When it comes to this year’s latest technology trends, what Santa leaves beneath many Buffalonians’ Christmas trees may come down to more than a naughty or nice list.
Everything from hoverboards and drones to the latest fitness trackers and tablets top the lists of people across the region.
But, like most years, the savviest Santas must first navigate high price tags and availability to successfully stuff their stockings.
Here are what some Buffalonians deem this year’s hottest tech trends, along with the challenges to checking these items off a wish list.
-- Tiffany Lankes
Shoppers: Tkai and Thais Smith
Wish: Thirteen-year-old Tkai wants one of this year’s hottest gifts – a hoverboard.
Tech trend: Hoverboards have been gaining popularity in the past year, largely thanks to the wide range of celebrities from Wiz Khalifa to Justin Bieber, taking to the street with them. The self-balancing, two-wheeled board is like a Segway, but without the handle. Can't picture it? Here's one in action:
What’s the appeal: “Everyone has them nowadays,” Tkai said. “I thought it would be fun.”
Odds of Santa’s success: Tkai’s mother, Thais, has some serious concerns about safety and the fact that many places are now banning them. The New York City Police Department became the latest to ban the motorized apparatus earlier this month, just as holiday shoppers were lining up to buy them. “I’m not sure that’s something a 13-year-old needs to have,” Thais said. Tkai may want to redirect her request to the North Pole.
Patty Watson's dream gift has practical applications for her: a new drone, to replace the 3-year-old one she uses to take the city's annual Human BuffaLove photo. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)
Shopper: Patty Watson
Wish: Watson, who uses a drone to take the city’s annual Human BuffaLove photo, has been eyeing an upgrade for her business.
Tech trend: Use of these small, unmanned aircraft has become a popular hobby among flying enthusiasts. And in Watson’s case, she has incorporated the technology into her business.
What’s the appeal: “I have a good one, but it’s 3 years old,” Watson said. “There’s always something better on the newer models.”
Odds of Santa’s success: Watson already has a bidder who offered to buy her old drone if she decides to upgrade. That seems like healthy motivation to splurge on herself this holiday season.
Shopper: Nolan Blonski
Wish: He knows all the hottest tech gadgets and is keeping his eyes peeled for good deals to get presents for his mother and brother.
Tech trend: A FitBit for mom and a hoverboard for his brother.
What’s the appeal: “It counts your steps, how many calories you burn; it does everything,” Nolan said of the FitBit. “It really helps with physical fitness.”
Odds of Santa’s success: Nolan has been monitoring the app Wish, which scours the Internet for the best prices. But he’s also finding you have to act fast to get the best deals. Last week he found hoverboards more than 80 percent off, but they sold out quickly at that price.
Shoppers: Bryce and Chris Shivley
Wish: Bryce, a Canisius High School student, hopes his father, Chris, will upgrade his tablet to an iPad Air or an iPad Pro.
Tech trend: Both the iPad Air and Pro feature a larger screen than older models of the Apple tablet.
What’s the appeal?: Bryce likes the larger size of the display.
Odds of Santa’s success: Given that Chris, an instructional technology professor, is pretty tech-happy himself, Bryce’s odds of an upgrade seem strong. Dad also seems more concerned with convenience than with scouring for online deals when doing his holiday shopping. “If I want something, I usually just go out and get it,” he said. “You can go to the Apple store and get anything.”