default banner

The Ultimate Tech Gift Guide for the 2017 Holiday Season

The Ultimate Tech Gift Guide for the 2017 Holiday Season

Rabbi Jason Miller | 12/06/2017
Tech Entrepreneur, Rabbi and Futurist

It is difficult to narrow down a holiday gift guide of tech products because the consumer electronics industry is so flooded right now with great products. While I think there’s too much duplication in terms of certain products like Bluetooth speakers and headphones, overall, we’re fortunate to be living in this amazing era in which tech innovation is booming.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer a prediction. Our homes and cars are getting smarter. Our children expect all of our appliances to talk to each other. They think nothing of being able to video chat with grandma at any time even if she’s traveling halfway across the world. Technology is in everything and it’s truly improving our way of life (even if it might complicate some things). This holiday season offers smarter wearables, gadgets to stabilize your iPhone and GoPro videos, inventive ways to categorize your wine collection and amazing options to chart your ancestry so you can connect to your long-lost cousins. Happy Holidays!


Peloton Bike – Giving the gift of fitness to family will be the gift that keeps on giving for them. I’ve been taking Spinning classes for years, but Peloton is in another category completely. Everything about the Peloton experience is top class. From the delivery and white glove setup of the bike to hearing that click sound when they clip in and take their first class, the fortunate gift recipient will be transformed into the world of Peloton. Within a month, you’ll hear them talking nonstop about their favorite instructors, which classes play the best music and how they’re now addicted to this new type of workout. The gift of a Peloton bike is truly the gift of better health (and a lot more sweat). While the bike is costly, there are some generous deals this holiday season. The monthly subscription ($39) is well worth it to have a choice of which class to take at any time of day and live classes that will make them feel like they’re in the room with NYC’s top instructors. As a cautionary note, make sure your friend or relative has the vertical clearance in their basement for the bike (I’m tall and my drop ceiling had to be adjusted so I could stand on the bike). Bottom line is that Peloton is becoming wildly popular and everyone wants one… for good reason!


Huawei Mate 10 Pro – Now that I’ve gotten my hands on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, I feel like going up to anyone I know who bought the iPhone X and having them do a Pepsi challenge. This phone is the real deal. Full disclosure: I’ve been a fan of Huawei for years and love all their phones and tablets. This phone is the game changer though. It has a beautiful, water-resistant body and boasts a FullView display that lets you watch your favorite movies on your phone in a resolution you’ve never encountered on a screen this size. The Mate 10 Pro has the world’s first Kirin AI processor and a battery life that puts the iPhone to shame. With its Leica Dual camera, you’ll want to give your DSLR to a friend because you’ll never need another camera.


Sling TV – Give the gift of cutting the cable cord and be the hero this holiday season. No one enjoys paying those outrageous cable bills each month. With a Sling TV account, you can enjoy all the best aspects of television viewing without contributing to the cable company’s billion-dollar revenue stream. I’ve become a big fan of Sling TV (it’s the #1 TV streaming service based on number of households) and not only because it lets me cut the cord. I can watch TV anywhere and the streaming is fast and flawless. Try it for free for a week and then get your friends and family a subscription for as little as $20/month.


Removu S1 GoPro Stabilizer – I love my GoPro Hero 5, but let’s be honest… a lot of the footage is shaky enough to make a professional sailor nauseous. There are several stabilizers on the market for GoPro cameras, but they are often more money than the GoPro itself. The S1 can be mounted anywhere a GoPro can be mounted. Mount it to your body, a bike, a helmet, wherever you can mount a GoPro. The S1 also comes with a detachable hand grip that is equipped with a wireless joystick remote, which will allow you to control your gimbal from a distance.


GoalZero Battery – A common problem with portable generators is the need to leave them outside because of the exhaust they put out. GoalZero charges its battery packs via wall outlet or solar panels. This portable battery has the versatility to charge your devices and appliances in the great outdoors or in the comfort of your own home.


Garmin Vivoactive 3 – This smartwatch combines fitness tracking with Garmin Pay, allowing you to have a great run and refuel on your way home. The watch tracks your heart rate and progress while running, biking or swimming. In addition to downloading and creating workouts, available mobile apps let you track the weather, control your appliances and more. The Garmin Pay™ is compatible with any retailer that lets you tap to pay.


PanaCast Vivid Camera – Video conferencing was once something only the Jetsons had. Now we use it for everything from calling Grandma to viewing co-workers’ presentations half a world away. Vivid eliminates a common problem with video chat – lighting. PanaCast’s HDR technology is designed to mimic the way our eyes see and process color and lighting. The camera continuously optimizes video quality under all lighting conditions. What’s the point of a video chat if you can’t see it?


