Technology is at the top of my teen’s Christmas Wish list. That’s easy for me since I spend the rest of the year trying gear. I know what works, what I like, what they like, and – more importantly – what I think is worth the money. I already pulled together a list of tech gear I think would make good gifts for anyone this year. But here is a list of things I like for a teenager. I also asked Target’s tech Mom what’s in stock in there in case you are leaving this shopping business for the last minute.
Esio Hot & Cold Beverage System
When I got in an Esio Hot & Cold Beverage System to try, I asked my daughter to set it up. Thirty minutes later, she was so in love with its high-tech convenience that she was bringing us all our choice of hot or cold beverages. Once it’s filled with water (it holds 1.85 gallons) you just pop in a flavor pouch, dial up the strength you like, and push a button for hot or cold. If Dad orders coffee, I want iced tea, and her brother asks for a sport drink, she is happy to whip it up and deliver it. A gadget that encourages my teenager to be helpful and considerate? Top of my list.
Walmart or Esiobev.com, $199
My son (16) is a master of many kingdoms and armed conflicts on his Xbox 360. But he is not too old to enjoy a nature video. In fact, he showed me one on his phone this morning. So I am putting a copy of Nat Geo TV in his stocking. This two-way National Geographic experience lets you interact with shows from the Nat Geo WILD channel. I watched nature shows with my parents even after I left for college. Cute cheetah cubs cross all generational boundaries, right? So I’m hoping that an interactive version of that experience is how I will capture that same connection with my kids. It comes with a one year season pass so we can go online for more episodes.
Microsoft Store, $30
180 Limited Watch
My daughter needs something that will help her see how long she has been in the shower. A watch that will help her get places on time. Or maybe I just need to give her a watch to make the point that she needs to think about time? Either way, this one is chunky, colorful, waterproof, and inexpensive. Log on, pick a face color and two band colors. It’s on the way.
180 Limited, $25
For a kids with a smart phone or iPod, a Bluetooth speaker is an awesome gift. Not only is it wireless but it lets them crank the tunes in their room while automatically interrupting the party to read any text messages that come in and offering to dictate an answer. Does a teen need anything more than that? The Jabra Solemate is a good choice. It’s small, sort of looks like a shoe, has clear voice prompts that walk you through setup, and is on sale at Best Buy.
BestBuy.com, of $159.99.
EverNote Smart Notebook
When taking notes and keeping a journal, my young digital natives have a hard time deciding between the immediate tactile pleasure of paper and pen and the easy-to-find-later convenience of digital. This notebook does both. It’s a smart paper notebook from Moleskine that works with the Evernote app on any iPad or iPhone. Just snap a picture to make handwritten words and sketches instantly searchable, shareable and permanently archived as digital notes. It even comes with stickers that help organize your notes. When Evernote sees a sticker, it stores that page in the right folder. Comes with three months of Evernote Premium.
My daughter loves her Kindle Fire. She reads on it, watches movies, hits Facebook, keeps up with email, and plays Zombie games. In fact, she loves it so much it’s a problem. I have to take it away from her fairly often so she can focus on school. But the newer Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD come with Amazon’s new parental control service FreeTime. With it, I can block everything but reading till she is done with school. Or I could set it so she can’t watch videos and play games for an hour a day but read as much as she wants. You can even set up multiple profiles so that more than one child can share the same Fire. Perfect.
My kids always have a phone or tablet handy. And they have gotten very good at typing on a screen. But even they were relieved by how easy it is to type – or write notes or draw – with a stylus designed to work on a touch screen. They snatch every one I bring into the house. This one gets extra points for folding in half to fit in a pocket (or the stocking) and sticking magnetically to the iPad – with its handy clip attachment – when not in use. GreenBulb.com, $39 Satellite U945-S4390
Both of my kids would take a laptop above almost anything else. And this reasonably priced Ultrabook -- Windows 8, 14” screen, 500 GB hard drive, and plenty of memory so it won’t slow down – is high on my list of machines to get if, say, one of them was going off to college this year. It has most of the features of an Ultrabook with a screen big enough to kick back and enjoy a movie on when the homework is done. But the price tag is still reasonable.
Last Minute Target Shopper?
It’s getting late, though. Right? So, in case it’s too late for you to do anything but run to the store and toss stuff in a cart, I spoke to Target’s Tech mom spokesperson Liz Gumbinner to get her tech picks for teens from the gear you’ll find at Target. She pointed out that Target is having a big sale from December 13 through 15 so your procrastination might even pay off.
“For something inexpensive the kids will love, these are cute headphones at a great price,” says Gumbinner. They come in great colors and the over-ear style is $24.95. Earbuds are only $14.99.
I included this in Top Tech Picks for 2013 and Gumbinner says it is on every kid’s wish list this year. “It is so much fun!” She says. $299.
“This fun camera is a great choice for an active kid -- snowboarder, skateboarder. He can make great films of the action as it happens,” says Gumbinner. It is small, light, and connects to Wi-Fi. You can mount it to a helmet or surfboard and take it right into the action. $199.
Pentax Optio Camera
Gumbinner says this little camera is a “great upgrade from a cell phone camera and it is tough enough for active kids to clip to a backpack. Mom probably wouldn’t want this for her only camera but it’s a great choice for a teen.” It’s waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof. $180. Here are some more electronics items that will be in Target’s Finish Your List sale from December 13 through 15.
- Nintendo 3DS, $145 (reg. $169.99; save $24)
- Canon SX150 Camera, $99 (reg. $199.99; save $100) 14.1 MP sensor and 720p HD video capture with 12x zoom.
- Wii Skylanders Giants bundle, $149.99 (includes Wii console, Skylanders Giants starter pack, MotionPlus remote and Nunchuk)
- APEX 32” LCD HDTV $189.99 (reg. $249.99; save $60)
- Garmin NUVI 2455 LMT $139.99 (reg. $159.99; save $20)
- 20 percent off Skullcandy Ink’d Earbuds $15.19
- Receive a free $20 Target GiftCard with purchase of XBOX Kinect Sensor $99.99
- Canon Powershot A3400 Bundle $89.99 (reg. $159.99; save $70)
- Nikon CoolPix S9300 $199.99 (reg. $349.99; save $150
- Receive a free $20 Target Gift Card with purchase of Nook HD+ Tablet 16 GB $269
- Samsung Galaxy S III from AT&T or T-Mobile $99 (reg. $199.99; save $100. With new or upgrade 2-year plan)