Futuristic holiday tech bargains
By Adam Cochran
A GoPro action camera is built to be dropped, thrown, shaken and submerged.
November is a great month to buy technology for two reasons: clearance shelves tend to be stocked with last year’s overstock, and it’s the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
Here are some of my favorite affordable tech devices that would’ve once been considered luxuries or even science fiction.
Giant 4K TV
You may think a 75-inch TV is out of the question, but manufacturers always bet big on TV sales during the holidays and produce more than retailers can sell. In fact, they often take back overstock and dispose of the excess quantity sometime in late January or early February.
As a result, you can find a low-end—but still fantastic—name brand large 4K TV for under $500.
I also use a 50-inch 4K TV as a computer monitor. It’s a great option for anyone with cataracts or low vision.
Action camera (GoPro)
If you don’t need fancy features like 20x zoom lenses, a smartphone will take photos that rival any traditional digital camera.
However, your smartphone is expensive and limited. Perhaps you’ve received a phone call in the middle of shooting a video? What about dropping your phone while taking a landscape photo outside a car window?
Action cameras are great. They are tiny, feature-packed cameras that fit in the palm of your hand. They’re designed to perform all sorts of tricks like filming underwater, taking time lapse videos and some even film in 360-degrees.
Best of all, action cameras are built to be dropped, thrown, shaken and submerged. You can mount them to your car, bike helmet or a model rocket!
For $150-400 a camera, record memories or have fun filming subjects you’d never get with a smartphone or fancy standalone camera.
Smart home security
Remember how rich people in science-fiction movies and TV shows used to talk to their appliances and doors to activate them? Not only is that technology now available, but it’s affordable and practical.
Video doorbells and smart locks are great accessories for your home. Using your smartphone, you can make sure the house is locked when you leave and you can answer your door from anywhere in the world. Best of all, nobody will know that you aren’t at home.
These devices can often double as burglar alarms and surveillance equipment to ensure that your property is safe while you’re away. I work from an office in my backyard and regularly use my video doorbell to watch my family come in and out of the house, monitor for a package delivery or even see what my dogs are barking at.
Smart locks are also great because you can provide visitors a temporary code for getting in. I don’t have to loan the neighbor a key if they are feeding the dogs or checking on the house. And, I can monitor to ensure they lock the door when they’re done.
I could write a whole column on the Oculus Quest, an amazing futuristic gadget. The Oculus company, owned by Facebook, specializes in virtual reality hardware. Virtual reality (VR) typically involves a headset and hand-held controllers that allow you to play games, watch movies and even exercise in a simulated environment.
The Oculus Quest is a stand-alone device that offers dozens of programs that allow you to escape reality and enjoy an immersive 360-degree—and often 3D—environment. From your living room, you can tour the glow worm caves in New Zealand, explore China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park or simply watch a movie on a 5,000 square-foot screen in a small private theater.
Best of all, Oculus Quest and other VR games require that you move to play. Sword fights, boxing or shooting games are designed so that you must turn your whole body and move your arms to play.
While virtual reality may seem very science fictiony, you can have the closest thing to your very own holodeck (that’s a Star Trek reference) for less than $300.
Take advantage of this holiday season’s great deals and propel yourself or your loved one into the future with a great new gadget.