We're back with the WiFi HiFi holiday gift guides! Each week, we'll release new themed gift guides, chocked-full of great tech gift ideas for different people on your list. This week, we're looking at great gifts for busy parents.
Epson FastFoto FF-680W Scanner
A great way for parents to digitize old photos in order to create online albums and/or make re-prints for photobooks and scrapbooking, this small device will make the process a breeze. It can scan one photo per second, including various sizes from postcard-sized to panoramas. Use the auto enhancement and colour restoration tools to improve the look of the photos and bring them into the 21st century. $800
Evenflo Gold Smart Infant Car Seat
For the high-tech new mom and dad, consider getting them this smart infant car seat, which uses SensorSafe connected technology that sends safety status information about the baby to a parent or caregiver smartphone via an app. Opt-in for the alerts you want, such as when the child in unbuckled from a stroller, if the temperature is too warm, or if the child has been sitting for too long. Each comes with a 100-day trial, lifetime warranty, and five finish options inspired by gemstones: onyx, moonstone, sapphire, garnet, and opal. For toddlers, there's also the Smart All-in-One Convertible Car Seat and Pivot Xpand Smart Modular Travel System. From US$220-US$500.
Arlo Ultra Security Camera System and SmartHub
Set up this system at home to keep tabs on older kids who are now being allowed to stay at home on their own for a few hours, including seeing when they arrive home (and receiving a notification) and who might come to the door while they are by themselves. Now with HomeKit capability, you can also control them from the Apple Home app and through Siri voice commands. Pair the camera with the SmartHub (VMB5000) to receive notifications on the Apple Home app when motion is detected. iOS users can also use Siri to quickly activate a HD livestream onto their iPhone or iPad hands-free. With HomeKit, set up automations to control other HomeKit-enabled smart home devices. For example, you can set up an automation to trigger HomeKit-enabled lights to turn on at certain times when motion is detected by an Arlo Ultra camera. Featuring advanced 4K HDR video quality with colour night vision, wire-free setup, a 180-degree diagonal field-of-view, an integrated spotlight, and two-way audio with advanced noise cancelation, Ultra starts at US$400 for the one-camera system. It includes a one-year subscription to Arlo Smart Premier, Arlo's AI and computer vision powered service that delivers 30-day rolling storage of cloud recordings and personalized detection of people, vehicles, packages, and more.
Tile Bluetooth Trackers
Great for keeping tabs on valuables, like your child's tablet, keys, backpack, camera, or other items, these trackers can be hooked onto a keychain or lanyard or, with the new Sticker, adhered to a pair of headphones, tablet case, or other valuable item. Use your phone to "ring" the device to discover its location or check the map in the app to find out where it is if it was left behind at school, for example, or a friend's house. The network of Tile users from around the world help pinpoint item locations, so as long as another Tile user is in the general area of the item with Bluetooth on, you'll able to see where it is and hopefully retrieve it. The new Slim, which you can easily slide into a compartment in your child's backpack or wallet, is $35, while the Stickers are $50 for two or $75 for four. There are also the Mate and Pro models with holes for clipping onto keychains or lanyards, and they sell for $30-$40. These make great stocking stuffers and can offer tremendous peace of mind for parents who might be worried about their kids losing their pricy tablets or wireless earbuds.
Instant Ace Nova Blender
This high-speed blender from the makers of the Instant Pot can be used to make everything from hot soups to dairy-milk alternatives, nut butters, stews, mains, sides, dips, spreads, sauces, and frozen treats. By using a concealed heating element to cook soups without having to puree them, you can decide how creamy or chunky you'd like your soup to be. It's a great appliance for parents who need to feed hungry kids or make their own homemade recipes due to severe allergies. About $150
Google Nest Mini Smart Speaker
This tiny smart speaker is a great gift for parents who can use it to play music in the home, answer queries, control other smart devices in the home, and more. But it has some great features for kids, too. For example, ask is to tell you a Frozen story and kids will be able to interact with it, choosing which character from the popular film franchise they want to hear from then sitting down with a fun story told by that character. It's also great for the kid's room as they can use one as an alarm clock, to play music, and more. And it comes in fun and cool colour options. $69
Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 10-in-1 Multicooker
If you've been on the fence about getting one of these multicookers, know that they are wonderful for busy parents who need to make quick and delicious home-cooked meals for kids. Balancing a busy work schedule plus extracurricular activities like hockey and soccer practice can leave little time to make dinner. You can literally dump ingredients inside, tend to other chores, like tidying up the kitchen or helping the kids with their homework, then serve dinner in under a half hour. The latest model is the Duo Evo Plus 10-in-1 that comes with a new inner pot that is cookware-grade and stovetop-friendly with easy grip handles and adds new features like ferment and pasteurize. It has an easier-to-read bright displays with 48 presets that can remember custom settings, a cooking process indicator, and a new lid that automatically sets to seal and features QuickCool technology. You can also use one to experiment with new recipes with the kids on the weekends, baking everything from cakes to making your own homemade yogurt for school lunches and quick and nutritious after-school snacks.
