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, she even thinks I am obsessed with the Bob-2016-Revolution-Flex stroller.  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