The coolest thing about writing a tech column is that I never run out of stuff to talk about. Between new products, new versions of products, and new updates to improve new versions of products, there’s always some “next big thing” just around the corner.
Here’s an example: Dan and the editors asked me to write a column imagining great technology items I wish the world would invent in 2013. I did some thinking, surfed the web, and actually ended up finding many of these gadgets. These next big things already exist.
When you think about it, the real question to consider is not whether the item exists today; it’s whether the item will still be useful tomorrow.
So for this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I’m going to look at gadgets that you’ll still own and still use when you’re reading this column next year. We’ll start with the ladies.
Over the past few years, Apple has been the poster child for making its own tech obsolete. Folks who bought the original iPad—about 10 million of us—were pretty bummed out when the iPad 2 came along and blew the old one away.
Despite this track record, I think the iPad Mini will definitely hold up for a year. Size does matter. This device is so new, so packed with features, and so portable that I can’t possibly see Apple coming out with anything to top it in 2013. It’s expensive, but this is the Apple tablet that truly competes with smaller readers like the Kindle.
“UP” Health Bracelet
I’ve written about health bracelets before, and I am fully aware that giving a weight-loss gift to a woman has massive backfire potential. But the UP is really catching on; it’s poised to break out in 2013.
The UP is like a high-tech mood ring. Only it’s real, and it tells you things you want to know. You wear the bracelet all the time. It monitors your sleep patterns and physical movements, silently collecting data. It connects to a smartphone app, which you use to enter your meals and other information. For instance, you can snap a photo of the meal you just ate and the app searches its database to let you know its key nutritional information.
The UP processes all of this data and delivers really insightful suggestions for improving your health. It can help you refine your sleep patterns, take little steps to burn more calories, and ultimately change your daily routines for the better.
At $129.99, the UP is not cheap. Early models experienced durability issues, which seem to be resolved. The UP also requires a real commitment from the user; it won’t help if you don’t engage with it on a daily basis. So while I can’t guarantee that the woman in your life will still be using the UP a year from now, I am fairly certain that this gadget will still be very relevant.
Polaroid PoGo Mobile Printer
This is a risky selection. Polaroid is a company whose technology—instant photos—became so outdated that it barely exists. But the PoGo is a simple gadget that solves a specific problem: printing photos on the fly.
The PoGo is tiny—it fits in any bag or purse and in most coat pockets. It connects to your smartphone and lets you instantly print a 2×3 photo of the image you just snapped. The photos come out dry, on adhesive paper. So you can use them as stickers for your kids—a big crowd pleaser for birthday parties or visits to Agawam Park.
Are the images great? Not really. Is there a burning need to have printed photos right away when you can just view them on your phone? Probably not.
But many people forget all about those photos on our phones. Months later, we have to sync to iTunes, drag the digital photo to printing software, and then make the print. No one enjoys this process—and with the PoGo you can at least have a tactile photo in the moment. For around $100, it’s worth a shot (pun intended).