It’s NOT all been done before – Holiday Tech 2017


When it comes to gadgets, for me, sometimes Barenaked Ladies’ songs come to mind. Not, necessarily, If I Had $1,000,000, but rather the words of former band member Steven Page, It’s All Been Done (Before). But much to my delight with the scores of trade fair vendors at LDTECH 2017 – London Drugs Retail Tech Group Annual Conference, I did not walk away disappointed – in fact, it was the opposite!

There was a plethora of new offerings but also tried and true products that simply didn’t offer better specs (smaller, faster, cheaper) but added true value, innovation and for some products, a logical progression. The best thing is that they are all pretty much available for the holiday gift season.

Here are just a few:

DJI Spark

Hand Gestured Controlled Drone

Drones continue to fascinate us. And while they may deliver new socks but not likely your pizza any time soon, they have made significant progress. A recent firmware update to the DJI Spark, one of the smallest and smartest drones now allows you to control its movement and video recording by using Gesture Mode – movements and positioning of your hands and Palm Control.

In fact Spark can activate by recognizing your face and take flight from the palm of your hand, returning on command. To some, it looks like you’re performing magic. You can of course still control your Spark via remote controller, DJI Goggles, or your smartphone.

I like that Spark never gets lost as it’s guided via GPS and its built-in stabilizers insures your video footage shot with its f/2.6 wide angle lens in Full HD at 30 fps or your 12MP stills come out ultra-crisp. You can also adjust, edit and share your aerial masterpieces with friends and family using Spark’s companion DJI GO 4 app.

The nice thing is, getting one for you or loved one doesn’t have to break the bank. DJI Spark retails at LD for only $649.99.


QUAD-Proof Vid Cam

Camcorders have not gone the way of the dodo bird yet. Smartphones and DSLR cameras can offer decent video these days, but not necessarily practical for lengthy recordings, your kids’ soccer played in the rain, a beach ball tournament or snorkeling lessons.

Enter the JVC Everio GZ-R440 Quad-Proof Camcorder. It’s water, dust, shock and freeze-proof. It doesn’t do 4K video, but it can do a respectable Full1080i; shoot 10MP still and even 2MP stills, the latter even while capturing video. To grab the detailed action, it has a 40x optical zoom, 200x digital zoom, Advanced Image stabilization, a zoom mic and a built-in five-hour battery. It also has 4GB built-in flash memory and a memory card slot for expansion to allow you to get footage for every member of your family.

Another great feature it has, not found on other cams is that it can record with the LCD monitor closed. It comes in orange or black and your family can own one for the holidays for only $369.99.


Ricoh Theta V 360 4K

VR is a great thing but capturing spherical video and sound of what’s real and around is hard to beat. You can get that true immersive experience from the new Ricoh Theta V 4K 360 Camera. Although it offers the same resolution as its predecessor, the Theta S, it offers the experience you’d expect. It has a new image sensor, a more powerful Snapdragon processor, better noise control and better imagery in low light conditions. The addition of a new built-in 4-channel microphone gives you true spatial audio to truly enhance it all.

There’s more. Theta V can also do 360 degree 4K live streaming. It has a bright f 2.0 lens allowing it to also capture image stills as quick as 1/25,000th of a second.

Theta V is app enabled, so you can edit and animate and easily upload your creations to Facebook and Twitter. You can also remotely control it from the app, ideal if you don’t want to be in the frame. J

All this in a 121g device that’s smaller than your average TV remote and for only $549.99.


Spotlight Presenter

We’ve all experienced Death by PowerPoint. But sometimes, despite people’s short attention spans you might experience an ace presentation only to be marred by a failing remote or a presenter who distract from his slides by feebly fumbling around with it.

Logitech Spotlight Presenter looks like it could be the answer. It has what appears to be a minimalist design but it does a whole lot more than just flipping slides.

First, it connects via Bluetooth or via USB (dongle included) allowing you to interact with it from up to 100 feet away. A single red laser beam for emphasis is truly passé; this unit allows you to both highlight and magnify parts of your screen – the degree to which you can set yourself. It also goes as far as offering gesture control to engage some of the functions. You can use it to manage your time, set vibration alerts, program the buttons and as well adjust other settings through the Spotlight companion app.

If you happen to run out of juice, a quick one minute charge will give you an additional 30-minutes, usually enough time to get your presentation done. It works with PowerPoint, as usual, but also with Apple Keynote, Google Slides and yes, Prezi. Logitech Spotlight Presenter retails for $149.99.


Serious Photography: 45.7MP / 9 fps Burst

It’s hard not to talk Holiday Tech without talking Cameras and TVs and at LD Tech 2017 there was no shortage of them. One camera that really blew me away is the new Nikon D850. Now this is for someone who is really serious about photography whether as a hobby or a profession.

