Mother’s Day is upon us. As is always the case every year, this is the occasion that most people take to profess their undying love for their mothers, mother figures in their lives or just about anyone who will one day become a mother. Not that they don’t already do so in their various ways but since there’s a whole day dedicated for such, why not indulge a bit?
Mother’s Day 2019 falls on 12th May and, as that day approaches, many of us will be spoilt for choice when it comes to what to pick for our favourite people. Others will be entirely confused. Others will know exactly what to get based on how best they know the needs of the people they intend to gift on that day. Whatever the case, this list is meant to bring to your attention some interesting tech products that you may or may not know about that can make excellent gifts that recipients will appreciate for months, maybe years, to come.
1. Xiaomi Mi Box S
Last year when I did a similar list, media streamers like the Xiaomi Mi Box S dominated the list with Safaricom’s then-new “Big Box 2” taking centre-stage thanks to its “affordability”, feature-set as well as ease of availability when compared to a lot of the other options I’d readily recommend.
Being another year, it is only fair that I recommend something fresh. That something happens to be the Mi Box S. This is the latest media streaming device from Xiaomi. It shares much with the Mi Box 3 that I reviewed last year save for a few design choices on the box and the accompanying remote control. If anything, the look of the Android TV interface (it’s powered by Android TV) and the performance will be exactly the same. With the Mi Box 3 since discontinued and hard to find in the market and the Mi Box S priced even a little better (overseas), it is a no-brainer that this is the one to go with even with all the similarities it has with its predecessor.
Not to say that the person you are celebrating on Mother’s Day is cheap but the Mi Box S provides exactly the kind of value for money that one can easily justify the Kshs 8,500 that they can get it for.
So, yeah, any mom who’s been stuck with an early 2010s Plasma TV will appreciate an Android TV box that is easily the best in its class that will transform their old black box into a smart device of the new age.
2. A smart video doorbell
I have had with me the ITB Smart Connect Video Doorbell since the end of January so I have had a lot of time with it.
Like the name says, it is a smart video doorbell. Think of a doorbell but with camera sensors so that you can see who’s at the door. There’s more…
There are many things that the ITB Connect video doorbell has going for it. It is light and very portable, it’s biggest selling point, in my opinion. This makes it easy to mount and unmount wherever one sees fit. This also means that it comes with a battery to make it truly portable.
This is where it gets interesting. According to the people behind the device, that battery can last for at least half a year. Maybe even up to 8 months. This is especially important if you don’t have an elaborate setup that can accommodate it and, like yours truly, find using the option of permanently plugging it in not that attractive. Having to remember to plug it in twice a year doesn’t bother me.
What bothers me is the advertised cloud storage for all the video surveillance the little camera sensors capture at the door. I wasn’t able to get the hang of it and, in this day and age of privacy being a huge debate, may be something you don’t want to expose your loved ones to especially if, like myself, you are the family’s first line of tech support.
What the mother figures in your life will appreciate, especially if they are advanced in age is how the whole setup functions. Install an app from the Play Store, set it up on their smartphone (easy to do, follow instructions in the included user guide) and they will be buzzed every time there’s some activity on the door. The sensors are quite sensitive.
Being the senior resident of Metal Door Twitter that I am, this smart video doorbell might have been wasted on me, sad to say. Yeah, it looks cool on those uptown teak doors and not these metallic contraptions of ours. So, I use mine as my living area camera. Since I travel out of town a lot, it’s worked so well in helping me see what’s up while I am away. Given how creative the women in our lives can be, I believe they can come up with better use cases for it beyond the door. For the Kshs 6,000 that it is listed for on Jumia, it’s a steal!
3. Anker PowerCore II portable charger
“Power banks”, as portable chargers are popularly known, are almost a must-have. If you have to buy one for your favourite people, let it be an Anker product. No, Anker did not sponsor this article. I just love them and their products. I have used the Anker PowerCore 10000 for more than 2 years and it has never failed me.