Climate Case – To quote Game of Thrones, “Winter Is Coming.” A frequent frustration during the colder months is when smartphones freeze or lock up. You’ll often get a warning if it’s been above 95 or below 32 degrees for over 15 minutes. Sometimes it will shut down unexpectedly. The Climate Case is made of durable yet soft-to-the-touch neoprene and weighs only half a pound. It can be used preventatively when you’re outside for long periods, or to normalize your phone’s temperature in about one minute. This is a great accessory if you’re outside at a football game or headed south to lay in the sun.


MyOeno Scan – This is the perfect gift for the wine connoisseur on your list. Simply drop this device into a glass of wine, and you’ll get a complete analysis via Bluetooth and mobile app. MyOeno analyzes the three oenological characteristics of your wine: strength, acidity and tannins. You can rate each vintage for future reference, and the app will recommend wines of similar characteristics for your next adventure.


ZTE Quartz Smart Watch – At under $200, this is a reasonably priced entry point into the smartwatch world for Android users. It’s fully customizable with faces and bands, and water/dust resistant. I found the call quality to be comparable to more expensive models.


Dobot Rigiet – Dobot is a Chinese company that has pioneered robotic arms, and they bring that technology to your smart phone with their Rigiet. A little bit of camera shake can ruin an otherwise beautifully shot photo or video, but this stabilizer won’t let that happen. It boasts three individual motors that will remain on your desired object of focus, regardless of what you’re doing. At $269, this is a great gift for the serious shooter this Hanukkah or Christmas.


Beats Studio 3 – My son has been BEGGING me for a pair of these for Hanukkah. Given the combination of Beats’ brand awareness and Apple technology, that’s not surprising. These cans are pricey at $349 but offer several features previous Beats headphones did not. They are wireless and introduce us to Pure Adaptive Noise Cancelling (Pure ANC) that filters out background noise. Apple’s W1 chip will allow the listener to switch audio between connected iOS devices. One of my favorite features is the quick charge. In a pinch, charge a dead battery for 10 minutes for three additional hours of listening.


Bosch Connected Control BCC100 Thermostat – Bosch makes great smart products and this smart thermostat will make anyone’s holiday season that much warmer. It is compatible with most HVAC systems and each unit can control multiple devices. It cycles on and off to conserve energy while maintaining a set temperature in your home, and of course it can be controlled remotely with a mobile app, even if you’re away and not on WiFi. The touch screen on the unit is easy to navigate, but it did require a bit of work on the wires during its initial setup.


Parrot Mambo Code (with Tynker) – If you want your kid to learn code, you’ll want to do it in a way that they have fun and enjoy the experience. Parrot knows this, and they’ve created the perfect drone to teach children to code. With the Parrot Mambo Code, they’ll learn to code and fly a drone like a professional. This kit includes a Parrot Mambo minidrone and a 6-month subscription to Tynker. They’ll learn to code as they program the Parrot Mambo drone to avoid obstacles. No experience with coding or flying drones is required. On sale for $149.99.


DynaTrap 3 – It may seem odd to think about mosquitoes around the holidays, but I love everything about the DynaTrap. It eliminates the two worst things about typical mosquito traps – noise and chemicals. It lures insects with harmless carbon dioxide, and its silent fan vacuums the bugs into the storage cage. All you have to do is plug it in and empty it. It will make summer 2018 in your yard much more enjoyable.


Healbe GoBe2 – We’ve all counted calories. It’s tedious to read labels and manually enter everything into an app. The GoBe 2 is the first wearable I’ve seen that automatically tracks the calories you consume as well as the ones you burn. It also monitors everything from heart rate and sleep to your emotional state and stress level. The GoBe2 does all the logging for you so you can focus on your New Year’s resolution to improve your lifestyle.


Gooseberry Smart Buckle – Smart watches are all the rage this holiday season, but not everyone wants to give up their traditional wrist wear. Gooseberry solves this problem with an attachable buckle that turns your “old school” watch into a smart watch. For only $99, Smart Buckle tracks steps, calories, sleep, and more.


Hurom Juicer – Hurom has been in business for 40 years and is on the higher end for these types of products at $599. This is a serious juicer for, well, serious juice lovers. It has a slow motor that spins at only 43 revolutions per minute to mimic a human’s hand squeezing motion. You can control the amount of pulp, it has an inner spinning brush to keep it clean, and it runs quietly. Bonus: A Tofu press to make your own at home.

Ancestry DNA – No doubt you’ve seen countless television commercials for DNA kits, and Ancestry just crossed the 5 million customer plateau. The kit retails for $99 but is on sale for much less during the holidays. It’s a great way to find long lost relatives and learn about your own personal heritage. You can create an account online and send as a gift. I tried it and after spitting into a little plastic tube I sent it in for analysis. In less than a month I had discovered a couple cousins I didn’t even know existed.


