Great gifts for the holidays
Looking for the products I demonstrated on TV or radio? Here are they are, with links to my longer reviews and where you can buy them on-line. This article was updated on November 21, 2017. Prices stated were those found on Amazon, unless stated otherwise, and may reflect substantial Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts which may not be in effect when you read this.
Nintendo Switch ($299) will be in stock for the holidays, unlike last year when it was in short supply. There are more games available now, too, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.
Robots are huge this holiday: Cozmo by Anki is a personality-packing bot that plays games, and so much more. Kids learn to visually program Cozmo on their cell phone making him a fun and super smart gift! Read more on JamesGames, here, or purchase it on Amazon.
Osmo Coding Jam ($59.99) is an expansion pack for use with Osmo and your iPad. Unlike last year's creativity set for Osmo, this one had less magic and more "noise". Osmo's other big set this year Osmo MindRacers, ($59.99) ties in with the Hot Wheels franchise in a fast paced virtual racing game. Read the review here.
Kibo 14 Kit from Kinderlabs ($359) is novel because of its "no-tablet-or-computer-needed" approach. You assemble the blocks into programs and then scan their bar-codes into the robot. Read my review here.
Sphero Mini (from $49.99 at Sphero.com, but many retailers are raising the price above list) is a small robot that you can drive like an RC vehicle or rudimentarily program. Read the full review here.
Kamigami Robot Kits (from $49.99) are built using parts you punch out from plastic sheets and assemble using plastic rivets. You can program the robots or drive them like an RC vehicle. Read the full review here.
Lego Boost ($159.99) combines programming and lego construction for kids 7 to 12.
Pai's Circuit Conductor ($49.99 on the company's website) is an electronic set aimed at kids 4 & up (but probably better for kids 7 & up) that mixes magnets and augmented reality. Kids construct circuits from magnetic components as directed by an app, and then view the way electricity flows through them via augmented reality on their tablet's screen. Read the full review here.
Dough Universe from Tech Will Save Us, mixes the magic of science with the creativity of sculpting. Kids build electronic creations out of dough, learning to add sound, motion, and light from the beautifully animated storybook. Read more on JamesGames, here, or purchase it on the Tech Will Save Us website. Read the full review here.
LeapFrog Epic ($95) is a tablet designed for kids from the ground up. Beyond the built-in apps, the 7" tablet comes with a three month subcription to LeapFrog's on-line virtual world.
From the movie theater directly to your living room, Anki OverDrive: Fast and Furious Edition is the 21st century’s answer to slot cars. Play against or alongside the Dom and the rest of the crew. Each AI controlled car has its own personality and improves the more you win! Read more on JamesGames, here, or purchase it on Amazon.
While it may seem that video games are all violent, there are notable exceptions. Zoo Tycoon for Xbox One ($24.99) is a complete refresh of the original game. The graphics have been completely redone, and now you can share the zoo you design on the cloud. Also, if you have a Kinect, this title supports it, allowing you to use your voice and movement to interact with the animals. On the Xbox One or new Xbox One X look at Forza Motorsport 7 (from $50 & up), the fastest, most detailed racing game of the year. Even better, you can play it on Windows 10 machines, too! Disneyland Adventures ($29.96) lets kids explore the theme park and play on 18 iconic rides!
Dr. Panda Plus Home Designer ($39.99) Kids draw on the coloring book style cards with the included dry-erase markers and then scan their creations into the app.
The Curiscope Vituali-tee T-Shirt ($29.99) brings the insides of the human body into view using Augmented Reality on a cell phone. The same artists created a number of images to view in Virtual Reality from DK ($13.68). The book also comes with a cardboard viewer to hold your smartphone as you view the images, plus lots of info on what goes into VR and how it can be used.
Oculus Rift has dropped its entry price to a $399 bundle for the holidays. The HTC Vive which lets you move while you play is now down to $599, but look for holiday special bundles and specials. Sony's PlayStation VR Skyrim ($349) bundle comes with the great game and everything you need to enter VR, exccept the Playstation Pro, itself. Finally, a number of companies have partnered with Microsoft's new Mixed Reality platform.
Vtech Star Wars First Order StormTrooper Watch ($50) has features like a camera, that even the Apple Watch doesn't have!
Star Wars R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid by Sphero ($129.99) will be a hit with Star Wars fans, particularly because of its attention to detail and app. But, there is something a bit off about it. Shouldn't a droid this expensive have a working antenna and probe? Also, in its semi-autonomous mode it had trouble negotiating our test rooms, tending to unceremoniously smashing about in a very un-R2D2 like manner. Read our full review here. Instead, look at the....
Max Traxxx Max Flex RC ($39.99) comes with only one car, but the tech is pretty amazing! The car leaves light tracks as it races round and round the flexible track. See the video here to see the effect and read the review here.
With the SanDisk iXpand Base, back up your iPhone’s pictures, videos and contacts while your phone charges via lightning port. Available starting at 49.99 it takes the worry and hassle out of the holidays. Read more on JamesGames, here, or purchase it on Amazon.
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Editiors Note on Sponsorship: All products were provided by the manufacturers for consideration, some of whom also sponsored my appearances on air this year. All opinions on the site and on-air are soley mine; sponsors have no editorial control.