Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Shared Family Tech Gifts for Kids, Teens and Grown-ups

We've put together a list of tech gifts for families. These are gifts that a family can buy for themselves or that friends and relations can buy as gift for a whole family to share. Christmas is a time when families often choose to upgrade their tech. Grandparents and other relations may choose to buy a gift that a whole family can enjoy rather than smaller items for each person.

Our suggestions have a tech (STEM) spin and we've covered a variety of price ranges and encourage families to spend quality time together.

  1. littleBits

    littleBits modular electronics are fab for families. There are lots of different sets, some are suitable from age 8+. Others are suitable for families with teenagers. Families will be able to create their own gadgets. There are even options for programming via Arduino and integrating with Smart Home devices.

    See our review of littleBits
  2. Amazon Echo or Dot (Alexa)

    The Amazon Echo is a fab gadget for a family. It's a voice-controlled intelligent assistant with a built-in high quality speaker. You can ask Alexa to set alarms and timers, help with homework, play music, control smart devices and lots more.

    Dot is a smaller device with a basic speaker that can be used to get Alexa capability in multiple rooms around a house. You can get started with just a Dot.

    Read our review to find out how Amazon Alexa works in a family. 
  3. Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer

    The XYZ Printing Da Vinci Mini 3D printer is a great first 3D printer for families. There are lots of free models online that you can choose to print. And as a family gets more confident they can start to design their own models and print them. A 3D printer is a great gift for a maker family.

    Read our Da Vinci 3D printer review for beginners and our more in-depth technical review
  4. LEGO Dimensions

    LEGO Dimension is a great gift for a family that has a games console. It's a video game that you can extend by buying additional character and level packs that you build from LEGO. The range of franchises supported by LEGO Dimensions is impressive and you should be able to find something that will appeal to all members of the family.

    LEGO Dimensions can be played in two-player cooperative mode. We tend to pair up adults and kids with adults helping out when there are tricky bits (oh okay, sometimes it's the other way around.) Note that you'll need to choose the starter pack for the right console, but the add-on character packs work with any console.

    Read our LEGO Dimensions review for more details. 
  5. Airblock Modular Drone & Hovercraft

    Drones are fantastic for families are there are lots available depending on the age and experience of the family members. We've picked the Airblock Drone from Makeblock as it's an educational drone that you can use to learn to code. Younger family members will enjoy watching the drone fly and those who are aged 8 and above can get involved in the building, coding and flying.
  6. Sphero BB-9E

    Sphero BB-9E is a very cool robot. It has an accompanying app that can be used to control it and can interact with other Sphero Droids. This Star Wars Droid also works with the Force Band. It can join in as you settle down as a family to watch Star Wars Films (there's an app for that.) And the icing on the cake for us is that the Sphero BB-9E can also be programmed using the Sphero SPRK Lightning Lab app.

    This means that you've got a fun robot that can be used for interactive play using cool technology, for shared family entertainment and for educational purposes too.
  7. Virtual Reality Headset / System

    Virtual Reality is going mainstream. There are lots of headsets and systems to choose from. Just make sure you check our post of VR Headset Age recommendations. The good news is that there is an option available for children as young as 7 so they can join in the fun too.

    VR is just at the beginning and it's interesting to get involved in a new technology from the start.

    Note that some headsets like the Oculus Rift require a powerful gaming PC, there's also a Playstation VR system and headsets that work with a mobile phone.
  8. Makeblock Ultimate Robot Kit

    Makeblock make awesome robot kits and components. Their Ultimate Robot kit makes a great gift for a techie family. It can be assembled (by adults, teens or older kids with supervision) to make a 10 different models including something for all the family. There are cool robots that can drive around, a robot to help take 3D panoramic videos and even a bar tender to pour drinks. A Makeblock Ultimate Kit is great for spending quality family time together while learning STEM skills.

    Makeblock makes other robot kits including the mBot and mBot Ranger for children. But if you want to get the whole family involved in robot building then the Ultimate Kit is awesome.
  9. Bare Conductive Starter Kit

    The Bare Conductive Touch Board allows you to use conductive paint to create create interactive art work, practical jokes or useful projects. The starter kit includes the board plus paint, a speaker and other accessories to get you started.

    A family can have lots of fun coming up with ideas and making a cool interactive project for their house.

    It's worth checking Think Geek for deals.
  10. Beasts of Balance

    Beasts of Balance is a fantastic new game that combines physical game pieces with a digital app on iOS or Android. The game is for 1-5 players from age 7 up to adults. The game requires cooperation as you build a physical tower of beasts which come to life in a digital world. Beasts of Balance is new for 2016 and reflects the trend to combine physical and digital gaming.

    See our review of Beasts of Balance more more details.

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