Belkin LiveAction Remote for iOS Devices
You know Mom loves taking pictures with her iPhone, but sometimes she wants to be in them. This 3.5-inch Bluetooth device snaps apart into two pieces: a clicker with two buttons (one for remote controlling iPhone photos, and one for video) and a tiny kickstand for propping up the device (it fits on iPhones with cases on). Sync it with the phone, and then install Belkin's app. Mom can orchestrate group shots and self-portraits from thirty feet away.
Philips AS351 Docking Speaker for Android
Lest any of you accuse us of iPhone-centricness, here's an accessory for Android-toting moms. iPhone docks are a dime a dozen, but there aren't many Android-specific ones on the market (especially ones that sound good enough to tolerate). Now, we should be clear: hardware-wise, there isn't anything particularly Android-only about this dock: there's no proprietary docking connector, just a micro-USB connection socket for charging and a swiveling plastic scaffolding to accommodate the diversity of Android form-factors. The music is streamed to the speaker via Bluetooth and it does get fairly loud, while staying clear. Philips' DockStudio app for Android grants easy access to Internet radio stations. Compatible with Android 2.1 and higher.
Supertooth Crystal In-Car Speakerphone
Supertooth Crystal In-Car Speakerphone
There's no way you should be comfortable with your mom holding her cell phone to her ear while driving--even if it is still legal to do that where she lives. And there's no way your mom is comfortable with a Bluetooth headset smooshed into her ear. For those sometimes-necessary on-the-go calls, there's only one solution: a Bluetooth speakerphone. This one is one of the best-designed that we've seen, and the price is right. It weighs only 3.5 ounces, and neatly attaches to the driver-side sun visor with a half-inch profile. It comes in black, silver, blue, purple and white and should last about 20 hours of talk time between charges. Pairing couldn't be easier--if the Supertooth Crystal is on, and your phone's Bluetooth is on, the two should be automatically joined when they come within range of each other. This is also one of the cheapest speakerphones we've found that features multipoint--that's the ability to take calls from two phones at once, so if dad is in the car, calls to his phone can be answered on it, too.
Samsung WB150F Wi-Fi Camera
As efficient as smartphone cameras are, they just can't compare to a real camera--even a point-and-shoot. But point-and-shoots don't make sharing as quick and easy, right? Wrong. Samsung's Wi-Fi camera connects to your Wi-Fi hotspot and shuttles 14-megapixel, 18x optical zoom snapshots to Facebook, Photobucket, Picasa, Youtube (including 720p/30fps video), email, cloud backup services, or simply sends them directly to any PC, Android or iOS device. What's that, Mom? Your beautiful high-resolution images don't look as hip and trendy as your kid's social networked photos? Just apply one of Samsung's various Instagram/Hipstamatic-style filters and you'll be all set.
Kensington Virtuoso Signature Stylus and Pen
Everyone deserves to have a fancy pen in her life--you know, one you take care of, keep in your purse and use to sign important papers. But even better if that elegant pen serves another purpose, such has helping you blow off steam in the form of a game of Draw Something on your iPad. Kensington's stylus is more pen than stylus, but at the top it features a squishy bubble that's just perfect for tracing clean, crisp lines across a screen (and without leaving finger-print smudges). When its time to write with ink, mom needs only swivel the weight silver center and the ballpoint emerges.
HP Omni 27 All-In-One PC
Apple markets the iMac as a family-friendly living room machine, and it is. But it is pricey. HP's Omni all-in-one is just as pretty, costs at least $500 less, and has a 1920x1080 (1080p) 27-inch screen that can be mounted on a wall, or adjusted to the perfect tilted angle on the desktop. The steel stand is study but the edge-to-edge glass screen look is delicate. Mom can keep this machine off-limits on her desk, or share it with the whole family. Either way, there will be plenty of room for everyone's preferred activities. Ports include: 2 USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0, HDMI input, digital audio outpout, and a card reader. On HP's site the Omni 27 can be upgraded to include a Blu-ray player. Watching movies on this screen would not be a bad idea; the "Beats Audio" speakers hold up.
