High tech toys can be great fun, or downright dangerous. But if you are careful to select the right product, while considering proper safety safeguards, then high tech toys can be a great way to spice up your life.
For example in 2015 Hoverboards, aka self-balancing scooter, were all the rage. We all saw how that turned out. But if you did your homework, e.g. looked for the proper industry certifications, then you might have been able to avoid a lot of the battery trouble that befell a lot of those products.
Similarly with quadcopters, aka drones, if you consider who will be using it you can make an educated purchasing decision and possibly avoid a disaster. For example if you are buying a drone for a 10 year old, is it a reasonable gift in the first place, what safety features does the drone have, are the spinning blades protected, and so on. Proper thought should be given whenever buying a cutting edge product.
On that note here are some great high-tech products for kids, teens, and adults that we think would make awesome gifts this Christmas.
If you have not heard about Amazon Echo you might be amazed at what it can do. This is a device that will listen to your voice for various commands and will reply or take the appropriate actions. The highlight of this product is that it will play music from various sources such as your Amazon library, Pandora, Spotify, and more. It can also read audiobooks as well as the news, traffic, weather, and other information sources.
The Echo fills your room with 360-degree omnidirectional sound, and this superior sound quality is confirmed by the complimentary user reviews it receives.
The Amazon Echo also has more advanced features for controlling your home, such as your thermostats, switches and lights. This capability requires that your home is properly equipped with to take advantage of these features. For example the Nest thermostat, the Philips Hue system, or Samsung SmartThings.
Best for: Adults or teens
Syma X5C Quadcopter
There are so many drones and quadcopters on the market that’s it’s like the wild-west. Many of the brand names are new and unrecognizable, and the reviews are suspect (always look for a pattern of many reviews that were in exchange for free products – they are not to be trusted). We recommend choosing a more trusted brand that you know will be around in a year or more.
One brand that’s been around for a few years is Syma, and we found an entry-level quadcopter that we think would be a good choice for teens. It’s the Syma 2.4GHz X5C RC Quadcopter with Gyro and Camera. This is a relatively small drone, but it has some features that make it attractive: Gyros for stability, camera, and spare blades available.
The camera is a 2MP HD camera, so the quality will be so-so, but good enough for an entry level drone. The spare blades are almost a necessity because it is inevitable that the drone will drift off and hit something or even crash if the operator is not trained or if the weather interferes (such as wind).
Note: The Federal Aviation Administration requires registration of many drones flown in the US, for hobby or commercial purposes. To learn more about drone registration requirements, visit Amazon’s Fly Responsibly page.
Best for: Teens
Star Wars BB-8 Robot + Force Band
Last year this BB-8 App-Controlled Robot from robot experts Sphero was such a huge hit that it sold out quickly from many stores. This year they have upgraded the robot with a new Force Band which allows you to control the robot through hand gestures, and has the robot follow you as you move around.
Best for: Any Star Wars fan
Ozobot Programmable Robot
Check out our article about this really cool little robot toy for kids – the Ozobot 2.0 programmable robot.
Best for: Kids
Tested Safe: EPIKGO Self-Balancing Scooter
Hoverboards are back! But they are much safer than they were in 2015. All of the hoverboards we see for sale in 2016 claim to be tested to US safety standards.
One such hoverboard is the EPIKGO Self-Balancing Scooter. It is tested to UL 2272 standards, as well as UL 2271 for the battery. This scooter has 400W dual motors that help it climb slopes as steep as 18 degree and last over 1 hour at 10mph top speed on a single charge. We appreciate that the reviews do not seem compensated for, as we see on other scooters on the market.
We recommend you thoroughly read the information before buying, and keep in mind that even though the battery is safe there are still operational risks when using a self-balancing scooter such as falling and crashing. These risks apply to all age groups – being younger or older does not help when operating this type of machine.
Best For: Adults and older teens