With social distancing and remote interactions forming the basis of our ‘new normal’ it might feel tough to stay connected to family and friends. Fortunately technology can help! There are all kinds of gadgets that can help you stay in touch easily.
Video screens with built-in Wi-Fi calling features are hugely popular. Facebook Portal is just one of the options out there along with Amazon’s Echo Show or Google Nest Home Hub. Facebook Portal has the advantage of having support for Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp built in, plus you can use the Alexa features for smart digital butlering and you can even use it to stay in the loop with your work colleagues.
The Echo Show is what could be called a budget version of the Facebook Portal. It comes in smaller sizes but it also substantially less than Portal.
When you aren’t using it, most of these devices can morph into photo displays, or even Netflix entertainment devices.
No one wants to listen to you talk to your grandmother, so why not be a good citizen and invest in a nice pair of headphones so you can keep at least one half of your phone or video calls private?
There are a host of amazing headphones out there at all price points and most have features for handsfree calling and will connect to a variety of smart devices.
I’ve had the chance to review a bunch of headphones lately and I’d say my top three are the Apple AirPods Pro (they work amazingly well with my iPhone and Macbook), the Google Pixel Buds 2 (so beautiful, and they sound great) and the Sennheiser Momentum 2 truly wireless (premium quality sound plus noise cancellation).
For active types, there’s no better gift than a smart watch or an activity tracker like a Fitbit, and Fitbit Sense is the company’s newest offering with more new health monitoring features. They make staying in touch fun since you can do things like issue fitness challenges to friends and family or follow their progress and offer encouragement.
If you or a distant loved on doesn’t have a Portal, or Echo show and lacks a computer with a built in camera, a webcam is a gift that will open up a whole new world of communication. Perfect for Zoom work calls too, a webcam can be easily set up on most laptops or desktop computers, making staying connected as easy as lights, camera, action. Logitech is probably the best known manufacturer with plenty of choice in different resolutions, but it’s also possibly to find really inexpensive options on Amazon.
The Lovebox bills itself as a ‘modern take on a classic love note’. This is a bit unique when compared to some other options. Lovebox is a physical wooden box with a moving heart on the front. You send the box to a loved one, and then you use the Lovebox app to place virtual messages on a tiny video screen inside it. When your message arrives, the heart on the front of the box spins, so your recipenet knows to open the box and view the message.
When buying gifts this season, it is essential to remind your family and friends to stay connected. One of the best ways to do that is to get them something that makes it easier for them to remain in touch.