With one of the biggest Indian festivals – Diwali – almost here, you're probably looking forward to dressing up, eating lots of sweets, and celebrating with family. But Diwali is also a time of gift-giving, be it purchasing jewellery on the auspicious day of Dhanteras, or exchanging pre-packaged boxes of dry fruits in situations where you don't know someone well enough.
And of course, there's the last resort: giving money in an envelope or a gift card to a particular store or website. But if you're trying to be more thoughtful this year, and want to put a smile on the gadget-lover in your household, here are six gift ideas for techies this Diwali:
A wireless charger
Samsung Wireless Charging Pad
Now that Apple has included support for Qi wireless charging in its latest phones, a wireless charging pad makes for a worry-free Diwali gift for the person you know who loves their phone and likes things to be convenient. Of course, "wireless" charging is still a misnomer given that the charging pad still has to be wired itself, but it's a term we've come to accept as a society.
Samsung's newest Charging Pad – available only in Black, and at Rs. 2,999 – works with most high-end Android phones (except Google Pixel 2, which doesn't have wireless charging) and all the new iPhone models, including iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. You can also go for the older model – Samsung Wireless Charging Pad EP-PG920I – which costs Rs. 1,800. It doesn't charge as quickly as the other one, but it's only marginally slower.
Amazon Echo + Syska LED / Philips Hue
If you know someone who's eager to make the leap into the Internet of Things, help them convert their place into a smart home with a base device that has the widest third-party support, and some smart lights so they don't have to get up for the switch. Amazon's Echo range of devices are now up for pre-order in India, and you can read our extensive guide to figure out the one that will work best.
For least commitment, pick up the Echo Dot – the cheapest of the lot at Rs. 3,149 (as part of pre-order offer) – and Syska Smartlight LED, which will work with Alexa upon launch, and costs Rs. 1,350 per bulb. The Echo Dot can do much more thanks to Alexa, including play music, set alarms, check calendar, weather and scores, create shopping lists, order food from Zomato, or even call a cab from Ola.
While the Echo Dot is great for those who have their own audio equipment, the bigger Echo at Rs. 6,999 will suit those who prefer convenience over quality, owing to the much better in-built speakers. And if you're willing to spend more on the lights, the Philips Hue is a great upgrade pick, starting at Rs. 5,995 for a single bulb and the Hue Bridge that connects them together. Additional Hue bulbs cost Rs. 1,799 for White Ambiance (warm white to cool day light) and Rs. 3,890 for Colour Ambiance (16 million colours).
A coffee maker
Morphy Richards / Mr. Coffee / OXO
A good coffee maker is the kind of Diwali gift that you won't have anyone directly ask for, but coffee lovers will appreciate it to no end, given the sheer convenience of not having to make coffee by yourself, and the cost savings of not going to the nearest café every day. The Morphy Richards New Europa can do both espresso and cappuccino, and it can make four cups at once, which is ideal for a home.
It's got great reviews from most Amazon buyers, and it's an affordable option at Rs. 3,780. If you're willing to spend more and don't mind a bit of wait, the Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Switch Coffee Maker – at $75 (about Rs. 4,900) – is a favourite on Amazon.com, and ships to India. For those friends that enjoy a cold brew, you should consider the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew, which comes in at Rs. 8,217.
An e-book reader
Amazon's own line-up of ebook readers – the Kindle – offers the most extensive library in terms of sheer size, and the best rates you'll find anywhere. Out of the four available models, the Kindle Paperwhite is the best option to go with, and it's down to Rs. 8,499 as part of Amazon's Diwali sale. It's light, small, legible in daylight, and the e-paper screen doesn't hurt your eyes over an extended period unlike phone screens.
The Paperwhite's screen offers 300 dpi pixel density, which means you get crisp text no matter what size text you opt for. The only downside is that no Kindle natively supports the EPUB file format, the open format that’s common among freely available books. Thankfully, a free software for Windows, macOS and Linux called Calibre converts EPUB files into the format that Kindle uses.
Bose QuietComfort 25
Be it earbuds, over-ear or wireless, Bose currently offers the best-in-class noise cancelling. The sound quality isn't great on either of the three, but they all sound decent and are comfortable. The best one to go for right now is the Bose QuietComfort 25, which are down to Rs. 15,119 thanks to Amazon's Diwali sale. Make sure you get the model that works for your phone: Android or iOS.
The QC25 offer an average of 25 dB drop in noise as per industry testing and user reviews, and can be folded up into a case the size of a book while not in use. You'll need a single AAA battery to power the noise-cancellation, and the QC25 also come with an airplane adaptor that gives you a two-prong jack for your in-flight entertainment needs.
A robot vacuum
iRobot Roomba + Braava
Thanks to living in a tropical, dust-filled environment, keeping your home clean in India can be a full-time job, which is why most of us prefer to employ someone to do it for us every day. But if you've trouble trusting someone with your home while you're gone, or need someone to help you when the cleaner takes a day off, a robot can be ideal help.
iRobot is the only big company to have an official presence in India, and it offers two product categories: a regular vacuum to scoop up dust, hair, and other debris, and a mopping robot that helps clean your floors with a dry- or damp-mop. The iRobot Roomba 616 is the entry-level option in the former bracket at Rs. 26,900, with the iRobot Braava Jet 240 the latter pick at Rs. 19,900.