Essential technology for the holiday season

It’s 2016, and technology is pervasive. No longer the exclusive realm of gadget geeks and computer nerds, technology is involved in many aspects of everyday life, from light bulbs to coffee makers, from the kitchen to the bathroom. Technology is all around us. This holiday season, why not put it to work for you? Whether you’re looking for gifts for your loved ones, or looking to treat yourself and make your own life easier, these tech items should be on your holiday list.

Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker - $39

You wouldn’t know it just by looking at it, but this weird plunger-cylinder brews one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. It’s quicker than pour-over, not messy like a French press, more versatile than an espresso machine, more consistent than a drip coffee maker, and less wasteful than a coffee pod machine. Its unique process and short brew time (30-90 seconds) takes out most of the harsh, bitter notes while maintaining a smooth, rich coffee flavour. And while the everyday Joe will appreciate how dead-simple the AeroPress can be, even the fussiest of coffee snobs who roast their own beans and measure out their coffee by the gram will appreciate the even extraction and low acidity of the coffee that comes out of this device.

Ultimate Ears Roll 2 - $129

Don’t let its size and shape fool you - his unconventional-looking portable Bluetooth speaker packs an incredible punch. Not only is it louder than speakers three times its size, but it also offers unbelievable sound quality. It also carries an IPX 7 waterproof rating, which means it can be fully submerged in up to 1m of water for up to 30 minutes. That, combined with a built-in marine-grade bungee cord, means you can hang it from your shower head, toss it in the snow, or attach it to a backpack even in the middle of a rainstorm. Then in the summer, you can bring it to the beach or the pool without worry. Battery life is good at approximately 9 hours of playback, but it does drain slowly even when it’s off, so make sure to charge it up before you plan on using it. The UE Roll 2 also comes in a variety of fun and funky colours to brighten your life on those dark winter days.

Philips Wake-Up Light (HF3520/60) - $179

Common sense will tell you that waking up to a gradual sunrise feels better than jolting upright to the sound of a blaring alarm clock, but we don’t get to choose when the sun rises. Or do we? The Philips Wake-Up Light simulates a natural sunrise over the course of 30 minutes, from soft red through to orange and finally a brilliant yellow light that fills your room. I’ve been using one and it’s changed my life, but you don’t have to take my word for it – this wake-up light is the only one clinically proven to wake you more naturally, leave you more energized, and improve your mood in the morning. It's pricey, but often goes on sale at and other retailers.

Panasonic Eneloop Batteries - $19 - $39

With the holidays approaching, you’re likely to have a lot of things that run on batteries, from remote controls to children’s toys. One of the worst feelings is grabbing a set of rechargeable batteries only to find that they’ve died from just sitting around. That’s where Eneloop batteries come in – they use special low self-discharge technology, meaning they can retain 85% of their charge after being stored for an entire year, and even 70% after three years! Compare that with other rechargeable batteries that go from 100% to dead in a few months (or even sooner), and you’ll see why Eneloops are the best you can get.

PRO TIP: Rumour has it that the AmazonBasics brand rechargeable batteries are just rebranded Eneloops (or they've licensed the technology), since they offer all the hallmarks of Eneloop batteries (low self-discharge, made in Japan). If you can’t find Eneloops on sale, these are a great alternative for a few bucks less.

Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker - $199

Until recently, “sous-vide” cooking was a technique that only professional chefs in commercial kitchens could use, due to the prohibitive cost of equipment – often in the thousands of dollars. Now you can get consistent restaurant-quality results at home with an immersion circulator like the Anova Precision Cooker, a large pot, and a couple of Ziploc bags. The magic of this device is that its circulation process means your food cooks to the temperature you set, and never a degree more, no matter how long you cook it for. This precise temperature control means you can never overcook your food, but it also leads to miraculous results - imagine a steak that’s medium-rare from end to end, or an impossibly juicy chicken breast, or salmon that’s so buttery-soft you might feel like you did something wrong. It’s so unlike any other cooking method that it might take you a little time to get used to, but once you do, you’ll never go back.

NES Classic Edition - $79

If you remember the Tickle Me Elmo riots of 1996, or the Turbo-Man toy from Jingle All the Way, then you know that every holiday season has that one thing that becomes the must-have fad item of the season. This year, that item is unquestionably the NES Classic Edition. Released November 11th to immediate shortages and widespread demand, this toy combines that special blend of nostalgia and manufactured scarcity guaranteed to whip holiday shoppers into an irrational frenzy. Beyond its fad-like appeal, this is actually a great little gadget – a miniature replica of a Nintendo system from the 80s with a controller indistinguishable from the original, 30 of the best Nintendo games built in, and an HDMI connection to plug into modern televisions. If you can find one, don’t think twice – buy it immediately! It makes a great gift for kids of all ages and adults who look back on their childhood with fondness.