Handling technophobic parents can be difficult. You know that they’d benefit from having some useful gadgets in their life, but unless you want to spend your entire holiday offering tech support, getting them there seems like an unsurmountable task.
Luckily, there are some great gadgets that even the most tech-troubled parents can learn to use. Even better news? Many of them are intuitive to set up and learn to use, so you won’t spend all of the time you’ll be home for the holiday setting up new devices for them or figuring out how they’ve already messed up all the settings. Read on for seven of our top picks for devices for your parents this holiday season.
1. A set-top box like the Apple TV
If your parents like watching movies and TV shows, then you can help them enter the new age of streaming TV. When it comes to set-top boxes and dongles, you have a lot of options. (Think the Roku 4, second-generation Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, etc.) But one of the best is this year’s new Apple TV, which will enable your parents to watch content from iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and HBO Go, Showtime, and Plex, plus enjoy content from sports and news apps or play casual games. If that sounds like too many options, keep in mind that Mom and Dad can complete voice searches and commands with Siri — which makes all of that functionality significantly easier to navigate.
2. A power card or USB battery
If your mom or dad loves to talk to you (or your significant other) for hours at a time, chances are pretty good that those smartphones could use some backup battery power. But most people aren’t good at anticipating when they might need their charger with them, so a better option is a power card or portable battery. A pocket-sized USB battery, like Anker’s external battery, can prevent mom or dad’s phone from dying even on days when they just can’t put the phone down.
3. An e-reader like the Kindle Paperwhite
For parents who love their books and could use some encouragement not to load their carry-ons with paperbacks each time they come to see you, consider a gift of an e-reader like the all-new Kindle Paperwhite. The tablet is readable day or night and has a battery that will last through weeks of reading. It also has a higher-resolution display than previous models, plus an exclusive typeface which makes the screen easier on the eyes.
4. A portable speaker for their house
For the parent who just hasn’t upgraded that ancient stereo and the stacks of CDs it necessitates, a Bluetooth-enabled speaker can be a great choice of holiday gift. For parents with classic taste, consider one in Marshall’s line of speakers, which are sized appropriately for all kinds of spaces and offer multiple input options. A great portable speaker will make it easy for your parents to listen to all of their favorite music without managing all those CDs. Throw in a gift card for a Spotify subscription and your parents are all set.
5. An Eyefi card for their digital camera
If your parents are enthusiastic about digital photography but can’t ever seem to manage the photos that they take, or get them off the camera, than an Eyefi card can simplify their struggles. The company’s signature SD cards enable you to transfer files from your camera to your computer or your mobile device, and can automatically organize photos for sharing and storage on all of your devices.
6. A smartphone photo printer
If your parents like having photos but aren’t so great at actually taking them — or doing something with the ones that you email to them — then the smartphone photo printer can be a simple solution. Each time you and your siblings are at your parents’ house, you can use a compact printer like this Photo Cube smartphone photo printer to create prints of all of the photos your parents want. And they can print their own photos if they, like many parents, want a more tangible archive than the gallery on their phone or favorite cloud service. (How they store or display all those prints is definitely not your problem.)
7. A Chromebook for lightweight browsing
If your mom or dad could use a new computer, but has trouble keeping up with maintenance tasks like updating an operating system or cleaning up files, consider simplifying things with a Chromebook. Keep in mind the limitations of a Chromebook — you can’t run a lot of the local software that people are used to on a PC or a Mac, for instance. But if your parents mainly use their laptops for lightweight web browsing, a Chromebook could be an easy and practically maintenance-free device.