The Holidays. A time for giving and receiving amidst family and friends. This collection of festive gifts are keepers for me for their innovative function, design and usefulness. Some are more than one year old, and still selling well, a testimony of endurance smart products have for many Holidays to come.
Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 All-in-One
A 13” wide printer that prints pro-quality 5760x1440dpi photos on a myriad of stock including exhibition art paper, canvas, thin vellums, archival acid and lignin free paper, even posterboards up to 1.3mm thick. It also takes on work, home and school special projects, scans and prints up to legal paper size (PDF too), auto 2-side printing, direct wireless printing from your smartphone app and more.
Yet it won’t break the bank on ink replacement nor will it cost you a small fortune to get album professional prints and posters at a fraction of online and local photo labs.
Say “I love you” to the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 All-in-One Wide-format Supertank Printer, $1,100. Its secret is the included EcoTank 70ml bottles of six colour inks which will save you 85% in ink costs. The six-colour cartridge replacement is the equivalent of 100 traditional ink cartridges. One set of six EcoTank refills for $140 is the equivalent of $2,500 in cartridges.
Epson EcoTank printers cost $100-$200 more than their traditional cartridge models but you are ahead when traditional printers are into their third refill. Its akin to paying $10,000 more for a hybrid car which now includes a large battery but it pays back along the way with far fewer gas stops.
Not only will you save on ink when printing thousands of album prints or hundreds of posters with the included six 70ml vibrant Claria ET photographic dye inks but you will be able to use Epson’s extensive collection of affordable photo art papers and presentation papers. For example, one 13” x “19 Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper bought in a pack of 50 will cost you $3.32 including ink compared to the $12 -$6 print cost range across Canadian photo labs. Similarly, an 8×10 print with the same quality photo paper will cost $1.05 compared to national average of $3.66.
For more detailed print and ink cost comparisons and how to print long murals on the ET-8550 check my Tech Untangled site
In normal office or home mode the ET-8550 behaves much like any normal multifunction printer with similar print and scan speeds (prints more than 5,000 colour documents). It has three paper feed trays for easily flipping between say, 13’ x “19’ poster paper, photo album and 8.5” document paper. The large tilting colour LCD screen allows you to manually configure settings and has thorough troubleshooting help.
Do you miss the days when a small gathering around the family table flipping through larger than screen photo prints as detailed as real life without the glare of bright LCD screens? Try it!
This gift idea is under the feel-good category. Instead of sending a traditional Holiday card off the rack, how about a personal gift card on steroids? Check out Canadian 5am Lemon, a unique self-created personal greeting card gift box. They are fun to make and fantastic to receive. The personal greeting card sample 5am Lemon sent me was more than a card in an envelope. A lot more. I pondered what was inside the dark box, half the size of a Kleenex box adorned with deep purple festive seasonal stars and snowflakes, neatly tied with a matching bow and ribbon. After the bow, I peeled off layers of a personal perforated greeting message and a selfie photo of me off my social pages, both removable with included magnets for the fridge door. Fancy cookies and chocolates completed my personal greeting from 5am Lemon! Creating and sending a 5am Lemon greeting is simple. When online, you choose your theme (many occasions including your business with logo you provide), box design, font, detachable personal message and box lid photos. The site has many designs and formats to pick from. The greeting is automatically delivered to the receiver’s address only in Canada, for now. Note: Christmas deadline is December 16! Company founder Audrey Jamieson’s mission statement:
Ninja Speedi Rapid Cook Air Fryer and Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven and Toaster
Can’t decide on the best Ninja cooking model? There’s so many variations, each with more functions than you will ever use. I found these two models cover the entire cooking style range for breakfast, a quick lunch, dinner and snacks. The compact Ninja Speedi Rapid Cook Air Fryer $279, whips up 1-touch meals cooking pastas, veggies or eggs in the bottom six-quart non-stick pot and top height-adjustable multi-function crisper tray with a real stove element. It uses SmartSwitch technology to go from cooking whole roasts, pork and poultry to Air Fry mode for frozen prepared foods. Imagine crispy-edged pork chops on the top tray dripping juice on the pasta below! Great for preparing snacks and side dishes too. The included 67-page English and 57-page French recipe book is very thorough with 20-minute cooking times (not counting prep) for most recipes.
