Like the concept of “a gift that keeps on giving”? Consider these reasonably priced, practical suggestions that are good to have around 24×7, 365.
Blinded by the light: Hyper-bright, 180-degree TripleLite flashlights are must-haves for a glove compartment or dark closet. The more easily pocketed Mini ($20, 259 lumens brightness) illuminates a path five feet across; the larger, switchable two-light-level Original (about $30) puts out 490 lumens max in a seven-foot-wide swath. Another bright idea? The integrated packaging of baby boom box and LED spotlight makes the Monster Firecracker a blast for camping trips. ($90-$99.)
Save those shots: As the modern storehouse of our precious data and images, a phone is sorely missed when it’s lost or runs out of memory. To the rescue come two nifty backup storage devices for Apple phones and tablets, each $60 in 32-GB versions. A MEEM cable both recharges the Apple device and backs up its stored contacts, calendar, photos, video, and documents onto a mid-cable memory chip. Kingston’s Data Traveler Bolt Duo is a plug-in flash drive that sucks up photos and videos, freeing memory space for more snaps.
Get a charge on: With Samsung and Apple now sharing a standard — the Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless induction charging format for smartphones — the floodgates have opened for Qi-compatible charging stations (as little as $16) so you can plop down a phone and skedaddle. Samsung’s Fast Charge Pad ($24.99) earns top ratings. The unusual MusiQi Wireless Charger & Speaker ($49.99) also spreads phone-sourced music around the room.
TV transformed: Breathe new life into grandma’s classic TV with a Roku Express+ streaming TV receiver ($40). It’s the only Roku model that can hook up to a tube telly’s analog video (yellow) and audio (red and white) inputs. Yet it still offers wireless access through your internet router to modern movie services and “light” pay-TV bundles such as Comcast’s Xfinity Instant TV and Dish Network’s Sling TV.
Sling service is also front and center in the Air TV Player, a friendly Android-based streaming services box with voice control and neat integration of free broadcast-TV channels (remember them?): $99 to $240 with a rooftop antenna installed by Dish.
Lock and roll: This gadgeteer has fallen for the clever kitchen gizmos of Pampered Chef — including a set of Emoji cookie molds ($10) and the nifty Ceramic Egg (and hot cereal) Cooker ($15.50), a perfect gift for the college student with access to a refrigerator and microwave but not a stove.
Bluetooth enabled padlocks — such as BIO-Key’s TouchLock BT XL ($44.99) — prove anew that a mobile phone is the new remote control for everything. This model also opens with a scanned fingerprint.
Anyone with a Samsung Galaxy phone — S6 or newer — would be delighted to have the newly improved ($90) Samsung Gear VR headset. Adds a handheld controller that plays nicely with free virtual-reality experiences and dive-in games.
Paired wirelessly or hardwired to a computer, Logitech’s fashionably round MX Sound speakers ($99.99 a pair) make such solid stereo it seems the screen’s grown, too. Better sound can also be extracted from a computer with the Dragonfly USB DAC-Preamp-Headphone Amp plugged into a USB port. Decodes everything from a lowly MP3 to the best streaming music that Deezer (with FLAC encoding) and Tidal (with MQA-encoded “Masters”) now offer subscribers. $99 in Black Edition, $199 in DragonFly Red form.
Strangest bathroom gizmo since the Toto heated/washing toilet seat? Flosstime Automated Floss Dispenser ($20). Sticks to a mirror or tile. Dispenses with a tap. Smiles after you floss and frowns when you forget.
Want to keep track of home and inhabitants, inside and out? We relish the high-definition, all-weather Arlo Pro2 home security cameras from Netgear. This $220 investment is rationalized with free online video storage of the last week’s incidents and especially easy wireless setup. Just recharge batteries every three to six months.
Boxed to go: Loaded with extras — alt takes, lively audio and video concerts, surround sound mixes — these new celebrations of classic rock originals are born again for fans both fresh and mature: Jethro Tull, Songs from the Wood 40th Anniversary Edition (Chrysalis). The Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed three-disk Deram set (also catch their Great Performances special re-running Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. on WHYY-TV). A Boy From Tupelo (Legacy) documents Elvis Presley’s breakout, including early broadcasts that introduced him as a “folksinger” and alt-country boy. Enjoy a three-disk stay at The Eagles Hotel California (Asylum). And saving the best for last is the riveting, nine-disk reappraisal of Bob Dylan’s much maligned (then), now totally redeemed gospel rocking Christian morality stand Trouble No More (Columbia/Legacy). Hallelujah!