Gifts for Teens: Bluetooth Speakers

JBL Splashproof Speaker

We all know that teens are not interested in Barbie dolls and Hot Wheel, but one thing that most teens have in common are their interest in music.  In this article we delve a little bit into the world of Bluetooth speakers.  Most people are familiar with Bluetooth – the short-range radio signalling protocol that allows personal devices to communication and transmit data and especially audio.

People don’t carry boomboxes that play cassette tapes or even CDs any more.  They play their music through their smart devices and audio players either from digital music files or through online services such as Pandora and Spotify.

First of all let’s be clear that this is not a hands-on review, and by no means are we researching every Bluetooth speaker on the market.  There are probably 100 or more such devices for sale, so we are limiting ourselves to the ones that have the highest user reviews on sites like Amazon.com.

So let’s first go over some of the features that you should look for in a Bluetooth speaker:

  • Sound Quality – Cheaper uits typically have worse quality, but there are exceptions
  • Loudness – If you are using the speaker outdoors you may want a louder unit.
  • Battery Life – Important for portable speakers used on the go.
  • Size and Weight – Smaller is better for carrying and portability.
  • Water resistance – Needed if you use the speakers out in the wilderness.
  • Other Features – Additional connections, sound adjustments, etc.

We’ll touch on some of these qualities as we describe the handful of speakers mentioned in this article.

In addition to features you can also take into account the brand name of the speaker.  Some name brands will grab your attention: Bose, JBL, Logitech, and Anker.  And of course Amazon Basics is another common brand found on Amazon.com.  But remember that brand names usually command higher price tags, often warranted by the product, but you can also find satisfactory products from lesser-known brands.

Finally, before we get to the good stuff, since this is an article is geared towards gifts for teenagers we are limiting our article to speakers under $100.

Now let’s get to it …

Oontz Curve – Bluetooth Speaker

Oontz Curve Speaker

Oontz Curve Speaker

The Oontz Curve Bluetooth speaker is a good basic speaker at an affordable price  It has over 2000 reviews on Amazon and they are mostly very positive, with many mentioning the good quality sound that this speaker puts out.  It can run for 5 hours on a single charge of its lithium ion battery.  This speaker is actually small enough that you can fit it in the cupholder of your car.

This model comes in may different colors and can typically found in the $20-$30 range.  We think this is a good choice for an entry-level Bluetooth speaker.

JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Splashproof Speaker

JBL Splashproof Speaker

The JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Bluetooth speaker is a step up from the plethora of budget and entry level models.  It sells in the $80-$100 range, although prices can vary over time.  The main feature of this unit is that it has very good water protection.  It is splash and rain proof, and you can even clean it under running water.

One thing that we like is that it can operate as a speakerphone for your smartphone.  When your phone rings while playing music you can simply press a button to receive the call through the speaker.

This JBL unit puts out some really good sound, especially the bass.  The battery is very good – providing up to 10 hours of playtime on a single charge.  The speaker comes in multiple colors.

Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker

Anker Bluetooth Speaker

Anker Bluetooth Speaker

The Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker is a very capable unit that delivers a very long playtime (up to 24 hours on a single charge) as well as a long Bluetooth range (66 ft).  The pricing is pretty much in between the previous two units in this article, so it will certainly not break your budget.

The size and weight make this a very portable unit, but it is designed by Anker to produce a very good quality sound including bass.

And finally, this product has an incredible 18-month warranty.  This is the icing on the cake for us – the risk/reward for the price is hard to beat.

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

Fun New Toys for Girls – Christmas Preview

It may only be June, but that means Christmas is only 6 months away.  What better time to start thinking ahead to what you may want to buy that special girl in your life.  We’re scanning major retail sites to identify new and popular toys in 2016  – and some of these may turn out to be hot sellers this Christmas season.

Finding Dory Toys

Every year brings one or two smash movies from Disney Studios. In 2016 one of the premier Disney movies is Finding Dory – a well-known sequel to the original blockbuster Finding Nemo.

So hear are a couple of Finding Dory toys that we think your girl (or boy) will love.

