Connect with the tech geeks on your holiday shopping list with these 12 brainy games, devices, and smart toys that will rock their Christmas.
Kids of all ages will feel in the middle of the action with the NOON VR Headset ($89). Developed by South Korea-based tech company Nextcore, this lightweight headset can be paired with any smartphone with a 4.7-inch or larger screen. Wearers can watch IMAX-quality videos enjoy a fully immersive virtual reality experience, such as virtual roller coaster, a volcano erupting or even a flight through outer space. Available at Amazon.
Engineering enthusiasts (grades 4+) can literally make a new as they become better builders with the RiQ ($229) easy-to-build-and-program robot kit with building components, sensors, and a microcontroller. The hands-on kit uses is a fun introduction to science concepts such as mechanical engineering, structural engineering, physics, gear ratios, and other STEM concepts. Available at edventures.com.
Everyone wants the “it” gift of the season, the Sky Viper Video Drone 950 ($89) from Skyrocket Toys. This lightweight, durable and high-performing drone spans 12.75” and features the ability to record video and pictures in full 720p high definition with one-touch custom camera moves in autopilot. Its long-range 2.4 GHZ transmitter can be adjusted for all levels of flying experience. (Ages 12+) Available at skyrockettoys.com.
Move over Minecraft, ARCKIT is the new exciting, creative and addictive building activity but in real, tangible life. Professionals, hobbyists, design fans and budding young builders age 12+ can use these ingenious kids to create realistic models to scale, from their own future home to classic architectural monuments, outside as well as the interior, in a true 3D model. The pieces can be dissembled and reused, and the system is compatible with 3D computer modelling programs. Available in various sizes, starting with the ARCKIT Go kit, or ARCKIT 60 with 220 pieces, and ARCKIT 620-pioece AR240 Kit, all which can be expanded with component packs. $69 to $399. Available at Barnes and Noble.
See it all
For those who like to see it all, olloclip’s New Macro Pro Lens ($69) is the microscope for the digital age. Compact and portable enough to put in a backpack or on a keychain, it quickly affixes to an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus utilizing the front- or rear-facing camera to become a powerful high-clarity microscope for discovery and photography, featuring 7x, 14x, 21x macro magnification, for examining insects, flowers, and innumerable small objects, for learning and fun. Available now at olloclip.com and major retailers including Apple and Best Buy.
Host your own family talent show with the pitch perfect Singtrix Personal Bundle, by the makers of Guitar Hero, and everyone is a start. Even bad singers sound good and good singers sound great with this next-generation portable karaoke machine that works with any smartphone, tablet, PC or other audio device, for listening with headphones or a speaker system. The Personal Bundle features more than 300 quality vocal effects and controls to create instant four-part harmonies, so that anyone can sound like a rock star. Available at TOYS “R” US and other national retailers, $229.00.
Lots of subscriptions boxes promise surprises inside, but the Cooper and Kid box delivers, with curated products full of wonder and excitement for kids, with a focus on activities designed to enrich parents’ quality time with children. These kits are full of activities, games, tools, and crafts, like rocket-propelled experiments, that make for great for quality time with kids. Even the shipping box converts into a toy. Subscriptions start at $59 per month for a box per quarter. Available at ccoperandkid.com.
Smart is the new cool with Project Mc² line of toys and activities aimed at teaching girls about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) through play. The collection includes smart stylish dolls ($24.99) that each include a real-working experiment, such as a kit to create a lava light or an erupting volcano or a glow stick. Other products include the Rock Sugar Jewelry ($9.99) kit for making fashionable accessories through chemistry in the kitchen, and Mckeyla’s Ultimate Lab Kit ($49.99) full of science experiments, and a Soda Can Robot ($14.99) construction kit. Available at Target, Amazon and Toys R Us.
Message in a teddy
Kids stuffed animals really can talk to them, in the voices of their loved ones, with CloudPets ($29.99 + $6.99 shipping and handling). These connected plush toys pair with Bluetooth devices and use BTLE technology that allows children, family and friends to record and send messages by pressing the toy’s right or left paw to send or receive. Designed as a cute and cuddly way for long-distance family and friends to keep in touch, the toy can also be used as a sleep machine with downloaded lullabies to help baby doze off. Available at cloudpets.com.
Super charged fun
Some video games are mindless fun, but top-selling video game franchise Skylanders offers fantastical exploration of a fictional world that expands the imagination. With an array of characters that players place into the game using physical action figures, players can engage in exciting racing and battle interaction in Skylands. In Skylanders SuperChargers (starter kit $74.99), Skylands is in peril. A special team called the SuperChargers equipped with an unstoppable fleet of incredible vehicles must embark on epic adventure to stop the villainous Kaos and save Skylands. Available at Toys R Us and wherever video games are sold.
Super strength goes with super design and hi-tech with the keyless Master Lock No. 1500eXD. School kids will be the envy of classmates with this hi-tech combination padlock hanging on their locker, and they never need worry about forgetting the combination thanks to a vault enabled permanent Backup Master Code. Made of boron carbide for maximum resistance to cutting and sawing, the lock comes installed with a replaceable CR2032 five-year-life battery. $39.68. Available at Amazon, Home Depot, Target and other national retailers.
For anyone with a serious case of FOMO who can’t stop changing channels when TV watching, Pronto ($49.99) makes it easy. This palm-sized hub pairs with the free Peel Smart Remote App to turn an iPhone or iPod Touch into a universal remote that controls more than 3,000 home entertainment devices, even streaming video players. This remote is so smart it makes viewing recommendations based on the user’s interests and viewing habits. Available at Newegg.com and BestBuy.com.