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How to Jingle Someone's Bells this Christmas

Category: Hardware Published on Friday, 09 December 2016
Don't touch that sweater!
Keep your hands off that package of socks!
We're here to share what we believe will make those jingle bells ring this holiday season.
Robots top our gift-giving list with the RoboBuddy and bObsweep PetHair Plus.
The RoboBuddy ($199.99) is a small motorized vehicle that is designed to patrol your house and deliver goodies to those of us too lazy to get up and go into the kitchen.
Setup was extremely easy. We loaded the RoboBuddy app onto our smartphone (or tablet), "discovered" the robot and we were ready to go on patrol. The app allowed us to control the robot’s movements from room to room and see where we were going through its built-in camera. We could also carry on conversations with whomever was in the rooms using a built-in speaker. There's also a compartment on the robot's back that can be opened to carry everything from dog treats to popcorn.
Another great thing about this device is that it can be operated remotely from anywhere in the world so you can keep an eye on your house, pets or aging relative when you're not around.
Other key features include:
  • Infrared night vision
  • The ability to snap photos and take videos in resolutions up to 740p
  • It can patrol for 50 minutes before needing a recharge
  • Easy to control using either the arrows on the app or simply tilting your phone left, right, etc.
Truthfully we enjoyed using it just to tease our dog.
Speaking of dogs, the bObsweep PetHair Plus ($899.95) does a great job of cleaning up after Fido. This is one of the most powerful robot vacuums we've played with - - - and we've used several.
To test its cleaning ability, we ran one of our favorite robot vacuums first, letting it do its usual job. We then set up the bObsweep and had it go over the same area. The result was full dirt bins using both vacuums. The verdict: the bObosweep apparently had more "sucking power" than the one we had been using daily for a year.
The dirt bin on the bObSweep is also a bit larger than the one on the older unit, resulting in fewer "empty my bin" reminders.
We were also able to set up the vacuum's daily schedule using an included remote control, which our other vacuum didn't have.
Other key features include:
  • A five-in-one cleaning formula including vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, UV sterilizing and HEPA filtration
  • A BlockPlus confinement system, which keeps it out of certain areas
  • On-board diagnostics displayed on its LCD screen
  • You can add a wet/dry mop
  • It automatically returns to its charging dock when the battery power is low
 On the gaming front we have two repeat offenders: Skylanders Imaginators and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
The newest entry into the highly popular Skylanders franchise from Acitivision, Skylanders Imaginators ($74.99 for a starter kit) allows players to create their own characters to battle new threats from the evil Kaos.This is done through the use of an Imaginite Creation Crystal. You can also use 31 new Skylanders Senseis heroes in addition to Crash Bandicoot. Plus you can use all of the old characters and vehicles that were part of earlier versions of the Skylanders universe.
In addition:
  • You can use old portals and traps
  • Old villains are now good guys and available as part of the toy character collection
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare ($59.99), also from Activision, is basically the same old franchise thrust into the future, battling zombie armies.
Great game play is what we've come to expect from this franchise, but this time the more you know, the more successful you become. As with previous versions, your intelligence and experience will lead to victory. And, of course, there are several side missions and enhancements you can earn as the game progresses. And, yes, the game's multiplayer functionality is alive and well.
The problem we have is that its basically the same crew wearing new suits. Yeah, there are new armies (this time zombies) to defeat, but the story line is weaker than in the previous version, that may turn off seasoned players.
A few of the features include:
  • Suit upgrades to make you faster and more powerful
  • Jackal upgrades to enhance your Jackal fighter jet
  • Weapon armories and upgrades
  • Several game modes including Specialist Mode and Yolo Mode
  • Zombies in Spaceland, which is an arcade game
  • The Jackal VR Experience that is only available for PS4 players using the gaming unit's VR headset
How about giving your favorite giftee an 800-inch screen he (or she) can wear on his (or her) head?
The new Moon 3D Virtual Mobile Theater ($799) from Royole resembles a set of virtual reality goggles, except it takes the user a bit further than that. When turned on, it transports the user to a 3D video experience.
Its built-in headphones and adjustable optics are superb. Add to that two gigabytes of RAM and 32 gigabytes of storage capacity and you have a self-contained movie theater that can play your favorite, films, games and music. The key to all of this is a user interface that appears on the screen and is controlled by the right earcup. Everything is stored on a small box that connects to the headset using an HDMI cable.
Wear glasses? No problem. Its advanced adjustable optics lets you remove your glasses and set it up for your own eyesight - - - from nearsighted to farsighted.
When you're done, simply fold it up and put it into the pouch enclosed with the unit.
That old vinyl record collection also deserves a bit of new technology.
The folks at Audio Technica have hit the market with a Belt-Drive Wireless Turntable ($149) that delivers great sound to any Bluetooth-enabled speakers or headphones. You also have the option of using it the old fashioned way with audio cables.
The one we played with featured automatic operation, which - - - like turntables of old - - - places the tone arm at the beginning of the record and returns it to its stand when the tone arm reaches the end. Of course, you can still place it on various tracks to listen to portions of your recordings. There are also four buttons on the front of the unit for speed, start, stop and cue.
In addition:
  • There's a 3.5 mm stereo mini plug that can be used with any speaker or mobile device
  • It can play 33 1/3 and 45 RPM records
  • There's a switchable preamp to be used with sound systems or speakers without dedicated turntable inputs
  • There's an integrated photo-magnet cartridge with a removable stylus.
  • It's belt-driven, which decreases so-called distortion, "wow and flutter"
If you're seeking a gift for a so-called "creative type," you can spend a few bucks on a 3D printer. The DaVinci 1.0 printer ($399.95) from XYZprinting is not only more affordable than the competition, but also lets you create larger plastic items than most of the other 3D printers marketed to consumers.
The one we played with was very easy to set up. The filament, instead of being on a spool, comes in an enclosed cartridge. All we had to do was insert the cartridge, run the filament through a hole in the cartridge compartment and insert it into a plastic tube connected to the extruder. The printer did the rest.
The printer's extra-large bed allowed us to print objects that were up to 69 percent larger than other 3D printers we've used. The downside is that it is also a lot heavier - - - 53 pounds - - -  than the other models.
It's also designed to work with virtually any Windows or Mac operating system - - from Windows XP to Mac OSX 10.8. This, plus a standard USB 2.0 port, makes it compatible with almost any computer on the market.


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