13 great gifts for the tech and gadget lover in your life

ByDanny Mavromatis KABC logo
Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wondering what to get the tech and gadget lover in your life this holiday season? Get a head start on your gift shopping with these recommendations and reviews. These gift ideas range from the obtainable to the extravagant, so one is sure to fit within your budget.

Swagway X1 Hands-free Smart Board

Price: $400

These little self-balancing boards are all the rage right now. The Swagway X1 is perfect for indoor use, but can also be used outdoors in urban areas where it can gain a top speed of about 12 mph. Don't let its compact size fool you. It packs quite a bit of power with over 10 miles of travel distance on a single charge.

The best part? It's actually fun to use! Lean forward, it moves forward. Lean back and it moves back. Lean left, it turns left. Lean right and it turns right. You get the idea. A perfect gift for the person that loves an adventure but is not a fan of walking.

Franklin ProSensor Stud Finder 710

Price: $51

If you've ever had to find a stud in the wall, you know how much of a pain it is. Making sure you find the exact middle of the stud so the screw has enough "meat" to grab on to. The worse case, you miss the stud and you have extra holes in the wall you have to fix.

That's all a thing of that past with the Franklin ProSensor 710.

This stud finder actually has bright red LEDs that light up showing the approximate width of the object hidden behind the wall. In the case of a stud, it should be three LEDs wide. They light up in real-time while you scan and the sensor can see up to 1.5" of depth perfect for hanging a simple picture frame or a LED TV.

Apple Watch

Price: Starting at $359

The Apple Watch is the perfect gift for someone that loves wearing watches because if they already are in the habit of wearing a watch that just tells time, the Apple Watch will provide them a whole lot more use than a regular watch that simply tells time. Like having Siri available at any time to dictate a message or schedule an appointment -- it works amazingly well. The activity monitor for health and fitness provides enough motivation that it will keep them wanting to complete the activity rings daily.

Summed up, the best feature of the Apple Watch is the ability to quickly communicate and visualize your day at a glance and staying healthy and active all at the convenience of your wrist. Far more discrete than pulling your phone out at dinner.

Amazon Echo

Price: $180

If someone you know fantasizes about how things will be like in the future, then the Amazon Echo is the perfect gift for them. The Amazon Echo is not only a streaming music player, but also a personal digital agent in the home. For example, using just your voice the, Echo can get information about local businesses and restaurants, play audiobooks, check your schedule, turn on lights, tell you the commute times and even restock previously purchased items in your Amazon history.

Amazon also keeps adding more functionality to the Echo making it a product that actually gets better with time.

Flash Forge Creator Pro 3D Printer

Price: $1,199

Over the last few years lot of progress has been made around 3D printing. What this means is prices have come down and the ease and quality of prints have gone up. The Flash Forge Creator Pro is a perfect example of a 3D Printer that improves upon an open source design and features dual-extrusion. This allows the printing of two different colors or materials at the same time. The included heated printing bed makes adhesion of the first layer easy every time.

One of the key quality metrics of a 3D printer is to have consistent print repeatability, meaning getting the same quality output each and every time. This printer is great at it. Leaving more time to be creative and printing rather than having to fiddle around with settings to get a decent print.

The Flash Forge Creator Pro can print a variety of filament types including, ABS, PLA and flexible plastic like NinjaFlex right out of the box. It's the perfect gift for the "maker" in your life.

Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid

Price: $180

A perfect gift for the Star Wars fan! The BB-8 is an app-enabled personal droid that's authentic as the one featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The BB-8 features an adaptive personality that evolves the more you interact and play with it. It even reacts to your voice. The BB-8 can be set to patrol autonomously or it can be guided by an iOS or Android app.

This is more than just a toy, but rather an experience.

55" Ultra HD 4K Televisions (Indoor or Outdoor)

Price: Starting at $798

This is the year that 4K TVs have finally became affordable with 55" sizes dropping under the $1,000 mark. Samsung, Sony, Vizio and LG all offer a nice assortment of options to chose from and keep an eye out for specials this holiday season. Here are two highly recommended displays worth hanging on your wall. For indoor use, the Vizio M55-C2 Smart LED TV is a spectacular Ultra HD 4K display for the price ($798).

