Looking for a Kindle Fire cover-up? Belkin has a Verve Folio for the reader, also with multi-angle viewing options (although no keyboard). Sells for a mere $30 at Amazon.com.
Speak and sing
There’s room on any kitchen shelf or nightstand for an itty bitty, battery-powered speaker that beams sweet music wirelessly from a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet. With a floating, sculptural appearance, the stylish iHome iDM11 ($69.99 at ihomeaudio.com) puts out a whole lot more volume (100 dB) than you’d ever imagine from a cube measuring less than 3 inches in any direction. Plays all day long before needing a recharge — even with that sexy, blue base light glowing. The little thing also puts out for a plugged-in music source AND functions as a decent, hands-free speakerphone, so mom can chat away while prepping dinner.
While not quite as fashionable, bright-sounding or powerful, the tiny Logitech Mini Boombox features convenient top-mounted (instead of rear) touch controls, remote track-jumping capability and an AC charger as well as the de rigueur universal USB charge cable. $99 at logitech.com, spotted for $69.99 with free shipping from Buy.com and TigerDirect.com.
Have you heard the sad news? Kodak is getting out of the camera-manufacturing business. (The name will be licensed to other makers.) Their loss is your gain, however, as the latest/last waterproof Kodak PlaySport ZX5 (Gen. 2) HD Camcorder—considered best of the breed—is now selling for a mere $79.99 “after $100 savings” at Best Buy. Just don’t tell mom what a steal it was.
Also check out some of the great deals in Blu-ray “chick flicks” that Best Buy is offering with a trade-in of any old DVD (must be in original case, can’t be porn). You can score mom the delicious “Julie and Julia” in glorious high definition for $5, “Bridesmaids” (Unrated version!) or “Couples Retreat” on Blu-ray for $7.99, and the likes of “Something Borrowed” and “Friends with Benefits” for $12.99.
A phone of her own
Is mom resistent to using a mobile phone because of the cost? Maybe if you gifted her a mobile phone with prepaid service, she’d change her tune and at least carry it “for emergencies.” T-Mobile offers a $100 prepaid card good for 1,000 minutes of talk time that won’t expire for a full year from day of activation. Works with whatever T-Mobile phone you might have sitting around. A fashionable touch screen Samsung Dash can be had for $150 without contract.
A box with benefits
Any home with Wi-Fi ought to have at least one TV-connected box that can pull in streaming video content from the Internet. Super easy to use, with a dedicated remote control, the Roku family of tiny players ($50-$100) allows you to watch hundreds of free channels and low-cost ($8 monthly) video-on-demand services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Newest of the latter is Acorn TV, purveyor of many a British TV drama like “Upstairs Downstairs,” “Prime Suspect,” “Midsomer Murders” and “Rosemary and Tyme” — female horticulturalists by day, crime-solvers by, um, day and night. Roku converts can buy a year’s access to this mostly British (and a tad Canadian) content for $24.99. Newbies should wait patiently until June 1 for launch of a special deal: a year’s subscription to Acorn TV plus a Roku 2 HD box for $59.99 “while supplies last” at www.AcornOnline.com. Mums will love it, so start composing that IOU!
Fun with food
What woman of the house wouldn’t love breakfast in bed this Sunday? The Krups Waffle Chef ($50 at krupsonlinestore.com) produces four deep-pocket waffles (4 x 4 1/2 inches, almost 1 inch thick) at a clip — golden-hued and crispy on the outside, moist and fluffy on the inside, just four to six minutes after you pour in the batter. The nonstick plates require a bit of pre-coating and aren’t terribly troublesome to clean. Although instructions include a couple of batter recipes, this tester went with the whole-grain-flours version in Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food” ($20-$35), which requires no egg-separating or flour-sifting.
No kitchen or mom should be without a small food processor like the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus. And this spring, the mini-mixer’s gone all “Mad Men” on us, offered in bright 1960s appliance tones—green, yellow, pink and blue—for an affordable $40 (at cuisinartwebstore.com.)
Among many useful purposes, Epson Labelworks label printers are perfect for tagging all the stuff going into the freezer or foodstuffs bought in bulk. The LW-300 (a limited time $25.95 special at bhphotovideo.com) is easy as pie to use—with a decent LCD display screen and large keyboard, drop in cartridges and a convenient tape “snip” button. I got it going in seconds, without reading instructions. And the labels (most $18-$25) come in more than 40 different varieties, from glow-in-the-dark to metallic silver to iron-on fabric.
When mom wants to watch one of those aforementioned chick flicks this Sunday, the rest of the family will happily go on snack preparation duty with the Waring Pro Popcorn Maker ($48 at buy.com to $60). Just a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and a scoop of kernels is needed to make 20 cups of popcorn, and this halogen-heated and motorized thing is fun to watch in action. When job’s done, you just pop on the cap, then flip over the removable heating base and top. The plastic lid becomes the serving bowl, with less cleanup work for mom! n
Contact Jonathan Takiff at 215-854-5960 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at philly.com/philly/blogs/gizmo.