Tech Savvy: From whimsical to useful to vintage, tech gifts provide it all

There are tech gifts that appeal to past and present, the kid in everyone and for those who want to make a difference.

A computer screen says Merry Christmas with a Santa hat hanging on it.
There are tech gifts that appeal to past and present, the kid in everyone or just the whimsical.<br/><br/><br/>
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service
We are part of The Trust Project.

There is still a little time left to get that perfect tech gift before Christmas Day but if the item most wanted didn’t make it under the tree, there will be after-Christmas deals.

Have a gift card to put to work? There are tech gifts that appeal to past and present, the kid in everyone or just the whimsical.

Paper airplanes — If you’ve tried for years to make the perfect paper airplane and just end up with a paper missile that dives to the floor after 2 feet of flight, there are more options than one might expect to jazz up the paper model. A Poperup 2.0 Paper Airplane Conversion Kit provides an electric motor for do it yourself paper planes. $19.99. The PowerUp 4.0 version has a flight that can be controlled by a smartphone that allows the paper airplane pilot to fly loops, barrel rolls and a hammerhead — a recent sale had this one at $69.99.

Listen to the vinyl — there are tons of new records on vinyl to get that quality sound, but if your record player is long gone, there are lots of options for a turntable with a tech twist and ones that can still be picked up locally for Christmas.

Victrola is a brand name that has withstood the test of time. Maybe you had a suitcase turntable. Portable and cute as the dickens. They still make them — now dubbed the Re-Spin — complete with Bluetooth — in a light blue, poinsettia red, basil green and a graphite gray.


“Made from 25% recycled plastic and featuring a built-in custom-tuned Bluetooth speaker and bass radiator enclosure, the Re-Spin is the best-sounding turntable in its class, with 3x the bass of a standard suitcase record player.”

The Re-Spin lets you play your vinyl records (the removable dust cover can display five albums), stream from smart devices with Bluetooth technology, or stream records to any Bluetooth speaker with Vinyl Stream technology. There is also a headphone output. The entire device weighs about 5 pounds. It also has a 45 RPM adaptor.

More Tech Savvy:
Cold is a known robber of battery life and with smartphones it can disrupt service causing a phone to shut off.
Thumb drives provide a useful way to store and transfer a lot of information in a tiny package.
One sure way to connect with a tech fan is to get them something they’ll use a lot over a long cold winter and there isn’t much better than a multitude of streaming options, which are improving.
Whether gardening indoors this winter or just as a consumer looking to eat healthy, winter can create a challenge for outdoor compost bins but technology is giving composting a boost.

Want to hear your favorite albums with that rich sound? The Gallery in downtown Brainerd has new vinyl, including the Beatles, to try out on the turntable. The Re-Spin was listed at numerous retailers for about $55-60.

Cricut Explore Air 2 or Cricut Joy— for crafters the Cricut machines can be on the dream list, but also an investment. For scrapbookers, it’s a perfect gift and for those who make customized cards, home decor and other crafts. It creates “precise, intricate cuts” in cardstock, vinyl decal, and iron-on among others. Custom designs can be made using a cloud-based app and a mobile phone or laptop. It comes in a nice mint color to boot, but there are several color options. A recent price check had a cost of $169. The machine also comes with a starter kit. So if the crafter isn’t sure how much they’ll use the machine, this might be a good model to start with and go from there. Reviews across the board were positive.

“The Cricut Joy is a little smaller investment and comes with bundles based on the user’s interest and may be the best beginner option,” Cricut writes on its website. “Make custom vinyl decals for water bottles or labels for your kitchen or office. Bust out a custom card or a birthday banner. Cricut Joy makes it possible to make something unique for you — or anyone — at a moment's notice.” The Cricut Joy was recently listed at $129.99.

Solight’s SolarPuff Lantern — Popular Mechanics listed this one on its top tech gifts for 2022. Popular Mechanics describes it as a “unique outdoor lighting option. It’s waterproof, collapsable, portable, solar-powered, and floats on water, making it a great tool for providing outdoor ambience during any backcountry adventure.” It was recently $30. Think Puff box with a carrying strap.

“Our lanterns are simply beautiful,” Solight stated on its website regarding its origami design. “Solar light for easy travel when flat packed and quick pop open function using origami.”

The company’s QWNN solar lantern plus phone charging power bank is a beautiful design that really makes the origami connection, it can be flat, in a star shape, a star crown or a cube dome. It was recently listed at $110. The company also partners with others to help make a difference. One option to give with the Give a Light Program is the Ukraine Children’s Hospital in Lviv.


Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or . Follow on Twitter at .

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
What To Read Next
Subscribe and listen to the Brainerd Dispatch Minute at, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Billie Ray Clark was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Brainerd in 2020.
The administration is bringing back an Obama-era decision, later reversed by Trump, that bans new mineral leases on 225,500 acres of the Superior National Forest for the next two decades.
This year, the Minnesota Telecom Alliance Foundation will award six scholarships to high school seniors graduating in 2023.