Jason Ogaard: Procrastinators unite! A post Black Friday shopping list
Black Friday has come and gone. Retail giants are calculating their sales, hoping Black Friday lived up to its name and put them into the black for the year.
If you’re like me, you haven’t gone out to buy many presents this year. Procrastinators unite. If you know someone like me, then chances are you need to get a gadget or two as presents. Here is a short list of what’s available:
“The Astronaut’s Guide to Living on Earth:” Ok, this is a book, not a gadget. But it’s written by Chris Hadfield, U.S. astronaut and commander of the International Space Station. Hadfield is perhaps the first well-known astronaut since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. In the book, Hadfield talks about growing up watching Armstrong. He writes about about our space programs, the future of space exploration and much more. This book is almost universally loved and if you know a geek, chances are they would enjoy reading this book, if they like reading books, that is.
Streaming television - Roku 3, Apple TV, or Chromecast: If you know someone that has been talking about streaming television, there are quite a few options available. The Roku 3 and Apple TV are probably your best options. Both are priced at about $100, the Roku 3 being a little cheaper. If the recipient has a lot of Apple gadgets or is a big Apple fan, then definitely get them the Apple TV. Apple TV works very well with other Apple devices and it’ll make setting up and using the Apple TV fast and easy. If they seem indifferent to Apple, the Roku 3 is what you should buy. The Roku 3 is a terrific device for streaming and has a few more streaming options than the Apple TV. It also has a slightly better interface. If your budget is tight and the person receiving the gift is more tech savvy than most, Chromecast is the perfect gift. At $35, Chromecast is easily the cheapest of the streaming devices to buy. It doesn’t have as many built in apps for streaming but it’s getting more all the time. Chromecast is made by Google, and as you might guess you control it with google’s browser, Chrome. There is no remote for Chromecast, but it’ll work with any device on your network that is paired with it and running the Chrome browser. This means that you can control the Chromecast with you iPhone, Android phone, tablets, and computer.
Fitness: Nike Fuel Band: If you know someone who is big into fitness, getting them a wearable device to track their calories, distance, and other metrics is a great gift idea. The Nike Fuel Band currently only works with iPhone 4S or newer so make sure your recipient has a compatible phone. There are a lot of wearable fitness devices available, but at $149, the Nike Fuel Band is the best bang for your buck. Many other devices are compatible with some android phones, but the number of different android phones and their naming conventions makes it easy for the purchaser to make a mistake and give a fitness device that doesn’t work with the recipient’s phone. By only working with iPhones, Nike makes it easy to determine if it’ll work with the phone.
Gadgets: iPads, iPods, and more…: Of course, there are always iPads, iPod touches and Google tablets to purchase. Apple just released a new round of iPads. Unfortunately, they raised the price of the iPad Mini to $399, making it not a lot cheaper than the new full size iPad Air at $499. You can also purchase last year’s model for $100 less.
If your gift recipient doesn’t do much more than browse the Internet and do mail on a tablet, then last year’s iPads are a good choice. However, the processors in last year’s models are now three generations behind the current full price iPads.
That means that as iOS updates (and apps, too) the old generation iPad will get slower. It also means last year’s models won’t be able to update for very long. If the person wants to play games, edit video or otherwise use apps that require power, the newest model iPad is the best option.
Fortunately, the newest iPad mini and iPad Air both have the same hardware specs so the only choice you have to make when deciding between the two is size and weight. The mini weighs 25 percent less and is more portable while delivering the same power as the full-sized iPad Air.
If your techie is into Android products, the new Nexus 7 tablet is a good choice. Starting at about $229, the Nexus 7 is less expensive than the iPad mini while delivering a lot of power in a small package.
This list is just a small sample of what’s available to purchase this year. It seems every year brings more and more choices and categories for tech gifts.
JASON OGAARD was born in Bemidji and is a software engineer for FICO, a Minneapolis based public company providing analytics and decision-making services, including credit scoring credit bureaus.