Bookeen Saga – Bookeen is a French digital reader that’s trying to be different than Kindles and more common e-readers. It comes with its own silicone cover (not removable), but boasts buttons for page turning and changing the front lighting. Those buttons went away with most other digital readers.


Living DNA – This brand of DNA testing gives you the most in depth results, across 80 world regions, as well as your motherline and fatherline ancestry. It goes back 10 generations, and your results are updated online as their software evolves. It’s a bit pricier but provides more information. It’s currently on sale for $99, down from $159.


Varidesk Laptop 30 – Standing desks have become very popular among everyone from exercise enthusiasts to those who just don’t want to sit all day. I use a Varidesk at home and in my office, and I love the ability to adjust it up or down in seconds. This model has a top level for your monitor and bottom for your keyboard, mouse and more. 11 different positions allow you to sit and stand throughout your workday. It will also save you the emotional stress of having to assemble the desk – it’s ready to go out of the box for only $175 so you can improve your posture and make good on your New Year’s resolution for a healthier lifestyle.


eBlocker – As the Internet expands from computers and phones to every device in our homes, privacy has become a paramount concern. I like the simple setup of eBlocker – it plugs directly into your modem and has customizable settings for every member of your household. You can block third parties from collecting your data, and even can hide your IP address.


Mophie Juice Pack Air – Mophie is one of the best selling portable phone chargers, and with good reason. Their Juice Pack Air protects your phone, and can give you an additional 60-100% of a battery charge. You can toggle between using the charger’s power and your phone’s battery. Also, when plugged in, the phone will charge first, then the Mophie. This is a great gift for the person whose phone battery is always dying.


Whoop – This is definitely the wearable device for serious athletes who love the science of training. Whoop was developed with help from Harvard University and those who train elite athletes. The device measures heart rate during exercise and at rest, as well as during sleep. The idea is that athletes can over-train or under-train, and not see optimal results. By balancing strain and recovery, this monitor will help you train as efficiently as possible.


Crucial BX300 Solid State Drive – Laptops have a limited lifespan and it can be daunting to think about buying a new one. The Crucial BX300 SSD is an easy DIY upgrade for your old struggling laptop. This replacement hard drive will speed up your computer and extend its life.


Tend Lynx Solar – Home security cameras are huge this year, but one common complaint is the cost of batteries. Tend devised a camera that can power up during one day of sunlight and run off that power for up to 7 nights. I like to think of it as the “menorah” of outdoor cameras. It’s reasonably priced at $199 and also includes cloud storage for up to a week of video. It also boasts facial recognition software.


Felix Gray Computer Glasses – As we spend more and more time in front of our screens, eye strain and fatigue become more and more prevalent. Even if you don’t need glasses to see the “outside world,” these lenses reduce glare and cut down on the harmful blue light emitted from screens. The frames are premium Italian acetate with lenses that eliminate the blue light that leads to eye fatigue and sleep issues. One third of Americans spend eight hours or more looking at screens so it’s unsurprising that 60% of us report symptoms of digital eye strain. Until now, eyewear designed to protect eyes from blue light were unfashionable and unattractive, resulting in low usage.


IOGear Thunderbolt 3 Dual Display Docking Station – IOGear’s Thunderbolt 3 is a powerful docking station that will create two 4K displays or even one at 5K. It’s designed for Apple, but works just fine with PC as well. The Thunderbolt 3 also boasts great bandwidth, allowing the transfer of a full 4K movie in about 30 seconds.


STM Kings Laptop Backpack 15” – The deep pockets of this backpack make it valuable to carry a phone, tablet, books, clothes and more. What I really love about this backpack, though, is what it does for my electronics. Built-in pockets allow cords to run to my wireless charger inside, and quilted padding on the inside reduces the impact to my laptop, phone, and tablet when I’m on the go.


Photospring – What sets Photospring’s digital picture frame apart is that it’s a touchscreen. Many other frames only allow for changes through a computer or mobile app, but this will let your recipient adjust pictures right from the frame itself.


Vi Personal Trainer – Vi bills itself as the world’s first Artificial Intelligence personal trainer. Its human voice will coach you through your customized training plan for distance running or weight loss. Vi can check your progress with a voice command while running, and its Harman/Kardon audio means your music will sound great too. The headphones track your biometric data, so there’s no need to wear other sensors.


Kicker Bullfrog – There are more Bluetooth speakers on the market than you’d ever believe, but the Bullfrog is one of the few that’s weatherproof. Its IP66 weatherproof rating makes it ideal for the beach, the pool, or the outdoors. You can wirelessly connect two models for double the output, and its mobile app will let you control the volume, check battery life, and more.


