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 expertise.

Can you guess what it’s?

Just a few years in the past, my spouse experimented 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 appreciated it a lot that I picked a background shade that would complement our residence and uploaded the illustration to the app Keepsake, a printing service that assembles your photos in a pleasant body earlier than delivering it to your door.

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

This kind 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 that have made typical presents tough 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 presents we may give with out truly shopping for tech, from the presents you possibly can create to experiences that will final a lifetime.

Last week, I informed a buddy I had a particular current for her: I might repair her iPhone downside.

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

So earlier than she left for her Thanksgiving trip, I met her for lunch and walked her by way of 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 information earlier than putting in the new working system.

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

For those that are considerably tech savvy, this may occasionally 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 for those who 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 effort of studying methods to use a new piece of tech.

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

For one, I’m a fan of picture books that can 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 picture 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 unique picture of Max posing subsequent to an entree cooked by my spouse and me. I used to be delighted.

In normal, photo-printing providers provide good methods to show digital images into bodily keepsakes within the type of old-school, giant prints and even mugs and Christmas ornaments. (Wirecutter, our sister publication that critiques 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 purpose of studying extra about digital pictures. Then the lockdowns occurred, holidays became staycations and the digital camera ended up dwelling 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 while instructing the basics of pictures. (Hopefully she doesn’t learn this column.)

What would your family and friends prefer to be taught? We have loads of choices for potential present lessons, because the pandemic drove many lecturers to supply digital instruction on-line, together with for cooking classes and exercise routines. The present of data 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 screen time than we may ever think about enduring, so a fantastic present this yr is also something that takes our consideration away from tech.

That might 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.

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