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Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gadget & Gift Guide

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Mother & Child - Mother's Day travel ideasMother’s Day is this Sunday. We’ve already told you about all the last-minute travel deals. If you’re also looking for a gift, our gadget guy Phil Baker rounds up some of this year’s coolest tools for moms on the road and at home. And no, he’s not suggesting you bring home a blender.

This year, I received “advice” from Jane, my wife and editor, not to just select gadgets for the kitchen as Mother’s Day gifts this year. “After all,” she said, “women are as tech-savvy as men these days.” She’s absolutely right, so I’ve selected an assortment of products that cover the full range.

Some Quirky Ideas

Quirky is an innovative product development company that creates a wide range of clever products, based on input from its online community. Members participate in design process, contribute product ideas, make branding suggestions and vote on their preferences. Many of the products that receive the highest interest are actually built and marketed. Those in the community that contributed to the product often receive a small percentage of the sale.

In deference to Jane, I’ll only briefly mention the Broom Groomer that Quirky calls “A Sweeping Improvement In Dustpans.” (Also appropriate for Father’s Day!) What’s unique are the rubber teeth on the inside back of the dustpan that are used comb out debris from the broom. ($13)

Quirky’s Mocubo is a 16-inch by 11-inch, portable bamboo cutting board with three slide-out drawers mounted under the board that become food prep containers. You’re able to slice, dice and cut, then slide the ingredients into the drawers. ($40)

Converge is an attractive docking station to store and charge a cell phone, tablet, eReader and other devices, up to four in total. The white plastic stand hides and routes wires from its built-in USB hub to each of the devices. ($40)

Gifts for the Home

If you really want to offer your mom or wife a gift she will remember each day, install an electronic keypad lock on your front door. You unlock the door with your own four-digit code and can provide temporary codes to those you want to let in when you’re not at home. It eliminates the need for taking keys out of a pocketbook or pocket, just like automobiles with keyless ignition. The lock I’ve been using for several years is the Schlage Camelot Keypad Deadbolt (Model Number: BE365 CAM 505). Jane thinks it’s one of the best gadgets I’ve reviewed. (On sale for $100 and up on Amazon.com)

Another household gadget that I’m planning to install and review soon, and am quite excited about, is the Nest home thermostat. It replaces your old thermostat with something that’s quite extraordinary and actually beautiful. It’s smart enough to learn your patterns and adjust itself by turning the temperature down at night, up in the morning and down for periods when you are away. It knows when you are away with its motion sensor, and knows the outdoor temperature through its connection to your WiFi network. It maintains energy history for your home and makes suggestions as to how you can save even more on your heating and cooling bills. This product is so disruptive and innovative that Honeywell, the company that makes the traditional circular thermostat and is known for litigating rather than innovating, is suing Nest. ($250)

Izon room monitorThe iZON Remote Room Monitor is a small vertical cylinder with a built-in video camera that lets you view and listen to activity in another room. It’s also useful for monitoring your pet’s activities when you are out of your home. You can view it anywhere you happen to be, on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. It works using Wi-Fi and is simple to set up. You can set it to alert you of unexpected activity in the home. Stem recently upgraded their software and the image quality is greatly improved. ($129)

One of the hottest categories continues to be the coffee and espresso machines that use single-serving coffee that comes in sealed capsules. One of the most advanced is the DeLonghi Lattissima Plus Nespresso Capsule System. Its best feature is ‘s patented milk container that stores in the refrigerator and slides into the front of the machine to make steamed milk. Drop in the capsule and with one touch make your drink. Cleaning is equally simple; just touch the clean button for a few seconds. ($400 at Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and more)

Gifts for the Road

Okay, all of the above are useful gadgets, but do they really count as “gifts” that your wife or mom would be excited about? Jane thinks the following would be more romantic. Plus, they’re great for moms when they are traveling for work or pleasure.

Don’t let your mom or wife drive with a phone in her hand. The Plantronics Discovery 925 Bluetooth headset provides the best combination of performance and good looks. It’s designed to reduce the visibility of the body yet provide superior talk performance. It comes with a clever carrying case that charges it when stored. (On Amazon for $50)

A gift that’s brand new for this year’s Mother’s Day is the amazing Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight eReader from Barnes & Noble. It’s the first eReader that can be used anywhere, regardless of the lighting conditions. Its built-in solid-state lighting allows reading in bed while not disturbing others, and it works equally well outdoors in the bright sun with no glare. Reviewers have universally praised it as the best eReader ever and a real breakthrough. ($139) Full disclosure: Barnes & Noble is a client, but this product is both too cool and too hot to omit.

The Canon PowerShot Elph 300 HS is one of the smallest, least expensive ultra-compact cameras and it takes terrific pictures. It has a 12.1 MP sensor, takes HD video and has a 5X zoom lens that starts at a very wide 24mm. It comes in black, silver and red. ($180)

Finally, not surprising, one of the most desirable gifts for this Mother’s Day is the new iPad. The product has so many uses, including emailing, surfing, playing word games, and creating a family photo album. ($499 and up)

What are you buying mom this year? Share your ideas for gifts for the home and on the road.

For more mother’s day ideas, check out:

By Phil Baker for PeterGreenberg.com. Phil Baker has more than three decades of experience in consumer and computer technology product development and program management. Check out his blog at www.philipgbaker.com.

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