It’s that time again … the Tech the Halls gadget list is here! So dig out your flashiest Christmas sweater, pour some hot cocoa and crank up the holiday tunes because we have something for techies young and old. Here are the 12 coolest tech toys (plus a couple extra stocking stuffers) to add to your wish list this year.
We’ve also made it easier for you to extend the holidays and score your favorite tech toy year-round. With GK Choice, you earn $500 in gift cards to places like Amazon.com, Target, Dell and GameStop. Every item on this list can be fully or partially covered by your training rewards!
12. GoPro HERO6 ($494.99)
How it works: Let’s be honest – your phone is for taking selfies and recording short video clips that you’ll never watch again. The GoPro HERO6 is for capturing life’s most vibrant moments. High-quality 4K video ensures smooth footage. There’s also a built-in GPS, so you won’t get lost while you’re recording your next, or first, trek into the wilderness.
Coolest feature: The HERO6 is waterproof up to 33 feet. Mount it to your surfboard or take it snorkeling — you never could have pulled that off with your parent’s old RCA camcorder.
Jenney Vangritis, Enterprise Marketing Manager: “I was pondering what a girl like me, who has been exceptionally good this year, should ask for this Christmas. I’ve decided the only thing I REALLY NEED is a GoPro HERO6. As a standup paddle boarder, I want to record my paddle adventures to share with friends and family and to study my stroke technique.”
11. iRobot Roomba 980 Robot Vacuum ($842.99)
How it works: This one’s easy — it’s a robot vacuum cleaner. The Roomba 980 roams around your home cleaning your hard floors and carpets. It’s a smart device too! It’s full of smart sensors so it doesn’t bang into furniture … or pets for that matter.
Coolest feature: There’s not much cooler than a robot doing your chores for you. But if we have to choose one feature, it’s the Dirt Detect sensors that can actually recognize where the most dirt is in your home and concentrate on those areas. Plus, it charges itself! Talk about smart technology.
Josh Ridewood, OE Sales Engineer: “You’d think as a 20-something-year-old who lives in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment that I’d have plenty of time to run a vacuum every once in a while, right? Well I probably do but that doesn’t mean I want to and I’m sure most people would agree. The Roomba 980 can be customized using your smartphone and is even compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Never worry about vacuuming your floors again as it’s all taken care of with the push of a button!”
10. Tile Sport ($34.99)
How it works: Are you spending too much time searching for your car keys? Tile Sport is a tracking device with a 200-foot range that helps you find the items you’re constantly misplacing. Make your Tile ring when within range, or track it on a map using the Tile app on your phone.
Coolest feature: OK, so you didn’t lose your Tile but you can’t find your phone. What do you do? Well, just tap the button on your Tile and your phone will ring even when it’s on silent. Just don’t misplace your phone and Tile at the same time — then you’re on your own.
Kevin Marvin, Sales Engineer: “My wish this holiday season is to solve a daily challenge in my household. My wife is very organized except when it comes to one part of her life — locating her keys. The features associated with Tile seem like the perfect solution. I would be stoked not to hear “have you seen my keys?” on a daily occurrence. It would be a Christmas miracle!”
9. WyzeCam HD Smart Home Camera ($19.99)
How it works: This wireless security camera delivers live stream footage to your phone. It features 1080P video, night vision and two-way audio. WyzeCam also automatically records 10- to 15-second videos when it detects motion or sound.
Coolest feature: WyzeCam has some awesome features: time-lapse, smart sound recognition, digital zoom, etc. But let’s be honest, the coolest thing about it is the price. Where else can you buy a wireless security camera for $20?
John Mark Ivey, Social Media Marketer: “When I am considering a new gadget, I look for something full of features like a Swiss Army knife and cheap like the clearance rack at Target. Beyond the rock bottom price that just can’t be beat, WyzeCam also comes with 14 days of free AWS cloud storage for your video. I was most intrigued after I heard about the quality of the video, and easy-to-use app, which had been two of my main concerns when considering other similar devices in my price range. And if I wasn’t already sold on the WyzeCam, its square shape and three axis design reminds me of Pixar’s Wall-E or a Star Wars droid. That spoke to the geek in me for sure.”
8. DJI – Spark Quadcopter ($499)
How it works: Don’t let the size fool you — this small drone is powerful and easy to use. It captures aerial video that you can stream in real time and can be controlled from over 300 feet away. You can launch the drone, snap a few pics and have it land in less than 60 seconds, or send it out for an extended 16-minute voyage.
