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Updated by Justine Kope on Dec 11, 2015
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Top 5 Tech Gifts of 2015

The top tech gifts of 2015 are here just in time for the holiday season. See how far we have come and get a glimpse at where our gadgets could be going.

This list is originally from a blog entitled "Tympani's Top Tech Gifts of 2015" that was published in Tympani's Advanced Technology Blog http://www.tympaniinc.com/advanced-technology-blog/PostId/308/tympanis-top-tech-gifts-of-2015

1

Chromecast 2

Chromecast 2

The original version hit the market in 2013 and enabled everyone to stream digital content through their televisions provided they also had a smart phone. It was amazing. It was effective. It was affordable. With a price tag of only $35, it became the must-have gift of the year and won the “Best Product of 2013” award from DigitalTrends.com.

Now, Google has released a second model. Essentially, it delivers the same streaming functionality as the original, but Chromecast 2 has an updated app with a few interesting features.

What’s On: To start, the What’s On feature will identify titles available to be played immediately from the Chromecast-compatible apps installed on the phone.

Devices: This feature allows a user to quickly switch between Chromcasts.

Get Apps: The Get Apps feature will display the collection of apps available from the App store that can be streamed through the Chromecast.

Finally, the Chromecast 2 has an updated look that makes it more compact and easier to conceal on certain televisions. Based on reviews from around the web, it appears like the Chromecast 2 isn’t a large enough improvement over the original to warrant an upgrade. However, if a family doesn’t have the Chromecast at all, then the new model, at the same old price of $35, is a great investment.

2

Myo Gesture Control Armband

Myo Gesture Control Armband

For something truly futuristic, the Myo sounds like a gadget straight out of a science fiction story. It is a small armband available in black or white that uses medical-grade EMG sensors, a three-axis accelerometer, a three-axis gyroscope, and a three-axis magnometer to accurately sense the motion of the wearers arm in any direction. With that information, the Myo Gesture Control Armband can be used to control our smartphones and other devices.

After syncing to the user’s arm, the Myo can be used to interact with apps such as Netflix, Spotify, and iTunes. Furthermore, several notable computer games have become compatible with the Myo as well. Minecraft, Civilization V, and Kerbel Space Program can all be played using the Myo Gesture Control Armband. In a Bloomberg Business report released in November of last year, the Myo was even shown to control a drone. True to this promise, the product now on the market can indeed control select compatible drones with the wave of an arm.

The possibilities for a technology like this are vast, but because it is so new, there aren’t a huge number of compatible functions available. That will soon change. The Myo is built with an open API and developers can basically create any functionality they want. We can expect the number of compatible apps, recognized gestures, and more to be released in the coming years.

3

Pebble Steel Smartwatch

Pebble Steel Smartwatch

It has been interesting to see the fledgling smartwatch technology develop over the past few years. While it hasn’t taken hold in the way smartphones have, that day may only be a few years off. In 2015, the Pebble Steel Smartwatch takes the technology another step forward. Unlike previous generations of Pebble’s line of smartwatches, the Steel is sleek and housed within a chassis made from, as you might expect, steel. It is completely waterproof and foregoes the touchscreen for four buttons. User reviews have noted that navigation is mostly intuitive, but with only a few options, it can become confusing.

The biggest downside of the Pebble Steel is the same overriding issue with all smartwatches. It still requires a smartphone to do anything. It can tell time without help from the phone but for virtually anything else, it needs assistance.

The watch is sleek and stylish, but smartwatches still seem a few generations away from the product we expect them to become.

4

LG Rolly Keyboard

LG Rolly Keyboard

The LG Rolly Keyboard is a neat little gadget perfect for mobile workers or users who just hate typing on a touch-screen keyboard. It’s not anything groundbreaking or futuristic, but it is still clever and practical. The Rolly Keyboard is a blu-tooth keyboard like many others. The Rolly, however, rolls up like a sleeping bag for easy storage and transportation. When rolled up, it condenses to 10.35 inches wide, 1.02 inches tall, and 1.02 inches deep.

5

Samsung Gear VR

Samsung Gear VR

Finally. After years of hype surrounding the Occulus Rift and decades of virtual reality residing solely in the realm of science fiction, there is a personal VR device accessible to the mass public. Best of all, it doesn’t cost thousands, just $99.99. It’s called the Samsung Gear Virtual Reality Headset. By attaching your smartphone to a pair of goggles and utilizing specific Occulus-enabled apps, the user can gain a 360 degree view of an environment, play games, watch Netflix, and more.

This product last year was dubbed the “Innovator edition,” and that was more than just a marketing term. The Samsung Gear is the first of its kind, and that has its own set of excitement and disappointments. This year’s model features many of those same drawbacks. We can all image the potential of virtual reality, but the Samsung Gear will not make all our dreams come true, at least not yet. It has a limited library of applications and features functionality constraints like the inability to answer a call while wearing the device.

Still, the Samsung Gear is an astounding step forward, and we should all keep our eyes on future updates and models.