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Finding the ideal high tech gadget gift

By Jean-Claude Elias - Dec 20,2018 - Last updated at Dec 20,2018

It is the end of the year and the holidays’ season. It implies buying gifts for your loved ones and your friends, which very often implies offering high-tech gadgets. The good news is that there is an incredible number of items to choose from out there. The bad news is that choosing one can prove to be a daunting task, when not a real nightmare  — precisely because of the very wide choice available.

If budget matters a little it certainly is not the most difficult hurdle you would have to overcome. Indeed, there are very attractive items that are guaranteed to please, in all budget ranges. And yet…

One of the most sought-after product on the market today is the Bluetooth speaker. Some are very small, the size of a smartphone, while other are quite large and heavy. Some will cost you as little as $20 and others as much as $700. Some work on batteries, others need to be connected to the line power. Some are splash-proof, others just do not want to get wet at all. Most work wirelessly and also feature a line-in cable connector for wired use.

Even you stick to the famous brands only, you will still be spoiled for choice. JBL, Bose, Creative, Anker, Bang & Olufsen, B&W, Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo Sony and the list goes on and on. And if you are fine with any unbranded speaker, the choice will obviously be even harder, if not impossible. On the positive side, and given the progress of the technology, virtually all models sound good. You may as well close your eyes and pick up one. 

It goes the same for Bluetooth headphones, though in this particular case, cheap ones do not really sound good. So beware, and listen well before you buy.

Home medical equipment, here again with Bluetooth wireless connectivity, which you use in conjunction with a smartphone application, is slowly, but surely gaining ground. Digital blood pressure monitors, for example, are more and more commonly used in homes, with the mobile phone app that goes with them. Ease of use, affordable prices and actually usefulness take this item well beyond mere gadgets. However, this is typically a product you would buy for yourself, not one you would offer as a present.

Extremely useful and popular but also available in a huge range of brands, sizes and prices is the portable battery bank that lets you recharge any mobile device while on the road. Even here, there is no easy choice, except if you set your mind on the leading brand Anker, and restrict yourself to a price range of say $30 to $50. Otherwise it is a headache and a time-consuming search.

No list of high-tech gadgets would be complete without the innovative digital assistants: Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod, to name these two only. The problem with this very item is that the specifications and the standards keep changing (“evolving” according to their makers) all the time, and some reviewers are sceptical about the real usefulness of these assistants — at this point in time at least. So if investing and experimenting with high-tech expensive toys will not be affecting your household budget, you may want to try and play with one of these goodies.

Last but not least is the smartwatch. Still not widely used, the concept will probably win the hearts of tech-lovers in the end. It may take another two to three years. With Samsung, Apple and Huawei in the lead, a good smartwatch represents a substantial investment for now. A newcomer in the industry is joining in the game almost every other month, and somewhat like hardware digital assistants, the standards and the functionality are not yet set in a final manner.

When it is my turn to make the best possible gift choice and given the magnitude of the above problem, I may simply give up the high-tech gadget quest and humbly opt for a sizeable box of Swiss or Belgian dark chocolate — a sure thing, an easier choice and a safer bet.

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