Sometimes rather than give a gift to each individual family member, it's better to get something that the entire family can enjoy. If you're getting something for your own family, or pooling funds to get something for mom and dad, grandparents, or a special family on your list, here are some tech ideas.
This versatile small kitchen appliance will be on many a families' wish list this season. There are a number of options available, ranging in price from $100-$200 or so. Look at a higher-end option like the Ultra 10-in-1 ($200), which will help busy families pressure cook dinners in a fraction of the time that it might usually take. They can be used to cook rice as well, make porridge or hard-boiled eggs in the morning, bake cakes, cook potatoes and vegetables, slow cook meats, and even experiment with homemade yogurt. The possibilities are endless, and the family will thank you! A standard family can make do with a 6-quart model. Grab an 8-quart for large families, or those who do a lot of big batch cooking; and a 3-quart for single individuals or couples.
GE Appliances Dishwasher
Know a family who's dishwasher is on the fritz? Check out GE Appliances' new plastic tub models with Dry Boost technology, which uses a dual-wattage heating element and smart algorithms that adjust the heat and time to operate in the drying "sweet spot" for greater efficiency and consistency, especially with items like stadium cups, plasticware, and sippy cups - perfect for the family with a new baby and/or toddlers. Depending on the model, the dishwasher may be vented out via natural convection airflow or incorporate a fan to enhance the drying process. New models will also include the option for WiFi Connect so you can access cycle status and alerts using the GE Kitchen app, or via voice using Alexa or Google Assistant. Pricing from MSRP US$449 to US$749, with stainless steel, black stainless steel, slate, and black slate finishes available to match various kitchen designs.
HP Tango Smart Home Printer
For a family who doesn't do a lot of printing, whether it's a young couple, or single Millennials living with roommates, this stylish and cute printer might fit the bill. It is fully app-based and voice activated, with cloud connectivity so you can send prints, or make scans and copies, from anywhere with Wi-Fi, using the HP Smart app (iOS and Android). Ink can be ordered directly from the app, or the Tango can order it automatically when you're running low with enrolment in HP Instant Ink, which also affords the ability to print photos for free from your smartphone. Soft materials offer an aesthetic accent, and also serve as a paper landing zone. A "guided lighting" LED illuminates the paper tray when it's printing or out of paper. $180; $240 for the X version that comes with a cover.
Pfister Stellen Faucet
For those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this handy faucer uses Reach technology, which lets water flow automatically so you don't have to worry about troubling the tap with dirty hands, and spreading harmful bacteria. Pre-set the ideal temperature, and SmartStop automatically turns off the water after three minutes if you've left it running. The pull-down faucet employs a sleek and contemporary look to fit into modern kitchens, and a handle-forward design that allows it to be installed in tight spaces. Pforever Seal advanced ceramic disc valve technology ensures there are no leaks, and the extra-long hose on the pull-out spout offers added convenience.
Unlike other smart home devices that need to be plugged in or use rechargeable or replaceable batteries, this doorbell is completely solar-powered, making it great for the energy-conscious homeowner. The wire-free device provides 1,080 HD videos and night vision through its 165-degree wide-angle lens, along with motion detection. Live stream footage through the mobile app, and make use of two-way talk capability. Weatherproof with an IP65 rating, it does not require any monthly fees, and comes with free cloud storage.
Eve Room Indoor Climate and Air Quality Monitor
Any family can benefit from getting a better understanding of the air quality in their home. This monitor, for Eve Systems (formerly Elgato) offers Apple HomeKit compatibility. Operate it wirelessly, using the power supply, or through its rechargeable battery that supplies power for six weeks, after which the unit switches to an energy-saving mode that limits measurements to temperature and humidity until the next full charge. Leveraging technology by Swiss sensor specialist Sensirion, the process determines the concentration of volatile organic components (VOC). Air quality, temperature, and humidity can be checked via the Eve app and Siri, or on the 1.54" E-Ink display. Four screen layouts display the most relevant room parameters; select each via capacitive touch controls on the front panel. US$99.95
iRobot Roomba i7 Robot Vacuum
Whether the family lives in a small condo or apartment, or large, multi-level home, a robot vacuum can be a huge timesaver - especially if they have lots of little kids who bring in lots of dirt, or pets. This vacuum remembers up to 10 different floor plans and room names and offers a customized clean. Direct it via voice using Alexa or Google Assistant, or use the iRobot Home app. When finished cleaning, it empties the dust bin, which holds 30 bins of dirt, into the Clean Base via the Automatic Dirt Disposal system, and docks onto the charger. Two Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes clean carpets and hard floors, and automatically adjust the height of the cleaning head so they can directly engage with the floor. Sensors recognize particularly dirty areas, like sand near a doorway, and prompt the robot to clean them more thoroughly. View Clean Map reports in the app. $1,250; i7 without Clean Base is $900; Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal on its own is $429; dirt disposal bags are $20 per pack of three.
