Best Tech Gadget Gift Guide

Yay Holidays! Need some gift inspiration for your loved ones? We got you! Check out our recommended tech gift buys for 2016.


*Google Home. $129.99




Google’s foray into a home assistant is budget friendly, and  super handy. Have it do the dirty googling for you, stream music, and manage your tasks and smart home features with this voice activated speaker.


On the other side of the home assistant scale, we also have:


*Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot. $179.99 / $49.99

A bit more expensive, or waaaaay less expensive if you consider the Echo Dot, the Amazon Echo (Alexa) has been around for a while now, and is very well respected as a fantastic addition to people’s homes for playing music, providing information, controlling smart home features, reading the news, setting alarms, etc.


The Echo dot is smaller, and isn’t actually a speaker – so you’ll need to connect it to one via bluetooth or 2.5 Stereo cable. Apart from that, it’s a standalone device that still does all of the above.



*Know someone who enjoys music? I’m guessing you probably do. It might be you. These are pretty much the most highly recommended headphones. Bose QuietComfort QC35 Wireless Headphones $349 from Amazon

Noise-canceling headphones, wireless, over-ear headphones with long battery life, and a niiiice sound quality. Pricey but worth it.




*MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID. From $1,799

The all-new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID is sleeker, lighter, more powerful and feature a great new keyboard,  trackpad, beautiful display and great battery life.  Available with 13-inch and 15-inch display, it features the Touch Bar, which delivers relevant shortcuts and tools for the apps that are in use.




*The RC Lamborghini Veneno from Hammacher Schlemmer. $99.95
This is the RAD AF remote-controlled replica of the exclusive Lamborghini Veneno Roadster.


1:12 scale model faithfully reproduces the original from its aerodynamic hood to its bucket seats and gear shift in its “cockpit” interior. The iconic Lamborghini bull adorns the hubcaps and hood, the LED head- and taillights illuminate, and the exterior is painted the same “Rosso Mars” shade as the full-size version. You know you have someone in your life who’d want this.



GoPro Hero5 Black $399.99 from BestBuy, REI, B&H, other retailers.

If you’re looking to splash some cash this Christmas, and you have an ACTION JACKSON amongst your loved ones, look at the GoPro Hero5 Black. It’s pretty much the premium adventure camera, with voice control, 4K video capture and electronic image stabilization to avoid shaky footage. Plus, you can use it in up to 33 feet of water without any additional housing.



* Roku Ultra. $129 from Amazon $129.00

The Roku Ultra is prettttttuy sweet guys. It delivers 4K content with HDR support for beautiful vision, and it offers more than 3,500 channels, with a remote that has both voice search and a headphone jack for private listening.




* Bluetooth shoe warmers from ThermaCell

Gettin cold, huh? We all have that someone in our lives whose little toesies are always shivering, and this is the answer they will thank you for. Bluetooth Shoe warmers. Check them out.



* Trip on a spaceship with Virgin Galactic $250,000

A gift of making someone into an Astronaut? Yes pelase, on both sides of the gift giving. Very expensive, and with no set date, this one is a little out of reach for most of us, but if you’re reading this and it seems like it’s in reach for you… do it. Just do it. Give someone the gift of being an astronaut. Kind of. 



* Sony Playstation VR. Best Price we saw was $399 with free shipping from Walmart

VR might just be the way of the future, and man, it’s fun. Someone in your life WILL appreciate this. Guaranteed. This is the standalone device, but you can also get the $600 bundle from Amazon that includes the VR headset, camera and two PlayStation Move motion controllers.



*Google Cardboard $15

On the cheaper scale of Virtual Reality, someone in your life will also definitely appreciate this, because it’s amazing. A little harder to source content, but there’s great games and 360 videos out there. You just need a smartphone.



* Nintendo NES Classic Edition $60 Currently sold out at BestBuy and… well, most places. Good Luck!




The NES Classic Edition includes 30 classic games like Super Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda and Pac-Man. Old-school controller is also included, as well as a newer-school HDMI cable. Weeeeee all the way back to the eighties!




* Spectacles by Snap




From SnapChat, these funky glasses capture 10-second circular videos which you can then share in Snapchat. A friendly light on the glasses shows friends that you’re recording, and the Spectacles charge in the included case.

Because of marketing, these are only being sold in ‘bots’ – traveling vending machines. These are placed in a new location about every 48 hours. A countdown will generally start on the Spectacles website 24 hours before the location is unveiled and there’s no clues before then as to where it will drop.

