Part 3 of the DISDads Holiday Gift Guide focuses on gifts of a technological sort, most of which are part of Amazon’s Cyber Monday Deals Week. Once again, the links in this article are affiliate links. Our recommendations unaffected by where you choose to make your purchase, we stand by these recommendations, even if you buy elsewhere or choose not to use our affiliate links.
1. GoPro Hero+ Starter Bundle ($179.78) – Sure, the Hero+ lacks some of the most advanced features of the latest and greatest GoPro models. But this version is more than sufficient to capture cool action video of your family’s theme park adventures, and this Starter Bundle is less than half the price of the more heavily promoted (and excellent) GoPro HERO4 Silver Holiday Bundle). The Hero+ is a bit less powerful than the Hero Silver, but the Hero+ can still capture full HD video (1080p at 60fps) and 5 burst mode photo frames per section at 8MP each. The biggest elements missing from the Hero+ as compared to the Silver are the lack of a built-in touch display and lack of support for GoPro’s proprietary Protune production tool and time-lapse video. The Hero+ bundle comes with a 32 GB SDHC card, a head strap GoPro camera mount, and a floating hand grip (great for taking along on cruises and to waterparks and pools), in addition to the GoPro Hero+ camera.
2. I’ve written and talked about Anker external batteries for years now, and this model is the one I upgraded to just this past year. The Anker Astro E7 Ultra-High Capacity at a discounted price of $59.99 is the best value in an external battery that I’ve seen this holiday season. This is my third Anker external battery product, and I’ve had positive experiences with every one of them that I’ve used – I just keep upgrading to higher capacities to accommodate my family’s growing appetite for power on the go. An external battery makes using the My Disney Experience app in the theme parks much less stressful (quick Jimmy, just switch that Fastpass to Ellen’s Energy Adventure, my phone battery is down to 15%)! I can personally attest to Anker’s claim that this model will recharge an iPhone 6 ten times or an iPad Air twice. And I’ve found that it does a great job holding its own charge between refills. The E7 is a bit larger and heavier than the external batteries I’ve used before. If you want to keep the size and weight down, consider the smaller and lighter Anker Astro E4 13000mAh Classic Portable Charger for $29.99 and which can still provide a full iPad Air recharge or five iPhone 6 recharges.
3. Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Silver ($90.99) – I’ve owned and used this microphone for 3 1/2 years now, and it’s still probably the best podcasting technology investment I’ve made. If you are a regular podcast participant; would like to participate but feel like you need a decent microphone first; or you use your computer for other communications reasons (like recording singing children or Skype conversations with the grandparents), this microphone is a great choice. It offers multiple modes, allowing you to isolate just a single speaker, optimize recording sources on opposite side of the microphone, or capture it all equally. The build quality is excellent – the biggest problem with it is that it’s remarkably heavy, especially when attached to the included base. And though I never thought I would make use of this feature, the 3.5mm no-latency headphone jack has proven to be amazingly convenient. It’s MUCH less cumbersome than managing two wires coming out of the computer during a recording session, and gives you a lot better range of motion while connected. I actually use a pretty cheap pair of earbuds, with only one earbud in my ear, while recording, and combined with the Blue Yeti microphone, I don’t have any issues with speaker sound “leaking” into my recording source.
4. TiVo Roamio HD DVR with Product Lifetime Service ($299.99 + tax). First things first, ignore the price that automatically generates with the link. It’s only showing that price because Amazon itself is currently out of stock, and that’s the best price offered by a partner merchant. You can place a back order at Amazon’s price – even if you are in an area that has to pay sales tax on Amazon purchases, Amazon’s price is nearly $100 cheaper. Some of you know that I “cut the cord” with pay TV almost two years ago now, and this is the device that allowed me to do it. Our sole source of broadcast television is OTA. The Roamio can record four OTA streams at the same time (technically, it can record five streams at once, but I use one port to feed a TiVo Mini in another room). In addition to being able to watch and record over-the-air network broadcasts, I can use the Roamio (and the Mini, for that matter) to access my Netflix account, Hulu+ Account, and Amazon Prime account. If you have a Vudu streaming video account, that can be linked to Disney Movies Anywhere and gives you access via the TiVo Roamio to all of your Disney Movies Anywhere content (it may be possible to access your DMA content via the included YouTube account as well, but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t guarantee that will work). But to me, the “killer app” feature for me as a cord-cutter has been the relatively-recent rollout of OnePass. OnePass allows me to do a single search for a show in the TiVo interface, and get access to the content I’m searching for, regardless of source. As an example, one of my favorite shows is Agents of Shield. An episode got pre-empted by weather reports. Thanks to OnePass, I could go to my show list and watch the same episode that was available on Hulu+ (the only difference was that I couldn’t skip through Hulu’s commercials like I could the broadcast commercials). It’s possible that, once Apple rolls out it’s long-awaited ala carte television subscription service that the TiVo Roamio will be eclipsed and a cord-cutters magic bullet. But for now, in my opinion, Roamio is even better than it’s newer sibling the TiVo Bolt, because the Bolt maxxes out at four tuners, and would still lose one of those tuners to a Mini in another room. The only thing missing in all of this is a source for live televised sports. I don’t have a great answer for that just yet, other than it being a good excuse to get out of the house and enjoy your local sports bar.
5. Disney Infinity 3.0: Rise Against the Empire Bundle – Amazon Exclusive ($78.71) – Only available through Amazon.com (at least for now), get five “classic” Star Wars characters (Chewbacca, Han Solo, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Vader) AND the Rise Against the Empire playset, which includes Luke, Leia, and the Death Star-shaped playset piece. Note: these elements are only playable in the 3.0 version of Disney Infinity, and this bundle does NOT include the 3.0 game disk.