Jared E. Bendis

Jared’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

Back by popular demand – my favorite holidays toys for 2013.  Some are new releases – some are classics and just great gift giving opportunities.  I try and indicate along the way if I own the item (or one similar).  Enjoy!

The Robotic Pet

So 2013 is the year of the Robotic pet and I own all of them. The Zoomer Pet Dalmatian – is very interesting – recharges via USB – responds to voice commands and moves very organically.  As robotic pets go this is pretty fun.  The cats don’t approve because it is like a real animal. The Tekno Robotic Puppy – is very different than the Zoomer and probably for a younger audience.  Uses batteries and feel much more robotic.  It can do an amazing flip and has an app for control of many features.  So you really have to decide if you want more of dog or an RC toy.  And while 2012 brought us the New Furby – 2013 has brought the even newer Furby Boom! They are fun – crazy – chaotic and now they sort of even have an off switch – if you hold the tail yanked they fall asleep. They come in many flavors so you need to find the right one – the smart phone app takes it into an entire new realm of toy.


Portable Gaming

For portable gaming I am a big fan of the Nintendo 3DS XL.  It is fun, flexible, big enough to see and also has the cool 3D without the glasses thing going on (which you can turn off).  I have played with it but do not own one (it’s on my wishlist). And it really is for all ages.  However, new for 2013 is the NVIDIA Shield (I have one). This is a 16GB Android Tablet with a 5″ 720p horizontal display with a built in controller for all your hardcore gaming needs. There aren’t a lot of games for it – yet – but it also allows gamers to stream their desktop video games to this device using an NVIDIA video card. If you are a PC gamer this is a must item to check out!

Console Games

Good luck getting your hands on either the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4 – the hottest new consoles for 2013.  They are more than just for gaming and are really your one stop for all media.  Of course the Ninetndo Wii-U is easier to find – because no one wants one – sorry Ninentdo. But don’t fret – the ultimate in video game technology is cheap and fun and ready for purchase – The X-Arcade Tankstick.  It has 2 joysticks, buttons, and a trackball that plugs into your computer (or with optional accessories ANY console). To give you a real arcade gaming feel.  Don’t own one yet – but I want one!

Food Technology

I don’t need it but I want it – (and probably won’t use it) but the SodaStream thing seems fun (and also messy) – I don’t want to use their syrups – I want to make my own. I own this Cotton Candy machine  and it is crazy fun – it is a party in a box!  You can even use hard candy to create the cotton candy with and I have used Werther’s Originals, Root Beer Barrels, Lifesavers and more.  Great for all ages a MUST have for the holidays!  The Zoku Quick Pop maker just allows you to quick freeze any liquid in 7 minutes – a fun summer kitchen toy – oh wait it’s winter.  Well still I want one.  And how about going on a ‘flavor tripping’ part with some Miracle Berry Fruit tablets – they make sour things sweet!  Just a bit of fun.

Media Subscriptions

A gift that keeps on giving is a media subscription!

Everyone who gets it loves their Netflix – tons of movies and TV shows and it even allows multiple people per account:

Hulu is great for current TV but you get a lot more (including the ability to stream to a device) with Hulu+. Please note – even with Hulu+ you have to watch commercials:

Amazon Prime has a variety of TV shows and movies (no commercials) but it doesn’t include everything that Amazon streams. It does come with free 2 night shipping and a very discounted overnight shipping on a lot of Amazon shopping so it is a great service:

TV Toys

I love TV. All of these devices do the same thing but slightly differently.  They stream movies to your TV.  All three work with Netflix and Hulu+ but…  The Roku allows for other channels like HBO and VUDU (if you use those services).  Chromecast streams from a connected device so you need a tablet or computer (which usually isn’t a problem).  And Apple TV kinda does both – works stand alone for Netflix and Hulu+ (and iTunes) but also can stream/clone your iPad or Macbook.  If you are a Macbook user this is awesome – press a button and your TV is your computer.  Remember – a lot of smart TVs already have this functionality so ask yourself what you need and what you are getting. All three are cool.

Smart Watches

Don’t be fooled – smart watches are not ready for prime time yet – but… for $150 the Pebble Watch is a nice add on to your smart phone.

Camera Fun

Digital cameras are everywhere and cheap.  So instead of suggesting the best digital camera I wanted to share some fun ones that I own and use.  The Lytro is the camera where you focus AFTER you take the picture.  You don’t buy it to print – you buy it to post nifty interactive photos online.  The software keeps improving and it really is a fun toy.  The Pivothead Durango is a great set of wraparound sunglasses with an HD video camera and a 8MP still camera built in.  I had prescription lenses put in mine – love it – travel all over the world in them.  And of course the darling of mini video cameras is the GoPro – high resolution – high frame rates – lots of ways of wearing it (check out the chest or helmet attachments) – it is for more than just extreme sports.  Comes with a remote but you can also control from your smart phone.


This year isn’t just about tablets  – it is about the smaller 7″ tablets with high resolution displays.  I love the iPad Mini but you can’t go wrong with a Kindle Fire HD or even the Nexus 7.  Don’t just shop by price – shop by function: which software will you want to run and will it run on that device?

Crazy Big Presents

I love my toys – and these are the crazy big ones – and I own all three.  The DJI Phantom is the fun and easy to use quadcopter that really packs a punch.  Goes very well with a GoPro camera.  If you want to start in the 3D printing world – I say jump in with a Makerbot Replicator 2 (sure the 2x has more features – but it is harder to use) – and the Makerbot Digitizer which keeps getting better and better – the new software allows for multiple passes and is the perfect compliment to any 3D printer.

There ya go – my top tech suggestions for 2013! Did I miss anything – email me and I might just add it to the list – Jaredx2@gmail.com!