The 8 Best Electronic Gifts to Buy in 2017

Get the best presents for the techie in your life

Google Wifi system
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Give the gift of tech this year to simplify the lives of your loved ones. Whether you’re helping them care for their health, enhance their home or just have fun, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite electronic gifts that will delight techie friends of all ages.

For those who live in a large home and have trouble getting Wi-Fi everything, the Google Wi-Fi set is our favorite solution. The set contains three satellites, which Google call “Wi-Fi points,” each of which covers 1,500 square feet, for a grand total of 4,500 square feet of blanketed coverage. The points are shaped like thick hockey pucks and sit beautifully in plain view. Unfortunately, they lack USB ports, which mean you can’t connect peripherals.

Each point houses a quad-core Arm CPU, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of eMMC flash memory, plus AC1200 (2X2) 802.11ac and 802.11s (mesh) circuitry and a Bluetooth radio. Google combines its 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands into a single band, which means you can’t designate a device to a single band, but on the upside, it uses beamforming technology, which automatically routes devices to the strongest signal. The accompanying app (for Android or iOS) is intuitive and lets you manage the status of your points, as well as set up guest networks, test speeds, port forwarding and more.

Increasingly, people are cutting the cord and turning to streaming services to satisfy their appetites for on-demand media. Now that’s easier than ever to do with the Fire TV Stick, which Amazon touts this device as “the most powerful streaming media stick under $50.” Just plug it into your HDTV and you can access Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, YouTube, Amazon Video and more -- assuming you have a subscription, of course. Paired with an Amazon Prime membership, you can watch thousands of movies and TV shows, and even purchase a la carte premium channels such as HBO for a low monthly fee, which you can cancel at any time. New to this upgraded model is the Alexa Voice Remote, which lets you give commands such as “Alexa, find a romantic comedy,” “Alexa, open YouTube,” “Alexa, fast forward three minutes,” and say goodbye to fidgeting with frustrating remotes.

Got a camper on your list? The Gear Aid FLUX provides power for days. With a battery capacity of 20,800 mAh, it can recharge your Android smartphone up to eight times, your GoPro up to 14 times or your Apple Watch up to 65 times. Its 82 LEDs yield up to 640 lumens of light power, and with three color settings and 10 brightness levels, you can customize the light to your liking. Rated at IP65 durability, it can brave rain, sleet, snow and sand and even send SOS signals if needed. Its built-in Li-ion battery will last anywhere from 13 to 192 hours, depending on how you use it, but fair warning, it’ll take about 12 hours to juice back up via micro-USB when connected to a 2.0-amp charger. At the end of the day, you’ll be blown away by the quality of this power station.

No lightbulb jokes here: This Philips Smart Bulb Starter Kit will make your home smart enough so that it doesn’t need any help. The personal wireless lighting system lets you control your Hue lights from the iOS and Android app (or via Alexa voice control!), adjusting brightness and color so you can create just the right ambiance. The kit comes with two A19 LED smart bulbs, able to fit standard table lamps, and the Philips Hue Bridge that can control up to 50 lights remotely. Once set up, you’ll enjoy soft white lighting that can be set on timers to save electricity or make it appear that someone is home when you’re out of town.

Maybe you think unwrapping a new toothbrush isn’t as exciting as unboxing a new iPad, but that’s probably only because you haven’t yet met the Oral-B Pro 7000. Equipped with Bluetooth technology, the brush connects to your smartphone to give you real-time feedback on your brushing habits, such as time spent brushing in each quadrant of your mouth. Its CrossAction design surrounds each tooth with bristles angled at 16 degrees and 3D cleaning action rotates and pulsates to break up and remove up to 100 percent more plaque than a regular toothbrush. It has six different modes, including Whitening Mode, Gum Care Mode and Deep Clean Mode, and it even has a pressure sensor that lights up if you are brushing too hard.

Add functionality to your tablet or smartphone with this lightweight yet sturdy tri-folding keyboard. It’s compatible with Android, iOS (not Mac) and most Windows devices, and can switch seamlessly between Bluetooth or wired connectivity with an included micro USB cable. You can choose from red, blue or green backlighting, at two different brightness levels, which makes it easy to see the keys, even in dim lighting. It measures a spacious 11.4 x 4.6 x 0.3 inches (HWD) when open and just 6.5 x 4.7 x 0.6 inches when folded, but unfortunately it has no locking mechanism. There’s also no physical power button; just unfold the keyboard and start typing.

Maybe you’re snap happy when it comes to photography, but those memories don’t always serve you so well sitting on your smartphone. The HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer lets you connect your social media accounts to the free Sprocket app and physically print them out in no time using Bluetooth. The app also lets you add things like text, borders and emojis and more for a custom touch. The printer is a perfectly portable 4.53 x 2.95 x 0.87 inches and it prints out two-by-three-inch photos on sticky-backed paper.

It seems like everyone is wearing a fitness tracker today, but with so many options out there, which one should you choose? We love the Fitbit Alta largely because of its sleek design. Like most trackers on the market, this one tracks steps taken, distance traveled, floors climbed, calories burned, time spent active and sleep patterns, and will send you reminders if you aren’t moving enough. It syncs wirelessly with your smartphone or computer so you can log meals, record workouts and view trends. It’ll stay charged for up to five days, depending on use, but charges up in one to two hours. While it’s a bit pricier than the Fitbit Flex, in our opinion, it’s well worth the splurge thanks to its ability to track sleep, send calendar alerts and track heart rate.

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