These ‘grab-n-go’ essentials make great gifts

There’s always some cool things for grab and go shoppers (like me). Essentials that any family, friend or neighbor can use, or even a really cool music system.

— Crosley’s new retro cassette player/recorder is simply awesome for its looks and functionality, and it includes some nice modern features. I still have boxes of perfectly playable cassette tapes. They bring back some great playlists, which I don’t refer to as retro, I rather say they are original! Pressing actual buttons for start, stop, pause, play, forward and back might be new to some and refreshing to others. Either way, the portable tape deck is for any generation to play cassette tapes or choose an AM or FM radio station with the side knob and extendable antenna. The CT100 tape deck also has a USB port and SD card slot for playing digital music. There’s also a headphone jack and built-in microphone. $59.95

— Spot for your Dot. That’s written on the box for the iHome iAV2 speaker system built for the Amazon Echo Dot voice assistant hardware, so I can’t take credit for it. What I can say is that this is a useful bedside or office desktop system. Along with dimmable time display, 360-degree sound and a USB port for smartphone charging, the attractive feature is the top sided dock for your Echo Dot (2nd generation). Just drop it there and you can give Alexa commands to play music, playlists, hear the weather when you awake, turn on lights or set an alarm. The features for the cloud-based voice assistant are always growing and having a partner like the AC powered iHome iAV2 makes it even better. While in the dock, the Echo keeps itself charged. $69.99

— Earin M-2 true wireless earphones are small, stylish and have amazing sound. They travel great in a pocket or purse inside a 3.75-by-.75-inch cylinder charging/storage aluminum capsule. Earin’s new patented automatic left/right recognition technology make it so there’s no need to figure out which goes in the left or right ear. Just, pop ‘em in and play. With Bluetooth 4.2 they pair flawlessly and wear in comfort. Touch control is built in to manage calls (built-in mic) music and even voice assistants. Battery life is 4 hours and the capsule charging adds another 14. $249 black and white versions available

— The Ring Video Doorbell 2 ($199) installs in minutes with your existing doorbell hardwiring or choose the quick release USB rechargeable version. Once installed and connected to Wi-Fi, you’ll see who is at the front door through the Ring app (iOS and Android) and with live view, speak to visitors, essentially answering the door with your smartphone from anywhere in the world. The 1080HD 160-degree wide-angle video can be stored in the cloud, depending on the plan you choose or download on social media to alert neighbors. The security is unmatched for day to day use. And, think about delivered packages sitting on your door step for hours until you get home. Now you have eyes on them at all times with the cloud-based security system. Ring has easy-to install solar chargers, security cameras, lights and kits to enhance your home and your holiday shopping lists. $199

— The ZAGG Flex is a portable and more importantly a universal Bluetooth keyboard and detachable stand for smartphones, tablets and even smart TV’s. It’s built with multi-device pairing so it’s easy with the press of a button to toggle between devices or users. You have a choice of seven colors for backlit keys on the laptop-style keyboard. When not in use, the included protective cover is great to keep it safely stored. $55.99

— Scoshe’s magnetic MagicMount Pro is great for most any Qi wireless charging phone. Just install one of the two included magic plates to the back of your phone and secure the automotive grade adhesive magic mount to your dashboard. The magnets are 100-percent mobile device safe. Now your smartphone is instantly ready to mount and remove for handsfree use. The mount has 360-degree movement so it’s easy to get the perfect angle. $14.21


Contact Gregg Ellman at Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman

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