CNET's Molly Wood and Lindsey Turrentine pick their top choices for family-friendly tech, and explain why each of these gadgets will work for the whole household. We presented this list at CNET's Gotham event in New York City with our friends from Cool Mom Tech, whose <a href="http://www.coolmomtech.com/2011/11/10_hottest_holiday_tech_gifts.php#more">corresponding list is here</a>.
The Kindle Fire is a mom gift no-brainer--research shows that women in particular are drawn to e-readers, and the Kindle Fire nicely integrates Amazon services and shopping, plus tablet features. And at $199, it's a high-impact tech gift that doesn't break the bank.
The iPad 2 is a fairly straightforward gift for anyone, but it's especially great for families and kids. Children can read books, play drawing games, and watch videos on this intuitive device, and it's simply a must for traveling with young ones these days. Plus, Facetime is awesome for traveling parents. One recommendation: get an InvisibleShield screen protector, and you'll breathe a lot easier when jelly-covered fingers approach!
If you're looking for a semi-pro caliber dSLR for getting amazing action shots of your kids' soccer goals, you'll want to upgrade to the Canon 60D. But if you're looking for a fairly inexpensive dSLR that takes beautiful, warm portraits and vacation shots plus great video, the Rebel T3i is a good option. It's got an articulated LCD screen to help with the video taking, and its image quality is excellent.
The Roku box is quite simply a great gift recommendation for anyone, any time of the year. Now that it's purple and only $50, it's even more irresistible. You just plug this little box into your TV and get Web and on-demand content from Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and many more. Netflix has lots of great kid shows, and watching funny cat videos with the kids on YouTube is much more fun on the TV than on the computer. Plus: no commercials! And the remote is so simple, even the young ones can operate it.
The 11-inch MacBook Air is just flat out the perfect size for a laptop, especially if it's an around-the-house laptop (or one you plan to use for travel). Plus, the solid-state drive means it launches immediately when you open the lid, which is great when you need to check the weather last minute or just do one quick thing before another duty calls--which is almost always.
If you're not a Mac fan, or you just want a less-expensive laptop than the MacBook Air, or something a bit bigger, the Toshiba Portege R835-P70 is an outstanding all-around laptop. It's lightweight and a good, fast alternative to a 13-inch MacBook Pro--plus, it starts at just over $700, so you'll feel less tense about leaving it on the kitchen table.
Let's face it: kids come with a lot of DVDs. They get them for holidays and birthdays, they like the cover art, and their shows aren't always streaming online. So, if you haven't made the jump to Blu-Ray yet, this LG player offers just the basics, with no fussy 3D conversion tools or anything like that, plus a ton of Internet streaming options like Netflix, Amazon Instant, Napster, and more.
Sexiest keyboard ever! No wires to get tangled, dusty, and tripped on, and it charges itself with two solar panels on either side. The solar charges actually hold, so if you've got a sunny place to put this pretty keyboard, you don't have to worry that you've used up all your AA batteries on toys. Plus, it's affordable, at $79. Downside: no Mac OS support.
The Jawbone Jambox is not only the most stylish portable speaker you'll ever lay hands on, it's also pretty tough, with a rubberized design that makes it good for use outside or all over the house. And, unlike most Bluetooth portable speakers, it actually sounds really good. Use it for parties, as a portable speaker during a nice long bath, or for travel--you can even use it for Bluetooth calls and conference calls, so it's good for talking to grandparents, too.
You had to know this one would be on the list: the iPhone 4S is flat-out the friendliest smartphone on the market, and everyone in the family will want one. The app-friendly iOS means there are tons of games and other diversions available to entertain the kids, and the improved camera on the iPhone 4S means you don't have to take any other camera to take shots at casual outings, sports events, or around the house. Done and done.