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Kosmo’s Holiday Gift Guide 2015

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[Editor's Note: Staff Writer Kosmo presents his own holiday gift guide below. In the spirit of Laziness, I might just get him a AAA membership (you'll see what I mean).]

We're quickly approaching Christmas.  Many of you are probably already done with your shopping, but I'm sure many of you will be finishing up on Dec 24.

Lazy Many posted his holiday guide, so I decided to write a holiday guide of my own.  It's an eclectic guide, mostly because I'm a bit weird.

Safety

Hydraulic bottle jack - If you've ever needed to use the jack that comes as standard equipment in your car, you know that it sucks.  Grab a small hydraulic bottle jack and you'll have a better time changing a tire.

Lug wrench - If you lug nuts have been machine-torqued, good luck loosening them with the crappy lug wrench that came with your car.  Spend a few bucks on a universal lug wrench.  This will give you much better leverage.

Portable car charger - It's the dead of winter, you're the last one to leave work, and your car battery goes dead.  You can call for help and wait for it to arrive - or you can charge the battery yourself and be on your way in minutes.  We have one of these in each car.  NOTE: These do need to be charged once a month.  Schedule a recurring calendar reminder.  If you buy only one item from my list, I urge you to buy this.  At some point, every battery dies.  Don't be dependent on the kindness - or presence - of strangers.

 More power

3 port USB car charger.  When we're in the car, we always have plenty of things to charge - phones and GPS in the front seat and Kindle Fire tablets in the back seat. A quiet back seat is a more pleasant (and safe) experience for the driver, and allowing the kids to watch Frozen or Inside Out on their tablets keeps them from getting bored on longer drives. I'm also trying to nudge them toward using the Kindle for reading, since I'm already paying for Kindle Unlimited and also have free access to a sizable library collection.

Portable USB charger - These come in a variety of colors and sizes.  For ten bucks, you can get a 3350 ma capacity charger to slip in your pocket.  Great for times when you'll be outside for long periods of time.  These were great when we went to Disney World about a year ago - especially since we were using phones to research things as we were in the park.

Entertainment

We have five TVs in the house, but only three are connected to DirecTV.  There's a charge for each connected TV, so the kids just have access to streaming media (and DVD/Blu-Ray) on their (small) TVs.  That's a savings of $120 per year, and we haven't heard any complaints.

Cheap TVs - For secondary uses like kids' bedrooms, I'd personally recommend going cheap.  We got a TV similar to this one (but not this exact model) and it works just fine.  You plug stuff into the HDMI ports and it plays as expected on the TV.    It doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but it's $88.  For the occasional Spongebob, it does the trick.

Cheap Blu Ray / streaming video player - likewise, you don't need to spend a fortune on a Blu Ray player.  We got a refurb of the Samsung BD-5700 model for about $50 (it sell for $60 now).  It plays DVDs and Blu Ray discs and also supports streaming media services like Netflix.  Does a good job for the price.

Roku - we have a couple of Roku devices around the house.  Roku makes several different models, all that do the same basic thing - stream Netflix (and other services) to your TV.

Fire stick - we also have an Amazon Fire Stick on one TV.  I probably like the Roku slightly better, but the Fire Stick also works very well.  There's now a model with a voice remote - I'm curious to see how well that works.

Bluetooth headphones - Easily my favorite purchase on 2015 was my pair of Air Fi Runaway headphones.  I listen to a lot of audio from my iPhone, and have always hated the corded aspect of most headphones.  These headphones have actually dropped quite a bit in price.  They've been well worth the $60 I paid for them, but they have dropped in price to $40.  I like the sound quality, and the setup was very simple.

(Yes, you'll want to be sure to take some time to step outside and get some exercise after adding all this technology to your life.)

Posted on December 14, 2015.

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