The D850 is the successor to the D810 raising the CMOS sensor size and pixel count from 36 to 45.7MP and Nikon’s first full-frame camera to use a backside illumination sensor. It can shoot bursts up to 7fps, which can go up to an amazing 9fps with an optional battery grip.

With something shooting that big that fast, you might be concerned about focus. Glad you asked as I am too. To that end, Nikon has also incorporated some of the technology from the higher priced D5. Specifically, they’re using the 153-point AF (Auto-Focus)- tripled that of the D810, that intelligently tracks a moving subject even in low light – whether you’re shooting a wedding or capturing live action sports.

When shooting at 8256 x 5504, Full RAW files can get pretty large and eat up terabytes of storage, the D850 allows you to select Medium RAW (25MP) or Small RAW (11MP) which can come pretty handy when photo enlargement isn’t needed. And whether you’re shooting in low light or want to really bring out texture and details, it has an amazing sensitivity range ISO 64-25,600. It can also Full 4K video, no crop.

A couple of outstanding features which impress: The D850 can produce seamless 8k and 4K time-lapse photography. It’s Focus Stacking feature allows you to take the same picture 300 times with different focuses so you can get your perfect image by fine tuning selected layers in Photoshop.

There are many more features, but for the right person, one that could help pay for the camera itself is the Film Digitizer Mode. With an adapter set you can truly digitize old film negatives, which could cost you hundreds at a service bureau.

Nikon D850 camera may not be exactly the Cabbage Patch Doll or Turbo Man (Jingle All the Way) of 2017, but at $4,299 (body only) it’s bargain priced as supply is limited and demand is high. You can however reserve one with a deposit.


OLED TV: The Screen is the Speaker

The beauty of OLED TV (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is that each pixel on the display is self-illuminating and on the Sony OLED 4K UHD HDR 65” Smart TV (XBR65-AE1), that’s 8 million of them. Add in Sony’s X1 Extreme processor controlling each one of them and what you get is incredible contrast and realistic shades of all colours.

But what really helps this TV stand out (pardon the pun) is that there’s no traditional TV stand and the screen is also the speaker. Using Sony’s own acoustic surface technology, there are two actuators on the display that vibrate causing the sound to actually emanate from the screen. This way, for example, dialogue you hear will appear to be coming out right from the people’s mouths – a logical place. This is certainly preferred over down-firing speakers on the bottom of your TV or from the back of some like mine, forcing me to use an external speaker system.

As I mentioned, there’s also no need for a traditional TV stand or an external subwoofer taking up valuable floor space. This is because this model has a rear-facing subwoofer mounted at an angle that cleverly doubles as a your hidden TV kickstand. If that’s not enough, the XBR65-AE1 is also an Android TV has built in Chromecast so you can stream media via Wi-FI from your phone or other device to your TV and not surprising, you can connect to Google Home to control everything wirelessly – a great idea for a family holiday gift. The Sony OLED XBR65-AE1 retails for $5999.97 (Currently advertised at $4,999.97). There are also 55” and 77” models.


Purse that Charges her Phone

While she might like a drone, the modern ladies in your life may also enjoy the

Mighty Purse by HButler. It’s a very cool-looking compact wristlet-style clutch made with genuine leather that harbors a built-in concealed battery pack, making it easy for her to recharge her phone while it sits in the purse.

It comes with a built-in pigtail micro-USB charging cable with a tiny slip-on adapter for iPhone charging. It has an Auto-On feature so there’s no need to flip any switches and an LED to indicate how much juice is left. The battery’s capacity is 4000mAh so it should charge a typical phone at least twice.

Mighty Purse comes in a myriad of colours and finishes, including the Coral you see above and retails for $129.99.


Special mentions go out to the Asus ZenFone 4 Max a $299 no-contract unlocked phone with a massive 5000mAh battery you can share using a special OTG cable. It also features dual-SIM slots plus a dedicated microSD slot so you can use it anywhere; and for under $300 you still get dual 13MP f/2.0 rear cameras plus an 8MP f2.2 front facing camera and front mounted fingerprint sensor.


This last one could technically be categorized as having been done before, but you’d have to go back to the 1970’s or find one on eBay. Timex has brought back the Peanuts Weekend watch where the dial hands are replaced with a Peanuts’ character’s arms (Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus or Lucy). It has an INDIGLO Light-up dial; it’s waters resistant and comes with a special matching interchangeable slip-thru band. It retails for $64.99.

These are just a few of the gadgets I encountered at LD Tech 2017 that would make great gifts. You never know, you may hear about a few more before the magic sleigh makes it to your chimney.

Photos by Greg Gazin – Taken at LD Tech 2017.


Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy, Columnist, Speaker, Podcaster & Author.

Technology – Entrepreneurship – Communications

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg



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