If you know someone who would benefit by turning more of the day-to-day operation of their home over to gadgets, we have several products you might be interested in (and one you shouldn't be).
Husqvarna Automower: Come Springtime, the recipient of an Automower from Husqvarna is going to be calling you up every weekend to say thanks because he no longer needs to mow his lawn. The Automower works much like a Roomba does, mapping out the lawn (up to a 1/2 acre) and cutting it frequently in random pattens—so you don't need to worry about bagging. Plus, the top-of-the-line version is a solar electric hybrid, meaning that it's inexpensive to operate in the long term. Most versions even return to the charging base autonomously so the process is literally set it and forget it. $US1300-$US3000 [Husqvarna via Link]
Savant's TrueImage Home Automation System: If money wasn't an object, I'm pretty sure you would hit a home run with anyone this holiday if you gave them a Savant TrueImage home automation system. It allows the user to control devices in their home by interacting with an image of a room as opposed to confusing menus:
Savant's TrueImage technology gives you fingertip control via a simple tap on a wide angle image of each room in your home. Each touch allows you to dim and turn on/off lights, lower or raise shades, even turn on/off your audio and video components. Instead of interacting with confusing icons, TrueImage allows you to simply touch the actual light or shade in that room. Not only does the light in the room turn on or dim (if you press and hold the represented light), but it also illuminates on the touch panel confirming your command.
Chefstack Automatic Pancake Maker: Would you be crazy to buy a $US3500 pancake maker as a gift? Well, how much do your friends like pancakes? And I do mean all of your friends because this thing cranks out 200 perfectly-formed low fat pancakes (in three-sizes) per hour. Essentially, it's one big gift for all of your pancake-loving friends, and an even bigger gift for yourself when you visit. $US3500 [Chefstack via Link]
Iomega's Ix2-200 NAS: If you know someone looking for a network storage solution, they will surely be thrilled with the Iomega Ix2-200. It does a lot of things for the price, and our hands-on review revealed that it does those things pretty well:
• Automated backup and restore: Full Time Machine support for Macs as well as Retrospect, a different backup scheme, for PCs and Macs. • Automated copy jobs, which can automatically and incrementally copy (either with Windows file sharing or rsync) files off of network shares and dump it onto its own storage, or the other way around. Perfect for backing up other network shares for double data security • RAID1 • DLNA, iTunes Servers • Quiet running • SMB features like email notifications, event logs, iSCSI, automated video surveillance (provided you have a compatible camera) and USB printer support • A load of networking support, like Apple File Sharing, Bluetooth, FTP, NFS, Rsync, SNMP and standard Windows File Sharing (CIFS) • Torrent downloading • Remote access
Schlage Link Doorlocks: If you know someone who travels frequently or has kids that get home before they do, a product from the Schlage Link line would a make nice, practical gift. The devices allow you to monitor and control access to your home remotely via a mobile phone or other web-enabled device. Schlage Link thermostats and security cameras can also be added on to the system if you are interested in more security and control. Prices Vary Depending on Configuration [Amazon and Schlage via Link]
Vue Wireless Home Monitoring System: With the Vue, a loved one could monitor their home, their kids, and a suspicious babysitter or housekeeper remotely. The system consists of one central gateway and two tiny battery-powered wall-mountable wireless cameras for a relatively affordable price. $US300 [Vue Review and Vuezone]
DON'T BUY the Book: Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker: Just take a look at this video. I love chicken just as much as the next guy, but come on. This is why we have KFC. $US20 [Amazon]
SmartLink Insteon: Serious home automation systems can be ridiculously expensive, but the SmartLinc Insteon can give users some of the same functionality at a fraction of the cost. The Insteon controllers is installed between the device and the wall outlet, allowing you to turn it on and off via your mobile phone (optimised for iPhone and iPod Touch) or other web-enabled device. $US130 [Smarthome Thanks Doug!]
All Giz Wants is our annual round-up of favourite gift ideas, including amazing attainable objects and a few far-out fantasies. We'll be popping guides catered to different interests several times per day for the next week, so keep checking back.