Last-minute gift ideas ideal for this unusual holiday season

Fitness trackers, webcams, tiny batteries, protective cases for your smartphone and cheaper ways to keep your house clean

This year, celebrations, gift-giving and the whole shopping experience may be a whole lot different. Many of us will be separated from our loved ones this holiday season.

So here are a few gadget gift ideas you can easily order online and have sent directly to them:

Family-friendly webcam

For the first time, you may be expecting virtual guests to be ‘Zooming’ in around the dinner table. If their computer or laptop lacks a built-in camera or if the resolution isn’t great, consider delivering a Papalook AF925 HD Webcam down the chimney.

It’s a full high-definition webcam with F/2.0 aperture that won’t break the bank. It houses a glass lens with autofocus, so you don’t need to do it manually. It also features Auto Low-Light compensation and Auto White Balance so you can clearly see everyone even in a dimly lit room.

It features a fold-and-go design with a 360-degree swivel that easily props onto a laptop, tripod, monitor or wherever it can give the best family view. It has a long built-in cable so it won’t get lost and can easily plug in to a computer’s USB port up to 1.5 metres away. When done, simply fold it up and store it away.

You can order it from Amazon for $89.99.

Affordable family iRobot vacuum

Spending more time at home probably means a little more house cleaning. If a smart robot vacuum has been on the family’s holiday list but just beyond the budget, iRobot has recently expanded its lineup with the more affordable Roomba i3+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal that hygienically empties debris on its own so you don’t have to.

It has many of the features like its big brothers the Roomba i7+ and s9+, including a premium 3-Stage cleaning system, dual multi-surface rubber brushes and power-lifting suction to properly clean anywhere in your home.

Also app enabled, its advanced tracking sensors helps it quietly navigate your home in neat little rows. It knows, where it needs to go, needs to clean and can also be controlled by voice – and more. All you need to do is empty the disposal bin when it’s full.

Holiday pricing is only $599.99 ($399.99 without auto disposal) and available directly from iRobot Canada or Amazon.

Protecting your smartphone and you

People seem to be attached to their smartphones almost constantly, particularly in a time of lockdowns and isolation. But what many may not realize is that some smartphones carry more germs, than a toilet seat – the dreaded Corona virus.

Catalyst has a series of cases that protect your phone from drops and damage from liquids and can withstand repeated washings. So when you’re cleaning your hands, you can also properly disinfect.

The beauty of these cases is that although they are fully sealed and submersible in water, the built-in lens and its True Sound Acoustic technology means that even in the case, it won’t impact the quality of your photos nor the sound you hear. The cases are also much slimmer than you might expect and look pretty good too.

You can find a selection of Catalyst waterproof cases at CatalystCase.ca.

Clutch charger

Everyone loves a little extra emergency battery power but no one loves to carry around extra bulk. The sleek Clutch V2 is billed as the world’s thinnest battery charger, and is new and improved. It resembles a metallic credit card, with the thickness of a couple of coins and weighing just 50 grams.

The latest reboot doubles the battery life to 3000mAh and it’s now available for both Android and iOS. The redesign also adds LED battery charge level indicators and a choice of colours.

The Clutch is portable, with a minimalist design and a built-in charging cable that cleverly tucks away when not in use.

The Clutch Charger V2 for Lightning or USB-C comes retails for US$39.99 from ClutchCharger.com.

Fitbit Charge 4 in Special Edition Granite and Black.

Fitbit Charge 4 now GPS enabled

If your shopping list includes a health tracking device but not necessarily a dedicated smartwatch, check out the new Fitbit Charge 4. This waterproof all-day health and fitness monitor might be the answer.

The simple intuitive touch-screen tracks your steps, allows you to set goal-based exercise modes, tracks your sleep stages, your heart rate 24/7 and more.

For basic needs, it has built-in call, calendar and app alerts, text notifications and apps like weather, timer and alarm. Android users can also send quick replies to messages.

Identical in shape and size to Fitbit Charge 3, this iteration adds a built-in GPS to keep track of your workout, save your data and leave your phone behind.

Its new Active Zone Minutes alerts you to a target heart rate during a workout and the new Sleep Mode turns off notifications and disables screen as so you’re not alerted at night. Spotify music control has also been added.

And FitBit Pay is now standard, allowing you to make purchases from your wrist – if supported by your financial institution.

You can find it on Amazon with $149.95 holiday pricing.

A syndicated version of the article also appears at Troy Media and affiliated syndicated sites.

Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator at Crestcom International, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.

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