This Christmas is my first as a dad, and I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my life since she was born. I used to be a pretty big video gamer, often up into the late hours of the morning. I’ve been reviewing games for almost 5 years now, and I could fire out those reviews pretty quickly. However, when the baby was born, I quickly realized I couldn’t keep up with that (surprisingly) hectic lifestyle when it took me almost 3 weeks to review Watch Dogs, a title that would only have taken me about a week before. I’m on paternity leave right now, and so that limits my time a little more since I’m usually up around 5:30 every morning to anticipate the baby waking up anytime between 6-7. Needless to say, my priorities in life have changed quite a bit.
Now that we’re less than a week away from Christmas and my wife and others have been asking me for my list, or what I want, I find my tastes, and what I want changing. Gone are the days where I asked for impractical things, and I find myself asking for things that will serve the most purpose for myself, and even little baby Charlotte. Here are a few of the ideas I had that interested me the most based on this year’s offering of gadgets.
Wearables are all the rage right now, and ever since I became a parent, I find myself walking a lot more. My daughter is a very social baby, and loves being out and about. I often find myself walking around malls and shopping areas with her. Even if I’m not buying more than a coffee or lunch, she gets to smile and interact with people, and look around at all of the different things going on. She’s at the age right now where unusual things interest her, so bright Christmas lights, and people watching are among her favourite activities.
Wearables like the Jawbone Up24 and the Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep wristband are what would interest me the most. I’m interested in how much I’m walking now and how well I’m sleeping at night. These are the type of devices I need in my life. It’ll be a bit of a change considering I don’t like, and don’t wear watches or anything on my wrists, but I’d be willing to do it for something like this.
Wearables don’t have to stop at just that. There are things to measure your heart rate, things to keep track of your pets and even work through more health management. If your dad hits the links, there’s even Golf GPS devices.
A New Camera
As a new dad, I’ve lost count of how many pictures my wife and I have taken of the baby in her first 9 months, but it wouldn’t surprise me that the number was somewhere between 5000-10000. Needless to say, a new camera is always high on my list of gadgets to pick up. I’ve upgraded phones since she was born (which thankfully has a better camera,) and we currently have a very good Canon Rebel camera, but now that she’s getting to the age where she’s about to walk, a camera like the Nikon D7100 really interests me. Babies do things in split seconds, and the D7100 features great adjustable shutter speed, and can film in 1080p, which many other DSLR cameras out there can’t do. At over $1000, however, I understand that this isn’t one that’s in everybody’s budget. If you’re still looking for a DSLR that’s great, and is a bit cheaper, the Canon Rebel t5i is one that I recommend. We love ours, even if the gadget geek in me craves a bit more.
Creating the Home of the Future today
If you’ve read and followed my blogs and reviews throughout the year, you know I’m a huge smarthome enthusiast. I’ve spread it to my mom’s husband, and would spread it to my dad, but he’s not a big techie (so I’ll have to stick to the Game of Thrones BluRays he wants for Christmas.) I’ve rigged the house with smart light switches, light bulbs, keyless entry into the home, a thermostat and more. I’m interested less in being fancy and more in being practical. Companies like Insteon, Belkin and Weiser have made this possible for me, and while I’m not asking for anything specific this year (since I think I’m all set,) I’m waiting for the wave of smart kitchen products to hit (hopefully next year) and you can guarantee I’ll be front and center then. If you’re looking for some ideas for dad, take a glimpse at the Smart Home category for some last minute inspiration!
Home Audio on the Go inside your own house
When baby and I are spending our days together, we listen to a LOT of music. When I say a lot, it would be unusual that we go more than an hour (while she’s awake of course) without listening and/or singing along to something. Whether it’s something like the Songza app on my phone (it’s great for kids music especially,) something off my iPod or just a Sharon, Lois and Bram CD in my car, we’re always listening to music. Trouble is, when I upgraded iPhones back in September, I went from the old 30 pin to the new 8 pin Lightning Connector, which also meant that our old dock was no longer useful. The hunt is on for a new portable speaker. I’ve reviewed a few for Best Buy Plug In, and the Sony SRSX7 is my go-to pick this year, especially since it’s come down in price from where it was in May. The speaker features comprehensive app support, easy setup, and flawless wireless integration. One of my biggest gripes with wireless and bluetooth speakers is the amount of signal interruption that exists in communication between device and speaker. The SRSX7 had no problems whatsoever, especially with its pop out antenna. Since it just runs off a rechargeable battery, I can just pick it, and baby up and take the party wherever we need to go. If you’re looking for something a little smaller (like the SRSX5) or something different, a full range of portable speakers are available for you to take a look at.
Sticking with my roots
Yes, through it all, I’m still a video gamer at heart, even though I don’t spend a lot of time playing games I’m not otherwise reviewing (though many of those still hook me for a while afterward.) While most of my free time now goes to writing articles, or cleaning or preparing food for the baby, I still find time to squeeze in some gaming and daddy downtime.
September through November is always a really busy season for games, including all of the annual sports titles. While titles like Destiny and The Crew have consumed my gaming friends, unfortunately, it’s hard for me to sit down to dedicate the time needed to get into these games (I even passed on buying the new next gen Grand Theft Auto V for that reason alone.) I’ve been looking for games that I could pick up and enjoy for a half hour or hour at a time, and games like Super Smash Bros and NBA 2K15 have helped fill that void for sure.
My daughter’s not old enough to play video games for a few years yet, but the two Disney titles this year – Disney Infinity 2.0 and Fantasia: Music Evolved are titles I would sit and play through with her. Both are fantastic family titles, and I would put them near the top of any gifting list for sure, especially if you have little ones in a house.
Other Last Minute Fun Gadget Ideas
A Dash Cam – How many times have you wished you could capture a moment on the road on film? Whether it be bad driving, or just something funny you saw with the kids on the side of the road, dash cams are available now at affordable prices. After watching 1001 dash cam videos over the last couple years, I’ve become really interested in getting one. Granted, my driving life will never be half as interesting as the stuff that happens in those videos, but it might still be a neat thing to have one day.
A GoPro – If your dad is the adventurous or sporty type, a GoPro and something he can use to wear it might be a fun idea. Whether he’s canoeing or kayaking, or skiing, GoPro cameras fit a pretty diverse range of activities, and the technology is cheaper than you think. Why, the HD Sports and Helmet Camera will probably only set you back about as much as those Game of Thrones BluRays my dad wants will be costing me.
We’re just in the final countdown to December 25th, and I can’t wait to see the look on my daughter’s face when we light the tree on Christmas morning and she gets to see what we got her. This year, she’ll probably just rip the gift open and start eating the wrapping paper, but it’s a start right?