Drool-Worthy Gadgets for Mom and Dad’s Day

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eHow Tech Blog

Springtime doesn’t just mean warmer weather and the start of weekend BBQs — it also ushers in your parent’s favorite holidays: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. This year, skip the cheesy gifts and give them something they will really like. You know, some sort of gadget. Tech gifts can be fun, practical, and memorable.

Of course, there are differences of opinion on this front. eHow editor-in-chief Jerri Farris believes that gifts shouldn’t take batteries. But that’s because her idea of a good time is crocheting a fridge cozy.*

Me? I think that the best gifts are the ones that you plug in or insert 4 AAs. So your mileage may vary, but if your folks are anything like me, I’ve got some killer recommendations for you.

All of these products come from a video shoot I did earlier this week, which you can see right here — I’ve rounded up more than a dozen products which I unbox for your gadget lust pleasure.

In the meantime, here are some fun gift ideas to get you started.

Practical and Affordable

Have one of your parents accidentally destroyed a phone by dropping it in the sink or spilling coffee all over it? Then you might want to give them the peace of mind of waterproofing their gadget. Liquipel is an invisible, nanotech coating that renders your phone or tablet impervious to water and other liquids. And it really works – I submerged my own Liquipeled iPhone underwater on camera the other day, and it shook it off like a cow in the rain. Treat a phone for about $60 at Liquipel.

I don’t know about you, but my parents have never really understood how to use their Windows PC. And they don’t really need Windows, either – pretty much everything they do is within a Web browser. What they really need is a Chromebook – a Chrome OS-based laptop from Google. A Chromebook is ludicrously simple to use because everything happens in a browser – there’s no local file storage, no desktop apps, no complicated Control Panel. I unboxed the $249 Samsung Chromebook, which could well be all the computer my folks would ever need. Check out the options at Google Chromebook.

DIY Goodness

Both moms and dads can get bitten by the DIY bug, but in my experience guys are more likely to want to take on do-it-yourself tech projects. So it’s dads who I have in mind when I recommend the Kwikset SmartCode door lock. I installed one of these on my own front door, and it took less than an hour – and I am no wizard with tools. Once installed, you can leave the key behind, because you enter the house via a passcode – which is both secure and convenient. $100 from Kwikset.

Or how about a whole-house security and automation system? Sounds fancy, complicated, and crazy expensive, right? Well, there are a number of options and they’re getting cheaper all the time. I unboxed the Iris system from Lowes, and it’s affordable and modular. You can get a starter kit for $179 and add individual components to build your dream hi-tech house.

It’s really easy to set up because it’s 100% wireless – no cables to run or holes to punch. You can install motion sensors, door and window sensors, wireless cameras, and more. For home automation, there’s a remote-controlled programmable thermostat, “smart plugs” that let you control electrical devices, and more. Everything can be monitored and controlled via the Web or your smartphone. Check it out at Lowes.

Toys!

Not all gadgets have to be practical. I unboxed and played with a couple of tech toys in the video shoot this week, but my favorite is probably the Dream Cheeky iStrike Shuttle. This $130 remote-controlled helicopter is easy to fly and it carries a payload: A ping pong ball that you can drop on command. The iStrike Shuttle doesn’t come with its own remote. Instead, you operate it from your smartphone with a simple, free app. Check it out at Dream Cheeky.

Big Budget Tech Lust

There’s a saying that adults still play with toys – it’s just that their toys are more expensive. If you’ve got a big budget, I’ve got a killer toy for the audiophile parents who brought you into this world, raised you, schooled you, and prepared you for success. It’s the Sonos Playbar. I love Sonos; it’s a sound system that plays all the music stored on your PCs and connects to online music services as well. You can create different Sonos zones by putting Sonos devices in rooms throughout your home, and play them all simultaneously – everyone can enjoy different music, or you can group zones together for “party mode.

But back to the Playbar – it’s a very high quality 9-speaker soundbar for your television which is also a Sonos music zone. Basically, this $699 speaker dramatically improves your television’s audio and adds a Sonos zone to the room at the same time. Read about it or order one at Sonos.

*Note: A fridge cozy might not be a real thing. I don’t really know what people crochet.

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