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Health & Science

What's Hot In Tech Gifts This Year?

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So far this holiday season, we have brought you some low-tech gift recommendations, you know, retro toys, good old-fashioned cookbooks. Well, today our gift sherpa is Jacqui Cheng. She's editor-in-chief of The Wirecutter. That's a tech shopping blog. We brought her on to tell us about some tech gifts in this illustrated guide to gadgets and gizmos.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S GET PHYSICAL")

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: (Singing) Let's get physical, physical.

GREENE: I hope you're moving. So first up something for the athletes in your life - sweat-proof headphones.

JACQUI CHENG: They're the Relays by Sol Republic. They sound great. They resist sweat. They're really durable. You can step on them or shove them in your bag. It sometimes might feel weird to give people exercise headphones as a gift, but people really love it.

GREENE: Wow. Waterproof, and they travel well. OK. Here's another gift idea for sound lovers.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED SONG)

CHENG: One of our popular items right now is actually the turntable that we like by Audio Technica, and that one's about $250. If you look at the Nielsen charts, vinyl is actually kind of taking off a little bit. People are building up their collections again. And this one that we like, it's kind of cool because it has a USB port so you can connect it to your computer if you want to and digitize your collection.

GREENE: And for people who want to digitize their reading habit but can't figure out the best option in a crowded e-reader market...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT")

COREY HART: (Singing) I wear my sunglasses at night so I can...

GREENE: OK, I'll admit we had a little trouble finding a song for this next recommendation. It is Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite. Stick with me, this song will make sense when Cheng explains.

CHENG: We like the Paperwhite a lot because it's really good for both reading in the dark and reading in bright light.

GREENE: See, get it? And maybe you want to inspire your loved one to become a medium maker, not just a consumer. Well, Cheng proposes looking into drones.

CHENG: A lot of modern drones let you attach a camera nowadays, which is really fun for a lot of people because you can sort of fly it around your property and around your house and neighborhood. People have been making really interesting videos and posting them to YouTube.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

GREENE: Videos like this one - it was posted by the company GoPro, which makes the tiny cameras that are often fitted onto drones. In this video, you're hearing fireworks as a drone swoops in and out capturing these astonishing images and sounds from inside the explosions. Here are Cheng's recommendations for drones.

CHENG: The expensive one that we like is the DJI Phantom 2 Vision, and it's about $1,100. So that's probably more, you know, for the big kids in your life. And then we also like a smaller drone - it's about $90 - called the Blade Nano QX. You're not going to lose too much if it crashes all the time and it gets broken.

GREENE: But still we definitely don't want that to happen. That's Jacqui Cheng. She's editor-in-chief of The Wirecutter with her recommendations for tech gifts this holiday season.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS")

ANNIE LENNOX: (Singing) Walking on, walking on broken glass... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.