2015 Holiday Gift Guide: For the Home

Gifts like these might not be the most romantic if you’re buying for your wife or girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find cool stuff that will put a smile on their face. Products for the home can be just as desirable if you focus on items with great design or that make someone’s life a lot easier, and if you stick to those simple guidelines, you’ll make whoever is on the receiving end very happy.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

iDevices Thermostat & Switch

Transforming your house into a smart home has never been easier with these new products from iDevices, which work in conjunction with the free iDevices Connected app to allow users to control, monitor and schedule their thermostat and other electronics from any compatible iOS device. While Nest may own a large share of the market with its smart thermostat, the iDevices version is a great alternative for nearly half the price. It features a sleek, minimalistic design and gives you the ability to change the temperature wherever you are, set schedules for different times and days of the week, and even create “Scenes” (like “Going to Bed”) that can be activated with Siri voice commands. The real game-changer, however, is the iDevices Switch, which controls any product (15 amps or less) that you would plug into a standard wall outlet and includes a customizable LED night light that can be turned on or off separately. Better yet, when paired with a Thermostat or multiple Switches in certain rooms or “Zones” (like upstairs or downstairs), it delivers the smart home experience that all those science fiction movies promised us. Just don’t expect it to make you breakfast as well. You can also find these devices at Lowe’s.

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Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 740HD Projector

The traditional moviegoing experience has gotten so bad that more and more people have decided to stay away from theaters altogether by creating one of their own inside their homes, and with the PowerLite Home Cinema 740HD projector from Epson, it couldn’t be any easier. In addition to featuring widescreen, high-definition 720p resolution, the Home Cinema 740HD offers up to 15,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio for rich details in dark scenes and boasts three times brighter colors than leading competitors thanks to its three-chip LCD technology. This results in a viewing experience that’s much closer to a typical theater chain, even if it can’t replicate it exactly. The projector itself is fairly lightweight and compact, so you can take it to your friend’s house or stage a movie night in your backyard, and along with HDMI connectivity for Blu-ray/DVD players and gaming consoles, there’s a USB port that can be used for the latest plug-and-play streaming sticks from Amazon and Roku, as well as a built-in speaker. For home theater junkies looking to upgrade their current setup, the Home Cinema 740HD is a great alternative to buying one of those massive TVs, and at a fraction of the price.

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2015 Back to School Gift Guide

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The new school year will be starting soon (and it likely already has for some people), which means that it’s time to get those students in your life the tools they’ll need in order to survive the next nine months. No, we’re not talking about boring stuff like pencils and notebooks, but rather the cool gadgets and gear that help make campus life a little more enjoyable. Here are some great gift ideas that just about any student can use.

SOL REPUBLIC Shadow Wireless Headphones

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One of the hottest trends on the headphones market these days is those futuristic looking Bluetooth headsets that people wear around their necks. But while they definitely take a little getting used to compared to more traditional headphones, it’s easy to see what makes them so appealing to some consumers. SOL REPUBLIC recently released its own version of a wireless, around-the-neck headset with the Shadow, and not only is it incredibly lightweight and flexible, but it rests so comfortably on your neck that you sometimes forget it’s even there. In addition to boasting CD-quality audio that’s good enough for the average user, the Shadow features a built-in microphone and three-button remote, as well as a fairly decent battery with up to 8 hours of playback and a week of standby time. It can also control two devices (like your phone and laptop) at the same time, and is both water and sweat resistant, so you can wear it just about everywhere you go without worrying about damage. Although it would have been nice if the headset included retractable earbuds like some of its competitors, it’s not a deal breaker, especially when there’s so much other stuff to love about the Shadow.

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2015 Father’s Day Gift Guide: Gear

Guys are pretty easy to shop for. Most of the time, you can just get stuff you’d buy for yourself. Here’s a grab bag of Father’s Day gift ideas geared towards looking good and improving your daily life. And for more great suggestions, be sure to check out the other categories in our annual gift guide.

The “Cleveland” Shoe from Lebron James

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Lebron James has taken the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, and now, this new color scheme for his Lebron 12 men’s basketball shoe from Nike is flying off the shelves, especially in areas rooting for James’ hometown team. If your dad still appreciates a cool pair of sneakers and likes to play hoops, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cooler gift than these vibrant kicks. Of course, there are other color choices as well, but this pair featuring the Cavs colors may be your best bet… unless he’s a Bulls or Warriors fan!

