The Beachcomber Holiday Guide

Tech-nically, These Are Great Gifts

Check Out Local AT&T, Comcast Stores for the Holidays
By Juliet Kaszas-Hoch | Nov 08, 2019

Southern Ocean County — It’s getting colder outside, and more comfortable inside, as the fireplace sparks back into use and the fuzzy slippers and sweaters come out of the closet. Settle into the couch and browse around online for the latest and greatest tech gifts for that hard-to-buy-for friend or family member as the holidays fast approach. Or stop in the Xfinity Store by Comcast and the AT&T Wireless Experience shop, both in Manahawkin, to select the best gadgets to give this season.

AT&T, online at att.com, lists categories of potential presents, including headphones, speakers, smart home items, phones and other devices.

It also notes a number of gifts under $30, such as AT&T lightning earbuds, car chargers and wall chargers, and a braided lightning cable.

Also on the inexpensive end of the present spectrum are Popsockets, which can be placed on the back of almost any mobile device “to transform its capabilities,” the company notes. “PopSockets ‘pop’ whenever you need a grip, a stand, an earbud-management system or just something to play with.”

And there are endless options for color and design, from plain black to sparkles to skulls to sports team logos.

New Swappable PopGrips, meanwhile, allow for wireless charging as well as swapping out.

The site also highlights the Tile Mate Gen 4 1PK, “the world’s best selling Bluetooth tracker.” The Tile Mate attaches to keys, purses or any flat surface, such as a laptop, “so you can always find your things.” Use a smartphone to make the Tile Mate ring when it’s nearby but out of sight.

“Can’t find your phone?” the site asks. “Simply double press the Tile button on your Tile Mate to make your phone ring, even when it’s on silent.” The Tile app can also display a phone location on a map, as the app remembers when and where something was left behind.

For presents that are a little more pricey, but still under $50, AT&T suggests items such as its wireless charging car dock. “Built-in motorized arms detect and grasp your smartphone securely,” the website explains. “Anti-slip materials keep your phone in place while you drive. Minimal design blends in with your car, includes vent mount, dash mount and adjustable support base customization options with a 1.5m USB-C cable.”

And the dock charges up to 20 percent faster than standard wireless chargers.

There’s also an affordable wireless charging pad for the house or office, and a 30W USB and Type C dual charger.

The company suggests, as well, JBuds Air True wireless earbuds or JBL TUNE500 headphones for the music lover in the family.

Check out, as well, out the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 3 WiFi-Connected Speaker, a voice-controlled smart speaker with Alexa. As AT&T states, “You can place Dot in the bedroom and use it as a smart alarm clock that can also turn off your lights. Or use Dot in the kitchen to easily set timers and shop, using just your voice.”

The device allows for hands-free voice control for Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn, and can turn up or down a thermostat.

For a loved one who may need or want a new phone, Comcast emphasizes, at xfinity.com, “There’s nothing like getting a new cell phone (and all the new features that come along with it). ... Christmas is the perfect time to give someone a cell phone as a surprise gift. A cell phone is a thoughtful, generous gift that can keep you connected to your loved ones.”

The company has some tips for those purchasing a phone for a kid, for a senior or for a spouse or partner.

“Giving your child a phone is a rite of passage that affirms they are responsible (and mature) enough to carry one,” Comcast notes. When deciding which cell phone to purchase for your young one, take into consideration, first, whether to buy a new or used phone, and then, think about how much memory and data the child will need.

“Although 64GB is the standard on newer models, most kids do not need this much storage – an older model with less will probably be enough,” the company states. As for data, parents will likely add the child to their mobile plan, so “talk to them about the cost of data, and the consequences of using too much.”

As for brand, “Apple and Android phones are both popular choices, but what you choose will likely depend on what you, personally, prefer.” Both Apple and Android phones offer parental controls. Parents just have to remember to set them up before giving the phone to the youngster.

“A cell phone is a great way to stay in touch with your aging family members,” Comcast points out. “If they feel comfortable with today’s technology, a newer model smartphone is best for pictures, cellular connections, storage and more.”

If the gift is not a surprise, ask the recipient what they use a phone for most – Talking? The Internet? FaceTime? Or a combination of many functions? – to help determine which model is best.

Consider, as well, if this senior family member would prefer a “pay-as-you-go plan,” if he or she will be assuming the cost. These plans have their own locked phones. Or that loved one could, instead, be added to an already-existing plan, or you could offer to explore plan options with them.

As a present for a spouse or partner, there are a number of factors to help determine whether to purchase the best phone on the market or something a little more basic. Think about whether the person takes a lot of photos and stores them all on their phone. If so, a phone with a large amount of memory, like 256GB, might be necessary.

Keep in mind, too, what screen size the individual would prefer. “Some people have a strong preference for small or large screen phones,” says Comcast.

Color, and accessories available for specific phone models, are also important considerations.

“Regardless of who you buy the phone for, knowing the color, screen size, storage needs and brand ahead of time will make buying a phone as a gift an easier process,” Comcast explains.

Another gift idea from Comcast is the new-ish Flex – a connected box for Internet-only customers to access video from Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming applications – for an affordable $5 per month.

Comcast also has integrated streaming services as part its X1 platform for customers who purchase cable TV. The X1 Entertainment Operating System contains both the receiver box and a DVR that links the television, Internet, computer, phones, tablets and home security subscriptions from Comcast or other providers.

To give the gift of peace of mind, consider Xfinity Home, a total home security system that offers 24/7 professional monitoring, smart home control, real-time alerts, cellular system backup, live HD video and the Xfinity Home app, and it works with Xfinity X1 to view cameras and more on the residence’s TVs.

One of these could be just the right present for a loved one – and they are, as well, gifts that keep on giving.

A new Xfinity Store by Comcast is located at 451 Martin Truex Jr. Blvd. in Manahawkin. Call 800-934-6489 for hours and other information.

The AT&T Wireless Experience shop is at 509 North Main St. in Manahawkin. Call 732-552-0050 to learn more.

— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

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