I love receiving and giving gadgets as gifts, especially around the holidays. But not everyone "gets" consumer electronics like me and my cadre of professional tech cohorts. In fact, some people in my social circle outright dislike tech toys.
What do I gift them? A gift certificate? That's the holiday equivalent of saying, "Here, pal, you do my holiday shopping for me." Enroll them in the Ham of the Month Club? Possibly. A Snuggie? Nah.
I really want to get my Luddite friends something tech related. And I imagine that I am not alone in this. Everyone has a family member with a rotary phone and a VCR that blinks 12:00 constantly. What should we get those folks to help them increase their tech IQ?
Here are 10 simple tech gifts designed with analog personalities in mind.
10. Custom stuff from the Internets
Step one: Go to Cafe Press/Zazzle.com/other provider of custom swag. Step two: Find mug/T-shirt/thong. Step three: Upload romantic/embarrassing/funny/memorable/Robocop on a unicorn. Step four: Send to loved one.
9. Green gizmos
Green is the new black. Everyone wants to do their part and help conserve resources (and even if they don't, they all want to say at dinner parties that they do). If you have a bunch of environment-loving, technology-averse neo-hippies on your list this year, try getting them some green consumer tech. Check out this solar-powered wireless keyboard from Logitech for starters. Other options include Samsonite solar luggage and this alarm clock that runs on water.
I'm going to be honest here. I'm not a huge e-reader fan because as an iPad owner, I feel I have everything I need in one smart package. However, I understand they are popular for a reason, price point included. If you're thinking of gifting the bookworm on your list some tech, there is a case to be made for these devices. For instance, if you go to the beach and drop your Kindle in the ocean, you're only out $139 (a sad picnic, but not as costly as a blended iPad. Give this gift a try and see how quickly your old school bibliophile transforms into a user of high-tech e-readers.
7. Doggie tech
Dog lovers will wag their tails over Mattel's Puppy Tweets, a device that lets your canine companion microblog. The toy attaches to the dog's collar and sends out a random tweet when it senses noise or motion. There are more than 500 random tweets included on the gadget ("I bark because I miss you. There, I said it. Now hurry home," for example). Dog lovers are known to be "rabid fans" of their pets, and there are plenty of other examples of high-tech stocking stuffers for Fido available, including doggie geolocators and light-up leashes.
6. Kitchen gadgets
Does the non-geek on your list love to cook? Gadgets and gizmos abound in the kitchen (no, a Slapchop doesn't count as cool cuisine computing). Try getting them a digital thermometer or a digital recipe reader and see how they warm up to home tech. Other options include an at-home doughnut maker, a musical cake tray with LED slicing guides, or a robot chef.
5. Bacon-flavored anything
We don't really understand this one, but the Internet seems to love bacon. Seriously, if the Internet had a mascot, it would be BaconMan (or Bacony). Try sending some salty pork goodness this year and see how your gift-giving stock rises. There are bacon lollipops, bacon jelly beans, bacon vodka, and even bacon-flavored envelopes. Of course, you can also give them the most expensive bacon on the planet.
4. Baby tech
If someone on your gift list is expecting or a recent parent, they will love baby-related tech gifts. This list is pretty handy, although it leaves out the video baby monitor from Philips.
3. Fitness gear
Joggers, bikers, hikers, and yoginis: Every holiday list is sure to have a few health nuts on it. Try gifting a Fitbit or a Nike+ Sportband this holiday season.
2. Alcohol-related gizmos
Maybe there are more kegs than six packs on your holiday gift list this year. So be it. There are plenty of alcohol tech toys to deliver to your friends and family. While the Asahi beer-pouring robot is apparently selling out in some places, you can opt for a T-shirt that opens beer bottles, an electric wine opener or electric wine chiller complete with waterfall, or this wall-mounted wine refrigerator with a touch screen. For first-time home brewers, there's always the DIY juice-to-alcohol kit.
1. The iPad
Surprised? Shouldn't be. For the most part, people love them some iPads. Apple bills its tablet as a "magical" device,and that isn't far from the truth. The touch screen is still novel for non-geeks and so intuitive my 3-year-old son can use it.
There are also a ton of apps for a variety of interests. Apple's iOS is elegant and stable, ensuring a pleasing experience even for technophobes. Giving a loved one an iPad is akin to helping someone who's afraid to swim get in the shallow end of the pool. It's a safe, non-threatening entry point for the deeper technological waters that are ahead.
By gifting amazing tech to non-geeks, you plant a seed of gadget love. I am convinced that the reason so many people dislike technology is that they have had to deal with too many confusing manuals, shoddy products, and loading screens and not enough fun. Show people how great lifestyle technologies are this holiday season and you'll have grandma geeking out in no time.
Got great gift ideas for non-geeks? Tell us about them in the comments section below.