What to Know
- Consumer electronics brands often plan product launches in November for the holiday shopping season
- At an event in San Francisco, a gathering of tech companies pitched new holiday offerings to reporters
- Many products that were shown are either brand new or deeply discounted for the holiday season
For some people — you know who you are — the word "gifts" immediately evokes another G-word: "gadgets."
Say what you will about the socks and sweaters your relatives got you. But for some, a present just isn't a present unless it has Bluetooth and USB fast charging. Fortunately, those are standard features on just about everything shown off at Pepcom's Holiday Experience, a tech industry and media event held in San Francisco.
A smaller version of the product showcases held at CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) every year in Las Vegas, the San Francisco event let companies pay for the opportunity to set up their displays in a room full of reporters as hungry for stories as they were for the free hors d'oeuvres being passed around. As a result, this list isn't a comprehensive sampling of what's available this holiday season, but more of a starting point for those people on your list who are high-tech and hard to shop for. Some prices may differ from those listed because of holiday discount offers.
Sublue Underwater Scooter: $500
Imagine swimming without having to actually swim. That's what Sublue's underwater scooters deliver. Just grab onto the handlebars and hold down the accelerator buttons, as the floating device's two propellers pull you along through the water about twice as fast as most people can swim. Sublue says it's good for snorkeling, scuba diving and underwater photography. It even has a GoPro mount on the front.
Omigo Heated Bidet Toilet Seat: $400
Fitted on top of your existing toilet, the Omigo has a heated seat, and washes you with warm water on those cold winter mornings. A luxury toilet seat may feel like a strange present to put under the tree, but Omigo co-founder Thomas Lotrecchiano said it best:
"It is a gift that you can give to someone, and they will think of you, maybe more than once a day, for the rest of their lives."
Bowflex Connected Bike: $900
Indoor cycling is all the rage, and the latest craze is doing it remotely, using platforms like Peloton and Zwift. The Bowflex bike is bring-your-own everything: it works with whichever workout platform you want to use, by connecting via Bluetooth to the iPad you already own. Bowflex is owned by Nautilus, also the parent company of Schwinn, so while this is the first Bowflex-branded bike, it's not their first rodeo.
Square Panda iPad Phonics Game: $50 (on sale)
Who says only adults get to connect things to their iPads? Square Panda's iPad game comes with a pile of colorful, grabbable letters that kids can arrange in a tray and have the iPad sound them out. When they stumble upon a real word (in English or Spanish) the device will say the word and show a picture. The game on display was designed for use at home, but Square Panda also makes products for schools.
THX-Certified Laptops: Various Prices
You've seen the THX insignia on movie theaters, but now the brand is also endorsing laptop computers. While Apple users have enjoyed color-calibrated displays for years, Windows laptops can feel a bit like the Wild West when it comes to how colors appear on the screen. Now, there's a new sheriff in town, ensuring all the laptops bearing its name have been color-matched to show movies the way the artists intended them to be seen. Many also come with 3D audio you can enjoy with regular headphones.
Vuze XR Virtual Reality Camera: $300 (on sale)
HumanEyes, the company that sent the first 3D virtual reality camera to the International Space Station, has a new camera that easily slips into most pockets. The Vuze XR gives users a choice: shoot 360-degree images like numerous other cameras out there, or flip the camera's two lenses open so they're side-by-side, and shoot in "VR 180" — an ultra-sharp 3D image format developed by YouTube. The lifelike 3D stills and video are best enjoyed with a VR headset.
Chemion Bluetooth LED Glasses: $70
Raves, concerts and sporting events: That's where Chemion thinks you'll want to wear its LED glasses — a pair of wraparound shades that display scrolling messages and wild patterns across your face. The glasses are controlled wirelessly by a smartphone app, and powered by batteries tucked behind your ears. The LEDs are far enough apart that you'll barely notice them flashing and flickering on your face — but everyone else certainly will.