camera can recotrd 24/7 and for an extra fee you can subscribe to Petcube care for 10 or 30 day storage of recording history. Available from  Petcube.comAmazon , Best Buy and major retailers RRP US$199 BLACK FRIDAY SALE $50 OFF! $149

 

Drop Connected Scale

drop1The Drop Connected Scale is the perfect gift for the home baker or chef. The smart scale connects to the Drop Recipes app on your iPad or iPhone. Drop Recipes is an interactive cookbook with hundreds of tested recipes for Cooking, Baking and Cocktails. The Drop Scale weighs your ingredients accurately and can scale a recipe based on how much of an ingredient you have on hand. If you are out of an ingredient I will suggest substitutions, and there is even a community section in the app where users can upload and share their own recipes. Available from Amazon, Target and other retailers from  RRP $99.99 Currently US$78.99 at Amazon

 

Arlo Pro by NETGEAR

animated-arloIf you know someone who wants to keep a secure eye on their home inside or out, but wants the freedom to quickly and easily install cameras with the minimum of fuss the new Arlo Pro system from NETGEAR is a great gift. Like the original Arlo the cameras are totally wireless and mount via magnetic ball and socket style joint- making them a snap to install and move. The new Pro cameras run on rechargeable batteries with a staggering 5 MONTH battery life in normal use! The cameras are weatherproof and  have 2 way audio, night vision, motion detection, 130° camera angle, a smart siren, local backup option plus 7 days free cloud storage. A great gift for use in or outside the home  – for home security, watching a babies room, checking on a pet or elderly relative when you are away from home or a myriad of other uses. Available from  Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers systems from US$249

 

JBL Pulse 2  Portable Speaker + Light Show

jblpulse2The JBL Pulse 2 is a great sounding. splash proof,  portable speaker  with colorful light effects that make it fun to take the music with you where ever you go. It has a battery life of up to 10 hours and you can use it as a standalone speaker, or wirelessly connect multiple speakers via the JBL connect app. The Pulse2 can be used to answer calls and connect to Siri or Google Now. I really enjoy its interactive light show, which is also controlled via the JBL Connect app.  There are 8 different light shows to choose from including fire, rain, fireflies, stars, fireworks, traffic, hourglass and canvas- where you draw the light pattern. You can interact with each of the shows, for instance increasing the size of the flames, or the intensity of the rain or adding shooting stars. Many of the light shows also have accompanying sound effects. If you switch off the music you can listen to the sound of a fire crackling or rain pouring down as the light show mirrors the sounds. You can also change the light color to match a color in your environment by scanning it with the light sensor.  The Pulse2 is a 84mm diameter x 195mm tall (approx 3″ x 7.7″)  and weighs 775gm (approx 1.7lb)  A great gift for the music lover, this speaker sounds great, has a good battery life and some really fun interactive light shows with accompanying sound effects. Available from  JBL.COM, Amazon and other retailers RRP US$199.99 (currently on sale for $119.95)

 

Royole Moon 3D Virtual Mobile Theater

moon_airplane-closeupFor the movie lover or serious gamer the Royole Moon 3D Virtual Mobile Theater is the ultimate gift. With the Royole Moon you can enjoy an immersive 3D cinema or gaming experience anywhere you wish. Two Full HD 1080p AMOLED displays at over 3000 ppi resolution simulate a giant 800” curved screen with stereoscopic 3D, and active noise cancelling headphones complete the experience. Moon’s screen is scalable, allowing full control over the screen size for a personalized viewing experience. It features a patented foldable design, ultra-soft headphone covers, and a premium breathable eye cover to ensure comfort even after long periods of continuous use. It also includes 32GB of internal storage and battery life of up to 5 hours of continuous video playback. Advanced optics allow most eyeglass wearers to enjoy Moon without their corrective lenses. Available www.royole.com and Amazon  MSRP  $799

 

