The Best Tech Gifts That Aren’t Gadgets


My favourite vacation tech present doesn’t require batteries or software program updates. It’s not even a gadget, although it was made with know-how.

Can you guess what it’s?

Just a few years in the past, my spouse experimented along with her iPad and a digital stylus to make digital illustrations. Using Procreate, a drawing app, she loaded a photograph of our beloved corgi, Max, as a reference to hint over earlier than embellishing the picture with a polka-dot bow tie and a cartoonishly lengthy tongue. I preferred it a lot that I picked a background colour that may complement our house and uploaded the illustration to the app Keepsake, a printing service that assembles your photographs in a pleasant body earlier than delivering it to your door.

A big, framed portrait of Max now hangs as a centerpiece in our front room in all its two-dimensional glory. It makes me smile and is at all times a dialog starter when we’ve friends over. That’s greater than I can say about different tech items that I’ve acquired through the years, resembling video video games and sensible audio system, which solely introduced short-lived pleasure.

This sort of gifting train — tech-adjacent presents that don’t contain {hardware} or inconsiderate Best Buy present playing cards — could also be particularly welcome this yr. That’s as a result of we live in a pandemic-induced period of shortage pushed by a world chip scarcity and provide chain disruptions which have made typical items troublesome to purchase. (Anyone making an attempt to purchase a recreation console for the final yr understands this ache.)

So right here’s an inventory of concepts for tech items we may give with out truly shopping for tech, from the presents you may create to experiences that may final a lifetime.

Last week, I instructed a pal I had a particular current for her: I’d repair her iPhone drawback.

She had complained to me about her five-year-old iPhone SE. The gadget may not take images or set up software program updates as a result of almost all the gadget’s knowledge storage was used up.

So earlier than she left for her Thanksgiving trip, I met her for lunch and walked her by the method of backing up images to an exterior drive earlier than purging all the pictures from the gadget. Then I plugged her telephone into a pc to again up all her knowledge earlier than putting in the brand new working system.

She was thrilled to have this drawback mounted earlier than her journey. She can now take plenty of images on trip. Plus, a brand new Apple software program replace has a software so as to add a digital vaccine card to the iPhone’s pockets app, which makes vacation journey barely much less demanding within the pandemic.

For those that are considerably tech savvy, this will likely function a template. Listen to your family members’ complaints about their tech and provide the present of fixing the issue. If it’s a sluggish Wi-Fi connection, see when you can diagnose the difficulty to spice up speeds. If it’s a short-lived telephone battery, contemplate taking them to a restore store to get the battery changed for a small sum.

In some methods, this beats giving a brand-new gadget as a result of it spares them the trouble of studying find out how to use a brand new piece of tech.

Apart from the instance of the digital illustration of my canine, there are many different methods we will use tech to create for family and friends.

For one, I’m a fan of photograph books that may simply be created with net instruments. Just a few years in the past, a colleague’s Secret Santa present for me was a calendar she made utilizing Google’s photograph books service. She created it by pulling images from my canine’s Instagram account and compiling them right into a calendar — every month was a distinct photograph of Max posing subsequent to an entree cooked by my spouse and me. I used to be delighted.

In basic, photo-printing providers provide good methods to show digital images into bodily keepsakes within the type of old-school, massive prints and even mugs and Christmas ornaments. (Wirecutter, our sister publication that evaluations merchandise, examined two dozen photo-printing providers and highlighted its favorites.)

Before the pandemic upended our lives, my spouse purchased a DSLR, the kind of digital digital camera utilized by professionals, with the objective of studying extra about digital pictures. Then the lockdowns occurred, holidays became staycations and the digital camera ended up residing in a drawer.

My plan for a vacation current for my spouse is a two-hour digital pictures lesson with a photograph studio in San Francisco that takes college students on a stroll throughout the Golden Gate Bridge whereas instructing the basics of pictures. (Hopefully she doesn’t learn this column.)

What would your family and friends prefer to study? We have loads of choices for potential present courses, for the reason that pandemic drove many lecturers to supply digital instruction on-line, together with for cooking classes and exercise routines. The present of information goes a great distance and generally offers again, like when the recipient of on-line cooking classes makes use of that newfound information to make you dinner.

The pandemic could have uncovered us to extra display time than we may ever think about enduring, so an amazing present this yr may be something that takes our consideration away from tech.

That could possibly be renting a cabin in an space with no mobile service, tickets to a play, a winter hike and a picnic — something that offers us respite from our inevitable return to screens.