Tech Gifts for Grads
By Tracey Dowdy
Finding just the right gifts for today’s tech savvy grads can be challenging. But whether they’re heading off to college in the Fall or about to start a new career, the perfect gift is out there and we’re here to help you find it.
Everyone loves a good pair of headphones and whether your grad will use them to listen to “Eye of the Tiger” during a workout or catch a favorite podcast on the way to work, there’s a vast selection from which to choose. Your options range from less expensive but good quality JVC HA-S400 Carbon Nanotube headphones for under $30, featuring comfortable padding, fold-flat capability and excellent sound quality for the price point, all the way up to $400 Beats By Dre with high-end sound quality, noise cancellation and a maid that will clean your grad’s apartment. Okay, maybe not the maid part.
Choose tiny ear buds that you can tuck in a pocket or purse or DJ-style padded over-the-ear headphones. There are also behind the neck headsets, waterproof headsets, and a variety of wired and wireless Bluetooth options.
Depending on the level of ambient noise in the room, the speaker volume of my iPad is less than adequate. I’d describe it as a loud whisper, like when your Nana wants to tell you a secret. If you are going to play music from your mobile devices, external speakers are a must.
Just as with headphone options, there are a multitude of wireless speakers that provide high quality sound at reasonable prices. The Logitech X300 Mobile Wireless Stereo Speaker (under $70) features a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 5 hours and has a built-in microphone that doubles as a mobile speaker for phone calls. The Sol Republic Punk (under $50) is water- and shock-resistant and offers solid sound levels for its small size with minimal distortion. It has a sizeable battery life (8 hours) and offers an extended wireless range of up to 60 feet.
Touch screens are great until you need to compose a long message or type out an email. Wireless keyboards are ideal for when you need to turn that tablet or smartphone into an impromptu computer. The Logitech K480 Bluetooth keyboard works across all platforms – iOS, Android, Windows – and can link with up to three devices at a time. It offers a built-in tray across the top which acts as a stand for most tablets or smartphones and at under $50 it’s a bargain.
If your grad is all about going green, the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 pairs with up to three Apple devices and can be charged by any light source, so you never have to replace batteries. At just under $80 it’s a little more expensive than the K480 and Apple’s own Wireless Keyboard which is priced at $69.
Streaming Media Players
Help cut the cord literally and figuratively when you send them on the way with alternatives to cable. Whether grads are on campus or moving into an apartment, many are choosing to bypass cable and stream their entertainment choices instead. Price at $100, the Roku 3 has a speedy processor, user-friendly interface, and offers over 2,000 channels, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, MLB.TV, Amazon Cloud Player, Vudu and Youtube. It can search across platforms for specific content, and the remote comes with a built-in headphone jack.
If your grad has a lot of Apple devices or has a significant library of music and videos on iTunes, Apple TV could be a better choice. Apple constantly refreshes content and has dropped the price of its Apple TV system to just $69.
It’s cliché to say but graduation isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. Heading out on that journey with fun and innovative technology in your backpack or briefcase can make that new adventure a little less scary and a lot more fun.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.