As we prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to share our thoughts about some of the coolest technologies for which we are thankful. Many are pervasive. Some you may already have. But there may be a few that would make great gift ideas for yourself or others. If we have left out some really cool gadget or technology, do leave a comment!
1. Cordless charging
Don’t you just love the idea of putting your phone on a flat surface and it starts to charge? No cables, no running around for lost chargers or free power points. Cordless charges are just great… but vendors should agree on a common standard for this so that all the family’s devices can charge on the same platform no matter what they are.
2. Solid State Drives
Nothing makes us smile more than seeing a computer go from power off to logon in under 15 seconds. Solid state drives (SSD) also make no noise and use less power, making them winners in our book, and a must-have in every laptop.
3. Giant USB keys
Giant in capacity, not in physical dimension. I have USB keys that include days of media. I have USB keys that include entire operating systems so I can use “my” machine without having to lug around a backpack. And I still have space on them all. In my opinion, you simply cannot have too many USB keys. They are the perfect gift.
It’s been around for years, but it is really starting to get around! Instead of hunting for Wi-Fi, it is getting to the point where it is ubiquitous, and that’s great.
But Wi-Fi isn’t omnipresent yet, and that’s why Mi-Fi makes this list. My portable 4G ‘hockey puck’ has saved the day so many times, I never leave home without it.
6. In-flight Internet
And this can make the difference between a flight seeming like a multi-hour term in purgatory, or a really productive (and billable) few hours where the phone doesn’t ring but you can still get work done. I fly so much that I have a monthly subscription to GoGo Inflight, and I always check flights to make sure they are Wi-Fi enabled before I buy my tickets.
7. Emergency charge batteries
These little LiON batteries that charge over USB, and then can charge USB devices, have brought my cellphone back from the dead so many times, I keep one in my backpack, one in my desk, one in my car, and I gave one to my wife. They’re another great gift idea in case you are shopping!
8. Bluetooth speakers
These combination speakers and speakerphone devices go great with laptops, tablets, and mobile phones, and include waterproof models for those who like to sing in the shower. What’s great is that the sound quality continues to improve with newer models.
9. Voice recognition
I thought Siri was a gimmick, until I started using Cortana. Now, I couldn’t imagine having a phone that doesn’t have voice recognition for searches, especially when I need to use the GPS to find my way, but I don’t want to pull over to type in what I am looking for.
No, not the precursors to the HKs from the Terminator series… I mean the grown-up toys that amateur enthusiasts can charge up and fly around the neighborhood. You can add a camera to these little devices and fly them around the neighborhood, the stadium, or even the company meeting, and provide both a really cool view of an event, and hours of fun (assuming you have enough batteries and avoid the trees) for the pilot in each of us. The coolest ones have lights so you can fly them at night.
11. Action cameras
The only thing that makes drones better are the action cameras you can strap on to them. The GoPros are the top end, but there are other models that are affordable and do a great job of capturing the action. They would make a great Christmas gift too!
12. Health bands
There are a ton of these on the market right now, and the one thing I can say about them all is that they really do work. They won’t make you healthier on their own, but they will motivate you to get up off the couch and get moving. And once you get into the habit of that, you will be healthier.
13. Smart watches
What’s cooler than a health band? A smart watch that pairs with your phone and displays emails, text messages, alerts, and more. Combine the functions of the smart watch and a health band for the ultimate geek toy and a really cool technology!
14. Streaming devices
At last count, between all the mobile phones, tablets, televisions, and other devices, there are 17 things in my home we can use to watch Netflix. Most of those can also do Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more. For what it’s worth, there are only two humans in the house! But streaming media online is awesome, and we use it daily in some capacity or another.
15. Streaming entertainment
The hardware is not much use without the media behind it, and I am very thankful that so many great shows are on Netflix, and amazing movies are on Amazon Prime. BBC America doesn’t provide us even a small fraction of the great shows that are produced by the BBC, but I can watch most of them on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and can get more current run shows online than I can on demand.
16. Smart home hardware
The Internet of Things is here, and I am very thankful for the smart home hardware we have, including our alarm system, deadbolts, thermostats, and more. As more and more devices come online, there’s an endless possibility out there for innovation.
17. Smart pens
I will always remember more by writing it down than by typing it. But my handwriting is not great and it’s easy to lose track of paper, which is why I love OneNote. There’s a growing market for smart pens that let users take notes on paper, but then transfer these notes to electronic applications. This is awesome tech you should try out now if you attend meetings, take notes, or like to jot down ideas.
18. LED lights
Highly efficient, long-lasting, very bright, and in a range of colors, LED lights are not just for power indicators any more. Household lighting using LEDs is going to surpass CFL usage someday soon, and the prices continue to drop. What I am most thankful for from these it that they are instantly bright when you need, but can also be dimmed or even color-shifted when you want.
19. Mini-USB hubs
The one downside of most tablets is that they have at best one USB port. Often that is a micro-USB port, and that limits what you can connect to them. Mini-USB hubs bring back a lot of the functionality and let you connect things like a real key board and that large USB key at the same time.
Email clients, e-readers, games, music apps, home security controls, remote controls, sound effects, network testing tools, photo manipulation, social media… the phrase “there’s an app for that” has fallen out of vogue but has never been more applicable than it is today.
21. Cloud syncing
I am so thankful for cloud syncing because it has saved the day for me more times than I can count. Whether I have had hardware failures or just been somewhere that I needed data but was without computer, having key files automatically synced to the cloud and available through a web browser is awesome, and I have said thanks to both Dropbox and OneDrive many times.
22. Naked Internet service
No, not that kind of service! I mean getting Internet without having to bundle it with cable or land line phone service. This has become available in more and more markets, and between the pervasiveness of cellphones, and the amount of entertainment available online, more and more people can forgo both landline telephone and traditional cable. With naked Internet service, they don’t have to pay for what they don’t use.
23. Multi-factor authentication
Passwords are dead as a security measure. What cannot be guessed can be stolen, whether by hacking the system or some partner/vendor/supplier. And far too many people insist on using the same password on multiple systems, which means lame security on a lesser service can lead to compromise of a more critical one, like your bank!
24. Smart phones
I am not thankful for smart phones, I am grateful for smart phones that actually work well as phones. For years, phones have focused on bigger cameras, more RAM, better screens… everything except making, and not dropping, actual phone calls. Finally, phones today seem to be getting back to being phones, and that’s a great thing.
25. Satellite radio
While XM and Sirius are one and the same now, the lack of competition is actually proving not to be a bad thing. With channels of music, comedy, news and more to suit almost any taste, I honest couldn’t imagine having to road trip without my satellite radio, and I always ask for it when I get a rental car (a weekly event for me.)
We hope all our readers celebrating Thanksgiving have a great time with friends and family, enjoy their fill (but not too much) of their holiday feast, and are reading this post while taking advantage of many of the technologies listed above. And happy shopping!