Say goodbye to holiday gadget gifts

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… well except for the whole “finding meaningful gifts thing.” It is a sad truth that some people in our lives who would seem to be the easiest people in the world to buy gifts for, occasionally cause panic attacks over what to buy them. All of the classic easy gifts of the 90s and 2000s are dead. CDs have been replaced with mp3s, DVDs and Blu-rays are being overtaken by streaming and digital media, and while some may argue, we’ve finally come to the point where physical books have been topped by e-books. The funny thing is the object our technological affection is the cause of our gifting dilemma, the smartphone.

Take a quick moment to take stock of all the things your phone offers. It is a camera, a communication device, a pedometer, a computer, a gaming system, a stereo, a creative software suite, and a bottomless void of music, movies, and books. Gifting any of these common items has officially become redundant, and even though gift cards are easy and valuable they deliver the sentiment of a raw turkey.

So what can you give that hasn’t become pointless thanks to our iPhones and Androids? Well if the last couple holiday seasons have proven anything, there are a couple gifts ideas you can discount immediately. First off, save your money and do not gift any GoPros. Action cameras seem like the perfect gift for amateur filmmakers or outdoors enthusiasts, but they come with some major downsides. On the technical end GoPro style cameras deliver hours of media that require cumbersome editing and storage. Of course GoPros are waterproof and have equipment built out to fit a specific purpose, but for nearly the same price many smartphones are waterproof as well, with speciality mounts available as well, and mobile devices allow for immediate image review, editing, and sharing.

Next up, do not buy a FitiBit, or for that matter any tracking tool. Unless you’re a die-hard athlete or diabetic you have no need to track your heartbeat, and the battery and connectivity issues of these wearable devices make them a headache to maintain and use. Once again your smartphone delivers the most important data users want from these tools; footsteps. The attenuator on your phone acts in the exact same manner as any fitness tracker, and if you really must have a heartrate monitor the most recent generation of devices can use your phone’s camera covered by your finger to detect your beats per minute. FitBits, JawBones, and Garmon trackers are the kind of gifts you think are gonna make you the cool spouse, dad, or aunt, but within a week of use they will become obsolete.

So what does make for a good tech gift? Well seeing as we’re living in a digital world, why not embrace it. Whereas 10 years ago you might have bought someone a box set of DVDs, why not buy someone a couple months subscription to a niche streaming service. Released just this Fall from Turner Classic Movies and Criterion, FilmStruck is an $11 a month service that will set any cinema fan’s heart on fire. Have a comedy fan in your house, do the same thing with Seeso at only $4 a month or the whole year for just under $50 dollars. Digital and delivery services are everywhere with delivery services of boutique clothes, suits, comicbook toys, boardgames, and more available.

2016 is officially the year the gadget gift dies. Short of a new phone, tablet, laptop, or expensive speciality device, nothing will be unique as a subscription to an online service. It may feel like a gift card, but digital subscriptions are closer to a fruit-of-the-month club except the gift wont be immediately thrown out.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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