Best Kids Apps


2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Kids

Great gift ideas for the tech-savvy kids on your list

We’re very happy to present our first annual holiday gift guide for gadget-loving kids.  It’s chock full of tech-y goodness and there isn’t a thing on it that we wouldn’t love to see under our own tree!  There’s something here for every person on your list, not to mention every budget.

>>See our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Men and Women

FOR ITTY BITTY KIDS

1.  A tablet

Tired of holding your breath every time you hand your iPad to your toddler?   Why not get him a kid-friendly tablet that’s a little sturdier?  We like the Nabi 2, but we’ve got other recommendations too.

Read more about the Nabi 2.
Read our full tablet review post.

2.  Wii with Wii Sports Resort

Sure, it’s fun to play on a phone or tablet, but if you’ve got a group of people, you can’t do better than the Nintendo Wii.  Even very young kids can get in on the action… dancing… bowling… beating their parents at doubles tennis.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to pick up a copy of Just Dance Kids (trust me on this).

Read more about the Wii with Wii Sports Resort

3.  Fisher-Price Kid-Tough See Yourself Camera

No matter how much you need silence or cooperation, it is never a good idea to hand a very young child your camera or phone.

Even in a padded room full of marshmallows and feather duvets, kids can find a way to bork our expensive devices (trust me, I speak from personal experience here).  There are many cameras designed just for the short set, this one is by far the best of the bunch.

Read more about the Fisher-Price Kid-Tough See Yourself Camera.

FOR KIDS WHO ALREADY HAVE EVERYTHING

1.  iPod Touch

It is an axiom of technology gift-giving that once you have a smartphone, you no longer need an iPhone touch.  Unfortunately, it is also true that most very young children (1st and 2nd graders for sure, and probably 3rd through 5th too) don’t yet need phones.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Yes, the iPod Touch continues to be one of the most coveted devices of all time.  If you’ve got a grandparent who is dying to splurge, this is the idea I’d recommend passing along.

Read more about the iPod Touch.

2.  Boogie Board 8.5-Inch LCD Writing Tablet

Any time you take a regular activity and add tech, kids like it.  For example: I have a “learn the states and capitals” app for my iPad.  Guess how long it took my 5th grader to master the subject?  That’s right.  About 10 minutes.  Which is why the Boogie Board (basically an LCD chalkboard) is so fun for kids.  Plus, there’s the eco-angle… drawing without wasting paper!

Don’t like pink?  Don’t worry.  It comes in five other crave-able colors too.

Want to save your kids’ masterpieces?  Take a digital photo!

Read more about the Boogie Board 8.5-Inch LCD Writing Tablet.

3.  Kidz Gear Wired Headphones

Okay, this is really a gift for you.  Forget peace on earth, give yourself peace of mind! You’re a parent, so of course you worry about everything.  Now you can check hearing loss off that list.

Protect those sweet little ears while protecting yourself from hours and hours of listening to those laughing pigs in Angry Birds.  You can thank us later.

Now if we could only get our teenagers to use these.

Read more about the Kidz Gear Wired Headphones.

FOR TEENS

1.  Sonos PLAY:3 All-in-One Wireless Music Player

As much as we love all things Apple around here, we do NOT love buying music.  We especially do not love buying music for kids, because their tastes change so much from day to day (and thank God for that, see also: Carly Rae Jepsen).

We got our kids Sonos wireless music players and a family Rhapsody account instead.  With the magic of the internet, we can play any music we want.  And when we outgrow it?  We can move on.  It’s like renting vs. owning.

Read more about the Sonos PLAY:3.

2.  Fujifilm Instax MINI 25 Instant Film Camera

A stylish, retro camera (not to mention the world’s best party accessory!) that takes photos and instantly prints them on 2×3″ paper. Let’s face it: we all miss Polaroid cameras — at least in theory.  But with this little cutie, we don’t have to anymore!

Film is a tad expensive for teens, so be sure to order a few extra packs to get them started.