OR visit the pop-up store in that Snap recently opened in New York City at 5 E 59th St across from the Apple store. The location is open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on the weekends from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.



*The 8,000 Stars Home Planetarium. from Hammacher Schlemmer $129.95


This desktop planetarium projects an accurate view of 8,000 stars and simultaneously plays music from your smartphone. Its built-in LED illuminates the ceiling and walls of a room with an accurate view of 61 constellations as seen from the Northern Hemisphere while a built-in Bluetooth speaker connects to a paired iPhone or Android device and plays one’s preferred ambient star-gazing soundtrack. The planetarium’s whisper-quiet motor simulates the turning of the Earth by slowly moving the image and can be sped up or slowed down with five variable speeds and accurately aligns with every day of the year.




The Child’s 3D Printing Pen. $99.95

Have your kid create three-dimensional works of art with harmless warm thermoplastic that hardens within seconds.  The pen is powered via the included micro-USB cord and is ready to use in less than one minute. Includes eight color plastic packs (192 strands), eight stencil discs, and a project book.



*The Levitating Bluetooth Speaker. $149.95

Sure, there are a lot  of awesome sounding speakers out there. But this one floats. 

It also delivers impressively robust audio from its full-range 5-watt driver when paired with a Bluetooth- or NFC-enabled device up to 30′ away. Volume is controlled from your device and LED-lighted rings on the base and speaker add a mystical glow.



* Lastly, if you’re thinking of buying a loved one a new iPhone, we’d recommend the iPhone 7 Plus. And then, get them to sell their stinky old iPhone to us so it’s like a double Christmas present. Really. A new iPhone and cash. Wrap these with some friends and family love and you’ve got yourself a rockin’ Christmas!



Happy Holidays to everyone!



Tweet at Google for why?

Starting yesterday, if you tweet an emoji at Google,  it will most likely respond with a bunch of relevant and related results. Yay! Words are so overrated, right?


Example: Tweet a burger emoji @Google, and Google will respond with a link to Google search results for the best burger in your area on a map.


The feature will apparently work with over 200 different emoji for food, sites and activities near you. There will also be easter eggs! EASTER EGGS ARE THE BEST.


Try it today!


Macbook battery concerns

Did you buy a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar? Have you noticed a shorter than expected battery life? You’re not alone.


An apparently large number of MacBook Pro with Touch Bar users are claiming to get as little as 3-6 hours of battery life on a single charge. The device is advertised to have a 10 hour battery life. Specifically, up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing, up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback, and up to 30 days of standby time on a single charge.


Battery life also differs between users based on screen brightness, background processes, and other factors, and it’s important to note battery life could be initially reduced until Spotlight finishes indexing your new MacBook Pro.


Apple’s website provides tips for maximizing battery life on the MacBook Pro, including updating to the latest version of macOS, optimizing Energy Saver settings in System Preferences, dimming the screen’s brightness to the lowest comfortable level, and turning off Wi-Fi while not connected to a network.


Additional battery optimization advice includes performing a fresh install of macOS Sierra and resetting the SMC.


However, if you’re still only getting 3-6 hours of battery? Go see your local Apple guy, cos that bleep’s just not right.



Samsung might remove headphone jack too



Apparently there are credible rumors that Samsung will be following the controversial Apple move by removing the headphone jack from their upcoming Galaxy S8.


There are upsides to removing the headphone jack – creating a bunch (relatively) of space for a thinner sleeker design and new tech improvements, but as we saw with Apple, it can be a decision that consumers will not necessarily be happy with.


Credible rumors are to be taken with the knowledge that they are still rumors, however we’ll find out in February 2017 when the Galaxy S8 debuts at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.


Oh, and the Apple AirPods? They’re coming… soon. Before Christmas, according to Tim Cook.

Amazon Go

Go into a store, take the food that you need, and walk out. Scan only one item- your smartphone- once.


This is the vision of Amazon Go. A supermarket where you walk in take what you want, and walk out. Everything you take out of the store is automatically (and correctly) charged to your Amazon account. No lines, no food scanning, no checkout.


The first Amazon Go store will open in February in Seattle, with more stores to follow. The technology that allows Amazon to do this? Well, simple, really. Computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion.



Check it out below:




Would you use Amazon GO if it was in your town?


Apple still interested in producing a car?

Even though to most it seemed as though Apple had put their car plans on hold in October, the company seem to have remained interest in the autonomous transportation industry.