From the Ninja multi-function oven/toaster upright storage models I like the Ninja Digital Air Fry Oven $280, best because it can accommodate bulkier food. It’s an air fryer convection oven, and toaster oven all in one. It can Air Fry, Air Roast, Air Broil, Bake, Toast (yes, 9 slices evenly) and Keep Warm. It uses up to 75% less fat than traditional frying methods, cooks up to 60% faster than a traditional oven in Air Roast mode, 60 second preheat, cooks full meals in as little as 20 minutes with precision-controlled temperature, heat source, and airflow. The extra-large cooking area capacity fits a 13″ pizza or 6 (6-8 oz.) chicken breasts and is easy to clean featuring a removable crumb tray and effortlessly accessible back panel. It includes a wire rack, 13”x13” non-stick dishwasher-safe sheet pan and air fry basket and recipe guide.
Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige
The Philips redesigned the Sonicare 9900 Prestige $500 is all style and performance with improvements over all previous Sonicare models. It’s shorter and lighter with a smaller footprint on it’s upright charge base. It has fewer moving parts like a single touch start/stop button. The classy compact USB charge travel is handy charging from any source when away. It literally “rides” like a Cadillac starting and stopping ever so smoothly so not to jar your teeth as it speeds past 30,000 vibrations per minute. Its smarter using AI-fortified SenseIQ technology that cares about your oral health like a human. It adapts to your cleaning style instead of following the “proper” cleaning techniques of the past. Sensing pressure at more than 100 times a second, its base lights up if you are brushing too hard. It automatically and in real time adjusts to the proper intensity. SenseIQ basically keeps track and adjusts the brush setting to achieve proper oral care over time instead of bugging you for the perfect brush session every time you brush. This prevents you from developing bad brushing habits over time. It comes with Sonicare’s newest all-in-one brush head that cleans, removes stains and massages gums without having to switch between pricey dedicated brushes. Nice!
Huawei Watch Fit 2
Huawei wearables, are known for innovative features like the longest time between battery charges or showing you the GPS-based return from a long hike and more. The gorgeous 1.74″ rectangle AMOLED display on HUAWEI Watch Fit 2 $199, features auto or manual brightness adjustment and includes six watch faces. There are hundreds more free and pay-for watch faces to reflect your every mood. Trendy and light at 21 grams, the Fit 2 lasts for 10 days even with an average set of tracking functions. Quick charge technology runs the watch all day with only a 5-minute charge. Llke a Private Trainer, the Fit 2 has 12 kinds of animated quick-workouts like Exercise at Work, Full-Body Stretch, Ab Ripper and includes 44 standard movement demonstrations. Great at work coffee breaks or lazy hours on the weekend to keep fit.
The 5ATM9 GPS sensor is accurate and shows your completed route onscreen while continuous AI heart rate algorithm and blood oxygen saturation impresses. The FIT 2 recognizes the workout type when you start. It adopts the ways you exercise, like swimming, running, cycling, etc. providing real-time metrics, scientific training effect evaluations and professional guidance. The short onscreen workout summary can be seen in much more detail with professional analysis and scientific guidance in the HUAWEI Health App on your phone.I like the reminders throughout the day to stand up every once in a while and swing your arms about. It also constantly records daily steps, active hours, and periods of medium to high-intensity activities in three colourful circles providing you with a sense of accomplishment.Keep track of your menstruation cycles and estimate ovulation date with reminders according to your records to help you prepare for the special days.
HUAWEI TruSleep 2.0 sleep tracks and records your sleep state analysing sleep quality, as well as providing 200+ scientific advice to improve your sleep, again with more details showing a sleep pattern graph on your phone app. HUAWEI TruRelax technology and an all-day stress tracking algorithm monitors your stress levels and even has guided breathing exercises to release stress. Get instant notifications of SMS messages, incoming calls, calendar events or from other social media apps. Answer or start phone calls with your Bluetooth-connected phone or download personal music to the Fit 2 and listen from a descent built-in speaker or stream audio to connected earbuds, even from your TV. The built-in timer and stopwatch apps are handy when barbecuing.
Works with Android, Apple and of course, Huawei phones.