Read more about the Fujifilm Instax MINI 25 Instant Film Camera.

3.  iPad Mini

The smaller rendition of Apple’s most hyped product of all time, the iPad Mini is sized just right to slip into backpacks and purses (and under pillows too, so beware of bedtime).  Teens will thrill to find this under their tree, or even in their stocking.

Come to think of it, anyone would thrill to get this.

Read more about the iPad Mini.

>>See our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Men and Women



2012 Gift Guide for Men and Women

Stuck for good gift ideas? We've totally got your back.

We’re very happy to present our first annual holiday gift guide for gadget-loving moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends.  It’s hard to find original gifts year after year after year — we get that and hope this helps!

>>See our 2012 Gift Guide for Kids

FOR ATHLETES

1. Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker

The so-called “quantified self” movement is very hot right now, and a Fitbit (basically a very, very smart pedometer) can be a fun way to jump in.  We all know we should be getting 10,000 steps a day and 8 hours of sleep, but how many are we really getting?

This cool little device syncs wirelessly to your online account, where you can track your activity and (best of all) compete with and taunt your friends.  Or, if you’re anything like me, your spouse.

Read more about the Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker.

2.  Nike+ SportWatch GPS

For some of us, just running is enough.  For others, the fun is knowing how far, how fast, the route, and how many calories.  For these people, the stylish, rechargeable, water resistant Nike+ SportWatch GPS will be their favorite gift this season.

With this watch, you can discover new routes and share favorites with friends via social media.  Oh, and tell time.

Read more about the Nike+ SportWatch GPS.

3.  GoPro HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition

I personally cannot think of one thing I do on a regular basis that I’d like to watch a video replay of.

Luckily for the folks at GoPro, much of the world doesn’t agree with me.

If you’ve got a trail runner, skier, snowboarder, sailor, rock climber, scuba diver, mountain biker, surfer, waterskier, motorcyclist, or skydiver on your gift list, they will whimper with pleasure when they open this rugged, waterproof gift.

Read more about the GoPro HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition.

FOR STYLE-CONSCIOUS WOMEN

1.  Agloves Touch Screen Gloves

So, it was back in May when my lovely partner Jen gifted me a pair of these.  I had to wait six whole months to use them, but when I did, it was bliss!

Forget the texting gloves with no fingertips — they will only leave you cold and bitter.  Forget the ones with the funny little finger pads — they’re weird.

These beauties have some kind of silver-flecked magic woven right in, so you’ll be warm and connected at the same time.

Read more about Agloves Touch Screen Gloves.

 2.  Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Over Ear Headphones

Earbuds are fine for occasional use, but for long-term listening, on ear (or better yet, around ear) headphones are the way to go.  Of course function is more important than form, but if you can have both, we say why not?

Whether they listen to music, movies, or audio books,  the fashion aware women on your list will love these in green, orange, purple or red.

Read more about Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Over Ear Headphones.

3.  A powered purse

It happens to the best of us.  You’re running out the door, stuck in traffic, or delayed at the airport, when suddenly you notice that your phone’s charge is going… going…  gone.

With an Urban Junket powered bag, you can partially charge a device 10 times or fully charge it twice.  Yes, you read that right.  Choose from totes, handbags, laptop bags, and crossbody bags.

Read more about Urban Junket powered bags.

FOR FOODIES

1.  Nespresso Automatic Espresso Maker and Milk Frother

I’ve owned a few espresso makers over the years, and this one is by far the best.  The coffee it makes?  Is better than what I can get at Starbucks or Peet’s.  My dinner guests have even been know to weep with pleasure.  Actually, I made that up, but it does make the most amazing coffee.

Give this gift to someone you live with so you can use it too.  It’s like a gift for yourself.  Sneaky, right?

Read more about the Nespresso Automatic Espresso Maker and Milk Frother.

2.  Belkin Kitchen Stand and Wand for Tablets

Online recipes are a great thing, but printing recipes so you can safely use them in the kitchen kind of defeats the whole purpose.  Plus, it’s not exactly paperless.

