While we often gravitate towards the latest and greatest, sometimes older products that are still in market are worth getting, and can save you a few bucks.
Here are some examples of well-made and exceptionally functional products that aren't necessarily "new" by technology standards, but are still readily available in stores. Each would make a great gift for someone who just wants something reliable, and doesn't care about having the latest model, or the newest tech. Plus, they won't put too big a dent in your wallet.
Olympus Tough TG-5 Adventure Camera
This $480 camera has a 4X wide optical fast zoom 4.5-180mm 1:2.0-4.9 lens, and is built to last: it's waterproof to 15m, crushproof to 100 kgf, shockproof from 2.1 m, freezeproof to -10°C, and dustproof. Its impressive stats include extreme macro mode, 20 fps, RAW mode, Sensor Shift Image Stabilization, and GPS tracking of your trips which can later be attached with each photo you share. It grows with your needs when combined with the optional telephoto Tough lens TCON-T01 ($129.98), fisheye Tough lens FCON-T01 ($139.98), and ring light LG-1 ($35). It becomes the equivalent of a 13X zoom lens that will survive any photo adventure.
Philips Smokeless Indoor Grill
Anyone can be a grill master with the Philips Smokeless Indoor Grill ($328.98), which features infrared light as a heat source, and simple on, keep warm, and off switches. It's light and portable with a unique interior reflecting design that heats the thick aluminum cast grill, catching juices in a removable drip pan, with, you guessed it, no smoke and minimal smell. I cook pork chops, fish, sausages and thick steaks, averaging 7-8 minutes per side. The non-stick cooking surfaces are easy to clean or wipe, and the included cooking magazine is handy.
Atech Flash Technology Aluminum Cast USB Car Charger
This quality aluminum cast USB car charger has been in my car for more than a year with the included small handle attached. Does it still work? It still charges two phones quickly, and is easy to find at night in emergencies. Plus, it comes with a safety hammer handle that allows you to use it to break the car's glass window in case of emergencies. Thankfully, I haven't had to use that just yet! On sale from manufacturer, US$15.
Ventev Wireless Chargestand
This device ($67.95) has an adjustable back to fit for all phone sizes in vertical or horizontal mode. The super-fast 15W charger features two inductive wireless charging technologies in one: Qi and Fast Wireless Charging, making it compatible with most wireless charging-enabled mobile device, including the new iPhones. The charge puck lays flat without the stand if desired.
Philips Air Purifier Series 2000i
At $549, this purifier automatically and quietly monitors and purifies the air around you, providing real-time air quality feedback via its display and through a connected app. The app allows you to control the air purifier from anywhere you are as well as receive updated air quality notifications. For me, it helps to effectively reduce allergens, odors, outside smoke from forest fires, volatile organic compound emissions, and certain bacteria. It uses three large filters, including a true HEPA filter that removes 99.97% of allergens and pollutants, and an Active Carbon filter that reduces gases and odors from the air. I challenged it in against my bathroom fan after malodorous activity and it was twice as fast!
Linksys Dual-Band Velop Mesh Network
The affordable three-pack Linksys dual-band Velop mesh network is perfect for less challenging installations better left to its pricier tri-band sibling. Reduced to $249.99 till Christmas Eve, it covers every square meter of your home with fast and intelligent WiFi ensuring the fastest connection as you walk around. It features security features with advanced parental controls, network traffic monitoring, and web site blocking as well as ease of use with the Linksys app. It self-optimizes, organizes, heals and automatically updates and resolves conflicts like re-adjusting its coverage if one node fails or an additional node is added on. Available at most electronics stores including The Source and Apple stores.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro Fitness Band
Among fitness bands, the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro has the best tracking and smartphone connection features for its reduced $170 price. Great for the poolside or down to 50 metres in the ocean, this sleek fitness tracker features GPS and 24/7 continuous heart rate tracking, and a sharp colour screen. The Samsung Tizen OS provides a smooth user experience and lots of notifications will keep you company. Its secure wrist strap will keep it on your wrist through thick and thin. Best news? It works with both Android and iPhones.
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Electric Toothbrush
Philips Canada has six different electric toothbrush models online, but in my opinion, the best one is the top model Sonicare DiamondClean Smart, which is deeply discounted to $250. It comes loaded with three double sets of smart auto-recognized brushes and one tongue scrubber, ideal for sharing, a great 2-for-1 deal (you can purchase a Philips additional dual tongue scrubber pack on Amazon.ca for $13.) Using Bluetooth and its smart app, it visually guides you through proper brushing techniques with live feedback and goals. It includes a portable USB chargeable case, a thick scotch-like rinsing and charging glass, and a unique scrubbing pressure sensor warning light on the bottom of the handle, which is my favourite feature.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
It's not a new product, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 ($400) is still very much in-market, and remains the tablet to beat, in my eyes. It's thin and outrageously light, with a clean shape that feels good in the hand. The 2048x1536 QXGA OLED display is razor sharp, with near-perfect colour. Add Samsung's snap-on Book Cover, and the S2 is ready for travel. The newer Tab S3 is arguably superior in small ways (such as battery life), but the S2 remains the best value. It's processor is fast enough to run most anything you throw at it, and a microSD slot ensures you never run out of storage space. Users who enjoy the ‘classic' tablet experience will not be disappointed. (Contributed by Frank Lenk)
Moshi ionbank 5K Portable Charging Bank
I've yet to find a portable charging bank that can rival my several years old Moshi ionbank, both in design and function. The pocket-sized charger can deliver up to four charges of older model iPhones, but still does a fabulous job of recharging my new iPhone XR using its 5,000mAh battery. It has worked like a charm for years, accompanying me to trade shows like CES and keeping my device booted up for the entire day. Friends and family members who have borrowed it are floored by how quickly it can recharge their devices, too. What I love most about it, however, is that you slide open the front to reveal a built-in Lightning cable. And the USB charging cable to recharge the bank itself is neatly tucked inside the rectangular package. So I can just pop this into my backpack or purse, and leave my cables at home. You might have a hard time finding the exact one as mine, but a newer redesigned one sells for about US$100. (Contributed by Christine Persaud)
Dyson V6 Absolute Cordless Vacuum
Sure, the latest version of this cord-free stick vacuum is worlds ahead of the older model V6, able to run way longer per charge, offering advanced filtration and bin emptying. But the V6 is still a great option for quick clean-ups in the kitchen, to run a quick pass on the stairs, or to use the handheld portion in the car. It only runs for up to 20 minutes per charge, but that might just be enough for most. And it can be had for an unheard of price for a Dyson at about $300. (Contributed by Christine Persaud)
Want more gift ideas? Check out our other themed gift guides.
Steve Makris chases smart technology and can be followed on www.techuntangled.ca