Finding Dory Playhut

Finding Dory Playhut

This Finding Dory playhut lets your kids get into the action by crawling through or stopping in this little mini-fort.  It can connect to other playhuts, and it collapses for easy storage.

Recommended for ages 3 and up.  Find this item on Amazon.

Finding Dory T-shirts

Finding Dory T-shirts

These Finding Dory t-shirts for younger girls are really cute, and they are made and sold by Disney.  They come in various sizes, and they are really fun to wear.

Fashion Headbands

Fashion Headbands

Fashion Headbands

The Creativity for Kids Fashion Headbands set is a great way to foster a girl’s creative side.  It contains ten (10) base headbands and lots of decoration material to make lots of different fun and fashionable headbands.   It’s especially great for play days when two or more girls are together.

Recommended for ages 3 and up doe to small parts.

Shopkins

We did a review of some Shopkins products last year, and we saw lots of Shopkins merchandise being bought before Christmas.  We expect nothing less this year.

Shopkins is a line of collectible toys where each piece has a face and a name.  There have been “seasons” of toys lines released since 2013 currently consisting of seacons 1-5.

There are many Shopkins toys to choose from – here are just a sampling to get your toes wet:

Shopkins Season 5 Bundle

Shopkins Season 5 Bundle

Shopkins Makeup Spot

Shopkins Makeup Spot

American Girl Fashion Sketch Portfolio

American Girl Fashion Sketch Portfolio

American Girl Fashion Sketch Portfolio

The American Girl BeForever Fashion Sketch Portfolio is for girls that are a little older.  This portfolio allows girls to create fashion for “today” inspired by fashions of the past for the Historical American Girl dolls. Girls can explore different fashion styles of different eras.  The set includes sketch sheets, stencil sheets, sticker sheet, adhesive embellishments and an instructional design guide.

Recommended for ages 8-15.

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

Hot Zootopia Toys in 2016

zootopiaZootopia is the 55th animated feature movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.  The city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where animals live very productive lives. Judy Hopps becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, and she quickly learns how difficult it will be to enforce the law.  She jumps at the chance to solve a mysterious case, but that means working with Nick Wilde, a sly fox who makes her job even harder.

This was a very popular film for Disney, and it breaks from the traditional princess-centered fairy tales that Disney is known for.  You could compare it to Bug’s Life, but the animation is much more modern and incredibly sharp.

Here are a number of Zootopia toys to keep your child’s imagination churning.

Judy’s Police Cruiser and Nick’s Convertible

Check out these cars that will keep the action going.

Zootopia - Judy's Cruiser

Zootopia – Judy’s Cruiser

The Judy Cruiser includes Judy’s Police Cruiser, an Officer Judy Hopps figure, and a Law Breaking Mouse Figure.  The wheels all turn, and the trunk even transforms into a jail cell.

Zootopia - Nick's Convertible

Zootopia – Nick’s Convertible

Nick’s convertible also comes with a Nick figure, and it comes with a parking meter.  The cars come with holes in the seats to fit the figures’ tail.  How neat!

These cars are recommended for ages 3-6 years of age (small parts warning – not for kids under 3).

Zootopia Walkie Talkies

zootopia_walkie_talkies

If you want some interactive play, but you don’t want to go all out on an expensive playset, this pair of Zootopia-themed walkie talkies might just fit the bill. They are pretty basic but they have the Zootopia look, and they have flexible antennas so they won’t be easily broken.  Single push-button operation is all it takes.

Recommended for ages 3-15 years.

Zootopia Playset

zootopia_playset

Disney Zootopia Playset

This Zootopia playset has everything your kid needs.  This is an official DIsney playset, and it has 10 figures up to 4 inches tall.  The set includes:  Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde, Mayor Lionheart, Benjamin Clawhauser, Flash, Yak, Bellwether, Mr. Big,Baby, elephant with ice pop, and young bunny.

Recommended ages: 4 years and up

 

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

Top Anticipated Movies of 2016

We’re here to look ahead to the big movies that are expected to hit theaters in 2016.  Why do we do this?  To see where the top toys might be coming from, of course (this is a toy site after all).