Shinola Watches

While everyone else may be talking about a new watch from Apple, there are incredible watches made right here in America that you should be checking out as well. The Runwell model (pictured below) is a classic, hand-assembled watch made in Detroit by Shinola. If dad appreciates stuff made in America, then this could be a great gift idea. Features of the watch include a sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova printed dial details, a solid stainless steel case with screw down crown, three hands and date indicator driven by the Detroit-built Argonite 1069 high-accuracy quartz movement, and a laser-etched case and etched lightning bolt on the buckle. Anyone who values attention to detail and beautiful styling will love these watches. Browse the Shinola site for watches, and then check out their leather goods as well, along with the bicycles!

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Shinola Watches – Made in Detroit

Shinola Blue Watch

While everyone else may be talking about a new watch from Apple, there are incredible watches made right here in American that you should be checking out as well.

The Runwell pictured above is a classic, hand-assembled watch made in Detroit by Shinola. Features of the watch include:

– A sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova printed dial details
– A solid stainless steel case with screw down crown
– Three hands and date indicator driven by the Detroit-built Argonite 1069 high-accuracy quartz movement
– Laser-etched case and etched lightning bolt on the buckle

If you like attention to detail and beautiful styling, you’re going to love these watches. Browse the Shinola site for watches, and then check out their leather goods as well, along with the bicycles!

It’s great to see companies like Shinola bring manufacturing and quality back to the domestic market. The products aren’t cheap, but you’re still getting excellent value for your money.

  

2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Guy Stuff

Guys are pretty easy to shop for. Most of the time, you can just get stuff you’d buy for yourself. Yet sometimes, when you’re shopping for your dad, brother or any other guy on your shopping list, you have to cast a wider net, because tastes obviously vary. Still, at least you can pick up some stuff for yourself while you’re browsing.

Click the links to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean & AirFloss

Ask your dentist about the best way to keep your teeth clean and they’ll probably recommend an electronic toothbrush. Though there’s an intimidating selection of brands and models to choose from, we’ve been using the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean for just over three months now and couldn’t be happier with the results. Powered by Sonic technology that delivers 31,000 brush strokes a minute, the DiamondClean uses gentle sweeping motions that drive fluids deep into the tight spaces between your teeth and along your gum line, removing plague in hard-to-reach areas and helping to prevent gum recession. Not every mouth was created equal, so the DiamondClean offers five unique modes – Clean, White, Polish, Gum Care and Sensitive – for a custom cleaning that will meet your specific needs, while the included Quadpacer beeps every 30 seconds to ensure you thoroughly brush all four quadrants. If the toothbrush itself wasn’t cool enough, it also comes with a charging glass that can be used for rinsing your mouth when removed from the base, as well as an ultra-sleek travel case that doubles as a charger when plugged into your laptop’s USB port or a wall outlet.

For those looking to add another line of defense to their cleaning regiment, the Philips Sonicare AirFloss helps remove stubborn plague buildup with a quick burst of air and micro-water droplets. It only requires a teaspoon of water (or mouthwash, if you feel so inclined) to clean an entire mouth, and has been proven to be safe and gentle on teeth and gums. But while its name might suggest otherwise, the AirFloss shouldn’t be used as an alternative to regular flossing, so don’t even bother trying unless you want a lecture from the dentist at your next appointment.

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The Wellie Boot

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These are great work boots from The Original Muck Boot Company that are also stylish enough to use as casual boots for everyday use or going out. This is a functional work boot that also looks stylish as well. The key feature is standing comfort on hard surfaces with the boot’s shock absorbing outsole and Gel-Core sub-sole that adds cushioning. The Wellie is a mid-height full grain leather pull-on boot that is 100% waterproof and features breathable Hydroguard and Airmesh lining to displace moisture effectively to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They’re also available with a composite toe for increased workplace safety. The Wellie comes in brown, black and wheat featuring impressive Crazy Horse full grain leather, making the Wellie a boot you can wear out with jeans or casual pants as well.

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