The other is SunBrite's new SB-5574UHD, a 55" from their Signature Series. It is an outdoor all-weather LED TV meant for permanent outdoor installations. While the Sunbrite display isn't priced under $1,000, the option of bringing 4K indoors or outdoors is now available none the less.

SoloShot 2 Robotic Cameraman

Price: $599

The SoloShot 2 is a perfect gift for capturing water, motor, snow or field sports without the need of a cameraman. Yes, you read that right; the SoloShot 2 automatically pans, tilts, and zooms any standard sized tripod mountable camera, keeping itself pointed at the subject automatically. It works by tracking a tag that can be attached to the included armband. The base then begins to track while the attached camera records.

The base has a horizontal 360-degree continuous tracking up to about 80-degrees a second and +/- 60 degrees of vertical tracking at up to 35 degrees a second, making this a pretty versatile system that can easily capture your child playing soccer while not having to lose a moment because your viewing the game from behind the camera.

Seek Thermal Camera

Price: Starting at $205

Thermal cameras have come down drastically in price making them accessable to anyone now. Seek Thermal has a range of thermal cameras that allow almost any smartphone to be turned into a thermal camera that can be used to locate water leaks in walls and ceilings or insulation issues around doors and windows. It can even help locate electrical safety issues like an overheating junction or switch box.

A thermal camera is one of those tools that is both fun and entertaining as well as extremely practical for detecting and fixing safety and comfort issues around the home or office.

Audioengine A2+ Powered Desktop Speakers

Price: $249

The AudioEngine A2+ speakers are some of the best sounding, self-powered and economical speakers I've heard at this (or double) price point. While these speakers are small, they rival audio from speakers twice their size and pack big, full and very crisp audio output. A great pair of speakers that pair nicely with a smartphone or tablet plugged directly in the 1/8 or RCA inputs on the back of the speaker.

A perfect speaker set for a small office, bedroom or work area. Available in Red, White and Black finishes.

Anker Compact Car Jump Starter and Portable Charger Power Bank

Price: $80

Every car should have one of these in the trunk, and it's probably not a bad idea to have one stored in your emergency bag at home. The portable jump starter and charger by Anker can jump start a dead car battery around 15 times on a single charge and even charge your smartphone or tablet via it's dual onboard USB ports. It even features a built-in LED light to boot.

Keurig Kold

Price: $365

The Keurig Kold is an interesting take on a soda maker. It offers licensed Coke and Dr. Pepper product mixes as well as flavored waters, iced teas, seltzers and sports drinks. It also offer craft sodas (the Cane Cola is great) as well as cocktail mixers like a classic margarita and mojito (just add the alcohol). The Keurig Kold unit cools, carbonates and dispenses.

The pods cost about $4.99 for a four pack or $1.24 a unit, which makes the Craft Sodas and Cocktail mixers comparable (if not cheaper) than what you'd find at your local boutique grocer. Great for folks that have an entertainment room and want a cold soda made on demand.

Hurom HK Slow Juicer

Price: $439

Hands down the best juicer on the market.

The Hurom HK Slow Juicer is the latest slow juicer in Hurom's line. What's fascinating about this juicer is that it's not about a high-speed motor but that it's only spinning at 43 rotations per minute. The slower motor rotation and the combination of a blade-less screw-like auger that uses gravity to pull its ingredients in allows it to cold-presses raw foods, extracting the smoothest and delicious juice that is full of nutrients.

This juicer even works with ripe bananas, avocados, soft berries, leafy greens, frozen ingredients, nuts and soybeans, allowing for the creation of some really yummy and nutritious juices, smoothies, nut milks, baby food, and purees.

Danny Mavromatis (@dannymav) runs mavromatic.com, a technology and product review website since 2004. Every product listed in this gift guide has been thoroughly reviewed hands-on by Danny so you don't have to.