How To: Give the Gift of Tech

Home automation and wireless sound tops Gadget Gal’s gift ideas!

Story by Christina Gomez

It’s a common predicament. It’s the middle of the gift-giving season and you’re staring down a shopping list of people who are difficult — if not impossible — to shop for.

Sometimes, tech is the best bet for the gift challenged.

For the music lover, add a whole-house sound, without a pricey, major overhaul through wireless streaming. Sonos is a well-trusted product that offers crisp sound and is easy to integrate. The hot gift item this season that has bloggers raving is the Sonos One, a smart speaker that just got smarter. Thanks to its built-in Amazon Alexa integration, you can use voice commands to tell Alexa to turn the volume up even while you’re in the shower, or to play songs while you’re cooking or doing household chores.

Movie connoisseurs — especially of the DVD or Blu-ray variety — don’t need to neglect their collection that took years to build. Preserve the movies through the Kaleidescape movie player, which stores them on an internal hard drive up to 10 TB (with additional storage available). The movie buff in your life can watch digital copies of their files and shows on any internet-connected device and enjoy them through the cloud-based solution called UltraViolet.

For those who depend on their mobile devices for just about everything, products like Nest or ELAN Home Systems are sure to be a big hit. The high-tech gadget — controlled from a mobile device — can control thermostats, security systems, smoke and carbon dioxide alarms and even doorbells. The home automation products are programmable, self-learning and sensor-driven systems.

This way, you can dim the lights, check on your security cameras or run a load of laundry all through a mobile device. If the carbon monoxide alarm is activated, the thermostat is alerted to turn off the furnace, which could be the likely culprit.

Never lose another Amazon package with a video doorbell. When the doorbell rings, push notifications alert mobile devices about the delivery and allows the user to speak to the delivery person.

If you plan to venture down the gift-giving road to home automation, consider hiring a professional integrator to consolidate all of the home-control apps into one simple interface. Commercials make Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home seem easy to set up, but the truth is they can be tricky. A professional integrator can work with your budget, find the right hardware for the right locations and troubleshoot IT/network issues. After the integrator has you up and running, when you say “Alexa, play some music” or “Alexa, dim the lights,” you won’t just be talking to yourself.