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By Jerrod KingeryLet’s face it: gadgets and tech are the gifts everyone loves the most during the holiday season. Who doesn’t love feeling like they’re on the cutting edge of scientific discovery when you’re ripping open presents under the Christmas tree? I performed my civic duty once again this holiday season and sampled some great tech gifts the manufacturers sent my way. Behold the 2014 holiday gift guide!Polaroid Cube (pictured at the top of this page)By now you might be familiar with the GoPro camera line: pocket-sized HD video cameras you can attach to just about anything to grab wide-angle views you weren’t able to see before. At a price point over $300 for some models, though, a GoPro is a luxury most can’t afford. Enter venerable camera company Polaroid and its Instagram icon-looking, ultra-compact Cube HD video camera to provide an affordable option. Priced at $99.99, the so-called “lifestyle action camera” is simple and fun to use. Recording to a micro SD card (not included) the Cube can capture either 720p or 1080p high definition video —changeable with a switch just under the card slot--- through its 124 degree wide angle lens. A single rubberized button handles all powering on and off and recording functions and a strong concave magnet attaches to the roof of your car or mounting accessories--sold separately, of course. The Cube’s video is fantastic for such a small package (the audio not so much, but that’s not a deal breaker), and its retro styling and durable construction make it easy and fun to carry around. The Cube also takes 6 megapixel still photos, but without any sort of viewfinder this feature will likely go unused. Purchase the Polaroid Cube here.EcoReco M3 E-Scooter
In San Antonio, mass transit is not a viable option for our suburb-filled city, so the M3 E-Scooter from EcoReco-- designed for so-called “last mile” commuting between your home and the train, for example--doesn’t really get the sort of use it is meant for. But let me tell you, that doesn’t make tooling around the neighborhood on the electric scooter any less fun. Styled after the familiar Razor scooter, the M3 is a heavy-duty electric scooter capable of hitting speeds of 15 MPH on my neighborhood streets. The ride can occasionally be a little rough, but 15 MPH is pretty fast for small, firm rubber wheels, so it’s understandable. Designed to fold up and carry inside, the M3’s weight doesn’t make that an easy prospect, but it is doable. The battery life could be a bit better—the initial ride down the street after a full charge instantly knocks the battery meter down one notch, but the M3 isn’t built to ride all day long. And besides, a dead battery just turns it into a heavy foot-powered scooter, so you won’t get stuck anywhere. Priced at $999, it’s for the serious scooter commuter only. Purchase the EcoReco M3 here.Rumpl blanket
Yes, a blanket, but so much more! Like a lightweight sleeping bag with no zipper to gouge your back, the Rumpl high performance blanket is a revolution in blanket technology. Crowd-funded through Kickstarter, the guys behind Rumpl sought to bring the comfort and durability of outdoor gear like puffy jackets and sleeping bags to the stuffy old blanket market dominated by grandma-friendly cloth blankets and cheap, pop culture-patterned fleece throws. Yes, I realize I’m just talking about a blanket that’s made with sleeping bag materials here, but trust me, this thing is great. I decided to test it out on the couch while watching a movie one night and was enjoying the lightweight, cool comfort the Rumpl provided…and then came the cat invasion. The noise of the interior scratching against itself proved to be a desirable playground for the four felines prowling around my house. Darting underneath it, snuggling up under it, or making a nest of sorts on top of it, the cats seemed to like the Rumpl blanket even more than I did. Starting at $65, the Rumpl is a bit more expensive than your average off-the-shelf blanket, but the durability and comfort assure you and your pets will be snuggling up under it for years to come. Purchase a Rumpl blanket here.Izon View wifi camera
Confession: after someone nearly kicked my door in a few years ago while I was at work, I’ve become an IP security camera junkie. Initially buying cheap, foreign-made cameras with questionably-translated directions, I decided to make sure I could peek in on things going on at home whenever I wanted (thankfully all I’ve seen is cats in various stages of mischief and/or napping). Setup of these Chinese-made cameras can be a bit cumbersome, so I was excited to test out something simple and easy like the Izon View wifi camera. About the size of a D battery with a swiveling magnetic base, the Izon View is placed easily on any shelf or mounted on the wall--if you can get the bottom of the magnetic base off without destroying it, anyway. Frustration with that aside, setting up the camera is mercifully simple if out of the ordinary. Accessible through a free smartphone app, setting up the camera involves plugging it in, discovering it with the app, choosing your wifi network, and then placing your phone in front of the camera so the Izon View can read a custom QR code to finish setting itself up. This took some time and practice to pull off successfully, but once setup was complete, the Izon View performs like a champ. While the inability to add it to other 3rd party security camera apps is disappointing, the ease of use can’t be overstated, and the $99.95 price tag is fairly affordable. Just open an app on your smartphone and you get decent video and audio streaming of your very own sleeping cats. Purchase the Izon View here.SMS STREET Star Wars headphones
