Category: Technology

2015 Holiday Gadget Guide


In anticipation of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the busiest shopping month of the year, I’m back with Boston Financial’s annual gadget guide. This year I have some truly unique new finds to share with you. Whether you’re starting your holiday shopping list, or perhaps your own wish list, you’re sure to find something for everyone!

Keurig Kold – $369 –

The ever-innovative Keurig has done it again, this time putting SodaStream on notice with Kold. Kold has the ability to “brew” ice cold carbonated beverages at the touch of the button. It uses self-contained “pods” complete with carbonation beads and soda syrup to give you the freshest soda you’ve had (but at a stiff price of about $1.25 for an 8 oz pour.) I can almost taste an ice cold Coke now, brewed right at my desk.

Amazon Dash Button – $4.99/button
When it’s time to reorder laundry detergent, paper towels, or other household necessities, what could be easier than pressing a small wi-fi connected “button” in your pantry that will automagically place the order with Order your button, connect it to wi-fi, set up your ordering preferences, and you are set to go. The ultimate in convenience (and laziness) with a “dash” of cool tech.

Parrot Pot – $59 –
For those black thumbs out there, fear no more. The Parrot Pot is a great looking planter for your home that stores up to 2.5L of water within a hidden reservoir. Using your phone, the Parrot Pot app, and a Bluetooth connection, you can “tell” the planter what type of plant is in the planter, where you live, where the plant is located, and other attributes. The pot then does the rest, sampling sunlight, soil moisture, and other factors to give your green friends water when they need it.

Bluesmart Luggage – $399 –

Billed as the world’s first smart and connected luggage, the Bluesmart takes carry-on to a whole new level. Sure, it can hold enough of your stuff for a 2-3 day trip and fit into the overhead bin. But wait, there’s more beneath that aluminum and nylon skin. With built in GPS and connectivity to global cellular networks, you will have a better handle (no pun intended) on where your bag is than most airlines. It also sports two USB charging ports (one inside, one outside) for charging on the go. Combine that with built in locks, and a nice laptop/tablet pocket and storage compartments, and you are ready to fly in style.

Surface Book – $1499 – $3199 –
Microsoft put Apple on notice and continued the evolution of their Surface lineup with the Surface Book. Laptop meets tablet with this fully featured tablettop (my new tech term for this new breed of hybrids). The Surface Book runs Windows 10 and can be used with or without its unique keyboard, featuring a cool bulldozer-like hinge system. A secret lies under the keyboard and trackpad. When docked to its keyboard the Surface Book tablet leverages additional battery (up to 12 hours of battery life) and graphics horsepower lurking under the keys. When undocked, it can be used as a tablet along with the Surface Pen. A unique docking mechanism keeps everything secure and it is as light as some heavy smartphones. Get a display dock, and this is your one device for tablet, laptop, and home PC goodness.

Intel Compute Stick – $100 –
Not much bigger than most USB flash drives, and perhaps belonging at some state fairs, this is literally a PC on a stick. Plug it into the HDMI port of your TV or monitor, and wirelessly connect your keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth and you have a PC that can run Windows 10, has 32GB of memory, and can do your basic web tasks. Don’t expect blistering performance or the ability to run a lot of things at once, but what do you expect for something you can throw in your pocket after you shut down.

Haiku Ceiling Fan – $999 –
How can a ceiling fan make the list? Well, this just isn’t a $99 Home Depot special. The Haiku fan packs a lot into a tidy and modern package. With an ultra-efficient motor that beats Energy Star requirements by 750%, SenseMe technology that can sense when you come into and leave a room, temperature settings to automatically increase or decrease fan speed, connections to your Nest thermostat, and way too many other features to list, this may be the most “invisible” advanced device in your home. And yes, the company that makes it is actually called Big Ass Fans.

Tesla Model S P90D with AutoPilot – $100,000 –
A car with no equal. Let’s just say that me being able to “navigate” a Chicago highway for five miles, traveling at 65 miles per hour without my hands on the steering wheel or my feet on the pedals were both awe inspiring and nerve wracking at the same time. That combined with the eerie silence of dual electric motors going from zero to 60mph in under 3 seconds could make this my next vehicle. If only Terry Metzger or Mike Rizzo would grant my wish for a “company car.” Read my in-depth write-up here to see how the website, in-store, and test drive experience all come together.

Smartphones with Unique Features to Consider:

Everyone has heard about the latest from Apple and Samsung and with each release these phones typically add a faster processor, better camera, thinner and lighter form factor, and other subtle improvements. Being an equal opportunity gadget guy, I never lock myself into one tech ecosystem, so there are a few new smartphones that deserve mentions…

Microsoft Lumia 950XL with Display Dock and Continuum – $699 – With Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia, the launch of Windows 10, and some interesting new features, Microsoft may have something interesting cooking with the Lumia 950XL. With a 5.7” large screen, fast processor, Windows 10 on-board, higher resolution than Samsung and Apple, and syncing with your other windows devices through OneDrive, all is lining up well. But, it changes when you add in the new Microsoft Display Dock. With the dock and the new Continuum feature, you can run a full size monitor, keyboard and mouse and use the full suite of Microsoft apps (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) Your phone literally becomes your computer at your desk and apps scale to fit the screen. The Microsoft Lumia 950XL should be released by the time you read this.

Blackberry PRIV – $699 –
Yes, last year I wrote that the bells of death were ringing for what was once the enterprise device that everyone had. Well, they have put out what could be their final effort with the PRIV (think Privacy and Privilege.) If it doesn’t gain traction, Blackberry may shrivel up and the future may be grim. The PRIV is the first Blackberry to run a specialized version of Android with layers of security that Blackberry is known for. And for those keyboard lovers, there is the trademark Blackberry keyboard which slides out from behind the 5.4” touchscreen.

Droid Turbo 2 – $624 –
Why does this phone deserve a mention? It boasts fairly standard smartphone specs in terms of camera, screen size, memory, and other features. There are two things which claim to set the phone apart from others. The first is the claim of a shatterproof screen. Using a very unique process with multiple layers and coatings, the screen has a 4 year guarantee against shattering and cracking. It also claims to have an impressive 48-hour battery life under normal conditions. Two pretty nice features in an otherwise mundane phone.

See anything that piques your interest? Are there any hot gadgets that you have found that aren’t on this list? Feel free to share your picks in the comments and happy holiday shopping!

Brian Melter

Brian Melter

Brian joined Boston Financial in 2012 as the Managing Director for the E-Business Solutions Division. Brian helps to advance web, mobile, social media, and emerging technology-based solutions to foster innovation, cost-effective growth, and enhance client and advisor engagement. Brian has more than 21 years of experience in mutual fund technology, operations, marketing, and strategy. Prior to joining Boston Financial, Brian was with Wells Fargo Funds Management, where he led the Operations, Retail Marketing, and E-Business teams. Before Wells Fargo Funds Management, Brian led E-Commerce strategy, design, development, and online marketing for Strong Financial Corporation.

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  1. John Hagenow

    Does this list come in printable form for an expedited holiday ‘wish list’? Fusion Recruiters may need the new Tesla “company car” as well.

    Excellent product reviews and insight – well done!


    Reply |