Panasonic Lumix DCTS7 Digital Camera
The family might be interested in getting better snapshots than they would with their smartphones. And particularly for a family who's about to head out on a vacation, a waterproof digicam can be a welcome surprise. This one boasts a 20.4MP, 28mm wide-angle lens, 4.6x optical zoom lens, and rugged design for outdoor use, even in severe weather conditions, as well as under water. The high-durability body is waterproof up to 31 metres, shockproof up to two metres, freezeproof down to -10 degrees Celsius, and pressure-resistant to 220 lbs. A 0.2-inch 1,170K-dot equivalent LVF (Live View Finder) makes it easier to capture images even under strong sunlight or in backlighting. The 3" rear monitor boasts 1,040K-dot resolution, featuring an approximately 100% field-of-view. It can also record QFHD 4K video at 30p or 24p in MP4, and save clips as 8MP high-resolution photos. With Post Focus, shoot first and pick a focus point afterwards. Wi-Fi-enabled, it also includes special effects, iA (Intelligent Auto), and Torch Light so it can be used as a light via built-in LED. MSRP $580
There are a number of high-end TVs from the top manufacturers on our other themed gift guides. But if you're looking for something for a family, but on a tight budget, consider looking into one of the new TCL TVs, which are now officially available in Canada. They range in size from 32" up to 65", with models that support 4K resolution and HDR, and the highest end option of which also supports Dolby Vision and HDR 10 (though that one sells for a premium price point of $12,000. The smallest 32" model, ideal for a bedroom or small den, is under $200. They'll be especially appealing to families who have cut the cord, and use Roku, with built-in software for accessing the Roku menu for smart TV content.
Dyson Digital V10 Motor Cordless Vacuum
Every year, I am asked by at least one person about Dyson vacuums. Are they really worth the money? The answer is an absolute "yes." But they do require a hefty investment. It's a great opportunity for several members of a family to pool together money and grab a handy cordless vacuum for a busy family, like this one, which is both handy and smart. Pressure sensors know whether you are upstairs or downstairs, and even the altitude difference between the table and the floor, and use this information to make minute adjustments to deliver optimum performance. The "point and shoot" bin emptying mechanism comes in an up to 40% bigger bin capacity. Fourteen cyclones around the central axis enable the airflow inside each to travel at up to 120 miles per hour, efficiently separating microscopic dust from the air. A new filter sensor advises via an indicator light when it's time to wash the filter. Running for up to 60 minutes, it drives stiff nylon bristles deep into carpet pile to remove ground-in dirt and pet hair, and soft anti-static carbon fibre filaments remove fine dust from hard floors. $600
OK, so this might be more of a gag gift than anything else. But a family might appreciate trying this one. The little gadget attaches to virtually any standard toilet, and adds bidet functionality to it. Attach it to the side of the toilet bowl, and it will, as the site describes, "wash your bum with a refreshing stream of clean water after you poop." Installed in just 10 minutes, without the need to fidget with plumbing or connect to electricity, it offers pressure and angle control, and a self-cleaning nozzle. Fun aside, for a family who lives with a septic system where too much toilet paper can easily cause blockages, or with multiple family members, using this can not only help save on costly plumbing issues, but also toilet paper.
Bell Plume Whole-Home Wi-Fi Access Points
Help a family enhance their Wi-Fi signal throughout the home with these access points called pods that plug into electrical outlets and work with Bell's Home Hub 3000 modem to deliver a fully adaptive Wi-Fi service. The system learns how households use the Internet and continually optimizes the network to ensure all devices receive a strong signal and fast speeds, particularly during peak hours. Using the Android or iOS app, you can manage the home network remotely, including viewing the location of each pod, connected devices, bandwidth optimization, shared network access with guests, and parental controls. The mesh network solution is available for qualifying customers in Ontario and Québec, and soon Atlantic Canada and Manitoba, pods are $5/mo. for a four-pack and $2/mo. for singles. Bell.ca
Want more gift ideas? Check out our other themed gift guides.