It’s the season of gift giving. I usually take the easy way out with gift cards, but I’ve found that taking the easy way out can have problems. Two Amazon gift cards I purchased did not reach their intended recipients. Amazon quickly replaced one, but the other was stolen and used. I’m still waiting for a resolution on that.

This will likely be the last year until or unless Amazon shifts to store credit. It’s very easy to lose a card, and the postal service is less than reliable these days. I plan on getting cards out to people so they can get whatever they want for Christmas during Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday, but if they don’t get the cards in time, there’s really no point.

think it through

When giving a gift, it’s important to sit back and think about why you’re giving it. Is it a mutual, friend or family obligation? Do you want to impress the person or just give them a reason to think about you? Is it something that would reflect on your job, your relationships, or your status?

All of these questions will determine how much time you put into the gift, but if you don’t spend most of that time thinking about what the recipient will want, there’s a good chance you’ll both be disappointed with the result.

If you can’t figure out what to give someone, gift cards are a great option. The recipient doesn’t have to return what you bought them if they don’t like it, which can hurt a bit if you’ve had a lot of time choosing a gift.

I avoid highly personalized gifts like perfume, cologne, clothes, or jewelry unless I really know the person’s tastes or they have specifically asked for it. I also avoid personal electronics for the same reason. It never hurts to ask someone what they want for Christmas.

For this guide, I’m going to focus on one vector: the things that people will see and think of you when they do. I’ll break down each gift by price, but the overall theme will be things that will help them remember you.

Under $25 – Supledck 5×7 Picture Frame

For less than $25, I’d go with a talking picture frame and any memorable photos you have of the person you’re giving the gift to.

I found the Supledck 5×7 picture frame on Amazon for $21.99.

SUPLEDCK 5x7 Picture Frame Personalized 20S Voice Recordable Picture Frame

You can record the memory and especially any anecdotes about what happened before, during, or after the picture was taken.

You can create some embarrassing stuff too – and with some Photoshop skills, you can make that photo a lot more memorable.

$50 and Under $100 – Damascus Chef Knife

As we approach the $50 and $100 range, consider shopping on Etsy, a site where makers sell their goods, but you’ll need to know your recipient’s interests. If they’re into cooking, consider these distinctive chef’s knives.

My pick under $50 is the Hand Forged Damascus Steel Blade Custom Chef Knife very well made, affordable at $33, and the Damascus treatment on the blade looks great.

For just under $100—also on Etsy—I found a handmade black chef’s knife set. This set looks amazing too, and is on sale for a massive 70% off on $98 at the time of this writing, making it a bargain.

Hand Forged Damascus Chef's Knife Set of 5

These are good looking knives; They won’t break the bank, and the reviews are strong. I was tempted to grab a set for myself, and I still might.

Soundcore by Anker Space Q45 Headphones – Under $150

We are now in a price range where electronics can make sense. Noise-canceling headphones are a staple for any of us who travel, but a pair you can sleep in can be problematic. You can try earbuds, but when worn for a long time, they make my ears itch, which is not conducive to sleeping.

The most comfortable headphones I’ve tested this year — priced at $149.99 on Amazon — are the Soundcore by Anker Space Q45 headphones.

Soundcore by Anker Space Q45 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Their noise cancellation is impressive for the price, and they were soft enough to sleep on while wearing them when I last traveled to Europe. I arrived far more comfortably than I otherwise would have – especially considering how iffy airlines are to get you to your destination these days.

Under $250 – Fi Series 3 Pet Collar

If someone has a pet, they are probably worried that the pet will get out and get lost. The best GPS collar I’ve found is the Fi Collar, which is now in its third series. We have the Series 2 for two of our three dogs and we love it. One time, our new little male wandered out into the yard, but I was able to quickly track him down with the Fi collar and my smartphone.

Fi Series 3 Dog Collar GPS Pet Tracking Device

The caller itself is free with a one-year service plan for $192. It has a long battery life and will provide great peace of mind if you have a pet that wonders. Granted, it’ll be cool for one year, but it potentially sets up subsequent annual gifts if the recipient loves the collar as much as we do.

Related Tips for Pet Guardians: The Next Door app posts near-daily alerts from people who have lost their pets.

Under $500 – Meta Quest 2 VR Headset

Now we are starting to talk about serious money.

One of the most fun gifts for everyone but the person using it – well, initially, anyway – is the Meta Quest 2 Advanced all-in-one virtual reality headset with 256GB of memory for my favorite Quest 2 games, Bundled with two of Resident Evil and Beat Saber.

