The fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population today is over 50. Nicknamed “Baby Boomers” , they are the post-World War II generation that watched as we probed outer space and put a man on the moon, and became the first consumers of the personal computer after technology innovators as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates made it possible to work, play and communicate in a revolutionary way.
That is why it is not so far-fetched to think that many seniors today would welcome the idea of giving and receiving electronic gadgets this holiday season. In fact, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has identified the 50 and above crowd as the fastest-growing segment of gizmo buyers. Now, more than ever, there is a huge selection to choose from, whether the gifts are designed to help your recipients stay healthy, improve their mobility or entertain.
• GreenerGadgets.org – The latest online resource from the CEA, this website helps meet consumers’ desire to be both tech-savvy and environmentally friendly. It features an energy use calculator and recycling center locator. While calculating the energy usage of each electronic appliance in your home, it also will let you know where to find the nearest responsible electronics recycling center by simply typing in your zip code. Cost: free.
• Livio Bluetooth Internet Radio Car Kit – For those of us who are into iTunes, iPods and streaming music to keep the earbuds humming while we relax, work or play, the folks at Livio have come up with a way to expand our listening pleasure to our car – without buying a whole new auto stereo system. The device consists of a small “dongle” that simply plugs into your car’s 12-volt power outlet and includes a built-in FM transmitter and Bluetooth adapter that allows the music stored on an iPhone or iPod to play on the car’s existing stereo. The kit also can be used as a hands-free speakerphone. Cost: $120. Available at www.livio.com.
• Audiovox Carlink – If you don’t have one of the newer cars that comes with a remote control to unlock the doors and start the engine, don’t worry. The Carlink from Audiovox is the latest auto aftermarket accessory that will do just that. It includes hardware that is professionally installed under the dash and a smartphone “app” (application) that works with Android, Blackberry or iPhone handsets. In order for it to work fully, your car must have an existing alarm system. Cost: $299 plus $29.95 per year service fee after the first year. Audiovox alarm systems range from $149 to $699. Available at www.audiovox.com.
• Chaheati All-Season Heater Chair – It looks like a common lightweight and collapsible canvass chair you would see in any backyard, camping ground or beach, but it is very unique – it is a virtual heating pad without the cord. The Chaheati uses built-in heating elements with four temperature settings from 98 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and runs on a lithium-ion rechargeable battery with up to six hours of life on each charge. Heat is distributed evenly to provide warmth across your entire back, buttocks and upper thighs. This could be the perfect gift for the person who likes to hunt or fish under the stars on a chilly night. Cost: $89.99. Available at www.chaheati.com.
• Cobra PhoneLynx – Not quite ready to dive head-long into the world of cell phones? This device, which looks like a computer mouse, allows the user to make and receive cell phone calls on any landline phone using Bluetooth wireless technology. You can still use your big button, touch-tone home phone but have your cell phone as your only “pay” phone. Cost: $39.99. Available at www.cobra.com.
• Berkline Recliners – Here’s two ideas that may force you to replace your “favorite” chair you’ve lounged in for many years. Berkline recliners, the Laptop and Concert Series, are “gadgets” because they not only reclines and swivels,they also featurea storage compartments for storing a laptop, iPad, e-reader and other electronic devices, and allow for an attachable workdesk and an optional wireless charging station for your gadgets. Berkline’s Concert recliners offer built-in stereo speakers and subwoofers. Cost from $649 and $699. Available at www.berkline.com.
Hopefully, your holiday shopping will be stress-free and your season joyful.