Hi-Tech Gifts: This season’s home-related games, gadgets and great big screens

It’s the season to shop for family, friends and colleagues – and maybe get a little something for yourself after another challenging year.

There’s no shortage of tech toys for the home: sleek screens, great games, and smart gadgets. A few food for thought for different budgets and tastes:

Continue to play

Would you believe that the average age of a Canadian player today is just under 40? This is announced by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada. You can’t go wrong with any of the “big three” consoles:

  • The XBOX SERIES S – Gilded Hunter Bundle ($379) includes an Xbox Series S, an Xbox Wireless Controller (in Robot White), and add-on content for mega-popular video games like Fortnite, Rocket League, and Fall Guys. If you’re looking for a gamer who already owns an Xbox, Xbox Game Pass ($11.99/month) lets you play hundreds of high-quality Xbox games as part of the subscription service.
  • PlayStation fans, on the other hand, would be happy to unbox a new PlayStation 5 bundle, PS5 + God of War Ragnarök (starting at $599 for the digital version), which includes the console, matching wireless controller, and a copy of the hit new game God of War includes Ragnarok ($89 alone). Rated a perfect 10 out of 10 by, this game for adults (17+) is a retelling of Norse mythology in which we find the protagonist Kratos and his son Atreus in search of answers while Asgardian forces battle prepare for an epic battle that could end the world.
  • Nintendo gamers who love the company’s exclusive titles — many of which are based on family-friendly characters like Mario, Luigi, Kirby, Donkey Kong, and Pokémon — would no doubt appreciate the Nintendo Switch Bundle ($399), which includes the versatile console (which you can play on your big-screen TV or on the go), a digital copy of the cartoon racing game Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and a three-month individual membership to the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service (a $89 value). There’s also the Nintendo Switch OLED model ($449) for an exceptionally vivid 7-inch screen, wide adjustable stand, and more.

Retro gamers with a nostalgic connection to the ’80s could opt for Arcade 1Up’s stand-up arcade cabinet (starting at $546), each containing a few games, or, if you prefer an arcade cabinet, the You can download additional games, iiRcade Classic Bundle ($540 plus US$50 shipping) comes with 11 preloaded titles, including laserdisc classic Dragon’s Lair and beat ’em up classic Double Dragon.

With a 19″ HD display, 100 watts of stereo sound, and authentic two-player controllers, the WiFi-enabled iiRcade can be used as a tabletop or bartop with the included stand.

Virtual reality (VR) headsets also make great gifts, like the Meta Quest 2 (starting at $609), which supports countless games and other immersive entertainment and fitness experiences. Unlike some other VR headsets, you don’t need to plug this into a PC or console to play.

Virtual reality is hot this season and Meta (formerly Oculus) Quest II (from $609) is a great choice that works with several hundred games.

TV time

If you’re looking to gift the family a new TV for 2023, this year’s latest models didn’t disappoint.

  • LG’s C2 OLED evo TV (starting at $1,849.99) – available in 42, 48, 55, 65, 77 and 83 inches – is a stunning and amazingly slim TV. It features OLED evo technology, considered the most advanced self-illuminating pixel technology for an exceptional picture, including high-precision HDR (high dynamic range) performance and support for Dolby Vision IQ. On the audio front, the C2 features Dolby Atmos for superb sound ( especially impressive considering how thin this TV is). Integrated ThinQ AI (artificial intelligence) for voice control and personalized content.
  • Voted the best TV on the market by, Samsung’s S95B OLED 4K Smart TV (55-inch for $2,799.99 but reduced to $1,899.99 over Black Friday weekend), this 55-inch TV fuses an OLED -Panel for exceptional contrast with Samsung’s Quantum dot filter for richer colors. In addition to a fast processor, Samsung’s proprietary Tizen OS smart TV platform offers a huge range of apps and games. It is also available in 65 inches.
  • For those on a tighter budget, the Hisense U78H Series Quantum Dot Google TV (starting at $799.99) offers a wide spectrum of colors thanks to its Quantum Dot technology, but is also ideal due to the native 120Hz panel (essentially). for watching sports and playing video games (doubling the standard 60 frames per second image, resulting in much smoother motion). The 4K TV is powered by Google, so you can use the voice remote to activate the personal assistant to ask a question, control your smart home items, ask something to watch, and download apps.
The Hisense U78H Series Quantum Dot Google TV offers big and immersive pictures, fast movement to keep up with video games, and a Google-powered smart TV platform for voice control and apps.

To turn your existing (dumb) TV into a smart TV, there are also filler-sized (and priced) streaming players like the Roku family (starting at $24.99), Amazon Fire TV Stick (starting at $29.99 $), Chromecast with Google TV ($29.99). ) or the new and powerful Apple TV 4K box (starting at $179.00). Apple TV 4K also works with the amazing Apple Arcade subscription service ($5.99/month), which gives you access to 200+ high-quality games with no ads.

Give streaming media as a gift.  Apple TV 4K ($179) connects to your television and gives you access to video streaming services as well as ad-free games through the Apple Arcade service.

smart home

Make your home smarter with these additional gift ideas:

The Amazon Echo Show 15 ($329, but $219 compared to Black Friday) has been dubbed one of Oprah’s top gifts of 2022 and, at 15 inches, is the company’s largest “smart display” yet. Place this in a high-traffic area – like a kitchen – to keep the family organized: leave virtual sticky notes for others, sync calendars, access recipes, start a slideshow of photos of the kids or pets, stream movies while you cook over the holidays and control your smart home with your voice, via Alexa or with your fingertips.

Lorex in Markham, Ontario has a 2K wired video doorbell ($229) that lets you see — and talk to — who’s at your doorstep, even when you’re not home. Unlike other video doorbells, including those from Amazon/Ring and Google, this one doesn’t require you to pay for “cloud” storage (to go back in time to see who was at your door a few hours or days ago stand), because records are stored locally. The wired doorbell offers colored night vision, a built-in night light and the option to play pre-recorded audio messages when someone rings.

A Practical Gift: See and interact with everyone at your door with the Lorex 2K Wired Video Doorbell ($169).

Buying for a budding grill master? Traeger’s new Meater Plus ($149) is a wireless smart meat thermometer that works with any grill. Paired with the Meater Companion app on a smartphone or tablet, it helps you cook the perfect steak, chicken, turkey, lamb and fish by measuring both the temperature around the grill and the internal temperature of the meat. Ideal for the winter months, stay home and let the app notify you when it’s time to turn or serve your meat as the built-in Bluetooth repeater increases the range up to 50 metres.

Meater Plus ($149), a wireless smart grilled meat thermometer from Traeger, pairs with an app to show you when it's time to turn or serve.
Marc Saltzman is based in Toronto and covers consumer technology trends. He’s a freelancer for the star. Follow him on Twitter: @marc_saltzman


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