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Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Thank you for keeping the kids and husbands in line out there, the world is a better place because of all of you.

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This past week I was invited by Verizon Wireless to go down to the Twin Cities and chat with KARE 11’s Brian Piatt about some gift ideas for moms, dads and grads and I thought I would recap some of the top things we looked at. You can also check our website for links to the videos in case you missed it, Brian is a super nice guy and Verizon was great in getting us set up with some great products to demo. Here is a link to the clip in case you missed it: http://bcove.me/ppi1kesi

Moms

Now, I assume that everyone has something special planned for the moms in their lives and has gotten them the best gifts that money can buy but in case you are running a little behind, here are some things that mom might enjoy.

If you have a mom that is like my wife, you know someone who is really great at doing everything — and usually all at once. Juggling kids, work and everyday tasks is no small feat and anything that adds a little convenience is very much appreciated. The LG Tones headset is one of those great tools. They rest on the neck and are a combination of headphones and hands-free calling accessory for your smartphone. They run off a rechargeable battery and can also control music playback and call answering. They are unique in that they are actually earbuds wired to the Bluetooth transmitter, but the earbuds can be stored via magnet on the transmitter. I really like this option as with others you are either wearing them or you aren’t. With the LG Tones you can keep the device around your neck but can easily put the earbuds in or out as you want to use them.

Another issue that moms run into is spills. We have three kids under the age of 7 and they spill stuff all the time. That means we keep electronics up out of the way but that doesn’t always save them. This is where a Lifeproof case might come in handy. Made for iOS devices, they encompass the entire device with a plastic shell that is shock and water resistant. Check out the video where Bryan dunked the iPhone in the Lifeproof case into a fishbowl full of water, the phone came out perfectly fine and functional and would certainly withstand some apple juice or milk.

Grads

Tis the season when classes break for summer and happy students everywhere rejoice for a couple months of carefree fun. For high school and college seniors, that usually means that a celebration is in order and often times you find yourself wondering what the perfect gift might be to celebrate such an educational milestone.

Jawbone, which makes high quality Bluetooth headsets and also the UP I reviewed, is the maker of the Jambox, a portable Bluetooth speaker. Running on rechargeable batteries, the Jambox packs a ton of sound out of its stereo speakers. It was extremely easy to pair with my phone and playback was flawless. The audio quality was really good but I would have liked a smidgen more on the low end. I will follow up with a more in depth review as it also has conference call capabilities and I want to give that a go.

We also took a look at the Mophie Juice Pack, which is a portable recharging station for mobile devices. It’s extremely slim and easily fits into a pocket or backpack and it holds enough power to charge most devices fully twice over. It plugs into a USB port or wall adapter to recharge and is really simple to use.

Both of these options would be great to take with to the beach or out on a boat and will give you a lot more freedom wherever you are.

Dads

I love being a dad. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the entire world and I love being able to spend time with my kids and family. I also really like that ties are no longer the standby gift for dads — tech stuff is. It’s really fun, too, that there are so many gadgets out there that are really designed for dads.

Anyone that knows me knows I love to cook and in the summer the grill is used almost on a daily basis. One neat gadget that fits in nicely there is the iGrill by iDevices. Originally made for use with iOS devices, they have expanded out to make it compatible with Android as well. Basically it’s a wireless thermometer that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. You can set temperature goals, see at a glance where your roast is at and you can even have multiple thermometers used simultaneously. What I like about this is the smartphone connection — I don’t have to get another device to talk to the thermometers, everything comes back to my phone. This means I can play with the kids in the yard and not have to constantly check my grill.

There were also two cameras we took a look at — the Samsung Galaxy Camera and the Looxie Camera. I’ll have a more in depth review and comparison for the Galaxy camera coming up later, so keep checking back for more information about it.

In a nutshell the Galaxy camera is a powerhouse option to seriously consider if you are looking at replacing your point and shoot camera. With a 16mp camera and 21x optical zoom this camera captures awesome detail with relative ease. It also has settings for different shooting modes and even includes a manual option for those that are familiar with fine tuning f-stop settings and such. We tried a number of different shots with the camera — action, macro, landscape — and it performed admirably with each. It also is powered by Android, so it has 4.1 Jellybean working in the background. This means that you can upload photos straight to Facebook, Twitter or other social media right from the phone. It can also be set up to load your pictures directly to Dropbox so you can save space on your camera. This was really advantageous for us as we were able to capture images and put them right up on the website.

The Looxie is a unique camera. It’s a head worn option that connects via Bluetooth to your device and gives options of recording it or you can also stream it live directly to Facebook. It’s something I can envision using to record playing catch with your kids or really any activity where you need two hands. For all you outdoors types this would be a fun addition to the tackle box this year. Like other action cams you can get different mounts for the camera but by default it comes with the ear fixture and a ball cap adapter.

Of course this is just a drop in the bucket of the great smart accessories and gadgets out there, but these one really stuck out in my mind. Devices will always make the list, too, and we’ve talked about a lot of great up smartphones and tablet options lately. And, of course, the Samsung GS4 is now available too and is definitely worth taking a look at.

All in all tech has kind of become the fall back option for gifts these days but proceed with caution and make sure you do a little homework on the devices you’re checking out to make sure they will do what you need them to. It’s easy to miss out on some of the details, especially now with so many things to consider, and you want to make sure that you know exactly what your device is capable of.

PHIL SEIBEL, VP of Revenue Development, may be reached at 855-5862 or phil.seibel@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pseibel(@pseibel).

Don’t forget too that these holidays, especially, are about the people and showing appreciation to them and we don’t want to get a little trinket and a hug. I remember when I was a kid we would go out to parks for Mother’s and Father’s days. We would bring a picnic, games and our hiking shoes and we would forget about all the other things from our daily lives and just enjoy being together as a family. As I’ve grown older and now have kids of my own I think I finally understand why this is so appealing. In this day and age it is so easy to be concerned- economic shortfalls, future of our country and stress from work can really weigh on you. Add to that the constant connectivity that our new devices give us and it’s easy to feel that you can’t escape.

More now than ever it will be important for families to lean on each other for support and these special days are ways that we can stop, take a deep breath and reflect on how special these people are in our lives and how appreciative we can be of all they do.

I’ve been blessed by having the best mom and dad and my wife is the best mom to our kids that I could have ever hoped for. I hope everyone else can feel that way about the special people in their lives.

Now, go thank your loved ones, Tech Savvy Fans!

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