I've reviewed quite a number of gadgets during 2013. Several stand out as being particularly useful, while some are just a little bit amazing.
These gadgets do more than tell the time or run the latest app - as they actually either help keep you healthier or safer. So as we ramp up to the holidays here are some of my more unusual gift choices this year.
I got hooked on FitBit by AMD’s CEO Rory Reel and immediately bought one for my wife and myself. She then proceeded to kick my butt every day since in terms of the amount of exercising she did. The FitBit products measure and report your activity and you can compete on the website with others to keep you exercising. The FitBit Force is the latest version and it goes on your wrist with a display. With earlier products you got the choice of having a little display or having it on your wrist and now with the Force you basically get a watch that is also a FitBit. It is tiny and so an be worn by men and women, measuring both your walking and climbing progress, and how well you sleep. The FitBit system also has a scale that wirelessly connects to show weight progress, it is very accurate and I hide from it this time of year for obvious reasons. Around $129.
Nest Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
The Nest Detector comes in battery and AC models but this detector created by some folks out of Apple is not only far better looking than any other detector - it is actually easy to use. For example, when it goes off you don’t have to go looking for the button or swing a towel (or a hammer) at it to shut it off, you just wave at it and it detects the motion and shuts up. It alarms in a human voice so you know what the danger is and given kids sleep through normal smoke alarms, it is more likely to wake them up as well according to Nest (we don’t have kids). It also sends alerts to your smartphone so you know if you have a problem in the house (it is a connected device). This last could let you know you’ve got a problem if you are someplace around the house where you can’t hear the alarm. These folks also make a pretty amazing thermostat. Around $129.
Coast HP17TAC LED Flashlight and Tactical Strobe
There is a nasty game going around where kids in their late teens jump unsuspecting adults and knock them out. While not connected to this game I was jumped by three kids outside my own house, knocked out and nearly kicked to death and went looking for a reasonable defense. I found a number of things but the best was the Coast HP17TAC Flashlight and Tactical Strobe. This uses a high performance Cree LED to put out a blinding llight so you can not only see where you are going you can blind an attacker. It is built heavy so if you had to hit someone with it they likely wouldn’t be getting up afterwards. For folks that live in cities plagued with this new game just seeing this in your hand might help the kids playing the game to consider leaving you, or the person you give this to, alone. Around $75.
Wrapping Up: Staying Safe
We give gifts for a lot of reasons but these could actually save a life either by encouraging exercise, alerting about a life threatening problem, or helping to survive or avoid an attack. As we think about Thanksgiving, think how thankful you are that your loved ones are close and consider a gift that might prolong their lives. Then again, giving how Thanksgivings often go, you may want to think about one of these things for yourself and just let nature take its course. Some folks aren’t really that thankful for family.
Stay safe and have a wonderful holiday!