Still can’t decide on that special Hoilday gift? Here’s my take on well designed technology that will last. In a price range for everyone from less than $100 to well over $1,000.
Most folks are aware of seasonal SAD light therapy energizing you during long dark winter nights with blue light. Say hello, rather “goodnight,” to Helight Sleep for $149, which purports to improve sleep. It uses a special red light frequency of 630 nanometers signaling the end of day to the brain encouraging production of melatonin. The new sleep technology is gaining traction from NASA research and multiple vendors. It’s sleep cycle starts with the bright red light on for 14 minutes, then gradually dimming to off in the remaining 14 minutes. It works best when used in the dark with no TV or smartphone nearby. I have been using it for the past two weeks and have noticed a difference looking forward to a good night’s rest sans my trusty smartphone. I turn it on by my night table, get into my most comfortable position, and close my eyes. No worries, the light penetrates through your eyelids. Helight, a small Canadian family business, claims 95% of the first 50,000 customers kept the device after the now 60-day trial. It comes with a USB charging cable that works off computer USB ports or phone wall chargers.
The Skylight Frame defines digital picture frames. It is Wi-Fi enabled connecting to your home network, creating a personal e-mail for you and friends to send pictures to from anywhere. Watch your Skylight fill up with photos from friends and loved ones. You could even set one up for a senior to simply receive photos too, without having to interact. Every morning they would be greeted with more photos from well wishers. It comes with a 16GB internal memory that can store up to 6,000 smartphone quality photos. You can send photos via e-mail with multiple attachments totaling up to 30MB at a time (most mobile e-mail apps give you the option of attaching very usable downsized photos that take less storage space). The touch screen allows rotating, deleting, pausing, as well as setting automatic brightness, slideshow speed, chronological or shuffle order or heart (like) icon on/off. Any photo you zoom in on the touch screen is remembered, too. There’s more. The free downloadable Skylight app with an optional $40 annual subscription for Skylight Plus lets you send short videos with audio playback from the built-in speaker, play music while viewing your photos, send photos to multiple frames, create captions, play lists, receive weather updates and reminders. You can even view your home Skylight slide show on any mobile device or tablet from anywhere. The Skylight frame can also be plugged in anywhere and show its content without an Internet connection. It comes in two screen sizes: $200 for the 10” screen frame or $349 for the 15” screen frame. The 1280 x 800 pixel bright screen is mounted on a beautiful one-inch-thick, raised glass matt sturdy metal frame that can be hung or placed on a desk vertically or horizontally.
Huawei Watch GT 4 Health Monitoring Watch
The HUAWEI WATCH GT 4 is loaded with many new features, but the number one outstanding feature, a signature of the Huawei watch line, is it’s ability to run for up to two weeks with one charge. And that is with a few metrics still left on. Heath management features include monitoring your sleep habits with always-on heart beat, oxygenation blood levels, breathing irregularities, skin temperature and more. It also intelligently analyzes and learns from physiological indicators, such as heart rate during sleep, body temperature, breathing rate, and more, to predict menstrual periods. The WATCH GT 4 has improved on the activity rings feature introducing cloves as an alternate way of getting a quick glance of your physical activity. providing a quick overview of daily fitness statistics, including calories burned, exercise duration, and standing activity. The online gallery, features more than 25,000 watch faces ranging from many free and up to $7 for sophisticated motion designs. They can be purchased from the phone Life app Canada using you credit card or PayPal. An upgraded dual-band five-system high-precision GPS, increases positioning accuracy by 30%, from previous models even in densely structured urban areas is ideal for expeditions and running challenges. My favourite unique Huawei Route Back feature helps you find your way back by reversing your GPS route. It can store 500 songs and play them back on Bluetooth connected speakers or buds. The quality built-in speaker also play music and is used for receiving or making calls via your Bluetooth connected phone. It seamlessly integrates with both iOS and Android devices and is available in major box stores in two models – HUAWEI WATCH GT 4 46mm $439 showcasing a bold octagonal design and the WATCH GT 4 41mm $328 featuring a sleek pendant design.
Philips Sonicare 4100
The very affordable Philips Sonicare 4100 ($60), is a smart electric toothbrush that cleans teeth effectively removing up to 7x more plaque than a manual toothbrush. Using new BrushSync technology that detects and synchronizes the smart brush head to the handle, it pushes toothpaste bubbles between the teeth for hard-to-get-to spots. It also tracks and reminds to you when to replace your brush head, for an effective clean every time. Pressure Sensors let you know when you’re brushing too hard, to protect your teeth and gums. An easy-start program eases you into brushing with Sonicare, by gradually building-up the brushing power over time.