Got honey on your hands and olive oil on your counters?  Never fear, with this tablet stand and handy touchscreen stylus, you can cook and keep your iPad clean at the same time.

Read more about the Belkin Kitchen Stand and Wand for Tablets.

3.  ET 732 + Meathead’s Temperature Magnet

Carnivores who entertain a lot will love this wireless barbecue thermometer set.   They can monitor both the meat and barbecue temperature from a wireless unit up to 300 feet away, thereby looking like the perfect hosts.

No more hopping up to check on dinner and hovering over a hunk of meat while the party goes on without you.  This thermometer set will put the social back in your social life.

Read more about the ET 732 + Meathead’s Temperature Magnet.

(more…)



The Best Tablets for Kids

Thinking of a tablet for Christmas? Here are five affordable options

If you’ve been waiting to buy a tablet for your kids (so they’ll stop hogging yours), you’re about to be rewarded for your patience!  If an iPad or an iPad Mini isn’t in the budget, don’t despair.  Many more affordable, kid-friendly models are now available, just in time for the holiday season.  Here are some of your best options:

1.  LEAPFROG LEAP PAD 2
Ages: 3 to 9 | $99 

A chunky 5×7-inch handheld gaming and learning device for the littlest kids.  This entry-level gizmo comes with front and back cameras, five wholesome preloaded apps, and now compatible with both LeapFrog cartridges and the LeapFrog App Center — a library full of amazing educational and age-appropriate apps for kids.

Unlike other tablets, this one runs on AA batteries (compatible with the recharger pack, sold separately).  This makes it singularly ideal for travel, when on-the-go recharging isn’t always an option.

>>Read more about the LeapPad 2

2.  NABI 2,
Ages: 4 to 10 | $199 

A sturdy 7-inch Android tablet with Wi-Fi, a camera, and an included rubber shield that comes pre-loaded with $150 worth of games and ebooks, both educational and just for fun.  Also included are free trial subscription-based streaming video and music apps.

Finally, it has a chore list that can be tied to a reward system (coins that can be exchanged for apps).  Sadly, it can’t tell if your child really made his bed or just said he did, but what tablet can?

>>Read more about the Nabi 2

3.  VTECH INNOTAB 2
Ages 4 to 9 | $74

An absolutely bombproof handheld gaming and learning device for small kids at an attractive price.  The Vtech InnoTab 2 is tricked out with a camera, video camera, photo viewer, video player, MP3 music player, e-reader, art studio, games, and microphone.  Game cartridges will cost you, but will be offset by the low device price.  Apps, e-books, and music can be easily uploaded too.

Since it takes AA batteries, it’s great for travel (since it’s not always convenient to recharge on the road).  Consider investing in a battery recharger though, so you won’t be buying, using, and recycling way too many batteries.

>>Read more about the Vtech Innotab 2

4.  KINDLE FIRE
Ages 6 to adult  | $160

A full-color, 7-inch tablet with multi-touch display, Wi-Fi, and (perhaps most pleasing of all) really nice integration with Amazon’s endless emporium of books, movies, magazines, games, and apps.

When Amazon released the HD version of the Kindle, the price on this base model Kindle came down $40.  This is really good news for you, because you get a lot of value for your money with this model.   Find my full review (from last year, but still totally relevant) here:  Best gift of the season?  The Kindle Fire.

>>Read more about the Kindle Fire

5.  GOOGLE NEXUS 7
Ages 6 to adult | $265

Some people want a 7″ tablet, but don’t like being locked into a device that confines them to consuming media from Amazon.   For these people, the clear choice is the Google Nexus 7.

This device is almost identical to the Kindle Fire HD (not listed here, because we recommend the cheaper version). It’s an absolutely great little machine.  Slightly more expensive than the Kindle Fire HD, but slightly less expensive that the iPad Mini.

>>Read more about the Google Nexus 7