The best tech to buy the non-techie in your life

The best tech to buy the non-techie in your life

Credit: KING

The best tech to buy the non-techie in your life

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by Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY

NWCN.com

Posted on July 5, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 5 at 12:52 PM

You're walking the aisles of your favorite electronics retailer and spot something awesome for a loved one.

But then you remember that family member, friend or coworker is more tech-shy than tech-savvy.

"Will they appreciate this gift?" you ask yourself. "Or worse, will it become a source of frustration?" To err on the side of caution, you put it back and move on.

It's true many of today's tech toys suffer from a steep learning curve, perhaps due to complicated setup or an unintuitive interface.

That said, if you're looking to pick up something for those intimidated by the latest gadgets — even yourself, perhaps — take heed to these following products that are very simple to use.

iPAD AIR, iPAD MINI

While Android tablets offer more customization and multitasking options, Apple's best-selling tablets — the 7.9-inch iPad mini (from $299; apple.com) and 9.7-inch iPad (from $399) — are the perfect presents for the tech-averse person. Easy to pick up but difficult to put down, these touchscreen tablets are simple to operate thanks to a graceful interface, a bright and colorful screen, Siri integration for voice support and plenty of apps. Unlike most other tablets, you can choose a Wi-Fi + cellular option, which lets you get online anywhere via 4G/LTE connectivity (from $429), instead of hunting for a Wi-Fi signal at a coffee shop.

MICROSOFT WEDGE MOBILE KEYBOARD

Typing on a smartphone or tablet can be tricky. A portable wireless keyboard might make the task a lot more comfortable. The Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard ($59.95; microsoft.com) is an ultra-slim and lightweight Bluetooth keyboard you can take with you anywhere. Along with the full-sized keyboard (with a good spring to the buttons) there are extra media buttons and hotkeys to help you get more done in less time. A durable cover that protects the keyboard when not in use doubles as a flexible stand that props up your smartphone or tablet, be it an Apple, Android or Windows device.

CLICKFREE C6

Just because you know you should back up your PC's important information doesn't mean you know how to do it. The Clickfree C6 external hard drive (from $89.99 for 500GB; clickfree.com) has a unique feature: simply plug it into your computer and it'll automatically back up your important files, such as documents, photos, videos, music and more. As the name suggests, the process is "click-free." In fact, the C6 is also capable of backing up your entire Windows operating system, if desired; if something happens to your computer, such as a nasty virus, plug in the drive and it'll restore your PC back to normal.

REVOLV

Even those of us who are "dumb" with tech can make our home a smarter one. Revolv ($299; revolv.com) is a universal smart home hub that easily connects and controls all of your smart home devices, such as the Nest learning thermostat, Sonos music system, Philips Hue lights or Kevo Bluetooth deadbolt. Essentially, the small red Revolv box unifies various off-the-shelf "smart" devices and lets you control it all with one companion app for smartphones and tablets. Setup takes about 60 seconds per device; in most cases the hub automatically discovers gear you already have installed and lets you create custom commands.

ROOMBA

Who wouldn't want their home vacuumed by a robot? Especially if you can just "set it and forget it" — to borrow a quote from infomercial guru Ron Popeil. The iRobot Roomba family (from $349.99; iRobot.com) can move about your floors to suck up dirt, crumbs and pet hair off carpet, hardwood, tile or laminate. Simply plug in the iRobot to charge it up, turn it on and let it navigate around your space to do its job (and it senses stairs and turns itself around, by the way). The Roomba makes dozens of decisions more than 60 times per second to clean efficiently, whether it's to go over an area again, tuck into areas not easy to clean (under beds, couches) or hug walls and counters as it makes its way around the premises.

BEATS BY DR. DRE - Pill 2.0

Take out the complexity of pairing your favorite music player with a wireless speaker. The Pill 2.0 portable stereo speaker from Beats by Dr. Dre ($199.99; beatsbydre.com) features built-in NFC (near field communications) technology that allows for instant pairing with compatible Android devices. Simply tap your NFC-enabled phone or tablet on top of the pill-shaped speaker and the two gadgets make a digital handshake, of sorts — and then Bluetooth takes over from there. Available in multiple colors, this portable, battery-powered speaker also works with regular Bluetooth wireless devices and non-wireless music players.

DROPCAM PRO

A drop-dead easy-to-use home surveillance system, Dropcam Pro ($199; dropcam.com) is a Wi-Fi video monitoring service that lets you see what's happening in (or around) your home — even when you're not there. Keep an eye on your loved ones and belongings by launching the companion app on a smartphone, tablet or personal computer, or opt to receive activity alerts in case the cameras detect movement. An optional Cloud Video Recording (CVR) feature lets you access video from the past week or month. Unlike the regular Dropcam, the Pro model features high-quality video, powered by a sensor that's twice the size, along with twice the zoom and a 130-degree field of view.

KINDLE

Portable and powerful, the Kindle (from $69; amazon.com) weighs less than 6 ounces — lighter than a typical paperback — and the relatively affordable price won't weigh you down. Ideal for a book lover on your gift list, simply use your fingertip to tap or flick through digital books, magazines and newspapers — even in bright sunlight thanks to its smart anti-glare e-ink display. The 2-gigabytes of built-in storage is enough for about 1,000 ebooks. As with most other ebook readers, this Wi-Fi enabled device lets you tweak the font size and style, plus it includes an integrated dictionary and lasts up to a month on a single charge.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. E-mail him at techcomments@usatoday.com.

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