SDN Blog

Drone, automatic grill cleaner and other high-tech gifts

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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2016 Tech Gadget Gifts

High-tech products in the development stage include mobile TV screens that people could roll up and carry like a newspaper. Then, at their leisure, they could spread out the screen and turn it on. That sounds fun and convenient.

However, considering the harsh, social and economic forces that have beaten down the print industry in recent years, developers of the rolled-up TV screen might want to rethink the concept.

Lots of other fun, new, high-tech products already are on the market. With the holiday gift-giving season upon us, I took some time to cruise the Internet in search of cool gift ideas.

Fitness and weight loss are popular interests this time of year, so let’s start with exercise gizmos. Not too many years ago, a headset and a stopwatch were extent of the gadgets most joggers and walkers used. Today they have far more options.

Dozens of types of activity bands and accessories remain available to help fitness enthusiasts track their movement. ranked the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ as the top tracker on the market but admits it may not be perfect for everyone. That's where PC Mag's new 2016 comparison chart can help you out. 

If football's your game, Wilson's now offering the "world's first connected football," which may also be the world's most expensive football. For $200, it measures distance, spiral efficiency, catch/drop rate and more and reports it through its app. 

Want to relax? You can use an app on your smartphone to remotely control brewing instructions on a Mr. Coffee Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Coffee Maker ($110).

If you’d like a remote-controlled, flying video camera, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional 4K Quadcopter Drone is listed for $807. It’s about the size of a bread box (do people use bread boxes anymore?).

Here’s something a little quirky for people who like to grill outside but don’t like cleaning cooking equipment: the Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaner ($84). Set the timer and the battery-powered, brush-loaded device will scoot around the top of your grill and clean off cooked-on gunk. The dirty brushes can be cleaned in a dishwasher.

Looking for something with the potential for broader household use? How about the iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot? ($899). The self-powered, vacuuming disc can fit under furniture. It will run for about two hours, then stop and recharge itself.

No Christmas gift guide would not be complete without an electronic toy for kids. Here’s a fun one: Cozmo, a little robot by Anki. Cozmo is a hand-sized, tractor-like toy armed with a camera and facial-recognition software, which gives it artificial intelligence. Kids (and adults) can play simple, interactive games with Cozmo and watch its rather bratty personality develop. The little robot sells for about $180.

A cautionary note to parents trying to save money: Trying to pass off an automated grill cleaner as a toy robot might be temping, but it probably won’t work for long.

Mobile phones no longer qualify as newfangled technology, but it’s hard to ignore the ubiquitous little machines. The first mobile phone came out in 1973. It was a Motorola that weighed more than 2 pounds, so it wasn’t particularly mobile. However, its introduction marked the start of an amazing run of advancements in mobile communications devices.

Today, smartphones are more popular than ever, and there’s a wide variety of them on the market. The iPhone 7, one of the most popular models, has been selling for $650 to $750. It’s also a product that apparently has strong, international appeal.

A woman from China reportedly raised money for a deposit on a house by convincing 20 boyfriends to each buy her an iPhone 7.  Then she resold the phones. I wonder if she bought each of the guys a gift.

Happy shopping from SDN Communications and its member companies in South Dakota and Minnesota!