Here’s my yearly assortment of tech gadgets that all make great gifts for this holiday season. Many of these products are new this year so it’s unlikely you’ll be giving something your recipient already has. I’d also encourage you to look back over the past year’s columns for other products that reviewed well.
$10 to $50
Vinturi Wine Aerator –Vinturi of nearby Carlsbad, CA created the category of wine aeration and continues to lead with ingenious products. They’re beautifully designed and constructed, and work by aerating the wine as it’s poured through the device, one glass at a time. As the wine flows through a small channel, it creates a pressure differential that sucks in and mixes air into the stream. In my tests I found that it reduced the harshness of younger and less expensive wines and opened up the bouquet, creating the same results in a few seconds that normally would take an hour or more of the wine sitting in a glass. If you’re still skeptical, the Vinturi products have been broadly accepted and recommended by wineries, wine retailers and experts.
This year the company introduced a new smaller version for traveling. The Vinturi Travel is 5 1/2 inches tall, weighs four ounces and comes with a hard case for travel. $50. Vinturi.com.
OpenIt – If you give this as a gift, be sure to write “open me first” on the package. It’s a tool designed to open packages of all kinds. It snips open plastic clamshells with its pliers-like jaws, slices rugged cardboard with its retractable knife, and opens battery compartments with its screwdrivers. $12. enjoyzibra.com.
The Master Lock 1500iD speed dial is a reinvention and a vast improvement to the combination lock. Instead of a rotating knob with numbers, it opens on directional movements of a similar looking knob, moving it up, down, left and right in a particular sequence. That makes it faster to open; it works in the dark and you can set your own combination. About $10.
$51 to $150
Media Players – Apple TV, Roku and WD Live are small boxes that plug into your TV and stream Netflix and other content to your set, bypassing your cable company. Each of these products is simple to set up and use. Roku ($60 to $100) and WD TV Live Hub Media Center ( $130) offer the broadest range of content. AppleTV ($100) also works with iTunes. If you’re tired of cable fare and want to control what you watch, each of these products is sure to satisfy. (apple.com, roku.com, wdc.com)