Coolest feature: If you don’t want to use your smartphone as a controller, the Spark Quadcopter can be controlled by hand movement. Maneuver the drone by raising or waving your hands, or make a frame with your fingers to take photos.
Dave Buster, Global Senior Portfolio Director, Cybersecurity: “I have my heart set on the DJI Spark Quadcopter. It’s got a range of over a mile and it can snap 12MP photos or videos in 1080P. That’s great for capturing incriminating evidence, like of that party your friend Robert ‘forgot’ to invite you to after the unfortunate incident with the trombone. Of course, if you just want to fly the thing around and have fun, that’s OK too. In fact, forget that other stuff I said. It’s got a top speed of 31 mph, which is great for racing. That’s all I’ll do. All by myself.” *Sigh*
7. Teddy Ruxpin ($113)
How it works: Your favorite animatronic bear from the ’80s is back — and this time there’s no need to insert cassette tapes into the player in his back. The 2017 version comes with three stories while seven more are available to purchase on the app. Kids can read along with Teddy or just listen to his stories and songs.
Coolest feature: Unlike the original, Teddy Ruxpin has touch sensors in his paws so children can start, pause or move on to another story. Teddy Ruxpin was the world’s first animatronic toy and the newest version is more technologically advanced than ever.
Sarah Williams, Content Marketing Manager and mother of 17-month-old Zack: “While Teddy Ruxpin still sings and tells heart-felt stories, he’s upgraded to today’s technology. His LCD eyes have over 40 animations to keep Zack’s attention and the touch sensors allow him to control the story and songs. There’s a sing-a-long mode and a free Teddy Ruxpin app, too.”
6. Prynt Pocket Instant Photo Printer ($149.99)
How it works: The Prynt Pocket is a time machine, transporting you back to the age when people actually developed pictures instead of storing them on their phones. Seriously, you had to drop your film off at the local CVS to get prints developed. It was a crazy time. Connect your iPhone to the Prynt Pocket and in 30 seconds you can print images from your camera roll or social networks. And there’s no ink needed!
Coolest feature: Each printed photo has an adhesive back, so it can be turned into a sticker. Also, the Prynt app allows users to add a video inside your photos so when shared with friends, they can unlock your clip.
Kathy Miller, Product Marketing Manager: “As a mother of two, the images I capture on my iPhone are priceless. While storing photos in the cloud is helpful, there are times I want to be able to print them out to put in frames around my house, post in my cube at work or share with family members. I definitely want to put the Prynt Pocket on my Christmas wish list this year to print out those instant memories!”
5. Motorola Moto 360 Smart Watch ($168)
How it works: Send texts, check traffic, track your fitness, draw emojis — the possibilities are endless. The Moto 360 Smart Watch pairs with Android devices 4.3 or higher. It also has customizable faces, so it can look like a traditional watch if you choose, and it’s scratch resistant. Smartphones take notice — it is possible to make a screen that doesn’t crack or scratch at the slightest bump.
Coolest feature: Voice control! Sure, you may look like a weirdo talking to yourself, but you can check your texts or set reminders with just your voice.
Richa Shah, Digital Marketing Analyst: “The Moto 360 Smart Watch was a graduation gift to me from my friends. Its elegant look, battery life (goes more than a day) and tracking features make it a great device to own. I’ve paired it with my Android phone so that I can see all the notifications and don’t have to keep checking my phone every time I get a message. The grey strap and round body give it a formal look so that I can wear it to work but I’m also able to replace the strap with different colors to give it a funky look for casual occasions.”
4. Apple iPhone X (Starting at $999)
How it works: Ten years ago, Apple reinvented the phone with the original iPhone. To celebrate the anniversary, Apple introduced this special model just in time for the holiday season, with its all-screen design, Face ID for secure authentication and wireless charging option.
Coolest feature: The dual-lens 12-megapixel camera has a f/1.8 wide lens and f/2.4 telephoto lens with optical image stabilization (OIS). The camera app supports a variety of new built-in filters and a QR code scanner. Some may insist that the animated emojis — or Animojis — is the best new feature that will make the world a better place. Time will tell.
Paul Tocatlian, Director of Engineering: “The iPhone X is at the top of my list this year. How do I justify the $1,000-plus price tag? By cutting back on Starbucks and enjoying the ‘Jamaican Me Crazy’ coffee available in the Global Knowledge break rooms. The phone camera will certainly come in handy at the company’s next Halloween extravaganza.”
