Christmas Gifts That are Smart: Tucker’s Recommendations for 2012

Posted on December 15, 2012 by


Geeky products I like and recommend.

The Nest Machine Learning Thermostat

Our power bills have been outrageous over the last year. Partly, I think, because we’re bad about turning the temp down or off when we are out of the house. I’ve seen this thing advertised for a bit and wanted to get one. But…

Maria thinks I’m a control freak, and that a smart thermostat would provide yet another means for me to exert my overlord oppression on the family.  But the power bills provided me some leverage.  Eventually she relented.  We got one, had it for a week, and then Maria let me get another one for upstairs. nest

Reasons to get one:

  • It is easier to use than a regular thermostat.
  • It learns your schedule, and sets the temperature in advance for you.
  • It notices when you are away, and stops heating/cooling as appropriate.
  • It has an iPhone app so you can set the temperature from the couch.
  • It uses Machine Learning, and the MLWA (Machine Learning Workers of America) need your business.

The latest version is available at $249, but the old version is on sale at Lowe’s for $198.00.  If you have a traditional heat/air system the older version will work fine.  No reason to get the new one that I know of.

The Mint Cleaning Robot from Evolution Robotics (err, iRobot)

We’ve had one of these for a year. I want more!  It is quiet, it really cleans, it is smart. It uses an indoor “GPS” to keep track of where it is so that it can follow a precise lawn mower pattern to clean the floor completely.  It really

Reasons to get one:

  • Doesn’t get stuck all the time like the the Roomba.
  • Not noisy as hell like the Roomba.
  • Really navigates.
  • Actually, really cleans.

Downside: Works only on hard floors. Doesn’t work on carpet.

Available in lots of places at $199.00 (this seems to be the sweet spot for smart things I guess).

Dollar Printing Magic Trick

Presentation: Place a plain dollar-shaped paper into the magic device.  Turn the handle and the magic printer converts it into a real dollar bill. I use one to demonstrate financial principles in my classes. money

Reasons to get one:

  • It is easy to use.
  • Your kids will be amazed.
  • Isn’t that enough?

Available in most magic stores for $5.00 or less.

If your kids doesn’t like any of these gadgets you can always get them another kind of toy, like a doll, a ball or a dirt bike for when the kids ride wild.


I have no interest in any of these companies.

Posted in: community, technology