Gift Guide: Gadgets for the Home

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Nail Art Machine: Manicure "vending" machine

Gadgets need not be relegated to the darkest corners of your home office or rumpus room. There are plenty of options that can easily blend in to the less techno-centric areas of your humble abode. In that spirit, here’s a list of relatively inconspicuous gadgets for the home.

Digital Photo Frames

iFrame_2 Digital photo frames have come a long way in terms of style and features. And while you can purchase inexpensive frames in just about any store that sells electronics, I’d personally recommend splurging a bit for one with a wireless connection of some type. A wireless frame allows you to do a few things that you can’t do with standard frames.

For starters, you can put it just about anywhere since you’ll be updating it wirelessly. With a standard frame, you need to make sure it’s placed in an accessible area so you can get at the memory card to add new photos. Secondly, many wireless frames let your family and friends add their own photos to your frame from anywhere in the world. And finally, if you’re interested, wireless frames can often showcase information like weather and news.

A few wireless frame choices for your perusal:

Solar Lighting

lampSolar-powered lights are slowly finding their way into the realm of normal-looking items. With the exception of not having a cord protruding from the base, there are more and more solar lamps coming out that’ll fit in just about anywhere.

I’ve been using the $17 solar lamp from Geeks.com seen on the right here and it’s been working pretty well so far. The batteries take a while to fully charge but once they’re ready to go, it’s nice to be able to use this lamp anywhere I need a little extra light. And aside from the little square solar panel embedded in the top of the lamp shade, it looks just like a regular lamp (again, without the cord, or course).

You’ll want to make sure to place your lamp in a spot where it’ll get decent sunlight and remember that these lamps are basically collecting sunlight and using it to slowly juice up rechargeable batteries, which are then used to power little LED bulbs. Current charge times may be long (9-12 hours) and actual usage time may be short (3-6 hours), but sunlight is free and free is good.

For the Kitchen

b40Add There are hundreds of potential kitchen gadgets, but here are a few I’ve personally tried and can recommend.

As far as coffee goes, some people get intimidated by fancy coffee makers. If there’s someone like that on your list, these Keurig machines are tough to beat – any of the coffee machines that use “pods” are actually pretty good. You fill the machine’s reservoir with water, pop a coffee pod into the machine, and put your cup or mug underneath the spout. Press the button and you’ve got near-instant coffee that tastes far better than instant coffee. And there’s basically no cleanup other than throwing the empty pod away.

Another fun idea, especially if you have kids, is a home soda-making machine. They can get a bit expensive but the idea is that you’ll save money in the long run, and the soda mixes for this Penguin machine I reviewed, for instance, don’t contain high fructose corn syrup.

For the germophobe in your life, there’s a new crop of touchless faucets on the market (see John’s review here) — “touchless” is a misnomer, but you’re able to control the thing with your wrist, forearm, or elbow.

And last but not least if you’ve got a pancake lover in your life, you’re left with little choice than to spring for a $5 can of Batter Blaster pancake mix. They’re pancakes in a can. Again, they’re pancakes in a can. See my review here.

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