01: The World’s First Dimensioning Instrument

instrumments_01_main_hero_rgb01 from InstruMMents is  billed as the world’s first dimensioning instrument. This makes it a great gift for anyone who wants to easily measure things- crafters, home handymen, and anyone who wants to design or create .01 rolls over straight, curved or contoured objects to intuitively capture, log, and share dimensions. Elegantly carved in aluminum, 01 is contained within a pen, pencil or stylus, and wirelessly connects to smartphones. Although it is currently being launched via Indiegogo it is already fully functioning and due to ship in time for the holidays.  Available from Instrumments.com or Indiegogo from US$159

Custom Made iPad or iPhone case from Dodo Cases

dodo-case-ipadair2_grandeEvery tablet or smartphone deserves a case to protect it. A really personalized gift is to have a case custom created just for your loved one’s iPhone or iPad. Dodo Cases is a San Francisco-based company that uses traditional book binding techniques to create iPad and iPhone cases, and offers a custom case making service. For the iPad cases you can choose from a range of solid or patterned fabrics or 4 colors of leather. You can choose a single or two-tone exterior. For the interior fabric you can choose from a variety of solid colors or patterns or  from a selection of city maps. The maps are a great way to personalize if you choose a city that has particular significance to the recipient. You can add final touches by picking the color of elastic and even have a name or message embossed on the front on gold or black letters. A truly one-of-a-kind gift! Available from DoDoCases.com custom iPhone cases start from $49.99 and custom iPad cases from $79.99.

 

SanDisk iXpand Flash storage for iPhone and iPad

ixpand1A problem most iPhone and iPad users suffer from is lack of storage space- unlike Android phones you can’t just slip in a micro-SD card to increase storage and it costs a lot to buy iOS devices with large amounts of internal storage. The iXpand Flash drive from SanDisk is a simple solution to this problem.  It is a very small, light flash drive that connects via the Lightning port of your iOS device.  It is very easy to transfer content from your iOS device to the drive to create space and you can then use its USB connector to transfer them to your computer. You can also set it up to automatically backup your camera roll whenever it s connected. If you are traveling and want to take a movie with you, you can load it on the drive from your computer and watch it directly on your device without ever downloading it ! It has a flexible connector that allows it to be used with most cases, and is available in 32GB, 64GB and 128 GB versions.  Available from Amazon and other retailers  from US$59.99

 

RazorPlatinum Powerbank from MyCharge

razorplatimunumOne of the cool features about the new MacBooks is that they can now to powered via a USB-C instead of needing a proprietary Mac charger. This opens up more possibilities for charging on the go. The new RazorPlatinum Powerbank from MyCharge has a built-in USB-C port and enough power to recharge a MacBook as well as USB-A port for your other devices. This 13400mAh Lithium Polymer battery has ultra fast charging and recharging. It measures 6.5 in x 4.8 in x 1.1 in and weighs in at under 1lb, making it very small and light for a battery of this capacity. Available from MyCharge.com and Best Buy for US$99.99

 

Amazon Echo

echoOne noticeable trend in the Connected Home market in 2016 is that more and more connected home devices are having Amazon Alexa integration . This means that if you have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot you can control them via your voice. The Amazon Echo is a pretty cool device all by itself but with the integration of other connected home devices its uses keep multiplying. The Echo has immersive 360º omni-directional audio with far-field voice recognition so it can hear you from across the room even while music is playing. It plays all your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice, and controls a whole host of connected home devices. Echo also answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and lets you shop on Amazon using the Alexa Voice Service. Available from Amazon  for US$179.99 BLACK FRIDAY SALE $139.99

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo DotIf you already have a speaker system in the room you are using your Echo in, you may prefer to get the more affordable Echo Dot, as it can connect to your existing speakers via a 3.5mm cable. Apart from the large speaker it has all the other features of its bigger brother the Amazon Echo. Like the Echo it has far-field voice recognition and can plays your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more. It also controls a whole host of connected home devices, answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and lets you shop on Amazon using the Alexa Voice Service. It has a small built-in speaker and you can use Echo Dots in multiple rooms to provide Alexa enabled control throughout the home. The Echo Dot is Available from Amazon for US$49.99 BLACK FRIDAY SALE $39.99 and is also available in 3 packs at a $20 savings or six packs where you buy 5 and get one free.

