Over-the-Top Tech Gifts You Don’t Need But Definitely Want
Photo: Arne Viehmeister-Kerner / EyeEm (Getty Images)
Welcome to early December. For those of us who are responsible, it’s a time for meticulously planning of holiday events and enjoying the season. For the rest of us, it’s a time of scrambling to procure presents that don’t make us look like monsters. Either way, we’ve all been shopping recently, and we’ve all run into those tech gifts, those unnecessary toys that you can’t help but wonder about (and want to purchase for yourself).
Is the convenience worth it? How much would you actually use it? Wouldn’t it be better to save hundreds of dollars for something important? If we all answered these questions honestly, there probably wouldn’t be a market for such contraptions. Thankfully, none of us do. In the spirit of the holidays in its most twisted form, here is a set of 10 over-the-top tech gifts you don’t need but definitely want.
Tech gifts for everyone else: The Mandatory 2018 Holiday Tech Gift Guide
You might know the name Atari from their pioneering work in video games. They're the original company behind Pong, Breakout, and the video game crash of 1983. Actually, the name is the same, but there's a new Atari in town, and they want to sell you a Bluetooth boombox you wear on your head.
Atari's Speakerhat does what it promises. It hooks up to your phone and plays whatever audio you pump out. Having had a chance to wear one, we can assure you that you'll get a hat with speakers on it for your investment. We can also assure you that there are unbranded alternatives to this problem, like the $20 beanie we've featured before.
Still, if the perceived gain of "gamer cred" is enough to make you fork out the cash, this is a perfectly acceptable way to blast "Pac-Man Fever" to everyone as you stroll down the sidewalk.
Canon IVY Bluetooth Photo Printer
Way back in the Dark Ages (some called it the late 1980s), we didn't have electronic devices that let us see pictures instantly. We took pictures, extracted a roll of film from our dedicated camera, and took it to the local film developer. We waited weeks to see if they turned out and hoped that whatever moment we were trying to capture wasn't lost forever.
One of the biggest camera-related novelties of these times were instant cameras. Like the Outkast song so clearly states, we shook our recently printed Polaroids and instantly got to see our snapshot. Canon remembers these times and hopes you do, too.
If you're nostalgic for the age of replacing ink in printers and being surrounded by physical media, then Canon's Bluetooth photo printer is for you! It's like a Game Boy printer for the 2010s, only with a less playful app interface.
MEGA Inflatable Projection Screen
An easy gift to get anyone this holiday is a big HDTV. Between streaming services and game consoles, there have never been more reasons to stare at the boob tube after a long day at work. However, even at their largest sizes, TVs just aren't extravagant anymore.
If you want to really wow someone nowadays, you need a screen that the whole neighborhood can enjoy. Measuring 14 feet high and 16 feet across, this majestic monstrosity can become a pop-up drive-in theater in two minutes flat.
Just don't forget to bring along a (no doubt equally expensive) projector to provide the media. Also, a speaker system. Otherwise, you've just got a huge piece of modern art, and that's not the crowd you want to attract to the barbecue.
Meural Canvas Smart Digital Frame
Nothing spruces up a wall quite like a nice poster. Whether it's your favorite action movie star in his most famous role or a motivational shot of the opposite sex, it's truly a statement of personality when you put something on your own wall.
However, it can sometimes be hard to choose exactly what you want on your wall. It's a long-term investment and a static image doesn't adjust to your daily mood swings. The Meural Canvas does just that, providing you a 27-inch HD display that can show off any photo you desire.
Pick one piece of art or hundreds by signing up for yet another subscription service! Change pieces by accidentally waving your hand in front of the frame or by yelling at Alexa! Change its orientation without unplugging your picture frame from the wall! Six-hundred dollars is a small price to pay for such truly meditative experiences.
