Connected: These gloves as a gift could be right touch
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Still trying to figure out what to give to certain friends or members of your family? Here are a few ideas that could help tech enthusiast and novice alike.
Smartphone compatible gloves -- Although it may sound very old school, today's gloves fit a different need because so many people are using their smartphones out in the cold. Since smartphone screens work on the electrostatic touch of your hands, when you wear a standard pair of gloves, you can't operate your touch screen.
Some newer gloves solve the problem by putting conductive fiber in the tips of your finger. I've been using a pair of NuTouch gloves, which are gray knit gloves -- thick enough to keep your hands warm on brisk evenings and thin enough to fit under ski gloves. (You'll still have to take off your ski gloves to operate your smartphone.) The NuTouch gloves fit either hand, and have conductive materials at the tips of all five fingers.
Conductive gloves are also made by other companies, including Isotoner and Mujjo. Mujjo gloves come in a handful of colors at $25 to $130 online; Isotoner come in a variety of men's and women's styles starting at $25 online; NuTouch come in a unisex charcoal gray cotton starting at $9 online.
Headphones for various heads -- There are lots of things you can do with headphones when combined with a phone, PC or tablet. What you want to do with them has a lot to do with the type you need to purchase. If your recipient uses his phone for communications -- say, for Skype or for an Internet-based telephone -- you'll want headphones with a built-in microphone. If they want to listen to their favorite music or e-books, they don't need that microphone but they will want good sound to make their listening experience more pleasurable.
Start by finding out what type of device they'll use most often with their headphones, because you'll need a set that connects properly. In most cases that means the right size plug/jack combination. Most cell phones accept a 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm plug combined for both mic and earphone. Computers need two plugs (one for the mic and one for the ears) or a USB connector. Occasionally, you'll find someone who wants to use it with a traditional desk phone, which means it needs to have an RJ11 telephone plug at the end of the wire.
Sometimes, the device will be able to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. That is much nicer (although it drains battery faster), so if the recipient has a Bluetooth device, it's likely to be the preferred connection method. If they don't have Bluetooth on their device, you can also buy them a Bluetooth adapter or a headset that comes with an adapter that plugs into the headphone jack.
There are thousands of technology gifts and you don't have to look very far, although the selection is probably greater for PC or iPhone users than for users of other devices.
Consider a phone case, which you can personalize to their taste. I like the idea of a car kit or signal amplifier because not everybody has a car that connects easily to their phones. Most car kits have cigarette lighter plugs and emanate FM signals to the car radio. Home chargers for multiple devices are also handy, as they allow you to use one wall outlet to charge all the phones in your household.
These handy items can cost as little as $10 or as much as several hundred -- so you can pick the gift that fits your budget.
First Published December 23, 2012 12:00 am