Meta - Quest 2 Resident Evil 4 Bundle with Beat Saber - 256GB

The Meta Quest 2 is a boneless headset which makes it more secure than other options. Watching Resident Evil 4 play can be just as entertaining for the people watching it as it is for the player playing the game. Beat Saber remains my favorite sport, and I can work up a sweat playing it, making it an excellent aerobic activity as well.

Best Buy has the Meta – Quest 2 Resident Evil 4 Bundle with Beat Saber – 256GB on sale for $429.99.

Under $1,000 – LG 48″ OLED TV

At $1,000 we’re talking gifts for a spouse or significant other you really want to impress or for a child who has a big event coming up, like graduation, or deserves a significant award. This price point really comes down to knowing what the person wants.

While I wouldn’t normally recommend a TV, LG is having a huge sale on its 48″ OLED TV, which is normally $1,299 but is currently $799.

LG A1 48 Inch Class 4K Smart OLED TV w/ ThinQ A

I have one of these in our bedroom, and it’s Brilliant!, Impressive colors – blacks are very black – and sound is so good I’ve put off using a soundbar with this TV.

If you want something the recipient will see a lot and likely remember you by, the LG 48″ OLED TV is a great choice.

Over $1,000 – HP Dragonfly Folio 13.5″ G3 2-in-1 Notebook PC

I was going to get some crazy stuff like a yacht that’s also a submarine, the Jetsons One flying car, or any man’s dream ride, the Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 remake, which I’m still weaning myself off. .

Instead, I’ve decided to introduce my favorite laptop of the year, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 Notebook. It’s not cheap to date as it costs over $3,000 fully configured, but, to me, it’s the perfect laptop, especially if configured with the optional WUXGA+ and 1000 Nits Low Blue Light touchscreen displays and 5G Are.

HP Dragonfly Folio 13.5″ G3 2-in-1 Notebook PC

The Dragonfly Folio G3 is covered in the best durable leather – not made from cows, but it feels natural – at 3 pounds it feels light though, has good performance (up to an Intel i7), and a whole Daylong battery life, so you can leave the charger in your hotel room, home, or backpack.

It’s got an 8K video camera, auto background blur to hide what’s behind you, some of the most impressive noise cancellation tech I’ve tested yet, and quad speakers, which are great for watching movies in your hotel room. Huh.

Oh, and it has a cantilevered screen that’s perfect for watching TV or movies on a plane or in bed. Perfect for someone like me who travels a lot but wants their entertainment to go wherever they go.

Alternative pick for gamers – Alienware M17 R5 Gaming Laptop

One option for the gamer in your life is the AMD-based Alienware m17 Gaming Laptop, which is the most powerful gaming laptop I’ve tested all year. The M17 can be configured with an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor and either an AMD or Nvidia discrete mobile graphics solution, including the Radeon RX 6850 or Nvidia RTX 3080 TI.

Alienware M17 R5 Gaming Laptop Keyboard View

Fully configured, it’s less expensive than the HPs mentioned above, although you can get up to six hours of battery life when not gaming if you configure it correctly. If you’re gaming, you need a plug and a massive power supply, but for the gamer in your life, the Alienware M17 R5 Gaming Laptop is one you’ll love.

that’s a wrap

There’s no Product of the Week, because really, all of the above are worthy of that designation. So we’ll leave it there with my hope that Santa is good to you this year. Be careful of icy roads. My wife and neighbor were just rear ended in two separate accidents. Happy Holidays!

If you’re looking to give the gift of privacy this holiday season, you might want to check out the 2022 edition of Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included buyer’s guide, which was released on Wednesday. The annual guide includes privacy reviews of over 75 popular consumer electronics goodies and will be continually updated throughout the season.

Possible gifts in the guide so far include the Apple Watch, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Echo, Garmin fitness trackers, Google Chromecast, Steam Deck, and the Meta Quest Pro.

According to Mozilla researchers, MetaQuest Pro can be especially challenging for privacy seekers. To get the full scoop on privacy for the gadget, a buyer would need to have at least 14 browser tabs open to peruse the privacy documents totaling 37,700 words — which is roughly 6,747 words longer than Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” And very little is interesting to read.

,[T]The question it comes down to is, does Meta/Facebook have your best interests at heart when it collects all the data Quest Pro is capable of collecting? Mozilla asks in its guide. “From Cambridge Analytica to where we are today with Mark Zuckerberg’s hopes for the metaverse, the answer to that question is an overwhelming no.”

Mozilla Privacy Not Involved Holiday Buyers Guide Infographic

Image credit: Mozilla

Meta is not alone in creating prolix privacy policies. The researchers noted that even products like the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Pixel watch come with multiple privacy policies for the hardware, apps and companies with which they share data.

