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Last-minute gadget gifts for holidays

Posted December 24, 2016

Are you at a loss over what to get that one person on your list? You know, that one person for whom it is so difficult to find the perfect gift?

Well, everyone loves gadgets, and you have a few more days to pick up the year’s best for this holiday season. After scouring reviews across the web, here are four no-fail presents for those hard-to-please loved ones or for yourself.

For anyone: We’ve all dreamed of walking into our futuristic home and ordering the lights on and the music to play solely with our voice. Dream no more because Amazon made this a reality a couple of years ago with the Amazon Echo.

This home assistant was a small cylinder that could control smart home devices, and millions of people paid a couple hundred dollars to try it out in their kitchens and living rooms. But now Amazon has released a smaller, budget version called the Amazon Echo Dot, and tech reviewers everywhere are raving.

Set this hockey puck-shaped gadget down and it will hear your voice from anywhere in the room, even if the TV is on. It can work with any phone. Just download the Alexa app and then sync it with iOS Reminders or Evernote using an IFTTT applet. Now you’re ready to tell Alexa to do all sorts of things like set alarms and timers, answer questions, manage your calendar, play music and read news headlines.

Without ever having to touch a button or know where your phone is, you can also tell Alexa to order a Domino’s pizza, add eggs to your shopping list and run most smart home appliances. Amazon is adding new options all the time, with recent ones including a partnership with AT&T for its users to use talk to text with Alexa, and Vivint home security system capabilities. Here’s the kicker: the Amazon Dot costs just $39.99.

For the Gen Xer: Remember the days when you were the king of Kong? I’m talking "Donkey Kong." So does every one of your friends born in the '60s or '70s. Now is the time to give someone the biggest nostalgia trip of all time by gifting them the Nintendo NES Classic Edition game console. For $59.99, this mini NES comes with a full-size controller — with a too short cord — and has 30 built-in games. Now whoever receives this awesome throwback can share their love of "Zelda" or "Galaga" with their kids; and probably beat them in a one-on-one competition (extra controllers cost $10). These are tough to find right now, but a few stores are getting more in stock in limited quantities this week.

For the teenager or kid at heart: If you have someone on your list who loves Legos and also loves drones, you are in luck. Flybrix has combined those worlds and created their dream toy. Buy the basic kit for $189 and it comes with everything you need to build a flyable drone out of Lego bricks. This is perfect for the tinkerer in your life because it’s infinitely tweakable, and it’s crash-friendly. Once your kid slams it into the side of the house, you can just rebuild it. You use an app to fly the drone in the basic kit. The deluxe kit priced at $249 comes with a controller, but is sold out now (you can add a controller to the basic kit for $80). Flybrix products have one-day shipping.

For the woman you want to spoil: First-hand reviews from dozens of websites have one sole complaint about this revolutionary hair dryer from Dyson: the price.

Maybe there is absolutely no way you would ever spend $400 on something to blow air onto your hair, but if you know someone with a thick mane who complains about the time it takes to dry their hair — and about the damage to their hair from prolonged hot air blasting their tresses — the Dyson Supersonic may be worth it.

The tiny motor is positioned in the handle so it’s much quieter than other hair dryers, and there’s no chance of getting your hair caught and ripped out by the fan. Heat dries out hair and strips it of its shine. The Supersonic has a sensor that measures air temperature every 20 seconds and lays off when it gets too hot.

That doesn't mean it won't dry your hair quickly. Most reviewers reported the time it took the Dyson model to dry their hair was about one-third of the time it takes a regular hair dryer. The Supersonic comes with three extensions that attach with super strong magnets, and a filter that lets you know when you should change it. Is it worth $400? Buy me one for Christmas and I’ll let you know for sure.

Amy Iverson is a graduate of the University of Utah. She has worked as a broadcast journalist in Dallas, Seattle, Italy, and Salt Lake City. Amy, her husband, and three kids live in Summit County, Utah. Contact Amy on Facebook.com/theamyiverson

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