 

SMARTvr Virtual Reality Viewer from Dodo Case

shopify_smartvr-hero_grandeWith the invention of Google Cardboard there is more and more Virtual Reality content becoming available in iTunes and Google Play stores. This is great as it means more people can access Virtual Reality content without needing to buy an expensive VR headset like the Oculus Rift.   SMARTvr is a great way to access the content made available by Google cardboard on your smartphone, but using a more stylish and durable viewer than the original Cardboard. If fits most iOS and Android smartphones and folds to a flat package about the size of an iPhone 5  when not in use. The case is made from cast aluminum and ballistic nylon with a microsuede lens cover & light blocking shield. It is Google Cardboard certified and really simple to use You just unfold it, scan the QR code to link, slip the phone into the clips on the back, fold down the light shield, and you are ready to enjoy your VR apps. It is a great VR viewer- compact, portable, durable, affordable and flexible to fit different size smartphones

Available from DodoCase.com for US$39.99

Lightning Audio + Charge Rockstar from Belkin

 

belkin_lightningaudiochargerockstar_1 The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus no longer have an audio jack as they are designed to use Bluetooth headphones. However, not everyone likes Bluetooth headphones, so there are several new headphones on the market that use the iPhone’s Lightning connector as an innovative way around the problem. This does however create a new problem- if your battery starts to run low you can’t charge the phone and continue to use your Lightning headphones at the same time. Belkin has solved this problem with the Lightning Audio Charge Rockstar which doubles your Lightning ports – providing one for listening and one for charging. RRP $39.99  Available from Belkin.com, Apple and other retailers.

VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite

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Do you have a friend or relative who still has lots of home videos lying around on VHS tapes or on camcorder tapes? This could be the perfect gift for them. Tapes deteriorate over time and it becomes harder and harder to find ways to play them, so its important to get them transferred to digital formats or you may lose the content entirely. Instead of taking them in to be professionally copied (which can be cost prohibitive if you have a lot of tapes to transfer) you can convert them at home with VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite. To use VIDBOX you need a VCR or camcorder that can play your tapes, and a Mac or PC. The Video Conversion suite comes with a key to download the software or you can install it via the included CD-Rom. The VIDBOX little white box is the key to connecting your video output device to the computer. You wire it to your VCR/ camcorder via RCA to RCA cables (included) or RCA to S-Cable (not included) and connect it to your computer via the included USB cable. Once it is connected launch the VIDBOX software and follow the on screen instructions. The video will record as a digital file on your computer in real time as it plays on your VCR/ camcorder. Once the recording is finished you can preview it and save to iMovie or iTunes (on Mac). The Video conversion suite includes software for both Mac and PC or you can buy Mac or PC only versions for slightly less. Available from VIDBOX.COM or Amazon RRP Suite $99.99 or PC or Mac only $79.99. Suite currently $69.99 on Amazon


For additional gift ideas check out all our Holiday Gift Guides

This post contains affiliate links, if you click on these The iMums may receive a small commission which helps to pay to run this site. Thank you for supporting us by using these links. Some items on this list have been received free of charge for review purposes.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Article: Holiday TV Specials for 2016 in the United States

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The very best specials to stream, DVR, or watch in real time with the whole family.By Polly Conway

We’ve rounded up this season’s can’t-miss holiday TV specials to keep your family entertained from Thanksgiving all the way through the New Year. Whether you like ’em heartwarming, quirky, funny, or even scary, you’ll find traditional faves, worthy underdogs, and a few new additions to the classic holiday-special canon. Though not all these shows feature families (or even humans!), they embody the spirit of togetherness, warmth, and tradition. (Check your local listings to confirm show dates and times.)

