Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, weddings. So many gifts to buy this spring. Here are my favorite gadgets of the year. So far.

Spring is kind of an expensive time of year for many people. You’re getting graduation announcements, Mothers Day is next week and before you know it, you’ll have to get that Father’s Day gift ordered to arrive in time. Don’t even get me started on the many spring/summer weddings.

One of the great things about gadgets is they make good gifts for anyone. Here are some of my favorite gift ideas for grads, moms, dads and everyone else:

These are gadgets I’ve tested and used to make sure they’re as good as advertised. I will never feature a gadget that I don’t like.

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  If you love the convenience of Amazon’s Alexa and want to take her with you, the Anker Roav VIVA puts Alexa in the shotgun seat. This 2-port smartphone charger will stream music played on your phone through your car’s stereo system. “Alexa, give me directions home,” “shuffle songs from Amazon Prime,” or just ask her any of the questions you’d ask her at home. The Roav VIVA is easy to set up and connects to Amazon and Alexa through your phone through the Roav app. By the way, if you’re trying to charge your smartphone in your car through a USB port, you’re going to find charging a phone through an actual AC or cigarette lighter is going to be faster.


I can’t get through the day without a Bluetooth speaker and I’ve tried about a hundred of them over the years. A Jawbone Jambox has been my g0-to winner for 7 years but I may have just found a speaker with better sound in the Tribit X Sound Go portbable speaker. It’s the same size as the Jawbone Jambox but with better bass. This thing rocks and the battery lasts several days between charges. It’s splash resistant so it’s good to use at the pool too.

Wireless noise-cancelling headphones may be more of a necessity for college students (my GPA might have been a full point higher if I could have blocked out dorm noise). I have a pair of these Bose Quiet Comfort Noise-Cancelling headphones for airplane trips. They’re comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time and they’ve always blocked any noise from airplane engines and noisy passengers. Since they’re wireless you college student can walk down the hall without getting tangled up with a cable leading to their phone.

 Maybe my favorite tech gadget of the year (at least so far), the Rocketbook Wave Notebook is an actual paper notebook that is erasable by putting it into a microwave. My full review here.

I use Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive for almost everything I write. When I go to a workshop or conference though, I’m old-school. I prefer taking notes on paper. I seem to remember what I write down much better than if I type it out on a phone or computer. The Rocketbook Wave allows me to save my handwritten notes to an Evernote Notebook, Google Drive Document, Dropbox folder or email it to myself. Once that’s done and my notebook is full, I put it in a microwave oven with a cup of water and a couple of minutes later everything I’ve written is erased and I have an entire notebook of empty pages. Grads, moms and dads can use this. Or will use this.

The other day my college-age daughter called to say her battery had died. In years past I would have grabbed the set of jumper cables in my garage and driven over to give her car a start. But a few months ago I picked up a couple of portable jump starters for her car and my wife’s car. This JumpStart portable battery charger is my favorite because it has a powerful flashlight so my daughter could easily see to attach the cables. She keeps it charged up and in her car trunk. To jump-start the car she only had to connect it to the terminals and start the car.  The JumpSmart jump starter also has USB ports to quickly charge phones or another mobile device.

There are tablets and then there’s the iPad. Whether the person you’re buying for is an Apple or Android user there’s no other option when it comes to tablets. The iPad Pro is the standard and no other manufacturer comes close in creating a device that is more useful than an iPad. For students, an iPad can replace a laptop for most in-classroom note taking. Leave the laptop back in the room and pair an iPad with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard. Students can use the iPad for school work and then watch Netflix, Amazon or YouTube videos, then use it to video chat with mom and dad back home over Facetime, Facebook Messenger or Skype. The iPad is super easy to use. Just watch the 3 year old who’s using one to play games and the 103 year old grandma who uses it to play games or share recipes. There are some things I could not live without and my iPad Pro is at the top of the list. Yes, even ahead of my iPhone.

The ZAGG keyboard is the best choice for anyone who tosses their iPad in a backpack. It’s rugged enough to protect your iPad and yet sleek enough to stay light.

If mom uses an iPad, she might prefer this keyboard from Brydge. It isn’t made to protect the iPad from scratches but it’s much sleeker than the ZAAG and gives the iPad a much more air-like quality. The Brydge is what stays attached to my iPad Pro and I cannot count the number of times someone has asked what I am using to make my iPad work like a laptop. The Brydge has backlit keys which makes it super easy to use in the dark or in low light rooms.

Of course there are hundreds of other gadgets that make good gifts for grads, moms and dads but these are my favorites.