If you're looking for a new streaming TV subscription service, Disney+ is a great option for parents with young kids. You can stream thousands of Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies and TV series, including original titles as well as classics. And there are original titles like The Mandalorian that Star Wars fans will enjoy, along with High School Musical The Series, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, and Encore! $9/mo.
Scosche FlyTunes Wireless Audio Transmitter
This tiny device is great for parents with two children who travel often by car, plane, or other type of transportation. Using it, kids with two pairs of wireless headphones can connect to the same audio source, like a laptop, tablet, or seatback entertainment system, and listen together. It works using a simple single- or dual-pairing process, while two folding prongs plug into a single- or dual-output so it works with any model of aircraft. Get up to eight hours of use per charge and recharge it with AirPods in the Scosche Charge case (sold separately, US$30). I tried them with a friend on a flight this summer and they worked flawlessly. Keep the little instruction card in the convenient carrying case to remind you of the order and button press sequences to pair if you tend to be forgetful! Black or white, $50.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet
With a 10" display and 32GB of storage (expandable via microSD card) this tablet offers up to 12 hours of battery life. Parents will especially love the Amazon FreeTime Unlimited content subscription service, which provides access to premium books, educational apps, videos, and games in English and French, all curated for kids. Download content for viewing offline to keep kids entertained in the car, plane, or wherever Wi-Fi isn't available. Parental controls, managed through the Parent Dashboard on any web browser, let you hide entertainment until daily educational goals are met, set limits, and block social media, in-app purchases, and ads. Bedtime mode turns FreeTime off until a set wake-up time. The 10" version is $260 (7" and 8" models are also available), each with a blue or pink kid-proof case. FreeTime is free for the first year, then $4/mo. for Prime members and $6/mo. for others.
TP-Link Archer AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router
Families with kids need the fastest Internet speeds possible to keep up with the household demands, whether it's streaming video on several TVs and other devices at once, using smart home gadgets, surfing the Internet, and more. This router offers Wi-Fi 6 support, 8x8 MU-MIMO for efficient sharing of wireless bandwidth and is based on a new 1.8GHz quad-core CPU. Connectivity includes a 2.5Gbps WAN port, 8 gigabit Ethernet ports, and two USB ports, one Type A, and one Type C. $400
Panasonic Lumix G85 Mirrorless Camera
Yes, a smartphone is perfectly acceptable for taking snapshots or even these days, great portraits of the kids. But if you want more manual control over the experience, and photos you could confidently print, frame, and put on display in your home, a good dedicated cameras is still the way to go. This one has a 20.3MP sensor and Venus Engine, and an optimum gradation setting to provide a wide dynamic range for smoother gradation. A tuned three-dimensional colour control detects hue, saturation, and brightness to apply optimal control according to the value of each factor; and a Tuned Multi Process NR boasts high noise identification accuracy and preserves details even after the noise reduction process. The Digital Live MOS Sensor and Venus Engine achieve clear image rendering with minimum noise even in low-lit situations and at a maximum ISO 25600. Additional features include a 5-axis Dual Image Stabilizer (I.S.); Contrast AF System features Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology; new buttons for adjusting exposure, ISO, and white balance; large Live View Finder (LVF); 3" LCD rear monitor; and 4K video recording. It's rugged so you can take it anywhere, including on vacation. And with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, you can still instantly transfer images to your smartphone or computer for sharing via social media and other online channels. $1,800
CarSeat CoPilot Automatic Alert System
It's a sad reality, but these past few years, we have seen more babies left in cars than we'd like to admit as a society. While any new parent likes to think that would never, ever happen to them, there's nothing wrong with taking an extra step to make absolute sure it doesn't. For any frazzled, stressed, and sometimes paranoid new parent, this alert system might be an appreciated gift (as long as they don't consider it to be insulting, so choose your gift recipient wisely!) So what is it? It's a seat belt clip sensor that connects to the straps on an infant car seat. If you leave the car with the key fob and go more than 10 feet away without the belt being undone, an alarm will sound. US$49.95