No need to book a New Year’s Eve hair appointment when you have the newest hairdressing tool. The Shark FlexStyle $349, is the ultimate styling tool, equipped with Auto-Wrap Curlers, Oval Brush, Paddle Brush, Styling Concentrator and Curl-Defining Diffuser providing you with five ways to style and experiment with looks. With the ability to twist from dryer to styler, wrap volumize, smooth and dry along with fast drying, this tool is your one stop shop to unlock all your hair’s possibilities and start the year with a fresh look. Wraps, curls, sets automatically while you dry with no heat damage decreasing frizz and flyaways. The FlexStyle is a serious contender to the top personal hair stylers.
Echo Dot for Kids and Grown-ups
There are several new choices for new compact Alexa smart speakers for everyone.Thenew 5th Gen Echo Dot Kids $49 in owl or dragon spherical model themes, ages 3-12, are not toys. They are fully equipped with Amazon Kids+, NAT NEOKIDS CHALLENGE, parental controls, Amazon Math, Amazon Storytime and more. Ask Alexa to read a bedtime story, get homework help or stream Amazon music or from Apple Music, Spotify, and others. It comes with a one-year free subscription of Amazon Kids to safely learn and grow with content based on your child’s age. After 1 year, your subscription will automatically renew every month starting at $5.99/month plus applicable tax. You may cancel any time by visiting the Amazon Parent Dashboard or contacting Customer Service. Kids can set their own alarms, even turn off compatible smart lights or calling approved friends and family. An easily seen red mic-off button disconnects the microphones.
For the trendy teen or adult in your life the Echo Dot with Clock $55, has a much-improved speaker with clearer vocals, deeper bass and vibrant sound in any room in a sleek compact design. It includes Ask Alexa to set reminders, alarms, play your favourite music, song titles, weather and more on the new LED display. Play music, audiobooks, and podcasts from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify and others or via Bluetooth throughout your home. How about controlling room temperatures or creating a routine to automatically turn on compatible lights when you walk into a room, or start a fan if the inside temperature goes above your comfort zone. With Alexa voice commands: you can turn the spotlight on and off, adjust the brightness and select from your range of present colors. It also has a microphone on/off button.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G
The newest generation Galaxy Z Fold 4 $2430, finally gets it right making the cut in our Holiday Gift guide. Tougher, water resistant and lighter, consumers should feel more comfortable forking out the $xxxxx to buy it. After all these years from the first launch it’s still magical, unfolding to a glorious seamless 7.5 square screen with tons of pixel screen real estate. From your pocket it’s a one-handed single 6.2-inch easy to use cover screen. But in becomes a handful on the main screen with enough room to run several apps, making it your ultimate do-more device on the go. And when you need to go hands-free, simply set it down, find a good angle and leave it there while you get more done. When unfolded, it smartly keeps the screen keys within thumb’s reach for one handed control. It features a nightography camera. One-screen multitasking is easy with The Z Fold 4. Just add apps to the Taskbar, and quickly navigate between windows. And with App Pair, one tap launches up to three apps, all sharing one screen. It’s S Pen compatible as precise as the Note series. You can also pick up a case (recommended) for the Z Fold 4 which includes a flip out stand, an S Pen with built-In storage slot. In fact, the very same case $110, makes an excellent gift edition to someone who already has the Z Fold 4. Available in Graygreen, Phantom Black, Beige everywhere, but if you love Burgundy its only available at Samsung.com.
Google Pixel 7 Smartphone
The smaller and cheaper sibling to the Pixel 7 Pro, the Pixel 7 might be the perfect phone for folks preferring less weight and size but with the same key improved performance and features of the Pixel 7 Pro. Designed with recycled materials, the Pixel 7 sports a 6.3’ responsive up to 90 Hz display, has IP68 water resistance and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus front and back. It’s faster, more efficient, and more secure than last year’s model. Pixel’s Adaptive Battery can last over 24 hours – and up to 72 hours when you turn on Extreme Battery Saver. Live Translate works face-to-face conversations in 48 languages in real time and translate menus with your camera. Pixel’s dual rear camera includes 4K colour and detail. Its unique cinematic blur impresses, keeping your subject in focus while blurring the background for a dramatic video effect. The front-facing camera now has a wider 92.8 ° ultrawide field of view for group selfies and eye-popping landscape photography. It’s bigger sensor and sharper lens, provides better low-light photography –even ain 4K resolution. Super Res Zoom image quality is similar to a dedicated 2x optical zoom but can go up to 8x for high-quality photos from far away thanks to the Pixel’s AI-assisted extended zoom ability.