Ninja Blast Portable Blender
The battery armed Ninja Blast Portable Blender is an ideal gift for folks who are on the go. It’s an ice-crunching high-speed blending power with a cordless, hand-held design. A large capacity 18-oz. vessel is perfect for smoothies, protein shakes, and frozen drinks. Ninja’s BlastBlade Assembly is easy to maintain – a 30-second blend with rinsing water and a drop of dish soap is all you need. But its easy to disassemble and dishwater safe. The built-in battery housing in the bottom of the non-slip case is chargeable via the included USB-C cable. The one-handed, easy-open sip lid and sturdy hinged carrying handle make drinking your favourite blends easier than ever. Think of traveling and quickly picking fresh fruits and vegetables on the way to the airport or hotel ready to blend at last minutes notice. The ribbed glass vessel creates a vortex for the durable, stainless steel BlastBlade stainless steel blade blasts through ice and frozen ingredients. One full two-hour charge gives you about 15 blends . It comes in four fresh colours. For safety, the Ninja Blast has separate power and blend buttons to prevent unintentional blending.
For the creative person who needs computer portability on the go, the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED (UX3404) $2000 touchscreen laptop will do the trick. Armed with Intel’s most powerful mobile processor, the 13th Gen Intel Core i9-1900H with 14 Cores and 20 Threads and 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM, 4GB GeForce RTX graphics , drop dead gorgeous 14.5’” 2.5K OLED screen, this Intel Evo certified Ultraportable workhorse is ready to take on serious business and creativity tasks. Despite it’s literally “hot” processor it has impressive battery use control to last more than 9 hours on a battery charge in Whisper Fan Mode for Word processing or watching several movies on a laptop that will not burn your lap. But when running demanding applications its will not last more than four hours. But it gets the job done on the road. Check out my WiFiHiFi review.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 3
The premium Huawei Freebuds Pro 3, is packed with impressive technology that delivers. The Ultra-Hearing Dual Drivers including an 11 mm ultra-mag bass driver that seems to go through your bones and with digital cross-over technology, the treble sound can soar to 48 kHz3 or drop all the way to 14 Hz. HUAWEI FreeBuds Pro 3 for $299 supports the L2HC 2.04 and LDAC codecs, and is certified by both HWA and Hi-Res Audio Wireless to deliver high-resolution audio. The triple adaptive EQ algorithm keeps every note, tone, and tune true-to-life. The algorithm detects volume level, ear canal shape, and wearing status in real time, and applies the optimal sound level and EQ settings on the go. Distraction-Free Calling with Huawei’s Pure Voice 2.01 does a commendable job when taking or receiving voice or video calls, including a 80% improvement on wind noise cancellation over the previous model, even when you are on a bike. A redesigned bone conduction voice pick-up (VPU) microphone that stays closely fixed to your ears adds to the bud’s effective Active Noise Cancellation( ANC). Three additional microphones form a 4-mic system for impressive ANC. I tested this pair on a recent flight with ANC on completely removed the cabin noise. In a crowded restaurant it was second to Apple. Fully charged, the buds run for 6.5 hours with ANC off or 4.5 hours with ANC on. The included case, delivers 31 hours keeping the buds constantly topped off, or 22 hours with ANC on. Connect to two devices at the same time, and switch audio even between iOS and Android devices without having to repeatedly pair and disconnect. A much improved groove design to pinch or tap ten settings on each bud and IP54 dust and splash resistance impress.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 Home Printer
The EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Colour All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer for $400 is a gift that will outlive most, especially toys. It allows kids of all ages to let their imaginations run wild with printing projects. With up to 2 years printing with Epson’s exclusive EcoFitin ink bottles in the box, the equivalent of 90 traditional cartridges saves you 90% over ink costs using traditional cartridges. Kids can fully immerse themselves in any printing activities without the fear of running out of ink or their allowance! From transforming basic cut-outs into detailed decorations, creating picture collages for gallery walls or stencils for DIY tote bags, they won’t run out of creativity. The ET-2850 has impressive print quality producing sharp text, colour photos and graphics on virtually any paper type. Plus, if the kids are tech savvy, they can voice command printing or easily print from their smart device with the intuitive Epson Smart Panel App. Compared to its older sibling model theET-2850 is quieter and has a larger 1.4” colour display for navigating manus easier. It also has auto two-sided printing saving on paper and a high resolution scanner for copying and printing old album photos. Parents will like the extended two-year warranty with registration.
Shark SpeedStyle RapidGloss Finnisher and High-Velocity Dryer
In a rush? The Shark SpeedStyle RapidGloss Finisher and High-Velocity Dryer with IQ Speed Styling and Drying Suite accessories is lightweight, ionic, no heat damage, best for straight and wavy hair and comes in White (HD331C Canadian Version). But if you want to see what $280 gets you, read on. It does not compromise hair health for wet-to-dry styling thanks to three smartly designed IQ SpeedStyler accessories. SpeedStyle is engineered with the power to take on any hair type, from curly, to wavy, to straight. Find the best accessory bundle for you. This bundle is best equipped for straight and wavy hair. For example, the RapidGloss Finisher for a high-shine finish on dry, straight hair with up to 6X less frizz measures and regulates temperature 1,000 times a second, never exceeding 230°F, and never approaching heat damaging temperature of 302°F. For less Frizz, an ionizer releases negative ions for smooth, healthy-looking hair versus air-drying. SpeedStyle recognizes each IQ SpeedStyler and intelligently adjusts to the ideal temperature and airflow for ultra-fast styling with no heat damage. It Includes 4 heat and 3 airflow settings, plus cool shot.
