My Favorite Tech Toys of 2016 So Far

As we continue moving through the holiday season, here’s a wrap-up of some of my favorite things we got to play with this year. In no particular order, these are my tech toy pics of 2016.

Nvidia Shield 4K Pro (Nvidia.comMarketed as the best Android TV box, Shield 4K is definitely impressive. The TV remote is every bit as effective as a Fire Stick (and more so because Shield TV can fit much more than a Kodi server on it), and Shield controllers are among the best wireless controllers on the market.

That’s just the accessories.

The 4K set box itself is the premiere Android device, allowing you to stream games from your computer, Nvidia’s servers (with a subscription fee and/or freemium purchases), and other devices to your TV.

With Android’s ability to run emulators and roms for all your favorite consoles, Nvidia Shield 4K is better than a Nintendo Classic by any stretch of the imagination (and just as hard to get).

Star Wars Battle Drone (us.propelsw.com)

It’s a Star Wars Battle Drone. A drone shaped like a 74-Z speeder bike, T-65 X-Wing Starfighter, or TIE Advanced X1. And when you open the box, you’re welcomed to join the dark side.

Really nothing else needs to be said about this drool-worthy drone except that up to 24 pilots can battle with lasers and race up to 35 miles per hour with 0-30 acceleration in 3 seconds in these officially licensed collector’s toy-to-life marvels of AR.

Until I got this drone in the mail, I though Anki Overdrive (which is still, admittedly impressive) was the coolest RC/AR toy on the planet. It even beats the nanodrones put out by Spin Master. All hail our Disney overlords.

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Amazon Echo Dot Gen 2 (Amazon.com)

Home automation is a lot more fun to play with than I thought, and Amazon’s Echo Dot Gen 2 is a huge part of that. Using the power of my voice, and even presence, I’m able to automate every aspect of my house, from music to lighting and more.

Alexa has tons of skills, and she’s slowly learning my behaviors, thanks to an archive of my interactions stored on some Amazon cloud server giving scientists and algorithms an intimate look into the inner workings of my life while at home.

Still, despite my personal assistant actually being big brother, I’m in love with Alexa and will be forever more.

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iHeath Core (ihealthlabs.com)

There are a ton of fitness and sleep trackers out there, and it’s really the platform that matters more than the actual devices themselves. It also takes a lot more devices than you’d think to truly track yourself 24/7 and get an overview of your health.

But the older you get, the more important that data becomes, and it’s never been easier and more accessible for the average person to gather and analyze this data.

iHealth is one of my favorite platforms because they focus on making a lot of actual medical supplies and devices that companies like Fitbit don’t. With a Conservative government threatening Obamacare, we need all the medical help we can get, so stock up.

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Seagate Duet Drive (Amazon.com)

Personal and cloud storage are necessary to survive these days, especially with so many IoT devices forming M2M connections. Setting everything back up in a new house when you move could be impossible if you don’t know what you’re doing. And it can be a pain moving without access to movies and music to keep the younger ones busy.

Seagate’s Duet Drive is a 1TB portable hard drive that also backs up to the Amazon cloud, giving you one year of Amazon’s unlimited storage plan for free (and, of course, the option to renew at normal rates after).

It’s a genius drive that’s small, light, and performs well under regular usage. This is definitely a hard drive to get for those who love portable storage.

APC Network Battery Backup + Mobile Power Pack (Amazon.com)

Speaking of mobile power, it can be difficult keeping all this tech charged, both at home and one the go, so I’m a big fan of battery backups. This APC Battery backup (part no BGE50ML) is one of my favorite for a couple reasons.

First, you have rotating AC outlets on the back, which is extremely helpful when different 12V adapters fit different ways. Cable management is a big thing for me, and Schneider Electric knows what they’re doing on that end.

Of course, it’s not just 2 hours of battery backup you get at home, you can also remove the 11400 mAh lithium ion battery for a powerful backup battery bank while on the go. The combination of the two is simply genius.

 

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Dremel 3D40 Idea Builder (Dremel3D.com)

Now I did get a 3D printer in from Dremel for a review, and had a couple issues with it, so that project has been held off until after CES. However, I can’t hold these issues against Dremel as something may have been damaged in shipping, despite their best efforts. It is the holidays.

However, I did get some great photos out of it and I do have a return label to get it exchanged. Of course the reason I’m including it on this list is because Dremel is giving us this 3D printer to give away, which we’ll be doing in the first quarter of 2017.

Keep an eye out as we discuss more details on how to get your hands on one of the premiere, most high-tech 3D printers on the market.

Ravpower FileHub Plus (Amazon.com)

Another great device to have while traveling, Ravpower’s FileHub Plus is a handy tool for setting up a personal network between devices, sharing an internet connection, and transferring files, which I’m constantly doing.

Moving photos and videos between different devices can get difficult, and I often wonder what type of cancers I’m picking up from all this technology. Ravpower helps me keep everything (including the Duet cloud drive) safe.

Personal clouds are at the heart of IoT innovation, and Ravpower’s FileHub Plus is a key to creating that secure link that allows you to move around town securely and safely.

 

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Maximus Security Camera (Amazon.com)

I’ve gone through a ton of security cameras the past few months, and I really like the outdoor ones that are hidden in lights. Some were hidden in light bulbs, but they couldn’t get a good angle on anything worthwhile.

The Maximums security camera is sturdy, high-definition, and allows real-time monitoring, along with cloud storage, night vision, motion detection, two-way intercom, and more.

If you’re looking to secure your property, you can’t go wrong with the $150 price point on Amazon Prime for a light fixture and camera.

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Sylvania/Osram Lightify (Osram.com)

I’ve got all the smart lights at this point, and Osram Lightify is my favorite for a couple of reasons. I’ve found that the actual hues and tones available in each set didn’t really match what was advertised, but Lightify bulbs were impressive.

I’ll have some video posted comparing them all for you soon, and IFTTT and smart hub integration is definitely nice. Philips Hue is my second favorite set, but the oversized hub can’t compete with this tiny one from Osram.

The indoor and outdoor setups you can make with accent lighting, holiday decorations, and more, make smart lighting fun to play with. It’s also great for security and energy savings, so I’d highly recommend starting your smart home integration with lights.

 

Versability

Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

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