November

Friends, Thanksgiving episodes, age 14+, streaming on Netflix
Each season of Friends contains a classic Thanksgiving episode, often highlighting time spent with good (you guessed it) friends rather than family. Start with Season 5’s “The One with All the Thanksgivings” to see Joey’s iconic turkey-on-the-head scare.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, age 4+, Nov. 23, 8 p.m., ABC
Charlie Brown finds himself hosting a Thanksgiving meal for his friends. Thanks to some philosophical words from Linus and Marcie, the Peanuts gang comes to realize the true meaning of the holiday.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, age 5+, Nov. 25, 8 p.m., ABC
With a little Christmas magic — and a lot of help from his friends — Kris Kringle, the future Santa, is determined to get his toys into the hands of good boys and girls. His efforts lay the groundwork for an annual celebration of giving for the world.

Saturday Night Live Thanksgiving Special, age 14+, Nov. 25, 9 p.m., NBC
Will Halloween favorite David S. Pumpkins be back for a Turkey Day pumpkin pie? Who knows what this Thanksgiving special will serve up, but it’ll certainly include at least a few hilarious holiday-themed sketches to watch with your teens.

Kung Fu Panda Holiday, age 5+, Nov. 27, 9 p.m., CW
Tasked with hosting the formal Winter Feast for the kung fu masters, Po is torn between his responsibilities as a Dragon Warrior and his desire to spend the holiday with his dad. In his own unique way, he manages to strike a balance that gives everyone a happy holiday.

Frosty the Snowman, age 3+, Nov. 28, 8 p.m., CBS
Watch Frosty, a roly-poly goofball with a heart of gold, strike up a friendship with cute kid Karen as he tries to get to the North Pole in this animated 1960s classic.

Merry Madagascar, age 6+, Nov. 28, 9:30 p.m., CW
When Santa’s sleigh crash-lands on Madagascar and he’s stricken with amnesia, the animal crew steps up to save Christmas. Fans of the movies should love this special, which mixes feel-good messages about generosity, caring, and compassion with plenty of silly stuff.

Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas, age 6+, Nov. 29, 8 p.m., FOX
Families will have fun with this prehistoric crew’s unusual versions of favorite holiday tunes. The story incorporates the origins of popular Christmas traditions — and Skrat’s never-ending search for acorns, of course.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: “Circle of Love,” OK for tweens, Nov. 30, 9 p.m., NBC
Beloved country star Dolly Parton is the inspiration for this holiday tale, following her own history growing up poor in rural Tennessee. Circle of Love sees young Dolly discovering her voice while watching her parents sacrifice for the family.

A Charlie Brown Christmas, age 3+, Dec. 1, 8 p.m., ABC
Charlie Brown discovers the true meaning of Christmas when he buys a forlorn little tree and celebrates Peanuts-style with his friends. This beloved classic special communicates a timeless message brimming with holiday spirit.

Shrek the Halls, age 6+, Dec. 3, 8:30 p.m., ABC
While everyone else is filled with cheer for the upcoming holiday, ornery Shrek has no desire to celebrate. For the sake of Fiona and their babies, he attempts to do his part to make the family’s first holiday together a memorable one. Unfortunately, his friends take Shrek’s lack of yuletide joy as cause for intervention and show up unannounced on his doorstep to “help.”

December

The X-Files: “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas,” age 14+, streaming on Hulu
For your teens who are too cool to watch anything sappy, this standalone holiday episode traps Scully and Mulder inside a haunted house, where they spend the spookiest Christmas Eve ever.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, age 3+, Dec. 1, 8 p.m., CBS
The holiday standard gets the stop-motion treatment in this quirky, delightful hero’s journey to discovering his true self. Finding it a hard sell? Kids who love Will Ferrell in Elf will be tickled to find Buddy’s origins in this retro, Rankin/Bass Productions world.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, age 4+, Dec. 1, 9 p.m., Freeform; Dec. 2, 9 p.m., NBC
Did you know your heart grows three sizes every time you watch this special? It’s nearly impossible not to be moved by the green antihero’s redemption tale. Just try watching him serve that first slice of roast beast to his trusty dog without a grin on your face.