According to the guys over at VentureBeat, last week, Apple wrote a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration telling it that “new entrants” to the auto industry should get the same rights as the established companies in the industry.


In the letter, Apple admits to its interest in “machine learning and automation” as it pertains to transportation.


Established car manufacturers do not have to pursue exemptions to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards when attempting to test cars on public roads due to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.


New entrants in the auto industry, like Google and others, are not granted the same right under the FAST Act.


Apple wants the NHTSA to amend policy to state that seeking exemptions isn’t necessary for internal development vehicles on public roads.


The letter also addresses the Federal Automated Vehicles policy and a proposed data sharing program. From the Sauce:


“Apple agrees that companies should share de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near-misses, data should be sufficient to reconstruct the event, including time-series of vehicle kinematics and characteristics of the roadway and objects.”


Apple also points out that data sharing should not come at the expense of privacy, and that companies should invest resources to protect the “individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.”


The letter was signed by Apple VP of Product Integrity Steve Kenner, who used to be Ford’s Global Director of Automotive Safety.


Apple issued a statement to Financial Times confirming the letter and Apple’s interest in helping to define rules for self-driving vehicles. Sauce:
“We’ve provided comments to NHTSA because Apple is investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems,” the Apple spokesman said. “There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation, so we want to work with NHTSA to help define the best practices for the industry.”



99% of Apple chargers sold online fail

Illinois-based global safety specialists UL have revealed that after being commissioned by the U.K.’s Trading Standards they conducted studies that showed 99 percent of fake Apple chargers sold online fail a basic safety test.


The insulation tests applied a high voltage to the chargers, which were bought online from eight different countries, including the U.S., China, and Australia.


Only three out of 400 counterfeit chargers were found to have adequate insulation to ensure protection against electric shocks.


From the Sauce, Leon Livermore, the chief executive of Chartered Trading Standards Institute:


“It might cost a few pounds more, but counterfeit and second-hand goods are an unknown entity that could cost you your home or even your life, or the life of a loved-one,” he said.


Apple last month sued a company selling fake power adapters and cables on Amazon, after finding that over 90% of Apple cables and chargers found on Amazon were fake. Amazon have since announced that fighting fake Apple products is a major goal.





Tech of the week – material that can create energy?

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have invented a super-thin, flexible fabric that can generate electricity from light and movement. That means recharging all our tech  may soon be as simple as easy as wearing a sweater when we go out.


Holy whats that now?!


Well, it’s basically wool weaved together with special fibers made up of solar cells and “triboelectric nanogenerators”. Those generate a small amount of electrical energy from the friction produced by slight movements, like rotation or vibration.


In tests that exposed the material to ambient sunlight and wind, it was able to charge a commercial capacitor to two volts in one minute.


The fabric is slightly thick and rough but lightweight enough to be integrated into clothing, tents or backpacks.


Check it out here.


This is a great step forward – and hints at great potential for wearable tech in the future. Yay future tech!

What kind of iPhone will we see in 2017?

Rumors are already building up regarding the 2017 fleet of iPhones.


This is fairly understandable as next year marks the 10 year anniversary of the first Apple iPhone, and Apple being Apple, folks tend to think they’re going to make a pretty big deal out of it, with the flashiest upgrades we’ve seen in recent years.


Here’s what the people are predicting for the 10th anniversary iPhone. (Sidenote: doesn’t it seem like it’s been around forever? Good Job, Apple.)


It’s believed to be the iPhone 8, not the iPhone 7s, skipping a generation in the naming scheme. It is believed that it will have the same basic release schedule – unveiled early September, released mid to late September.


At least one of the new models will have a curved OLED display next year, which means we’re talking 3 models, if not more- it’s been debated that Apple is testing up to 10 different prototype models. The OLED model will be thinner, lighter, more energy efficient and prettier, but it will likely be the most expensive model.


This model may also have a glass body, no bezels, and the touch ID and front facing camera built right into the display.


The other models will likely be new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch devices with traditional LCD displays, although there is some disagreement about if these models will have a glass body or not. All models will likely sport a 10-nanometer A11 chip that will be both faster and more efficient


There are also rumors of 3D features, the possibility of long-range wireless charging and biometric additions like iris scanning. In higher-end models with a dual-lens camera, both lenses are expected to feature optical image stabilization.


What else do you think the iPhone 8 might bring? On our end, all this looks great, but we’re kind of pinning our hopes on the line of sight teleportation…. Because that would be pretty cool.