Here are a few selections that I’d love to receive — from a 1,000-watt battery and solar panel to a mesh Wi-Fi system that will extend your home network to the far reaches of your house and beyond.
I hope 2021 brings us better days.
TiVo Stream 4K
What is it? This is a small 4K Android-powered streaming stick to let you add smart TV features like Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming to your TV. This TiVo is not a DVR; it’s just a TV streamer like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick. The stick has an app called Stream that integrates TV shows and movies from your subscription service like Netflix along with streaming service SlingTV.
The SlingTV guide data shows up inside the Stream interface. Outside the Stream app, you can access Android TV to load any app in the Android TV app store.
Who is it for? Anyone who wants to add streaming to their TV or fans of the TiVo Stream interface or Android TV.
What does it cost? $39.99 (through Dec. 28)
Where can I get it? Tivo.com
Generark HomePower One & SolarPower One
What is it? This is a serious battery that can keep your gadgets and appliances powered up when the electricity is out. The HomePower One has 1,000 watt-hours of battery power with three AC outlets that can provide 1,000 watts of power (with a surge capacity of 2,000 watts).
The SolarPower One is a folding 100W solar panel that’s used to charge the HomePower One when you can’t charge it from a wall plug.
The panel and battery combo can keep your gadgets charged almost indefinitely.
Who is it for? Anyone who likes to be prepared for the next power outage.
What does it cost? $1,299 for the battery, and $299 for the solar panel. Generark has a bundle with the battery and two solar panels for $1,599.
Where can I get it? Generark.com, Amazon
Lenovo Yoga 9i 15" 2 in 1 laptop
What is it? A top-notch 15-inch 2 in 1 Windows 10 laptop that converts to a tablet. The Yoga 9i has a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor (i9 versions are also available).
The i7-powered Yoga 9i has 12 gigabytes of RAM and a 512 GB solid state drive. It also features aa 720p webcam, a fingerprint reader, a backlit keyboard and Wi-Fi 6.
Who is it for? This is a solid performer that is perfect for working or schooling from home.
What does it cost? $1,799. Other configurations, both cheaper and more expensive, are available.
Where can I get it? Lenovo.com, Best Buy
Eero 6 Mesh Wi-Fi system
What is it? This is a mesh Wi-Fi system that has a three access points. Connect the first Eero to your broadband modem and space the others throughout your house. The three access points talk to the each other and bounce the Wi-Fi out to the far reaches, where other routers leave dead spots.
You can also add more access points as necessary if you have a huge area or multiple floors to cover.
Once it is set up, Eero is dead simple and very reliable. It does a great job keeping itself up to date with software updates that bring new features and improvements.
Who is it for? Have dead spots in your home where Wi-Fi bogs down or disappears? This system is for you.
What does it cost? $223 (you can find sales, look around)
Where can I get it? Eero.com, Amazon, Best Buy
Amazon Echo Dot with clock 4th Generation
What is it? This is one of the cheaper ways to get Alexa into your home. Introduced this fall, 4th Generation Dots are spherical and come with or without a clock. Sure, the speakers are smaller than the larger Amazon Echoes, but the Dots are perfect for a kitchen, bathroom or bedside table.
I’ve replaced my clock radio with a Dot that has a clock. Just tell Alexa when you want to wake up and she’ll see to it. (”Alexa, set an alarm for every weekday at 7 a.m.”)
Who is it for? Everyone. Heck, Alexa can even tell bedtime stories.
What does it cost? $59 for the clock version, but look for sales.
Where can I get it? Amazon, Best Buy
Leatherman Skeletool CX
What is it? This is a lightweight multitool that combines pliers, knife, bottle opener, screwdrivers and wire cutters in a small form factor that weighs just 5 ounces.
This is the kind of thing you can either carry every day or just buy and leave in your car’s glove compartment for emergencies.
Leatherman has been making multitools for decades, and I think this one looks the best.
Who is it for? Every guy I know would love this. I’m betting most of my female friends would like one as well.
What does it cost? $79.95
Where can I get it? Amazon.com
Apple iPad 8th Generation
What is it? This is Apple’s “plain old” iPad, but I believe it is the right choice for most people. Sure, the iPad Air and iPad Pro are snazzier, but the iPad (8th generation) has a 10.2-inch screen and comes in 32 GB or 128 GB storage configurations, with or without cellular built in.
The iPad still has a fingerprint sensor in the home button and it works with the Apple Pencil if you’d like to use it for drawing.
Front and rear cameras also make this iPad ideal for students to use to attend virtual classes.
Who is it for? This cheapest of iPads is just fine for most users. Save your money and buy this one.
What does it cost? Starts at $329 for the 32 GB/Wi-Fi only model. Look for sales.
Where can I get it? Apple stores and online, Best Buy, Walmart, Target
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