It takes a while (up to 4 hours) to charge up and it’s snappy when it comes to juicing up my devices thanks to the built-in fast-charging technology – Anker’s own proprietary PowerIQ and VoltageBoost as well chipset-specific ones like Qualcomm’s QuickCharge.
While my PowerCore 10000 may be a bit dated (though it remains on sale), the PowerCore II 10000 (pictured below) is not and it even has a few variations to offer something for everyone, a general theme that is seen throughout Anker’s PowerCore II series.
Pick any of the variants in the PowerCore II series and you will be making the right gift choice. They will thank you for it once they put it through its paces. There are lots of power bank brands out there; Anker rules the roost.
4. The new Kindle Paperwhite
Last year, I recommended a Kindle Paperwhite, just like the one I had bought months earlier. This year, just like with the Mi Box, I am still recommending a Kindle Paperwhite because there’s since been an update to the model that I referenced last year.
Now, the Kindle Paperwhite features waterproofing, keeps the legendary weeks-long battery life that the Paperwhite has been known for – even throwing a new power saving mode into the mix which is a nice touch since my way of saving power has always been to turn on Airplane mode which disables the Wi-Fi and not much else. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity to complement the audio book support that the new Paperwhite now packs meaning that it is possible to just listen to a novel using your Bluetooth headsets.
With audio books comes the need for more storage which is why it’s exciting to note that Amazon has doubled the base model Paperwhite’s storage to 8GB and still offers a 32GB variant.
The screen is brighter thanks to the addition of one more LED but in case one wants to keep things darker like when reading in a dark room or to complement that whole dark mode vibe going on on their other devices, there’s an inverted mode for white text on black background. Even better, the touch screen, which stays put at 300 pixels per inch, can be disabled so that only functions like page turns are registered, making it even easier to handle.
In short, the new Kindle Paperwhite is everything that a bookworm will appreciate and should be highly considered when gifting any bookworm instead of buying them yet another book.
At the moment, the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite is going for just over Kshs 9,000 on Amazon, a discounted rate from the over Kshs 13,000 it went for at launch.
As with all things Amazon, the downside here is that if you haven’t already ordered the Paperwhite (assuming you had already considered it) then you’ll need to wait for a couple of weeks to have it delivered locally after ordering from Amazon.com and using third-party delivery firms. This logistical nightmare may not be something that many are willing to put up with or are even familiar with in which case this article’s comments section is open for further guidance on how to go about it.
5. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera
Smartphones are nice and all but guess what else is nicer, especially if you grew up in the 90s, like I did, or before? Old school cameras. The ones where you’d wait for the film to be processed before getting to see how that weird pose came out.
Combine the urgency of today’s world where our smartphones have spoiled us with instant sharing and the age-old printing tech that used to be the primary means of storing our memories and you have devices like the ones in Fujifilm’s Instax camera lineup.
The Mini 9 Instant Camera, recommended in this article is just but the poster child of many others on offer that produce similar results but are both designed and priced differently and evoke different feelings. Nostalgic feelings, especially.
The Mini 9 comes in lively colours like Ice Blue, Flamingo Pink and Lime Green, among others. These resonate quite well with the overall vibe of a newborn baby’s collection of clothes and other things and would easily fit in to the life of a young mother both as a way of creating and storing memories they and the young one will cherish later in life as well as of calming the young one when they are all loud and unruly in the afternoon.
For the older folks who grew up without any knowledge of soft copies, it can be a nice walk down the memory lane if you got them one.
One of my biggest draws to the Mini 9, aside from its functionality, is its price. At just Kshs 5,000, you can order one from Amazon. Given that the operational costs are on the higher side as one needs to buy films, it’s important to keep the initial costs as low as possible and it does just that. Locally, Jumia has it listed for double that amount but given the time savings ordering from them does to you, they may be an attractive channel if you are to beat the Sunday deadline.
An insane Kshs 13,000 price – which would get me the camera and a 120 film pack on Amazon – has been quoted to me at some shops in Nairobi.
Of the five, which one are you most likely to get your favourite people this Mother’s Day?