“It sounds like the Rube Goldberg experiment privacy documentation companies are trying to throw at consumers,” Jan Caltrider, the guide’s lead researcher, said in a statement.

“If I am struggling to understand it as a privacy researcher, the situation for consumers is much worse. It’s not right,” he added.

Caveats and Hairsplitting

Jawwad Malik, security awareness advocate for KnowBe4, a security awareness training provider in Clearwater, Fla., stressed that the purpose of privacy policies is to inform users about how their information will be used and for what purposes so they can make informed decisions. Huh.

“When the policies are so complex and prohibitive to read, most people will just click through to use the app or service,” Malik told TechNewsWorld. “This puts them at risk because they may be consenting to have their information used in ways they are not aware or comfortable with.”

“Complex privacy policies make it more difficult than necessary for end users to fully understand the privacy they expect from the company and their rights as a user,” said Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitech. consumer protection products.

“The more complex the privacy policy, the more you’ll find exceptions, warnings, hidden terms, and haircuts,” Bischoff told TechNewsWorld.

However, Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a research and public policy organization in Washington, DC, pointed out that privacy policies are often complex because digital products and services are complex.

Plus, he continued, the companies making these products face regulators not only in the 50 states but all over the world. “With these companies facing heavy penalties for any errors or omissions, it’s not surprising that lawyers have started writing these terms,” ​​Castro told TechNewsWorld.

“Many of these privacy policies are often ‘for lawyers, by lawyers’ for consumers,” he added. “These companies are not trying to defraud consumers – they are trying to avoid penalties. But if they oversimplify or generalize, they will face penalties like the nearly $400 million Google settlement.”

Save the Jargon for the TOS

Malik countered that while privacy policies are important to legally protect organizations that use customer data, they should be done in a transparent and easy-to-understand manner so that people can make the right decisions for themselves.

“While complex policies may provide some protection from litigation, they can open up a whole new set of challenges for organizations if they are found to be intentionally vague about how they deal with customers,” he said.

Because tech companies are so concerned about privacy-related litigation with their products or services, they are willing to write complex privacy documents that protect their own interests, often at the expense of the consumer, said Mark, president and principal analyst at SmartTech. Ann Vena of the Research in San Jose, Calif.

“Tech companies should be required to write more simplified privacy documents that consumers can understand,” Vena told TechNewsWorld. “Apple, in particular, is very good about this in its privacy policies which are often written in easy-to-understand language.”

“Privacy policies should be simple and human-readable. Save the legal jargon for terms of service,” Bischoff said.

Too many connections

Researchers at Mozilla noted that their privacy guide has become tighter than ever due to the increase in connected devices on the market.

“We are living through an unprecedented explosion of connected products,” researcher Misha Rykov said in a statement. “Now there are children’s toys, litter boxes, sunglasses and vacuums that connect to the Internet – and then scoop up and share precious personal information.”

Caltrider said what many consumers don’t realize is that every connection from a device to the Internet opens an entry point into their homes. He told TechNewsWorld, “Combine that with the apps you need to control these devices — apps that control microphones and cameras and can access contacts and location information — and it’s about privacy.” Raises a lot of questions.”

“If you try to read the privacy policies of everything you bring into your home, it’s nearly impossible,” she said. “I do this for a living, and it makes my head spin trying to understand Amazon, Meta, or Verizon’s vast network of privacy policies.”

privacy trade-offs

For people who want to protect their privacy and don’t want to read privacy policies, there are measures they can take, although they often require trade-offs.

“It’s possible to prevent unwanted tracking by disabling Wi-Fi connections on devices that don’t require core functionality, such as smart TVs,” explained Chris Clements, vice president of solutions architecture at Cerberus Sentinel, a cybersecurity consulting and penetration consultancy. Testing Company in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Not connecting the TV to a network prevents the manufacturer from collecting tracking data or injecting ads into the interface, but the trade-off is that you may not get any firmware updates that could introduce additional features.” is or can fix known issues,” Clements told TechNewsworld.

“Consumers should be especially wary of cheap no-name devices equipped with microphones or cameras,” he warned. “There are numerous examples of manufacturers recording and sending all sensor data back to overseas servers without the user’s consent or knowledge.”

However, he acknowledged that in practice, it can be challenging to thoroughly understand the privacy implications for any given product. “There are a lot of legal loopholes that can be built into complex confidentiality agreements, as well as few good ways for the average person to confirm whether manufacturers are living up to their end of the agreement,” he added.