Mini Pac-Man Arcade Cabinet
This one is a harder one to write than most, but owning an arcade cabinet in any of its forms is a bit over the top. If you're really into one single game, it can be fun for a time. Over time, it's probably burdensome to have a huge wooden box devoted to a simplistic '80s arcade game.
That's what products like the Quarter Arcade Pac-Man machine hope to solve. Sure, it could be easier to drop $4 for an official digital port of the game on modern platforms, but no digital game can replicate the feeling of a real joystick.
The small scale of the game will almost assuredly affect your high score, but collectors probably won't care. They'll be too busy setting this up next to their tiny PlayStation and tiny NES and tiny PC. It's a tiny video gaming revolution.
Mantis Headphones for PSVR
The Mantis headphones by themselves are not over-the-top. They're an interestingly designed accessory for a popular gaming device. However, using the PSVR enough that you desire extra accessories for it is branching into extravagance.
Sure, Astro-Bot is a fun time, but the PlayStation VR has really only come into its own as a platform. When you're already buying in for hundreds of dollars to get the camera, motion controllers and software to get the thing up and running, do you really also need the fancy headphones?
To counterpoint, the tiny earbuds that come with the PSVR aren't the greatest. You definitely don't want to share them with your roommate. So, if you want the most premium of premium VR experiences without shelling out for the HTC Vive, this might be worthwhile.
Spider-Man App-Enabled Superhero
The 4-year-old boy in all of us will immediately see the appeal of this one. A tiny Funko Pop!-sized companion molded after everyone's favorite webhead. It hooks up to your phone to interact with a specific app so you two can go on up to 25 missions.
The product description also promises Furby-esque capabilities, where your Spidey will "listen and adapt to your unique personality." The allure of that virtual pet robot is strong, but you'll know the end result if you had a Furby like us in the '90s.
At least there are plenty of bullet points on the back of Spidey's digital box. With a feature set that swings from "equipped with a 3D accelerometer" to "all data is encrypted and anonymous," you know that special kid in your life is going to have a weekend of fun.
Spyro the Dragon Incense Burner
For considerably less than the statues that masquerade as limited edition video games, you can get a Spyro the Dragon figure that really turns up the heat.
If you're not familiar, Spyro is a purple dragon that slays orcs, lizards, and whatever Ripto is. He's a platform hero who recently made his triumphant return to gaming, and you can celebrate by burning incense in your home through his nostrils.
If you do know who Spyro is, you might need help with the "incense" part of the equation. The most simple way to put it is that they're materials that smell like candles when the burn, but you don't have to worry about waxy buildup. Just ask your mom, we're sure she'll be thrilled to know you're taking up a new hobby that includes purple dragon sculptures.
Nadi X-Mesh Vibrating Yoga Pants
Described as "the first ever gentle wash tumble dry smart apparel" on their website, these yoga pants bring up a lot of questions. How much yoga would you or a loved one have to do to justify a $250 purchase? How quickly could you adjust to being trained by leg vibrations rather than a human instructor? Would you notice if a bug crawled up your leg while wearing these pants?
So, while you may not want these yoga pants, your significant other may want them. The vibrations and accelerometers match up with your phone via Bluetooth to guide the wearer into the proper positions. We're sure that's the only possible reason why anyone would want to buy vibrating pants and why are you laughing like that?
Simplehuman Voice Activated Trash Can
Finally, on the top of the pile, Simplehuman's noble attempt to integrate future technology into trash disposal. Sure, no one wants to touch the rim of a garbage can. That's where the residue from Hot Pocket wrappers end up. If you're willing to spend the big bucks, you can evolve your experience from a quite useful foot pedal to voice assistant technology.
Just picture it. You finished heating up your dinner and you're ready to throw away the packaging and a pile of paper towels. You say "open can" and wait. Nothing happens. You say it again and again, and the can detects it on the fifth go-round, all while your meal continues to cool. We're not saying this will happen every time, but it sure won't make you look smart when you're standing in your kitchen at the whim of your futuristic rubbish bin.