Picking a gadget for parents and grandparents isn’t easy, but with a bit of extra work, you can make it a little more friendly than a simple gift.
Finding a present for the grandparents that’s technologically sound doesn’t need to be just “buy them a phone”, but can be a little more involved for more care. While you can easily go this way, there are ways to make a gadget more useful by knowing what you can do with it before you buy it, and by setting it up ahead of time to make someone’s life a little easier.
A photo frame that is constantly updating, a speaker linked to all the sound they’d ever want to listen to, and music that blends in with an accessory they regularly go walking with, these are just a handful of the things we can think of that can help make a gadgety gift more interesting for the grands, giving you some other ideas you may not have thought of yet.
Amazon Echo Dot Clock with Family music subscription
Price: $79 + inclusion in $18 per month family music subscription
If you want to give the gift of music to your mum, dad, or grandparents, consider a spoken word approach to the whole thing, with a speaker that you talk to, and a music subscription they don’t have to worry about.
With this approach, you’ll want to have a family account that you’re paying for with either Spotify or Apple Music, and then link that to the Echo Dot Clock smart speaker when you set it up at their home. They’ll need WiFi, of course, but once they have it, they can use the family access to listen to any song they want on their own music account, simply talking to the speaker about what they want to listen to.
We picked the Echo Dot Clock, too, because it’s small and won’t take up much room, and also manages to show the time, which might be a cute little addition to the home of the grands in your life.
Google Nest Hub set up with your Google Photos family album
Price: $79 for the 7 inch Nest Hub; $299 for the 10 inch Nest Hub Max
This idea takes the idea of a picture frame, and makes it a little more expansive. Imagine if you could set up a photo frame in your parent’s home that would automatically update with all of what’s happening in your life, but remotely. That’s the idea with this one, using the 7 inch Google Nest Hub or the 10 inch Nest Hub Max as the frame, and a Google Photos album as the way to share those photos.
We’ve written a guide to make this happen, and it’s something the Pickr editor has set up for at least one family member, allowing photos of a family to be updated simply from the Google Photos app — which is free — and in turn updates the photo library of the Google Nest Hub photo frame at the parent’s home.
Much like the Echo Dot Clock, your parents will need WiFi for this one to work, because this needs to be permanently connected to the web, but as long as they have that, you can get a digital photo frame that is constantly updating, and remotely at that.
Kindle Paperwhite with Kindle Unlimited subscription
Price: $169 + $11.99 per month Kindle Unlimited subscription
A unique take on giving books to mum and dad, this one might require you doing all the work on an account and setting it up by hand before giving them the Kindle. Gifting a Kindle Paperwhite is easy, but in Australia, you can’t yet gift the Kindle Unlimited subscription, which means you need to art it up all at once.
Until Amazon makes that process easier, that means if you want to go this route and give the grands a seemingly unlimited supply of books in Kindle Unlimited, you’ll need to grab the Kindle you’re thinking of — we picked the Paperwhite because it’s water resistant, which means it can be used practically anywhere without risk — and then attach it to your Kindle plan to keep paying the ongoing cost of the plan.
Depending on how you want to do this, you can either create an Amazon account under a new email for your grands and attach your bank card to pay for things, or you can just link the grandparent’s Kindle to your account in general.
Bose Frames and a Family music subscription
Price: $400 + inclusion in $18 per month family music subscription
Fiddling with wireless earphones isn’t going to be easy for every parent or grand, but a pair that incorporates sunglasses is actually kind of a cool approach. It means all they need to do is take them out, press the button to switch them on, and rely on their phone to play music to their ears as they walk around.
The Bose Frames make that possible, and this year even have replaceable prescription lenses, handy if they use custom lenses themselves. Plus, if you pair the Bose Frames with a phone and app with access to a music subscription by way of a family account, it means that all your parents need is their phone and a pair of sunnies to listen to music as they walk around.
Ecovacs Deebot U2 robotic vacuum and a Google Home Mini to control by voice
Price: $599 for the vacuum, $39 for the Google Home Mini
We don’t yet live in a future where your parents or grandparents can ask a robotic maid to do their bidding, but we’re getting closer. These days, robotic vacuum cleaners can be told to wake up and work by way of smart devices, either those by Amazon or Google.
If your parents or grands already have a smart speaker, you won’t need that, but if not, you might want to consider the pint-sized Google Mini for the occasion, or one of the other smart speakers or displays listed in this guide, because they work just as well, too.
Then all you need is a robo-vac receptive to commands, which Ecovacs’ Deebot U2 is, though it will need a little bit of setup from your at your parent’s home. Once that’s done, they should just need to command the vacuum by voice, and away it goes, sweeping the dust into its vacuum chamber so they don’t have to.
Apple iPad 10.2 with Smart Keyboard Cover and 365 SIM card
Price: $499 (iPad), $235 (Smart Keyboard Cover), $120-200 365 day prepaid SIM
Looking to keep the grands connected over email and video chat this year?
You might want to consider Apple’s iPad 8th-gen for the occasion, which now is a little faster, and offers a 10 inch screen, support for scribbling with the Apple Pencil, and can work with one of Apple’s Smart Keyboard Covers for easy typing anywhere.
Make it a little better for the grands by bundling in a 365 day prepaid SIM card, which offers mobile data for the year, and means their emails to you should never stop coming in.