Guided Frame helps people with low vision take the best selfies using audio and haptics to ensure a face is right in frame. Nice! Pixel’s interpreting realistic skin tones from various skin colour using Real Tone is impressive and Google’s certified Titan M2 chip has been tested against some rigorous protection guidelines trusted for identity, SIM cards and security chips. It has face or fingertip unlocking and includes the Personal Safety app with which your Pixel phone can automatically call for help, share your location or record a video relying on network connectivity. Coming soon: built-in VPN by Google One for peace of mind when you’re online no matter what app or browser you use. Includes 8GB ram, 128GB storage, a 4355 mAh battery and a built-in eSim allowing you to add a cellular plan without using a physical card with a WiFi connection.
Fitbit Luxe Special Edition
The Fitbit Luxe Special Edition $250, has not been outclassed since its launch. It performs as good as it looks. It comes with a Gorjana gold stainless steel Parker Link bracelet and includes a second peony classic band. But inside it’s still a Luxe watch with the following functions – someone tell me if I left something out: Daily Readiness Score, Active Zone Minutes, 24/7 Heart Rate, Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) Monitoring, Real-Time Pace & Distance, All-Day Activity, 20 Exercise Modes + SmartTrack, Swimproof + Swim Tracking, Menstrual Health Tracking, Stress Management Tools, Mindful Minutes, Guided Breathing, Sleep Stages, Sleep Score, Skin Temperature Variation, Breathing Rate, Heart Rate Variability, Google Fast Pair, Call, Text & Smartphone Notifications, Do Not Disturb Mode, Sleep Mode, Silent Alarms, Timer & Stopwatch and 5 Day Battery. It has a huge selection of stylish designer strap accessories to choose from so you will never get bored with its ageless design. Need I say more? It includes a 6-month Premium account which is hard to let go when renewal time comes around.
LightStim for Wrinkles and Blemishes
The FDA-cleared LightStim for Wrinkles $249,one of the most industry recommended LED skintreatment devices, uses patented blue and red LED lights to treat fine lines and wrinkles, boost elasticity in sagging skin and treat blemishes including acne calming inflammation for clearer, healthier-looking skin. It is handheld, easier to target problematic areas of your face compared to the huge selection of mask versions in the market that cover your entire face. Blue Light Therapy targets visible blemishes and kills bacteria that cause future breakouts, while Red Light Therapy helps reduce redness and calm the look and feel of skin. Use on clean, dry skin, AM or PM. Hold the LightStim gently against a blemish-prone area and turn on the light which starts the 3-minute treatment timer. After the beep, move to the next area and repeat. Use daily for 2 weeks or until skin clears. Use 2-3 times per week to maintain results. Compared to many cheaper mass produce LED masks with no trackable source, Lightsim has it’s own website and bodes well among top model lists by skin specialists.
Philips Sonicare Cordless Power Flosser 3000
I hate going to the dentist every six months for the gruelling one-hour tooth cleaning ritual, don’t you? Flossing is a necessary, though often a neglected part of our daily routines, and it has a massive impact on both our oral and overall health. For the health-conscious person in your life, the new Philips Sonicare Power Flossers, available in both countertop and cordless models, provide an easy upgrade to your existing oral routine, delivering a thorough and effective clean that even your oral hygienist will notice. Put aside your old-fashioned flossing technique, with a Quad Stream Pulse Wave technology that guides you from tooth to tooth stopping and starting briefly as you move between teeth. Smart! The Philips Sonicare Power Flosser removes up to 99% of plaque in treated areas, and is up to 180% more effective for healthier gums vs. manual floss. The cordless model I tried comes with a standard nozzle for power cleaning between teeth and a Quad Stream nozzle for thorough yet gentle cleaning. The nozzles rotate 360 degrees to reach every part of your teeth from each side. Three intensity settings and two flossing modes from clean to deep clean acclimatize you to the full flossing power. The cordless, with a 14-day battery life, holds a generous amount of water with two easy-fill choices.