Jack Frost, age 4+, Dec. 2, 12 p.m., Freeform
More of a wintery tale than a specifically holiday-themed story, this special is a great alternative for those looking for a non-Christmas story. Jack wants to become human so he can win the heart of Elisa, a local villager — but Father Winter wants to compromise.

Saturday Night Live Christmas Special, age 14+, Dec. 3, 9 p.m., NBC
No one skewers the holidays like SNL; expect classic characters such as Alec Baldwin’s Pete Schweddy sharing his favorite recipe, see what Stefon’s got up his sleeve for Christmas activities, and listen to Adam Sandler’s gem “The Hanukkah Song.”

Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, age 7+, Dec. 10, 9 p.m., NBC
Dolly knows she’s destined for a future far away from her humble beginnings in Sevier County, Tennessee, but for now, the family farm and the love of her parents is all she needs. But then tragedy strikes, pulling the family apart. Her mother copes by creating the titular patchwork coat for Dolly, which leads to lessons in compassion and hope.

Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, age 5+, Dec. 12, 12:30 p.m., Freeform
This early special from Jim Henson features a down-home family of otters with a whole lot of heart, lots of sweet songs, and the kookiest villains ever (evil reptile rockers the Riverbottom Nightmare Band).

The Goldbergs: “Han Ukkah Solo,” age 14+, Dec. 14, 8 p.m., ABC
Prepare for the standard ’80s flashbacks with a holiday flair in this Hanukkah-themed episode. The kids try to milk their moment in the spotlight when their school’s holiday pageant only allows room for a single Hanukkah song.

Toy Story That Time Forgot, age 4+, Dec. 15, 8 p.m., ABC
Set days after Christmas, this action-packed treat offers plenty of positive messages about friendship, loyalty, and being true to yourself as Woody and the gang go face-to-face with a colony of battle-ready dinosaurs.

Prep & Landing, age 4+, Dec. 17, 8 p.m., ABC; Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, 8:30 p.m.
An elite organization of elves makes sure each and every home is ready for Santa. It’s serious business for Wayne, who after 227 years is ready for a promotion in this flight-themed buddy comedy. Sequel Naughty vs. Nice finds Wayne and his crew dealing with a hacker trying to program their way onto the nice list.

Yes, Virginia, age 4+, Dec. 18, 8:30 p.m., ABC
A stellar voice cast (Neil Patrick Harris, Alfred Molina) and charming CGI animation give curious Virginia’s sweet tale a fresh life.

I Love Lucy Christmas, age 6+, Dec. 23, 8 p.m., CBS
A classic holiday episode is a great way to introduce your kids to Lucille Ball’s comedic legacy. The usual lineup of unwitting participants includes neighbors Fred and Ethel and Lucy’s loving but frustrated hubby, Ricky. Hijinks ensue.

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown, age 4+, Dec. 26, 8 p.m., ABC
Circumstances cause the Peanuts gang to create their own traditions, and while they may not always find total success (does Charlie Brown ever get to kick that football?), friendship always saves the day.

Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, age 3+, Dec. 26, 9 p.m., ABC
This Rankin and Bass stop-motion animated holiday special takes place after Rudolph’s triumphant Christmas. Now he has to help Father Time find Happy, the Baby New Year, in time for New Year’s Eve.

About the Author Polly Conway

As Common Sense Media’s TV Editor, Polly is responsible for championing the latest and greatest in TV for kids and families. She’s an expert in the realm of shows that are created for (and/or appeal to — not always the same thing!) kids, tweens, and teens, with a particular focus on educational television for young kids. An enthusiastic advocate for positive representation of girls and women in media, she also has her finger on the pulse of pop culture and speaks to the press regularly about the good and bad of kids’ TV (recent highlights include a chat with the legendary Weird Al!). Before coming to Common Sense, Polly spent time developing her own writing career and served as an educator in Oakland’s diverse schools. Both helped her discover a deep desire to give kids the best possible media experiences. Additionally, her BA in Acting from San Francisco State and MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts have given her a unique understanding of how great media is created, and she’s always happy to discuss any episode of her #1 whole-family TV pick, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Email Polly at pconway@commonsense.org or find her on Twitter.

