Gadgets Moms Really Want: 11 Tech Gifts for Mother’s Day

Gadgets Moms Really Want: 11 Tech Gifts for Mother’s Day

Mothers deserve better than the gift guides that are written for them. Do moms really demand their iPhone cases come smattered in flower prints, and Kate Spade bags with internal tablet sleeves? We think we can do better. Here’s our best shot at a list of tech gifts that are great for everyone but happen to have genuine mom appeal.

Kindle Oasis
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Kindle Oasis

There are much cheaper Kindles to buy. But there are two reasons your mom deserves the best e-reader ever made: She’s your mom, and when you consider that it comes with a combination screen cover and backup battery, the Oasis is priced exactly right. The e-reader has Amazon’s sharpest, most paper-like e-ink display, and a flawless, thoughtful design. Its weight pulls slightly to one side, making it more comfortable for one-handed reading than completely balanced devices. And its leather cover — which snaps on and off with secure, but easily disengaged magnets — extends the reader’s weeks of battery life to months. It’s the best-designed product that Amazon has ever made, and the best choice for anyone who devours e-books like Mom. [Starts at $290; amazon.com]

Roku Streaming Stick
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Roku Streaming Stick

The easiest way to watch streaming video on TV is with Roku’s Streaming Stick, a thumbdrive-size device that fits into a flatscreen’s HDMI port, and comes with a refreshingly simple remote control and onscreen interface. There are more feature-packed options from Apple, and even from Roku, but unless your mom is a die-hard iTunes user (iTunes is the only major streaming service this device doesn’t support), this is the perfect way to get started with streaming for shows like Orange Is the New Black, Transparent, and more. [$50, roku.com]

Apple iPad
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Apple iPad

The temptation might be to go bargain bin, and get your mom some run-of-the-mill Android tablet that can somewhat reliably stream video and display websites. But as tablets continue to replace laptops, the latest full-size iPad has the processing power and display quality to handle both current and future content. And as handy as the smaller iPad mini may be, larger screen sizes are crucial for laptop replacements. Plus, the iPad mini 4 is currently $80 more than this model, despite a smaller screen and slower chipset. For now, the 9.7-inch iPad is the iPad you give as a gift. [Starts at $320; apple.com]

Fitbit Alta HR
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Fitbit Alta HR

The Alta HR is the Goldilocks of fitness tracker — not as bulky as an Apple Watch or hardcore runner’s wrist computer, but more than just a step-counter for gentle strolls. It continuously tracks heart rate, and can be set to display phone notifications on its OLED screen, or regularly buzz you to remind you to move. The Alta HR won’t track elevation changes as you move, but it’s slimmer than trackers that do, and attractive enough to work with different activities and outfits. We recommend the standard edition, but if your mom actually loves pink — like, really, she prefers pink things to non-pink things — you can pay an extra $30 for the special edition. [$150, fitbit.com]

Aura Frame
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Aura Frame

Forget what you think you know about digital picture frames. Not only does the Aura look like something you’d actually want to display at home, but the smart frame also takes all the annoying effort out of finding the perfect photos to upload. Once synced to your phone, Aura can determine exactly which images are important to you (based on the people and things you shoot most) and which will look good (no low resolution or blurry snaps). The result is a rotating gallery of your best photos on a super-high resolution display. Coolest of all? If you tire of an image you can simply wave it away with gesture controls. Plus, mom can invite other members of the family to share their pictures directly with the frame as well. [$399; auraframes.com]

V-Moda Forza Earbuds
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V-Moda Forza Earbuds

Headphone-makers often have different approaches to exercise earbuds, ranging from simple in-ear speakers to ear-latching contraptions that resist being jostled out of position. V-Moda’s Forza earbuds leave that decision to you. They ship with various sizes of detachable earhooks and sport fins, so you can choose the kind and degree of fit you need. And since the accessories come off, the earbuds don’t have to look outlandish outside of workouts.

iHome iSP5 Smart Plug
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iHome iSP5 Smart Plug

The best, and most indispensable smart home product is the Nest. But a high-priced smart thermostat is a tough sell for a gift that others might chip in for. So go with the next-most-useful piece of smart home gear, a smart plug that lets you turn a lamp or other device on and off with a smartphone. iHome’s iSP5 is the most straightforward in this category, and works with both Android and iOS, with a free app that lets you set timers, as well as cut or restore power from anywhere you have a signal. It also works with the Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa platforms, meaning you can potentially control the plug with your voice (by way of a phone or smart speaker). [$40; ihomaudio.com]

Tile Mate
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Tile Mate

Bluetooth-powered locators like the Tile Mate are an ingenious gadget that surprisingly few people own. Clip or stick a Mate onto whatever you lose most — keys and remote controls are the obvious choices — and you can use your phone to look up their last-detected location on a map, or activate a sound (if you’re in Bluetooth range). Tile’s locators are more expensive than some competitors, but have less syncing issues, and a cleaner app experience. [$25 for one, $70 for four, thetileapp.com]

Anker PowerCore Fusion 5000 2-in-1 Portable Charger
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Anker PowerCore Fusion 5000 2-in-1 Portable Charger

Everyone with a smartphone and a bag should also have a portable battery. It keeps from stressing about battery life or hopelessly prowling coffee shops and airports for an open plug. Our favorite brand in this category is Anker, both because of its safety standards (all but eliminating the chance of the battery catching fire … which really can happen), and its slick design. The PowerCore Fusion does double-duty as both a wall charger and a portable battery, charging itself as well as a device while plugged into an outlet, and providing a full phone charge from its 5000 mAh of internal power storage. [$26; anker.com]

Raniaco Reading Lamp
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Raniaco Reading Lamp

There’s so such thing as an amazing reading light, but Raniaco’s 12-LED reading lamp comes pretty close. You can clip it to a book or stand it upright, it has three brightness levels, and it runs for 12 hours per charge. Most importantly, though, is that it can charge at all, refueling its 1000 mAh battery via USB cable. [$15; amazon.com]

Anker PowerDrive 2 Elite
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Anker PowerDrive 2 Elite

The PowerDrive 2 Elite has two USB ports for charging a pair of phones at once, and a clever gimmick: The ports light up, for increased ease-of-use (and less driver distraction) in the dark. [$12; anker.com]