With Black Friday just days away and Cyber Monday a week away, now is the time to start browsing for the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list! Tech expert and Today show contributor, Mario Armstrong is the authority when it comes to great gifts for adults and children of all ages, and he was kind enough to join me for an interview recently to dish on the must have gifts everyone in your family will love.
Candace Rose: Laptops and tablets are some of the most sought after holiday gifts. Which do you recommend?
Mario Armstrong: “I recommend the HP Stream right off the bat. The reason why is because it’s powered by Microsoft’s new operating system, light ultra-thin, super affordable, though, Candace. We’re talking under $200 for a fully functioning laptop. It also will include a $25 gift card – that’s an amazing deal.
Everyone wants a tablet, but why spend big money if you can buy one for $99? The Nextbook 8 is a great tablet running Microsoft operating system. It’s stylish and affordable for you.
Those are my two picks right there for computer and tablet.”
Candace Rose: Getting fit is always a top new year’s resolution, is there anything out there to make it more fun? Or in my case, make it fun?
Mario Armstrong: “Absolutely! I’m not a big fitness buff; I believe in being healthy and I believe in working out, but I just can’t get into a routine often enough because going to the gym doesn’t excite me. I really was excited to test this (Goji Play) out and try this because I was really hoping to want to be engaged in fitness again. The Goji Play is basically a wireless handheld system that attaches to existing fitness equipment, whether it’s a treadmill or an elliptical. It has buttons as well so you can interact with the game in realtime while you’re working out. It really makes it much more fun, almost distracts you a little bit from the fact that you’re just walking on a treadmill because the movements that you’re making in fitness are really helping you along with the game.”
Candace Rose: What’s new that will help you save money all year around the house?
Mario Armstrong: “Smart home stuff is usually very expensive, but if you can get a smart home system or particularly one product it can end up saving you money on your electricity or on heating and cooling bills. To be able to control your home and see the spending and what you’re putting out on a mobile device is really powerful. Home Depot has put together some great bundles of packages of different home automated devices at different price points for everybody. Head to Home Depot or HomeDepot.com and you’ll find out what they have going on for the Nest Learning Thermostat or the Leviton Universal Outlet and more things for your smart home.”
Candace Rose: Is there a favorite gift idea that’s really personal?
Mario Armstrong: “My job is to find these products that are different, reduce the price so people aren’t spending a lot of money, but also find some things that can be personalized or unique. I love AncestryDNA, this is a perfect unique and personal gift. It is a mail-in DNA test kit so you can get this kit sent to your home, you follow the steps, you send it in to AncestryDNA and they basically will give you everything you need to know about your family history. You’ll have details of your ethnic background, your cultural roots and maybe even second/third/fourth generation cousins might get revealed through that as well. If you use it with their online subscription service, that helps to really make those connections. AncestryDNA is really great to learn about who you are in the world and who you’re connected to and give you that self discovery.”
Candace Rose: Smart watches are all the rage these days. Which one do you recommend?
Mario Armstrong: “The one I’m wearing ,which is the Pebble Smartwatch. It’s only $79 right now which is great. It’s the Pebble Smartwatch rated best by CNET for the holiday gift guide they put out. It’s also a fitness tracker so you don’t have to wear another band, you can wear just one. It’s also a sleep tracker, so you can also look at your sleeping habits and help you get better rest. It’s all about getting handsfree notifications, I can see who is calling my phone on my wrist…I can see the number. I can get text messages, emails, Facebook posts and comments. I’ve connected it with my favorite app Evernote. You connect this through Bluetooth to your phone and they have different versions – a stainless steel which looks amazing, a leather strap one too. Smart watches that are affordable is definitely on the holiday gift list.”
Candace Rose: How is gaming going to new levels this holiday season?
Mario Armstrong: “It’s changed with The Sims. I’m a big fan of The Sims, I’ve always played it and number 4 is out. The Sims 4 by EA is out and this is a great addition because not only do you get to do the things you used to do with Sims – be in this virtual world, create and manage characters and have fun with your character, buy dream homes, build them and create all of that, but now you can tap into their emotions. Now you get to the soft side of characters. There’s a scene in the game where a guy gets down on his knee and he proposes and she says no. There’s this feeling of defeat and sadness and you have to work with your character to kind of work around that. It’s almost like a life simulator to some extent.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Mario Armstrong: “We have complete descriptions and the links to everything on our website ThunkNews.com/CoolGifts.”