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.

 

Highlights of #CES2015- Part 1 – Products for the Home

The International Consumer Electronics Show comes to Las Vegas every January and is the place to see the newest consumer electronics that have just been released and prototypes of ideas that people think will be the next big thing. This year over 170,000 people from the Press and Electronics Industry visited the show and I was one of them. This is the first of a series of articles where I will share my favorites from the show.

One of the big themes this year is the Connected Home – it is an area that I think we will see huge growth in over the next few years. Amongst the products already available are connected lightbulbs, thermostats and security cameras, and lots more products will become available over the coming year. Over time these will become connected and able to talk to each other and control each other, for instance if your camera detects motion it can then tell a light to switch on.

Some of my favorite home products this year include a smart kettle and coffeemaker, Totally wirefree WiFi security Camera, a washing machine that lets you run two loads at once, a voice controlled smart plug and many more.

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Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

NETGEAR Push2TV Wireless Display HDMI Adapter with Miracast (PTV3000) by Netgear

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What we love…

easy to install, allows you to watch TV, look at photos, watch movies

What we’d love to see…

more explicit instructions on the need to update the firmware on a laptop and suggestion to use a laptop for the first time use

Summary

Quick, easy to install device that allows you to mirror your device to a TV or other larger screen enabling a larger audience to enjoy

Our Rating

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The Netgear Push2TV Wireless Display HDMI Adapter with Miracast from Netgear is a really cool device that allows you to mirror items from your Android, Windows, Kindle or other non iOS device directly to your TV.  This small device allows you to show videos, photos and other items from your smart device up to 1080 pixels and provides really good sound as well allowing you to “stop passing the device” when you want to look at photos or watch a movie and instead allow you to watch at the same time.

We recently moved, and although we had internet set up pretty quickly it took a few days to get cable working.  When my son asked if he could look at pictures on my laptop – I did one better.  I opened the box and had the Netgear Push2TV set up in about 30 minutes including the downloading of new firmware.  The setup was straightforward, simply connect the Netgear Push2TV to a power source, plug in the HDMI cable to both the back of your TV and the back of the device.  When I got the device in the mail, I had downloaded the latest firmware for the PTV3000 onto my laptop knowing that it would be necessary in order to use it and I encourage you to do so before opening the package.  Once we had the device set up, I turned on Netflix and instantly we started streaming a movie which meant that my son was very happy!

A few tips of use, I did find that by putting the PTV3000 and the laptop fairly close together meant the signal was stronger and they worked together more effectively.  If I had them any more than 15-20 feet apart we started to see a few skips in the playback on the TV.  I would also suggest that the first time you use it, that you use a laptop rather than a tablet or smartphone so that you can update the device drivers.  We also really liked the slideshow version as my son loves to look at photos – I loaded a bunch onto the laptop, fired up music and then put on a slideshow of photos.  I’m thinking this would be great if you had an event and didn’t have time to do a formal slide show or even for a birthday party to show how your child has grown up over the years.

One other thing I really liked up the PTV3000 was how small it was – as you can see by the photo below it’s about the size of half a pencil.  That means it is super portable and will fit easily into your laptop bag to bring along with you as long as you have a good internet connection.

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In terms of future enhancements, it would be nice if the first time you plugged in the Netgear Push2TV and then subsequent times that it automatically checked for firmware.  I had read the card in advance and was aware it would need to update but the process wasn’t necessarily as smooth as I would have anticipated.  I also would like to see a note on the package that you need to purchase a HDMI cord in order to use the device, I had an extra so I was lucky that I didn’t disappoint my son when we used it for the first time.

Good picture quality, easy to set up and install once you have the latest firmware on your laptop.  My son asked me several times if this was “cable” because the picture was so good and it was easy to install.  This device means that we can mirror a laptop, smartphone (Android) or tablet (Android) so instead of all passing the device you can watch on the television.  At the pricepoint, approximately $50 this devie will enable to you have your videos, photos and display your smartphone, tablet or other smart device on the go without lots of cables. Note – this device does not work with iOS.

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

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