Neato XV-11 Robot Vacuum
This Robot vacuum is neither trendy (its name doesn't start with R and end with A), nor new (it launched nearly two years ago), but we felt compelled to talk about it because robot vacuums are now standard tech in many homes. This robot vacuum would be our pick for a mom interested in an automated housekeeper. The two main reasons we prefer it are because it is fast and has a very powerful suction system. But we also love the fact that it uses lasers to scan the room and then computes the most efficient route around the carpet and hardwood. Further, the Neato's shape bests the circular Roomba's for getting into hard to reach nooks and crannies.
Mophie Powerstand for iPad
Is Mom an iPad power user? Does she want to be? Then this is the stand to buy. It is more like a docking station that turns the iPad into an extra monitor or touch-screen PC. The Powerstand's greatest feat is its ability to rotate and tilt horizontally and vertically into a variety of positions. This flexibility makes it versatile for just about any task: watching video at a desk or on a counter-top, typing, reading, taking pictures, video chatting, playing games etc. All three generations of iPad are compatible with the Powerstand and can charge and sync directly through the dock connector cable embedded into the stand. A 6-foot USB cable is included, as well as a wall charger for use without a computer. It is pricey, but the Powerstand is the best-designed iPad docking station we've come across.
Audio-Technica Bloom and Dip Earphones
Design a pair of earphones in floral colors with petite ear tips and cutesy cases and you'll be accused of pandering and condescending to women. Audio-Technica: if you're listening--we don't care. We like these earphones anyway. Why? Because they're cheap and reliable. The fact that they come in a pleasing palette of gold, three shades of pink, purple, white and green is merely convenient. The sturdy and attractively designed cardboard carrying case is merely fun. The extra-small, small and medium-sized ear tips are merely thoughtful for the intended audience. But its the price that wows us. They can be found online for a good deal under $30, but they sound as satisfying as pairs that cost twice that price.
Belkin Chef Stand and Stylus for iPad
Bringing the iPad into the kitchen is a natural, if risky, fit. It is perfectly handy for recipe scanning and video-tutorial watching, but you just don't want to tough it with those greasy, doughy fingers. Belkin's stand lets you place the iPad on the counter top in horizontal or vertical position, and touch it with a stylus. There's nothing special about the stand or stylus except one thing: the materials. Its all made of the same non-slip rubbery stuff that many cooking utensils are also formed from. The tip of the stylus wakes up the iPad as well as a finger does, and the stylus fits into its own base stand that sits next to the main stand. The stand and stylus are washable (just dunk 'em in the sink).
Samsung ML2165W Black and White Laser Printer
This is not the family photo printer. Instead, we imagine this printer as a useful workhorse for the mom who runs a home office. She can print 21 pages per minute of black and white documents (maybe she runs a popular eBay or Etsy business and needs to print out dozens of invoices per day). Because the printer is only 13 inches long and 7 inches tall, it is ideal for a small workspace. It is also wireless, so it can receive print commands from any room in the house. We've not yet seen a wireless laser printer for this price.
Mophie Workbook for iPad
Many iPad cases use the Workbook's configuration: a folio case that turns into various stand shapes through the use of velcro to accommodate whichever viewing angle you prefer. But they don't all look like the Workbook, and for the money, the Workbook gives you the most fashion options. Ours showed up in white vinyl (though it comes in black, brown and gray, too) along with four stretchy straps in pink, purple, blue and gray (the other case colors come with different colored straps). These straps keep the folio case closed tightly, but mainly they're decorative. The Workbook fits iPad 2 and iPad 3rd-generation.
Geneva Model XS
The Geneva Model XS's square clam-shell case reminds me of my grandmother's retro antique travel alarm clock--in a really good way! The audiophile-quality Bluetooth speaker is permanently connected to the case, which means it is well-protected. The case serves as a kickstand to prop it up. While you can connect your phone or media player to the speaker via a standard audio jack, you can also listen to terrestrial radio (there's a telescoping antennae at the base of the speaker). A power cord comes with the Model XS, but it also holds a battery charge worth about five hours of music playback time. Take in the bathroom or the kitchen or out to the backyard while you garden. The XS comes in red, white, and black.