It’s Holiday Season: Time to Jingle and Mingle

    Have you checked your email lately? How about your SPAM folder?

    Chances are there are an incalculable number of pitches and links to articles (gift guides?) in there hyping the latest and greatest gift ideas. Well, this is another one!

    Let’s face it, as the official substitute red-suited bearded fat guy, it’s YOUR responsibility to find gifts that no one knew they wanted. That’s where we come in!

    Here are five gifts that are guaranteed to make this a memorable Christmas or Chanukah.

    Audio Technica has hit the shelves with a great set of wireless headphones. These ATH-M50xBT Headphones ($179) replace the older ATH-M50x professional headphones, upgrading them from wired to Bluetooth wireless.

    We’ve been playing with these headphones for awhile now and it’s hard to beat their sound quality in their price range. A few key features include:

    • Touch control providing access to voice assist
    • Mic and button controls built into the earcup to handle calls, music playback and volume adjustment
    • Proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers
    • Over-ear design
    • Professional-grade earpad and headband material
    • Up to 40 hours of continuous use on a full charge
    • Compatible with aptX and AAC codecs

    If you prefer music portability on the lighter side, you may want to check out ZeBuds Lite from MyKronoz ($59.90).

    These are small earbuds that deliver superior sound weighing in at half the size (and weight) of conventional earbuds. And, just like their larger brethren, they can be used to answer phone calls, issue voice commands to your phone or other Bluetooth-connected device and listen to your favorite tunes or audiobooks.

    Other key features include:

    • Up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge using their charger case
    • They weigh 0.18 ounces
    • It takes about an hour for a full charge
    • Dual microphones
    • LED indicator lights for battery status and connecting to Bluetooth
    • They’re IPx4 splash proof
    • IOS and Android compatible

    Touchscreen gloves have been around for a while, but the new offering from Mujjo is double-layered and triple insulated ($55).

    These gloves are designed to keep your hands warm as temperatures dip into the single digits.

    Basically these are double-layered microfleece gloves with an additional layer of 3M Thinsulate designed to fend off colder temperatures. Plus, as is the case with all of the company’s gloves, they “mimic the conductive properties of the skin” so they can be used with any touchscreen device. Simply put, this means you can use your phone or tablet without removing them.

    The Olive Smart Ear ($249) is designed to enhance ambient sounds, such as conversations.

    This is NOT a hearing aid or hearing aid substitute! Its main function is to improve the user’s ability to hear what’s going on around him/her and filter out background noise. Plus it can be used as a single earbud to listen to music, answer phone calls, etc.

    Here are a few key features:

    • It can last up to seven hours between charges
    • Bluetooth connectivity allows it to work with any device
    • Volume, sensitivity and personal hearing preferences can be controlled using the Olive app
    • It weighs 0.24 ounces
    • You can set it for a conversation mode or TV listening mode

    For the camper or outdoor/hiking addict on your list there’s the H2gO Global water purifier ($99) from Aqua Research that uses salt to purify any freshwater source. In addition this small device can be used as an LED flashlight. Plus, if there’s no wall outlet handy, it uses solar power (but solar charging can take up to 24 hours versus four hours when using a wall charger). Also solar can treat up to one gallon of water per hour of charge (24 gallons in 24 hours) whereas when using the wall charger it takes 15 seconds for a quart (or five minutes for five gallons).

    Other key features include:

    • Volume settings of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 liters, with a dose of 2.5 mg/L free available chlorine
    • A salt water bottle
    • One battery charge will deliver 300 liters
    • A lifetime capacity of 124,000 liters (32,000 gallons) with no replacement parts needed.
    • Certified by the World Health Organization (WHO)
    • A single dose meets WHO treatment standards for virus and bacteria

    Last, but not leaset, is a Hybrid Lantern and Charger from Hydracell ($44.99) that’s activated by water and air. Plus you can use an included solar panel to trickle charge it during daylight hours.

    The setup is fairly simple. You dip the hydracell battery into water for ten to 15 seconds, shake off excess water and then insert it into the lantern. This gives you more than 250 hours of power, which is enough to charge all of your devices using the lantern’s USB port and provide power for anything needing direct current (DC) using its DC jack.

    The battery also has a 25-year shelf life before its first use.

    Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman’s Jocgeek fan page or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek. You can also contact him via email or through his website.


    • Michael L. Berman has more than 40 years' experience writing and editing for The Hartford Courant, The Norwich (CT) Bulletin, The Journal of Commerce and The Middletown (CT) Press. Mike's Techtalk column was syndicated by the Scripps Howard News Service from 1995 to 2000 and appeared as a computer and technology blog on until No. 19, 2013. You can also visit Mike's consumer technology website at

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