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Mother’s Day is right around the corner (May 12!), so there’s still time left to score Mom an amazing gift.
Okay, but what? Flowers? Too ephemeral. Kitchen stuff? Please. And don’t even think about a new vacuum cleaner. No, if you really want to hit a home run with mom this Mother’s Day, turn your thoughts to tech. Turns out moms love gadgets and gear just as much as dad–as long as you choose the right stuff.
Here are five tech gifts that are sure to make mom happy this Sunday.
1. The Barnes & Noble Nook HD/HD+ tablet
Last week, Barnes & Noble made news by announcing its Nook HD and HD+ tablets were being upgraded with full access to the Google Play store, thus overcoming what was, frankly, one of their biggest limitations (i.e., a curated app store and a limited selection of music, movies, etc.).
This week, there’s even bigger news: the Nook HD is on sale for $149, the Nook HD+ for $179. That, my friends, is the best tablet deal of the year. The HD+ in particular is a steal, as it has an 8.9-inch screen. At this price, there’s no other “big” tablet that comes close. This deal runs through Mother’s Day, and is available online and in select stores.
2. Roku 3
Does Mom like to rewatch past seasons of “Mad Men”? Listen to Pandora while relaxing with a good book? Stream all the latest Ryan Gosling movies? (Hey, who could blame her?)
There’s no better tool to bring her all that and more than a Roku box—namely, the Roku 3, which I recently dubbed “the best streaming box you can buy, period.” This tiny black marvel (which can be tucked out of sight to preserve the living-room décor) plugs into any HDTV to provide Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and hundreds of other audio/video channels. (You supply the Wi-Fi—and the subscriptions to the various services that require one.)
Best of all, the new Bluetooth-powered remote includes a headphone jack, so Mom can enjoy Hulu-streamed episodes of “The Bachelor” in relative silence—which Dad will appreciate. The Roku 3 sells for $99.99.
3. Customized smartphone case
Whenever my wife pulls out her iPhone to snap a photo, conversation ensues. That’s because the case has a dazzling photo of the two of us.
So why not replace Mom’s boring smartphone case with one adorned with the kids, the dog, or, best of all, Dad? If she has an iPhone 4, 4S, or 5, Uncommon turns any uploaded photo into an attractive, durable case. Prices start at $34.95.
If she has a Galaxy S3, try SkinIt, which also offers custom cases starting at $34.99. For other models, just Google “custom [model name] case.” Don’t wait too long, though—a custom case can take a week or longer to get.
4. Divoom Bluetoon-Solo portable speaker
Bluetooth speakers are everywhere these days, and Mom needs one so she can enjoy her favorite tunes on the patio, at the beach, or even in the bathtub. The $49.99 Divoom Bluetoon-Solo is a portable Bluetooth speaker that’s available in five nifty colors. It’s small enough to fix in a purse, though you can daisy-chain it to additional Bluetoon-Solos for a bigger audio experience.
This little can-shaped speaker also doubles as a speakerphone, so there’s practical value as well. It has a rechargeable 8-hour battery and works with any Bluetooth-capable phone or tablet—though it also has a stereo input jack for connecting non-Bluetooth devices.
5. Fitbit Flex
Mom is all about health and fitness, right? The Fitbit Flex is a water-resistant wristband that tracks her steps taken, calories burned, hours slept, and so on. Then it wirelessly syncs all that data to her smartphone for easy monitoring of a personalized activity dashboard.
This is the latest activity-tracker from the Fitbit folks, and by all accounts it’s the best one yet: so thin and lightweight, you barely notice you’re wearing it—until the battery needs recharging, which is only about once per week. The Flex sells for $99.95.
Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC World and Wired.