BC Hydro holiday gift guide 2015

At this time of year, we love sharing some of the cool tech products that we've learned about or tested. Here's the annual list of gift ideas for your list, and theirs.


BB-8 droid from Sphero

Everyone's excited about the release of the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. And every kid, of every age, is going to want their very own BB-8 robot. Designed and manufactured by Sphero, and controlled using a mobile device (Android or iOS), the BB-8 is amazingly cool. The head stays attached to the rolling body with magnets (which means it can and will fall off occasionally).

And while you can use your smartphone to make it move, you can also let it roam around on its own, or plot a route for it to navigate. You can even talk to it. It’s just the cutest little robot you can call your very own.

The BB-8 is available at Best Buy.


Put a Little Sun in your pocket

This solar-powered light is not only a cute and effective lamp, proceeds from the sale of each Little Sun fund efforts to get them to the 1.6 billion people in developing areas of the world where electricity is scarce. The solar cell is among the most efficient developed, and with only five hours of charging, the Little Sun will provide four hours of bright light, or 10 hours of ambient light. Built to be durable, the light includes three AAA rechargeable batteries.

Get your own Little Sun at Eartheasy.

Wake up naturally with this LED light

It's not always easy to get up in the morning, but the experience can be much more enjoyable with a Philips Wake-Up Light. The idea is to wake up naturally, so the golden LED light turns on about 10 minutes before your alarm. It starts dimly, and gets gradually brighter as your chosen wake-up time approaches, in the same way that the sun slowly rises above the horizon. When the alarm does go off, you rise to either the sound of birds or the sounds of a forest. It's as natural as you can get at six o'clock in the morning.

You can find the Wake-Up Light at Amazon, Costco, and London Drugs.


Charge up your iPhone and your Apple Watch

There are lots of iPhones in the world, and while not everyone has an Apple Watch, this new Belkin stand for both an iPhone and accompanying Apple Watch is a great gift for those who do. The iPhone dock is adjustable for use with a variety of cases, and the magnetic arm that holds and charges the Apple Watch is set at the best angle to be viewed from a desk or nightstand.

Available at your local Apple Retail Store or online.

Image of USB wall socket

USB wall outlets

Every year there are more and more mobile devices in our home that need to be charged up, and they all seem to come with their own adapter. With Leviton USB wall outlets, you can leave those adapters in the box. These are easy to install, and replace your existing outlets, providing two 15-amp traditional plugs as well as two USB charging ports. The Leviton outlets detect the optimal charging power of your particular device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, handheld game system, or camera.

Available at Home Depot.


Wireless speakers

Samsung's Radiant 360 line of wireless speakers can be placed, propped, or even suspended. They provide streaming audio throughout the house, and have been engineered to fill entire rooms with sound. The flagship R7 is oval, while the sibling R1, R3, and R5 models are cylindrical.

The Radiant speakers from Samsung are at Best Buy and London Drugs.


Spruce up your home with a new ceiling fan

Ceiling fans are great for improving air circulation in your living space, helping to keep things warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They can also reduce the impact of humidity. The Energy Star-rated Haiku fan is a sleek model for homes that comes from Big Ass Fans, which also manufactures industrial models. The Haiku is available in a range of sustainable materials, including bamboo and aircraft aluminum and in three sizes: 52 inches, 60 inches, and 84 inches. Equipped with a silent motor, the Haiku can also be kitted out with a long-life LED light, too.

Get your Haiku fan directly from Big Ass.

Rechargeable accessories for Apple desktop computers

Apple's range of efficient computers now have peripheral devices that are smart with power. The Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 are constructed with a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery which enters a low-power state when it isn't in use. That's one reason why they can operate for a month or more on a full charge, depending on how often you use them. The new trackpad is larger than the previous Magic Trackpad, and is equipped with Force Touch, which gives you even more ways to interact with your computer.

Get these at your local Apple Retail Store or online.

Bigger, more efficient TVs

Samsung has some slick televisions that are rated ENERGY STAR®. The displays are available in sizes ranging from 40 inches through to 65 inches, great for small and larger spaces.

Both the JU5700 and the JS9000 series are curved and capable of displaying 4K ultra-high-definition video. They also include Smart TV functions like apps, Skype, and even video game streaming from the PlayStation Now service. In addition, the JS9000 can be controlled with voice commands.

Samsung televisions are sold at retailers including Best Buy, London Drugs, and Visions.

Programmable thermostat

One of the best ways to keep your home comfortable is to keep the temperature consistent. A programmable thermostat helps with that. They replace your manual thermostat and also give you the opportunity to modulate the temperature based on the time of day. There's no need to heat your home or apartment if you're at work all day, and you can let things get cooler at night when you're under the blankets anyway.

Honeywell has a range of programmable thermostats available at retailers including Home Depot, Home Hardware, and Lowes Canada.


Save on ink replacements with this printer

The new line of Epson colour printers have "Supertanks", which provide up to two years of printing without having to replace ink cartridges. When it's time to add more ink, you purchase it in bottles and fill the tanks, which means less wear-and-tear on the printing heads, and no more ink clogging things up when you haven't printed in a few weeks. It means less packaging, too, and because you'll only purchase ink in bulk, it's cheaper. These printers connect wirelessly to your network, for cable-free printing, and they are rated ENERGY STAR, so you know they're efficient.

The Epson ET-4550 is perfect for home use and small businesses (there are other Supertank models with features for personal and business use) and is available at Best Buy and Staples.


Designer LED lamp with wireless charging base

Not all LED lights are the same, and the snazzy Aerelight A1, designed and hand-crafted in Toronto, differs in that it's an OLED. The "O" is for "organic", and what makes OLED special is its thinness. The A1 is also efficient with electricity, using between 1 and 9 Watts, up to 80% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb. With three levels of brightness, you turn the lamp on with a touch, and change the light level with a subsequent fingertip tap. If that's not enough, the A1 also has wireless charging built into its base, for compatible smartphones, that is up to 85% efficient.

The Aerelight is available direct from the designers, or at Style Garage.