Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Great gadget gifts for grads

It's high school graduation time again, and I've put together a list of gadget gifts for graduates that offers a broad range of interests and price ranges. Here they are, in no particular order:

Quik Pod camera holder

Have you ever tried to take a photo of yourself with one or more other people by holding your camera out at arms length. I have short arms and even with a wide angle lens it's hard to get everyone in the photo. Sure, if someone is around you can ask them to make a picture for you but that's awkward. 120lr.jpgGet a Quik Pod for your graduate and they can make photos and videos of themselves and their friends more easily. The Quik Pod is a telescoping extension of your arm with a standard tripod connector on one end. It will hold any point-and-shoot camera up to one pound and in some cases (or with adapters) will hold your smartphone too. It collapses to under a foot so you can keep it in a purse or even your pocket. The one I tested, called the Quik Pod ComPod Slim, also came with small tripod legs that can be attached to bottom so you can use it a simple camera stand. Imagine your graduate strolling across the stage at commencement and using a Quik Pod to get that epic shot when he or she gets their diploma. Awesome!

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thingsremembered-1.jpegEngraved 2GB USB Dog Tags

Engraved gifts are always nice for graduates, allowing you to add that personal touch. These 2GB USB Dog Tags from Things Remembered are a nice choice that can be worn on a chain or used on a key chain. Your graduate will appreciate having 2GB of USB storage with them always to store photos, documents, music and many other things. Comes with two tags and both can be engraved. They have other USB gifts, like key chains and pens, that can be engraved too if dog tags aren't a good fit.

screen_shot_2011-05-27_at_11.15.20_am.pngCustom "Grad Pack" M&Ms

OK, M&Ms aren't really gadgets, but the gadgets used to customize them makes them qualify. Surprise your graduate with some custom M&Ms from mymms.com. You can upload photos or artwork plus include personal messages to print on the candies on an assortment of colors. They have some nice clip art images to help you and you even can upload a cap and gown photo to include. A "Grad Pack" which includes 20 packages of the custom candies, starts at $29.99. Fun for graduation parties or for just handing out to friends on the big day.

screen_shot_2011-05-27_at_4.28.03_pm.pngiPad 2 16GB WiFi tablet

An iPad 2 is the quintessential gift for any graduate, especially if they're heading off to college. They can use if for web access, email, Facebook, music, movie-watching, note-taking in class, game-playing and so much more. And when they're away at school and missing home, they can fire it up to do some FaceTime video conferencing with friends and family. The WiFi-only version is the least expensive, and since most college campuses have WiFi it should be fine. If not you can pay a little extra to get one with AT&T or Verizon service and they can just turn on the service when they need it.

The Instax Mini 7s or Mini 25 camera

There are lots of fun photo opportunities at graduation time, and your graduate will have plenty of oppotunities to make photos at parties, with relatives and during the summer before all their classmates head out to start the next stage of their lives. The Instax Mini 7s and Mini 25 cameras from Photojojo will let them show photos from those fun moments with everyone instantly. They print credit card-sized instant photos on bold new Fuji film, but retain that classic instant analog look that everyone loves. They're kind of like baby Polaroids. The Mini 25 comes with a digital control screen for exposure settings and the Mini 7s just has buttons for indoor, cloudy, sunny and very sunny. OK, let's get a little crazy...your graduate could put one of these on the end of a Quik Pod, then march across the stage and take an instant photo of themselves with the principal. Now we're talkng cool!

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screen_shot_2011-05-27_at_2.35.36_pm.pngPop-Up Mini Speaker

Most smartphones are capable music players but the speakers are usually a weak point, with low volume and no bass. The Pop-Up Mini Speaker from Brookstone is a compact and portable solution that would make a good gift for your graduate. Just plug it into the headphone jack on your phone, laptop, iPad or other device to get more sound. And when you want more bass, twist the silver cap on top for a bass boost. It charges through USB and is rated to last up to four hours on a charge.

galeriebuddy.jpgA Bluetooth speakerphone to keep them safe when driving

You should be proud of your special graduate's accomplishment, now get them a gift that will help keep them safe while driving. Although studies show that even talking on a phone while driving is a distraction, studies also show that using a hands-free speakerphone is a better choice if you have to talk. Supertooth makes an excellent series of Bluetooth speakerphones with a range of features and prices. The Supertooth Buddy is the simplest unit in the lineup with basic calling features. The Supertooth Voice has a text-to-speech feature that can announce the name of incoming callers and also has voice control. And the soon-to-be-released Supertooth HD has voice-control with Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS integration. Having long phone conversations and using social media accounts while driving isn't desirable, but if they're going to do it these speakerphones at least help keep their hands on the wheel an eyes on the road.

[Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2011 6:53pm]

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