Computer-on-a-stick eases travel
To road warriors, even a featherweight laptop computer may feel like a millstone while on the go. Now, any TV or monitor with an HDMI slot can serve as the display for a full-powered Windows 10 PC the size of a pack of gum. Intel’s second-generation Compute Stick packs a fast processor, copious memory, great graphics, advanced Bluetooth connectivity, and three USB ports. Just plug in for presentations, spreadsheets, email, Web browsing, and other work, or off-duty gaming and streaming.
Available from Staples, $135 and up
Inspire the next generation of makers
Plant the seeds of tomorrow’s maker culture by giving the gift of 3D printing. No need to be a genius to use XYZprinting’s da Vinci Jr. 3D Printer, an off-the-shelf intro to this hyper-local production method of the future. Proof? Preschool tikes at the John Paulding School in Tarrytown recently turned original designs into hi-tech, in-depth reality — personalized name tags, actually — using desktop-sized three-dimensional plastic-filament printers. Guided by teens from affiliated Sleepy Hollow High School, these wunderkinds mastered computer-assisted-design software and fully dimensional printing — technology expected to revolutionize manufacturing forever.
Available from Office Depot, $299
Build-it-yourself ear candy
Bose Corporation is opening up its box of tricks — so assembling awesome audio outlets for streaming and stored sounds becomes easy. The BOSEbuild Speaker Cube was inspired by its company founder’s tinkering instincts. No tools necessary. Just press together the included electronics board, sonic cone, and accompanying lights to create a unique, personalized multimedia listening experience. Help is available from a phone app with clear step-by-step instructions and insights into how great sonic reproduction is created.
Available from www.build.bose.com, $149
VR goggles give a glimpse of tomorrow
For gamers and gearheads: Oculus Rift heralds the first practical immersive headset, a decades-long goal for head-tracking, fast-video displays needed to make virtual reality (VR) a reality. In surround-view VR, a computer-generated world can be experienced above, below, and all around. Great games and pioneering news documentaries already transport users to places they’ve never been before — when connected to a late-model, loaded PC. Someday, this will be as quaint as a vintage stereopticon, but it’s today’s most advanced intro to the entertainment-and-information medium of the future.
Available from Best Buy, $599