Digital Crave

Mom doesn’t want another scented candle for Mother’s Day

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Picking the right gift for mom is a tricky business. Mom is probably too modest to tell you what she really wants. So you’re flying blind. Know these two things:

1. Mom will appreciate any gesture that shows her you were thinking of her.

2. Dads aren’t the only ones who like gadgets.

You don’t want to send the wrong message with a gift that’s associated with housework or fitness, though there are exceptions. As one mother told me: “I’d only give [a fitness gadget] to someone who I was very sure would understand that it was given with all the right intentions. And make sure that you are giving it with the right intentions!”

With that in mind I have compiled a list of gadgets – big and small, expensive and cheap – to consider when shopping for Mother’s Day. This list is bereft of any scientific expertise or data. I interviewed a few mothers with different backgrounds and tastes, thought about my wife and my mother, and employed some tech gadget expertise to cobble this together. If I missed something please let me know in the comments section below.

VuPoint Solutions

1. Photo printer

We’ve never had more photographs than we do now. Most of them are stuck in our phones. It’s not difficult to transfer them to physical prints via a photo web site such as Snapfish or your local CVS. It’s also much easier and, eventually, cheaper to use a photo printer.

Check out the VuPoint Solutions Photo Cube IP-P10-VP Photo Printer (starting at $99, Yahoo! Shopping). Compatible with iPhones and Android phones, this small printer lets you view and print pics while it charges your device. No computer, cables or USB necessary.


2. Fitbit

A half-dozen moms told me the Fitbit (starting at $53, Yahoo! Shopping) is the kind of health/lifestyle gadget that would be welcomed on Mother’s Day. Fitbit trackers aim to empower and encourage by delivering real-time feedback that helps you be more active.

“I just started exercising, and it’s all so nebulous,” said Felicity of Baltimore. She’s dropped many hints around her house that she wants a Fitbit for Mother’s Day.

“I like concrete tools I can measure my progress against, and the Fitbit looks like it offers that. Plus, its website is very visual. I’m getting the Flex (due this spring). It’s like a very subtle bracelet, which is attractive, mostly so I won’t accidentally wash it.”

Wendy, a mom of two living in Rhode Island, has owned both the Fitbit Ultra and the Fitbit Zip.
“I love the Zip because it is so small and you have the option of simply putting it in your pocket. The best part for a mom constantly on the go is having it connected to a free app, such as My Fitness Pal, so you can track on your computer or smartphone.”

Her recommendation also comes with a warning: Spring for an extra $4 to get the “leash.”
“It’s very sad when you don't notice yours is gone or, worse, in the toilet.”

Mission Cooling Towels

3. Cooling Towel

Tara, an avid athlete and sports fan from Maryland, is a chip off the ole block. Her mother is as active she is. Especially when it comes to tennis. Knowing this, Tara gave her mom the simple but incredibly thoughtful gift of a cooling towel.

“They cost about $20 and they are great if you are exercising outdoors. They cool you down real fast. You can even just drape one around your neck if you’re outside on a hot day watching a game, or just walking around the neighborhood.”

The Mission Enduracool Instant Cooling Towel ($15, is made of a proprietary performance fabric that instantly cools down when it’s wet, wrung out and snapped in the air. The towel absorbs moisture and regulates the rate of evaporation for a cooling effect that lasts for hours, without feeling wet.


4. Belkin Kitchen Stand and Wand for Tablets

I’m the cook in our house and I don’t mind when sauce or oil splashes onto a cookbook. It adds character. I do not feel the same about our tablet. My wife, an excellent baker, often uses the tablet when cooking. It’s great for recipes and video instruction for precise techniques.

Since my wife rarely reads my stories I can safely say this stand ($22, is in the running for one of her Mother’s Day gifts this year. She’ll be able to prop her tablet up on this stand and use the included stylus to navigate the touchscreen without getting buttered fingerprints on the screen.