Deco BE33000 BE95 Wi-Fi 7 Whole Home Mesh System
Put this under the ultimate tech gift for Wi-Fi starved homes. The next-gen Deco BE95 WiFi 7 from TP-Link whole home network system costs a whooping $1,700 for the two-unit kit but it delivers unheard of performance speeds between connected devices and Internet in a two-story home. For tech geeks, here are the stats: Combined speed of 33 Gbps: 11,520Mbps on two 6GHz bands, 8,640Mbps on the 5GHz band, and 1,148Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. What does this mean? Now, your Wi-Fi connected home for your fastest data-thirsty devices will be as fast as your Internet cable service is for your desktop. Streaming and downloading other data will be at it’s fastest. And that with little interruption or throttling because the Deco BE95 is designed for simultaneous data transmissions. It’s faster than 5G smartphones top 20 Gbps connection speed in comparison to the 33 Gbps combined performance of the BE95 Wi-Fi 7. Basically, the faster the Internet connection from fiber optic connected Internet providers, this Wi-Fi 7 system will be able to handle and pass on the speed benefits beyond your desktop. There’s more. The innovative 6GHz band ensures a pristine connection free from the interference of other legacy (slower) devices at home. The extra trio of 320MHz channels enable multiple high-speed transmissions simultaneously. This means different legacy devices will work in a separate ban not affecting your faster connected devices. Installation is non-technical with the Deco smartphone app. Follow the clear instructions for the first Ethernet connected Deco BE95 unit and the second Wi-Fi 7 unit will be discovered and added on automatically. In my case it worked with new and old smart Nest and Eco Bee thermostats, new and 11-year-old laptops (updated Aspire S7) three generations of Sonos speakers and my three Ring Alarm external units.
Sonos Ultimate Surround and Stereo Speaker System
Sonos has been a leader in Wi-Fi connected premium speakers and have been steadily delivering more sophisticated models like the most recent Era 100 and Era 300 speakers. Over three generations, their speaker models have varying price ranges for beginner home systems starting with two speakers and outlining an incremental path on their web site. Their first two-speaker combo features one Ray + Roam for $450 suitable for a mid-sized bedroom or a bachelor suite. Going up the system ladder I have configured and tried a four-speaker system combining two left and right Era 100’s on optional stands, a centre Era 300 which delivers the coveted Dolby Atmos sound with drivers delivering front, left, right, and up finishing off with the immersive Gen 3 Sub for a total of $1,856 with a savings of $340 on a sale off the site (at the time of this writing). An optional add on would be the also Dolby Atmos capable (complementing the Era 300) Arc Smart Soundbar for $870 with a saving of an additional $220. See photo of my family room which opens up to a second-floor stair space. The sound is nicely overwhelming with excellent left/right stereo, a strong central Era 300 speaker and rich bass.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
The S23 Ultra is still my favourite go-to camera phone. It has power, speed, can compete in quality with professional interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras, and shoot in any light condition. It was a bige leap from the previous S22 series with larger 200MP images in addition to the 50MP and 12MP normal shooting. As a professional photographer wanting to capture the most detail of places I may not visit again as a septuagenarian, both the 200MP and 50MP settings as well as the Expert Raw setting for capturing virtually noiseless night scenes have been priceless to me. The rapid 100-frame in a several seconds long shooting burst has captured countless of moments of people interacting, impossible to get otherwise. From 10X optical zoom to sharp panoramas to .6 super wide the colour is consistent. The astrophotography capabilities of the S23 series still astound. Hyperlapse mode for example captures star trails, when left on for more than several hours and automatically creates a 4K accelerated video of quickly passing star trails accelerated 300X. A single frame capture of a Hyperlapse 4K video shows stunning detail, easily done on the phone. Then, there’s the 8K 30FPS video recording which will astound when viewed on a Samsung 8K TV. 8K video yields still frames three times larger than the normal 12MP photos the camera captures. This allows me to capture high quality stills shot at 30 FPS never missing a moment. Then there’s the S Pen stylus for scribbling notes, converting to text and gesturing controls without touching the screen on the Ultra. With 500GB memory you can shoot thousands of high quality photos and hours of 8K video which the phone can also downsize onboard to 4K and 1080p for use online. Check my in-depth WiFiHiFi review for more details and examples.
Affordable Stocking Stuffers from Philips : OneBlade and Facial Hair Remover 5000
Looking for affordable Christmas stocking items? Small and compact, the Philips OneBlade First Shave $35 uses a unique anti-friction double edged blade for accurate trimming minus the irritation. For me it runs for more than a month on one charge, a great travel companion.
The 5000 series Facial Hair Remover gently removes the finest hairs on your face with the hypoallergenic head. The built-in mirror and full circle LED light help you miss no hair. Designed for women to gently remove hairs on the upper lip, chin, cheeks and jawline for only $25. A gentle experience at home and on-the-go. cuts so close to the skin that it removes from peach to sturdy hairs. As with other hair removal methods, the hair does not grow back thicker, denser or darker.