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High Tech Stocking Stuffers: Home Improvement

We're continuing our look at some tech stocking stuffers in time for Christmas. If you're a "do-it-yourselfer" you especially might want to check out some of the products Chris talks about in this week's Product Spotlight, including a doorbell that can help you see who is at your door - from anywhere.

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I like to consider myself pretty handy and love taking on Home Improvement projects at home. Here are a few of the items I found recently that can help around the house.

First up is the Kill A Watt Edge Power Monitor from P3 International. This device will measure the power output of whatever you plug into it, allowing you to see the operating costs of your electronics. It also has a CO2 function, so you can calculate your carbon footprint.

Many people don’t realize that when you turn a device like your TV off, you’re really putting it in “standby” mode and it continues to draw a very small amount of power. Probably the most useful feature of this device is the ability to set a timer, and when its built-in motion sensor senses that no one is in the room, it will cut the power to whatever is plugged in, putting it in what they call “real off” mode, saving you money.

Next, we’ve got a very handy product from a popular German company. This is the GLM 50 C Laser Measure from Bosch. This will take measurements up to 165 feet away, and they say it’s accurate to within a sixteenth of an inch. It’s got a handy little built-in level, too.

It’s got bluetooth built in, so with their free app, you can store and organize your measurements on your mobile device, even snapping pictures of a room and adding your measurements right onto the pictures. The GLM 50 C Laser Measure sells for about $150.

Finally, let’s take a look at one more high-tech home improvement item I feel is a good pick for a holiday gift. It’s the Ring Video Doorbell.

This doorbell can be installed anywhere, and easily connects to your home’s wifi network. Once you’ve installed the Ring app on your phone, when someone rings your doorbell, a notification will popup on your phone, telling you someone is at your door. Then, a video screen will open where you can see who’s at your door. You can hit deny, or accept, which will allow you to communicate with your guest.

The live video you see will also be recorded and stored in the cloud to allow you to go back and see who may have come to your door while you were away and not near your phone.

You can also setup motion alert on the device where it will activate and record video, when the doorbell detects motion, adding an extra level of security.

In addition to the alert on your phone, you can add extra wifi chimes throughout the house, so you aren’t relying on just your phone to hear your doorbell.

The Ring Video Doorbell sells for about 200 bucks, additional chimes are about 30, and the cloud storage will cost you either 3 dollars a month of 30 dollars a year, and they say they’ll store the last six months worth of recordings.

There’s a few of my picks for Home Improvement holiday gifts. Check back often as we’ll bring you more of our Tech Stocking Stuffers throughout the next month leading up to Christmas.

Written by Chris Graveline

Chris has covered consumer technology for over 20 years. He is the host of This Week in Tech History as well as a regular co-host on "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" and our Technical Director.

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