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Amazon X-Ray for Movies

5. A tablet

Most of the moms I surveyed said they want a tablet of their own – not one that is shared by the kids or partner. Moms want a tablet that goes where she goes, is loaded with her apps and is powerful and intuitive at the same time. I typically shy away from recommending a specific tablet. I think they’re a personal choice. However, you can’t go wrong with an Apple iPad or a Kindle Fire HD. Known for their elegance and simplicity, the iPad and iPad Mini are solid tablet choices if you have the cash. Jo-Ann, a mom from Maryland, is looking for an iPad this year.

“I’m thinking of getting the iPad for all of the reading I do, but also because I can better integrate it with my phone, calendar, iTunes, and work access. Especially with work – now that weekends and days off are more like ‘days out of the office when you’re still expected to be accessible and get things done no matter where you are.’ Carrying around a slim iPad for easy access to work files and online access is much more convenient than hauling around a work laptop everywhere.”

On the other hand is the Kindle Fire HD. An excellent device backed by the Amazon juggernaut, this tablet is especially attractive to moms who love books and movies. If your mom is a movie buff, she’ll be happy to know Amazon and IMDB recently released “X-Ray for Movies.” With a single tap mom can discover the names of the actors appearing on the screen and what they’ve been in. If she can’t remember where she’s seen the actor playing Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey, mom simply taps on the screen to see a full filmography. (It’s Hugh Bonneville, also in Notting Hill.)

Amazon has since expanded X-Ray to TV. X-Ray for TV is also available as part of the free Amazon Instant Video app on Wii U.


6. The Original Rabbit Corkscrew

Lisa is a mother of two and a high school teacher in Rhode Island. For Mother’s Day she wants a robot that can clean her house. Since those don’t exist – outside of robot vacuum cleaners – she said she’d settle for a Rabbit Corkscrew. This has been around for a while – it first won design awards in 2001 – but it’s still a favorite because it perfectly performs an important task.

The Rabbit Corkscrew pulls a cork in three seconds flat and then automatically releases the cork. Its user-friendly ergonomic design opens any size wine bottle. Mom will also appreciate the 10-year warranty and the fact that a portion of sales for the pink model goes to Breast Cancer Research.


7. Ergorapido stick vacuum from Electrolux

OK, it’s a vacuum. But it is a pretty cool vacuum. It may not be on the top of mom’s list. However, the Ergorapido (starting at $153, Yahoo! Shopping) is such a neat spin on the traditional vacuum that she might be happy to have it – especially if you pair it with something else (a spa day gift certificate never fails).

The Ergorapido is a two-in-one cordless stick vacuum that can replace that behemoth waiting for you in the closet. It works on countertops, floors and carpeting with a detachable handheld unit for smaller jobs.

Charging Station

8. Charging station/backup battery

Crystal is a mother of four daughters. Just writing that sentence made me weep for her a little. Despite her beautiful burdens she was quick to think of a (seemingly) selfless gift when I asked her about Mother’s Day.

“A device charger pad for mothers of teens. Teens always lose the chargers for their respective devices and borrow mom’s and never have it when I need it! Also, one if those backup battery chargers for your phone that you can keep in the car or your purse. Inevitably, your plans change while running people around and your phone is just about to die when you know your kid is supposed to contact you.”

The Sanctuary Charging Station by BlueLounge (starting at $130, is a beautiful, simple solution to Crystal’s problem. The simple and compact design conceals a universal charger compatible with over 3768 electronic devices from most major brands and a USB port allowing hundreds more electronic devices to be charged.

Duracell’s Portable Backup Battery ($50, wireless-battery-backup/fits in the palm of your hand and is equipped with two connectors that allow it to charge a variety of devices. On one side, it has a Micro USB connector, which lets it charge most smartphones, eBooks, Bluetooth headsets, and more. On the other end, it has a 30-pin Apple connector for your iPhone and iPod.

Moms, what are your thoughts on these picks?

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