Right about this time of year, I get a lot of friends and family members asking for my advice.
I also frequently appear as a guest on national TV shows, such as CNBC, the Fox Business Network and Yahoo! Finance, to offer my analysis of big tech trends and how to invest in them.
But around Christmas time, I start getting questions about devices themselves.
Folks figure that since I spend hours each day researching every conceivable aspect of high tech, I must have some ideas about products that would make great Christmas gifts.
Of course, they’re right. In fact, I consider myself something of a technophile. There’s just something satisfying about holding the fruits of all that technical work in your hand, plugging them in your ears, or seeing them on your screen.
And that’s why today, I want to set you up with a Christmas gift list of seven really cool high-tech presents that are sure to surprise and delight your loved ones this holiday season.
Now then, since I don’t know what your personal budget is, I put this list together without making price the highest priority.
And along the way, I also let you know about an exciting new tech investing opportunity that’s set to get your New Year off to a good start.
Hi-tech Gift #1: GoPro Hero 7 Video Action Camera
GoPro Inc. (Nasdaq:GPRO) has built out a whole new tech niche for adrenaline junkies. The firm’s lightweight, high-resolution cameras have been used to film billions of hours of compelling viewing on YouTube and elsewhere.
And the firm’s new Hero 7 Action Camera is the coolest video recorder yet. Advanced software, known as HyperSmooth, helps offset the jarring motions many cameras experience, turning shaky recordings into crystal clear videos. That software is aided by GoPro’s most advanced gyroscope and accelerometers that detect any shaking motion and get rid of those annoying jitters.
Also, the Hero 7 is waterproof – perfect for the SCUBA crowd. And its ability to create time-lapse videos at up 30 times the normal rate can help you create more shareable moments. This dynamic camera can be had for less than $400.
Hi-tech Gift #2: Oculus Go
Facebook Inc’s (Nasdaq:FB) first attempts at virtual reality (VR) didn’t go smoothly. The original Oculus VR devices were expensive, bulky and tethered to a computer, limiting where they could be used.
Now, with Oculus Go, you can enter into immersive virtual worlds without being tied to a computer. And the VR’s headset comes with a built-in speaker system, which adds to the sensory onslaught, creating a sense that people (or creatures) are moving around and even behind you.
While the first wave of VR devices lacked a compelling roster of software titles, the Oculus Go can be used with more than 1,000 of them, enabling you to escape into a calming meditation environment, a thrilling rollercoaster, and everything in between.
The $200 price point makes this VR headset affordable for many families.
Hi-tech Gift #3: Apple AirPods
If you’re as big a fan of Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq:AAPL) attention to quality and design like I am, then you ought to check out the firm’s latest wireless AirPods. At the heart of these wireless earbuds is a custom-designed Apple W1 chip, which produces extremely efficient wireless connections and improved sound.
This chip manages battery life so well that you can listen for 5 hours on a single charge. The AirPods also use dual beamforming microphones to filter out background noise when you make calls or talk to Siri.
While the nearly $200 price tag isn’t cheap, you won’t find a higher quality set of headphones in this price range.
Hi-tech Gift #4: Apple Watch
Whenever Apple rolls out an upgraded device, you can be sure it’ll be sporting a new set of powers. Building on the Watch’s existing tools as an information, communication and fitness device, the newest Apple Watch offers improved heart-monitoring features, can act like a Walkie-Talkie, and offers a longer-lasting battery, a faster processor and larger screen.
CNET calls it “the fastest, most seamless, best-connected smartwatch around.” While the $400 starting price doesn’t make it a bargain, the newest Apple Watch makes the strongest case yet to leave your cellphone at home and interact with the digital world, right from your wrist.
Hi-tech Gift #5: Holy Stone HS110D FPV RC Drone
This drone from Holy Stone will make your friends green with envy. It packs a 120° high-def, first-person-view (FPV) camera. The FPV allows you to see where the drone is flying, and what its camera is seeing as if it had its own eyes.
And it boasts such features as hands-free hover mode, a high-capacity long-life battery, and smartphone integration. Priced at $129.99, it gets rave reviews on Amazon. More than three-fourths of the 465 reviewers gave this drone five stars. And almost all of the rest give it a four-star rating.
As user Joy writes, “I took it out for the first time today and the experience was great so I was excited to share my views right away.” Mary Sullivan writes that “Put simply, the remote is amazing. It is a very responsive drone and overall really great. I would totally recommend to a friend, especially at the price point.”
Hi-tech Gift #6: Backblaze gift certificate
Okay, so this is the least sexy gift on the list. But the reason I’ve put it here is that I’ve used this service for years. I like it so much in fact, I also bought it for each of my daughters.
You see, Backblaze isn’t a tech toy, but it’s essential for any hard-core tech consumer. It’s a simple-to-use, feature-rich, cloud-based data storage system that protects against computer crashes.
Backblaze lets you backup an unlimited amount of data from a single computer. There are no limits on individual file type or size. And the multiple layers of encryption in place are military grade.
Once you set up the service, it just runs automatically in the background. No need to upload files. For just $5 per month, or $50 year, this gift will give your loved ones the peace of mind they’ll need, knowing that their data is safe and sound at any time of day.
Hi-tech Gift #7: Amazon Echo
It’s hard not to be impressed at the rapid advances Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) keeps making with its Echo digital assistants.
Consider this one to be a great jack-of-all-trades. Thanks to its dual-speakers powered by Dolby, it sounds much, much better than the smaller Amazon Echo Dot. Yet, it’s still less expensive than the pricier Echo Plus.
I also like that Amazon has worked to make the Echo look less like a cold, hard technology device. Instead, softer colors and materials help the device to more easily blend into your décor.
Even as the hardware gets better, so does the Alexa digital assistant. Alexa has gotten a number of updates, gaining new skills and routines, as well as improved voice recognition and understanding. The $70 starting price is also sure to please.
So, I hope you find my hi-tech gift list useful as you plan your final holiday shopping days.
Now, as you and your loved ones start wrapping and unwrapping their gifts, one thing we’ve all grown accustomed to in the age of high tech gadgets is a lot of wires and cables to keep track of.
That’s all about to change as wireless devices start stepping onto the scene in a bigger way this year. Apple’s already gotten a head start with its AirPods.
See, the technology behind this new wireless revolution is going to be used in a countless variety of goods – everything from electric cars to heart monitors to hearing aids.
And there’s one tiny firm poised at the center of this technological breakthrough that’s about to shoot from obscurity onto the world stage.
If you want to learn more about this firm, before you start seeing them splashed across the tech headlines, click here.
See you back here soon.