3. Norton Core Secure Router ($248)
How it works: Secure WiFi may sound like an oxymoron, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep your information safe at home with the Norton Core Secure Router. This router is so advanced, it will identify vulnerabilities on your home smart devices and notify you if a breach is detected.
Coolest feature: Your typical router just emits a signal and … well, that’s it. Core’s beamforming antenna focuses WiFi directly to devices at all corners of your home. And while you’re at it, you can give priority to certain devices. So if you want someone in your house to play less video games, feel free to secretly dial back their gaming console. It can be our little secret.
Daniel Cummins, Technical Instructor, Networking and Security: “Not only does the Norton Core Secure Router look like something out of a space movie, it offers full network security features, too. You get the usual firewall function — nothing groundbreaking there — but you also get a network malware scanner (powered by Symantec’s Norton Security), a web content filter with parental controls, and a mobile-based monitoring utility available through any internet connection. Many of these features in the past were available on a PC, but now they can be centralized to enhance the security of your mobile devices and Internet of Things.”
2. Amazon Echo Show ($229.99)
How it works: Your Echo just got an upgrade! Alexa is still here to field all your questions (Though you can probably stop asking her about “Updog”) but now, she can show you the answers. View weather forecasts, photos, videos, music lyrics and calendars on the 7-inch screen.
Coolest feature: You can make hands-free video calls to friends and family. Or use the Echo Show as a baby monitor or security camera. Go nuts with the video feature — binge your favorite show or stream all the Christmas movies you can handle with Amazon Video.
Jenee Davis, Senior Product Marketing Manager: “I’ve been reluctant to jump on the digital assistant bandwagon until I saw the Amazon Echo Show. I’m a singer so I’m pretty excited about seeing the lyrics while I’m listening to my favorite songs. I’m also a visual learner so I’m hoping that being able to make my list hands-free and then visually check it twice will ensure I don’t forget anything!”
1. PlayStation 4 Pro ($398.90)
How it works: The PS4 Pro is nearly identical to the PS4 with a few key exceptions. Its compatibility with 4K televisions means you get the maximum resolution on your gaming and streaming experiences. The PS4 Pro also has an extra USB port which proves useful if you have PlayStation VR, which requires the extra port.
Coolest feature: The 4K compatibility is naturally the biggest selling point of the PS4 Pro, but another huge benefit is that all of your old PS4 games will work on the console. Enjoy faster frame rates on your favorite games without having to purchase any new ones.
Justin Edwards, OE Sales Engineer: “4K, 4K, 4K?!?!? Have you ever played a game in 4K? More importantly, have you ever played Destiny 2 or Gran Turismo Sport in 4K? It’s unreal. The graphics and capabilities of the PlayStation 4 Pro are unmatched, and since they added a 1TB hard disk drive, say goodbye to discs! I only buy games digitally and when I do, they’re automatically downloaded to my PS4 Pro. Hands down the best system I have ever owned.”
Bonus stocking stuffers
DJI Osmo Mobile ($291.49)
How it works: If you’ve ever walked around while shooting video with your smartphone, you know how hard it is to keep your camera still. Osmo Mobile smoothens and even cancels out the movements you make, stopping camera shake and turning every shot into a cinematic video.
Coolest feature: The customizable joystick lets you control your phone camera like a professional camera, with dedicated buttons for shutter and record, as well as manual ISO, shutter and white balance settings. Set sensitivity, invert pan or tilt, or even lock the Osmo so that the gimbal can only move in specific directions.
Paul Tocatlian: “I look forward to the day when I can return to Vietnam with the Osmo Mobile and film the utterly terrifying act of crossing the street in Saigon. Should I survive that feat, I would attempt to truly experience the city like a local on the back of a motorbike during rush hour and film this adventure on two wheels.”
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera ($3,296.95)
How it works: The D850 is Nikon’s latest high-resolution full-frame DSLR, boasting a 46MP CMOS sensor, 4K video recording, and feature set that makes it the perfect companion for travel, landscape, portrait and wildlife photography.
Coolest feature: The D850 includes a new “silent shutter,” which allows the camera to take advantage of the electronic shutter in live view mode. What’s great about this mode is that it not only eliminates any kind of shutter but also allows photographers to stay discreet.
Paul Tocatlian: “Today’s smartphone cameras have to a large extent replaced our cameras for everyday point-and-shoot photos. But for those special occasions when your smartphone just won’t cut it, why not go all out and get the best DSLR prosumer camera on the market … you only live once!”