Every year we resolve to move more, read some beloved books, listen to some invigorating music or scintillating podcasts, and spend some time relaxing.
But first come the holidays and the stress of finding exactly the right presents for family and friends. If they’re into technology — or should be — you can help them with their January declarations to do better, and you don’t have to be a “digital native” to pick some great gifts that they'll use over and over.
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Yes, some of the most long-lasting devices can be expensive. But at least one tech find below that can help on those long winter nights is 20 bucks. And another might cost you less than $30 if you move quickly.
You often can find decent deals in the month before Thanksgiving and during Cyber Monday sales four days after Thanksgiving. Plus, devices that debuted last year can be a great way to introduce someone less comfortable with technology to something more affordable.
More smartwatch features promote fitness
You may think a smartwatch is something no one really needs — until you try one. Then you might want to share the experience with others on your gift list.
Not only do smartwatches calculate activity and motivate a wearer to get moving, but they also can analyze sleep, push notifications such as text messages to your wrist and often stream music to wireless earbuds when out for a walk. Bands, available from the manufacturer or other online retailers, are easy to swap out to match an ensemble or replace if one gets damaged.
For Apple aficionados, the Apple Watch SE, the least expensive of Apple’s current crop of smartwatches, is both fashionable and functional. It has a huge collection of watch faces and band colors to match your ensemble. Apple Pay allows you to wave your wrist at the checkout counter to buy something, Apple Maps can help you find your parked car, and Siri lets you use your voice to control your smart home. New to this year’s model is crash detection, which can determine if you’ve been in a car accident and call 911 and your emergency contacts, and share your location info.
Battery life: 14 to 18 hours
Price: from $249
For Android phone owners, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 is also a water-resistant smartwatch that features advanced sleep coaching, a sapphire crystal face for durability, and a Samsung body analyzer that can track body composition based on weight, body fat, body mass index (BMI) and skeletal muscle.
Battery life: 24 to 50 hours
Price: from $280
A less expensive alternative. Google’s Fitbit Luxe is a stylish, slim fitness tracker — not a smartwatch — that doubles as jewelry. It will show the time and can track your activity and health, including detecting an irregular heart rhythm, but won’t handle contactless Fitbit Pay transactions or making calls from your wrist. An Android or Apple smartphone can connect through the Fitbit mobile app for push notifications, but because of the Fitbit’s screen size, you’ll probably feel more comfortable reading the data that the fitness tracker collects from your smartphone app.
Battery life: up to five days
Price: from $130
Bookworms can build the library of their dreams
If curling up with a great book is a favorite pastime, a couple of new e-readers and tablets can supersize the experience.
Budget buy. The 2022 Kindle, Amazon’s 11th generation of these e-readers, is the lightest and most compact so far. Its 6-inch display, measured on the diagonal, has a high-resolution 300 pixels per inch and is anti-glare for extra clarity. An adjustable front light lets you read when a room is too dark for a conventional book. Its 16 gigabytes (GB) of storage can hold thousands of books without anyone having to build more bookshelves.