Want to wow the tech aficionado in your life this holiday season? You're not going to do it with an electric toothbrush or animatronic mounted fish. Here are some of the coolest and/or cutting edge gifts we could find to make your job a bit easier.
JD Humanoid (EZ-Robot): $429
Modular anatomy allows you to leave JD invention as a standard, programmable robot with 18 degrees of freedom, or come up with your own configuration of servos and EZ-Bits. One user made an arm with an attached gripper to feed himself. The Lego-like pieces that constitute all of EZ-Robot ‘s creations just snap on and are a perfect segue from blocks to bots for your future engineers.
Coolest feature: His true power lies within the constantly evolving EZ-Builder Software. There are infinite apps you can create and control from your smart phone or tablet.
Why we picked it: In the coming decade, robotics will redefine humanity, from the jobs we have to how we care for our aging family members. There are some big changes on the horizon, and the best way for a tech junkie to prepare is with this diminutive bot.
Scribbler 3D Pen V3: $119.99-129.99
Make your drawing jump off the page with this ergonomic, 2.36-oz pen that is part glue gun/ part 3D printer. It works by extruding molten plastic that dries so quickly you can draw in the air. The 1.75 mm loops of plastic come in multiple colors and materials, including ABS and PLA.
Coolest feature: Fine tune the flow with six different speeds and temperature controls up to 200° C.
Why we picked it: There are several 3D pens to choose from, and the third version of the reasonably priced Scribbler has received excellent reviews and doesn‘t receive the jamming complaints other top brands' have experienced.
Solo (3D Robotics): $999.95
A quadcopter so smart it makes other drones look like paper airplanes. With the push of a button the sophisticated controller will get the 4-lb device in the air, and from there can be controlled manually, orbit around a certain location, follow you or go automatic. The video can be live streamed through an HDMI port. The range is half a mile and top speed is 55 mph.
Coolest feature: Solo soars above your typical air fare when it comes to shooting video, making you look like a Hollywood cinematographer for 20 min. at a time by allowing you to access the GoPro controls in-flight. The 3-axis gimbal ($399.95) also stabilizes the attached GoPro camera to within 0.1 degrees of pointing accuracy.
Why we picked it: Even if you‘re not a video professional looking for a new favorite toy, the sweeping aerial HD shot s you can get will help answer the question, “What if” Planet Earth filmed in my backyard? (Just remember to follow FAA rules)
Sphero BB-8: $149.99:
This is the droid you‘ve been looking for, if you want to liven up your classic Star Wars battle re-enactments with a toy that is way more action than figure. The 4-in bot rolls along just like its big screen counterpart, though a bit slower at 4.5 mph. R2-D2 ‘s roly poly cousin is controlled by an app via your smartphone or can patrol the kitchen autonomously, like a Rebel Alliance Roomba.
Coolest feature: Don‘t you hate it you when you‘ve got a lightsaber in one hand and force-choking someone with the other, yet you need your BB-8 by your side to witness your turn to the dark side? Have no fear! BB-8 responds to voice commands as well, so unlike the light side of the force, it can always be with you
Why we picked it: Sure, you can get a whole battalion of storm trooper action figures for the price, but you would need Indian in the Cupboard type magic to make them as fun to play with as this little guy.
Qidi Tech 1 Dual Extruder Desktop 3D Printer (Qidi Technology): $799
The sturdy dual extruder creates objects up to 9 x 5.9 x 5.9 in., using Replicator G or Markerware software, from an SD card or USB connection, and works well with ABS and PLA filament. And because this is very similar to the the Makerbot Replicator 2, and capable of using the same software, you can get new project ideas form Thingiverse.
Coolest feature: Having two extruders, means double the colors, nozzle apertures, densities, and more.
Why we picked it: The prices of 3D printers are dropping as the quality is improving. The Qidi Tech 1 is a nice balance for those who are tri-curious when it comes to printing dimensions, but are looking to experiment.
Pebble Time Steel: $249.99;
Like other brands ‘ smartwatches, the square-faced Time Steel will display emails and texts, control your media, and track your morning jog. This one is super durable (water resistant up to 30 meters and has a Gorilla Glass face), works with both iOS and Android, and most impressively, the battery lasts up to 10 days.
Coolest feature: Voice recognition is new to the Pebble Time models, as is a smart accessory port for industrious programmers to exploit with sensors, cameras, or a host of other possibilities.
Why we picked it: Simple. Comfortable. Customizable. And that lifespan. You‘ve probably heard the waterlogged idiom, “A rising tide lifts all ships.” The longer you can check your notifications and other little details on your wrist, the less likely you‘ll be draining juice from the smartphone in your pocket.
Tile Wireless Key Finder: $24.99;
James Bond would probably use this Blue Tooth tracking device that syncs to your smartphone to follow a terrorist; you will use it to find your keys.
Coolest feature: Turnabout is fairplay with the Tile. If you lost your phone, and it’s within the 100-ft. range, use the Tile attached to your keys to ping your phone. Now if you lost both your phone and keys, maybe you should buy several, or re-evaluate your choices in life.
Why we picked it: We're deathly afraid of re-evaluating our choices in life.
Goodle Cardboard Viewer : DIY
Turn on the free Google Cardboard app, slide a smartphone into the viewer, and exchange boring, old regular reality for super awesome virtual reality!
Coolest feature: If you have access to cardboard, you can make your own. If you don‘t, just order a pizza. Voila, dinner and your very own face theater that‘s smells like cheese.
Why we picked it: If a crafty Christmas is your thing, or you just spent your life savings on a drone, the best gift is literally right in front of your face.
Soaper Mario Bros 3 Soap (DigitalSoaps): 14.99
ThinkGeek.com offers several punny Nintendo soaps, but if you're going to get a geeky gag gift, go for a classic.
Coolest feature: It's actual cartridge size, so your friend may actually think it's the real deal. Just don't let them stick it in their old NES. That's just mean.
Why we picked it: Because it smells like vanilla and wasn't tested on animals, of course. And for loved ones who haven't gotten off the couch since Fallout 4 came out, it's a subtle hint.
Grush uses mobile games to promote proper brushing technique and frequency. So maybe there's an exception to the electric toothbrush ban, but only when it also functions as a video game controller.
Coolest feature: The cloud-based app tracks data such as when your child brushed last, or if they are just wetting the brush.
Why we picked it: If you have kids, you know sometimes you have to resort to Orwellian tactics to get your kids to do anything beneficial to their health.