The past few years have seen the hottest toys come from the top movie releases.  2014 was simply known as the Frozen year of toys.  2015 was more diverse, but Star Wars toys took the lead.  The superhero movies were also popular last year, as well as the Minions.

So what do we have to look forward to in 2016?  Let’s run down the list of the kid- and teen-friendly movies where we might see the most popular licensed toys and games.

Kung Fu Panda 3

Po, the kung fu panda, is back.  This time he’s facing new challenges: a supernatural villain defeating all of the kung fu masters, and dealing with the return of his long-lost panda father. Hilarity ensues. (released Jan 29)

kungfupanda3

Deadpool

Deadpool is a “new” breed of superhero movie, which (at this writing) has already been released and is doing very well in theaters.  It combines fun action with wit and humor.  Ryan Reynolds is quite the star in 2016. We anticipate some interesting toys spun off from this fun action movie.

deadpool

Zootopia

Another early-2016 release, Zootopia is an entertaining new movie from Disney is making some waves in the animation world.  In this movie we find a society where animals populate cities and towns, but of course there’s a mystery that drives the plot, which includes characters like a crafty fox (voiced by Jason Bateman) and office Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin).  We expect this movie to follow nicely in the footsteps of movies like Big Hero 6, Frozen, and Wreck it Ralph.

zootopia

View hot Zootopia toys.

Batman vs Superman

This March release takes us on yet another twist through the storylines of the famous superheros Batman and Superman.  This movie will help to launch the DC Cinematic Universe.  This movie will include Wonder Woman and we may see other Justice League members.  Expect a big result (moneywise) from this movie. (Release: March 26)

The Jungle Book

A re-make of the animated Disney movie of the same name.  We can’t wait to see how this classic movie translates into live action.  Be on the lookout for new Jungle Book toys in stores. (Release: April 15)

junglebook2016

Captain America: Civil War

Captain American vs. Iron Man (Tony Stark).  Wow.  This is a Marvel movie, and is the first installment of Marvel’s Phase 3 of films.  There has not been much in the way of trailers for this movie, so it will be a bit of a mystery what we’ll eventually get to see when the it hits theaters.  We will see some other superheroes though, such as the Black Panther and Spider-Man. (Release: May 6)

Warcraft

Now this is one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2016.  The movie has spawned from the hugely popular role playing game of the same name.  So many kids and teens play this game that we expect it to at least be well received, if not a blockbuster.  It will depend on how well the video game concept translates into movie form. (Release: June 10)

Finding Dory

This is the sequel that kids and parents have been waiting for since 2003!  Dory is back, voiced again by Ellen DeGeneres, and she is in a new adventure with her friends to find her family (if she can remember them). (June 17)

finding-dory

The Secret Life of Pets

We all wonder what our pets do all day, and this movie will (kind of) show us what kind of fun they might be having.  Or you could set-up a webcam to watch them, but we’re sure this movie will be more entertaining. (release: July 8)

secretlifeofpets

Trolls

Who of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s are not familiar with the Troll doll?  They are quite iconic in our culture, with their crazy hair and all.  This movie brings the Trolls to life through state of the art animation. (Nov 4)

trollsmovie

Moana

This Disney movie sets off on an expedition across the South Pacific.  Here we have a musical animated movie with “The Rock” (aka Dwayne Johnson).  Yes that’s right.  We expect something really interesting here, we just hope Disney can pull off something so challenging. (Release: Nov 23)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This movie is set in a time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.  Here we are going to follow a band of Rebellion fighters who are supposed to steal the plans for the Death Star – you know the ones R2D2 was carrying in the first of the Star Wars blockbusters.  Sounds interesting, but let’s hope this prequel concept fares better than the other prequel trilogy. (Release: Dec 16)

rogueone

Other Movies to Watch Out For

Alice Through the Looking Glass (May 27)

Tarzan (July 1)

Ghostbusters (July 15)

Pete’s Dragon (Aug 12)

Doctor Strange (Nov 4)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Nov 18)

Assassin’s Creed (December 21)

 

 

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.