Matador Backpack for Camping/Hiking – This is the rugged accessory for the rugged hiker on your list. Its coated rip-stop nylon is water resistant, and the bag accommodates most water bladders. It packs up into a handy compression bag for non-hiking travel. I found it very comfortable thanks to its shoulder and waist straps.


Ecoflow River Mobile Power Station – This unit packs some serious power and can be taken anywhere. It boasts an impressive 11 different ports from USB to AC to everything in between, and they can all be used at once! The River can be charged with a regular outlet or in a car, and its easy-to-read LED display always shows the battery level. Because it runs on a lithium-ion battery, you can use it indoors as well. This unit is a game-changer.


Tempi Smart Temperature and Humidity Monitor – I love the portability of this device. You can place them around and outside the house or clip it to your clothing when you’re out for a run. There are no buttons on the Tempi; it just syncs the data to the mobile app on your phone. The app also controls up to 9 devices, which at $12 each, means you can monitor everything from your kids’ rooms to the backyard.


JAM Audio Symphony WiFi Wireless Speaker – I have a couple of the smaller JAM speakers around my home and I love them. The Symphony is similar in that it integrates with Alexa, but it’s a more powerful Bluetooth speaker. You can control it by mobile app and you’ll be impressed with how the sound really fills a big room. Four preset buttons let you access your favorite stations quickly.


PolarPro Fifty Fifty Filter for DJI drone – Drones are the hot tech product this year and nothing will change next year. Now that drone pilots are getting better, they want to improve upon the photos and video these flying gadgets take. PolarPro’s filters help overcome many obstacles of aerial photography, allowing for great lighting and rich colors in your shots. With DJI drones being sold at Costco now, these filters will make the ideal gift for the newbie drone pilot.


TamaggoCamera – Capturing 360-degree images and video of holidays, concerts and more is the newest trend in amateur photography. Tamaggo 360LiveCam is the latest consumer 360 camera on the market and is available on I love its small egg-shaped design, single lens camera, built-in stand and intuitive touchscreen. Tamaggo 360LiveCam is the perfect accessory for capturing life’s moments- in one click you can capture everything happening around you. Its mobile app lets you remotely capture, view, download, share and even stream 360-degree experiences across many platforms.


tp-link Kasa Cam 120 – This is a reasonably priced entry point into home security cameras at $129.99. It doesn’t provide continuous streaming, but it does activate when it senses motion or sounds. It will send customized alerts to a mobile app on your phone, and has a built in microphone for video chat capability.


Vivitar DVR988 360 Action Camera – This little guy boasts a 360-degree wide angle lens so you don’t miss anything. It’s got a 2-inch preview screen and built in stitching software so merge two videos together. I also like that it’s WiFi enabled so you can instantly send videos to your phone to share.


Unihertz Jelly Pro Smartphone – There’s no denying the power of today’s smart phones, but sometimes they are just too big. The Unihertz Jelly is a throwback to smaller phones, but it packs the full punch of an Android-powered device. Expandable to 16GB, it doesn’t have a ton of memory for your music and apps, but it’s a great buy for the minimalist in your life at $124.99.


Hudway Cast – The makers of Hudway Glass have a new product that is sure to impress anyone over 16-years-old on your holiday shopping list this year. Rather than having them look down at their phone to see their navigation from Waze or Google Maps, let them cast the map to a “heads up” display on their car windshield. At only $199, the Hudway Cast means your loved ones will never have to take their eyes off the road. It works well in any weather and is always in the driver’s regular line of sight. This is truly the gift of peace of mind and much safer driving.


Swift Stream RoboBuddy Wireless Control Vehicle – Worlds collide with this gift. It’s a Remote Control Vehicle, home surveillance system, and video chat (albeit with a slight delay). This can be a fun gift for the kids, but it’s also great to keep an eye on the home when you’re away for the holidays. Connect via mobile app, drive the Robobuddy around the house, and drive it back onto its charger when you’re done checking things out.


Myovolt Wearable Vibration Therapy – This is ideal for the athlete on your list that battles muscle fatigue and soreness. These wraps offer braces for different body parts and provide targeted vibration therapy in ten minute doses. You can wear the brace over or under your clothes.


Omron HEAT Pain Pro – Omron has a variety of health care products, but this is the only one that treats soreness with the combination of heat for muscles and TENS electrical nerve stimulation. I got this for my mother who has had chronic knee pain and she says it’s the only thing that brings her relief. It boasts six pre-set modes for different body parts, 3 massage modes, and 20 levels of intensity to customize your treatment at home. The battery is rechargeable and the gel pads are good for 30 uses each. This is a great gift for athletes or chronic pain sufferers.