8 Gifts for Your Techy Valentine
Everyone likes tech gifts, but it doesn’t have to be Christmas to break out the giving spirit!. With Valentine’s Day coming up, here’s a list of some great choices your tech-loving sweetheart will be thrilled to get, and you can even add roses if you like. If you’re a lady fan of this website, most of these will work for the guy in your life, too.
Starting at under $10, these grips come in a wide variety of patterns and styles. The grip attaches easily to almost any type of phone case and does double-duty as a stand for easier multimedia watching. Available online and at local retailers.
At first glance, an electrical outlet might not seem like the most romantic gift. But the WeMo Smart Plug integrates with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant and will allow your significant other to control any connected device through voice control or phone application. Wi-fi enabled. I’ve already placed an order for one so I can tell Alexa from the comfort of bed to start brewing my coffee. Under $20 on Amazon.
If you live in a cold climate, touchscreen gloves can save your significant other’s hands from painful exposure while she’s out running errands, commuting, or taking a winter hike with you. Marmot gloves are fleece-lined and have grip channels on their palm surface to make sure her phone doesn’t take a tumble. $30 on Amazon. Men’s version is also available.
Amazon has all sorts of options when it comes to Tile trackers, but this is my favorite. The Essentials combo comes with 1 Slim, 1 Mate, and 2 stickers. This is just enough trackers to connect the things I misplace most often to the Tile app so they can be easily found: my phone, my keys, and the two remotes in the living room. Any Tile product within Bluetooth range can be found via an audible alarm. When objects are out of range you have to rely on the ‘Last Place Seen’ feature or turn to the Tile community for help. Be warned though: since Tile products connect via Bluetooth they can put added demand on your battery. Under $70 on Amazon. Other options available.
This small device is a nice way to enter the home hub market. The Google Nest Hub can interface with other smart devices in your home, can display photos from your albums, and is capable of giving you updates on everything from the weather to your schedule. It can also stream music, movies, and podcasts. The speakers on the device are very good, and the camera is adequate. The display is compact at 7-inches, but offers touchscreen capability and adjusts screen brightness automatically to suit conditions. Available at Wal-Mart.com for $99. Note: If you’re looking for something more robust, consider the Google Nest Hub Max which has a larger screen and a better camera.
My husband and I recently went to Ikea for the first time. This lamp/speaker combo was the only thing we both agreed was pretty cool. While it’s not going to replace your high-end speakers, the bass is more than adequate and the overall sound quality is really good. This is a nice way to easily add quality sound capabilities to any room. WiFi enabled. Stereo sound possible with two lamps. Speakers can be controlled individually. $179. Only available in-store.
Is your s.o. a gamer? If so, this may be the gift to go for. While the Oculus Go lacks the positional audio of the Quest or Rift and has a slower refresh rate, the all-in-on headset still allows for 360 immersive viewing of games, shows, or live sports, and works without the need to connect to a PC or phone.
One drawback to keep in mind on all Oculus models (for now) is the small amount of light leakage that happens around the nose bridge. While it’s not bad, it does distract from the full immersive experience. The 32GB model sells for $149 on Amazon and other retailers. The 64GB version is $199. Some retailers won’t have products back in stock until after Valentine’s Day, so be ready for a search.
If you want to be extravagant
With an overall price tag north of $2,000 and a tricky installation that needs a plumber’s touch, the U by Moen Smart Shower is probably something you would only gift along with a full bathroom upgrade. That price tag doesn’t include shower heads, by the way. But it does come with the ability to turn your shower to a perfect pre-set temperature using your voice or phone application. The Moen system will flush cold water from the lines until it reaches your significant other’s desired temp, and then stand by waiting for her to step in with the water turned off until she’s ready to go. The four-outlet version (priced here) allows for a setup with a main showerhead and a handheld sprayer plus four built-in wall sprayer units. Parts available at Home Depot, Amazon and other retailers.
Why you don’t see FitBits or Roombas on this list
This is just my opinion, but unless a woman has specifically asked for an exercise tracker or a vacuum–preferable in writing and validated by a notary–Valentine’s Day is not the time to buy her one. However, if that’s the way you want to go, TheAverageGuy has a great podcast from December 2019 with Erin Lawrence from https://techgadgetscanada.com/ covering the iRobot Roomba s9+ with Braava Jet m6.
Technology writer Marla Keene works for AX Control Inc., an industrial automation supplier located in North Carolina.