Check out the newest SMS STREET headphones, the Star Wars line officially licensed by Lucasfilm. With four models to choose from including Rebel Alliance, Galactic Empire, Boba Fett, and Stormtrooper--no prequel nonsense here--with sweet 3D emblems and bold-yet-stylish themed colors, the Star Wars first edition STREET by 50 headphones are a geek's dream come true. The pair that SMS was kind enough to send is the Stormtrooper theme, and they arrived in an black foil-embossed box. Opening the box reveals a semi-soft case familiar to the STREET line, this time embossed with the Star Wars logo and color-coordinated black and white to match the Stormtrooper armor. Extra goodies abound, from a Star Wars-themed soft-touch cleaning cloth, stickers, a small poster reflecting the outer box artwork, and a certificate of authenticity, should you ever need to prove...well, something about your sweet Star Wars headphones.Smaller than the STREET by 50 ANC wired headphones I reviewed last month, the Star Wars STREET by 50 On-Ear Wired headphones are also considerably lighter than their counterparts, and the weight difference takes some stress off of your skull after a marathon listening session. Maybe it's just my giant head talking, but the whole thing feels just a touch too small. The ear cuffs go over the ear, sure, but don't cover your whole ear like the ANC wired headphones do, though the OVALIFT leather-covered memory foam is comfy. And the top bar, while padded, feels like it's constantly pressing down on the top of your head. Again, I have an extra-large head, so this won't be a problem everyone faces, but the bigger domed among the population should be aware. When it comes to sound quality, the Star Wars First Edition STREET by 50 On-Ear Wired headphones turn in the same top-notch performance of their bigger brother, albeit without the sometimes-disorienting active noise cancelling. The smaller cuffs mentioned aren't as effective at blocking out sound as the larger cuffs are, but again, that's the tradeoff that comes with the lightweight design. This actually becomes a benefit, though, when using the built-in microphone to make phone calls, as the larger cuffs shut out too much of your voice, making things slightly awkward. With the smaller cuffs you can hear and modulate your voice better, but still not to the point of total comfort. At an MSRP of $149.95, the Star Wars First Edition STREET by 50 On-Ear Wired headphones are a bit pricey, but Star Wars fans looking to hear every note of John Williams' timeless score on their smartphones won't be disappointed. To purchase the Star Wars First Edition STREET by 50 On-Ear Wired headphones and for more technical specs, click here.
Brinno PHV Mac
Of all the products I received, this one excited me most. Essentially a video camera peephole, the Brinno PHV Mac also records short video bursts whenever anyone approaches your door. If you have a peephole installed already, installation is rather easy. Just replace your current people with the included wide angle version and attach the body of the Brinno on the inside of the door. A push button activates a small, low-res video screen that uses the peephole as its lens. While this works well, I’m not sure just how much more convenient this made finding out who came to my door, and all recordings are just of UPS, FedEx, and USPS deliveries. At a price point of about $130, the Brinno PHV Mac is a little on the expensive side for what is essentially a novelty. If you need a video log of visitors to your doorstep, however, there’s no easier solution. Click here to buy the Brinno PHV Mac.
The 2014 Texas Associated Press Sports Editors Class 4A all-state high school football team, released Tuesday. Voting based on regular-season performance. Players are listed in alphabetical order at each position.
— MICHAEL COFFEY, Navasota, Sr. -- 96 percent grade
— CHASE HERRIG, Sinton, Jr. -- 76 pancakes, 97 percent grade, 1 sack allowed
— MATT HITER, Argyle, Sr. -- 91 percent grade, offense averaged 50 pts/game, 38 pancakes, 1 sack allowed
— DANE JESTERS, Gilmer, Sr. -- 93 percent grade, 58 pancakes
— WYATT SANTOS, Van, Sr. -- 95 percent grade, 24 pancakes, 1 sack allowed
— TREN'DAVIAN DICKSON, Navasota, Jr. -- 51-1,229, 24 TDs receiving
— TRENTON JONES, Levelland, Sr. -- 1,326 receiving yards, 19 TDs
— SHELTON EPPLER, Navasota, Jr. -- 161-234-2,967, 42 TDs passing, 7 INTs
— CEDRIC BATTLE, WF Hirschi, Sr. -- 2,489 rushing yards, 31 total TDs, 202 points.
— DRAESHAUN HANNAH, Mexia, Sr. --2,187 rushing yards, 28 TDs; 2 TDs receiving
— D'ANTHONY HOPKINS, Cuero, Sr. -- 210-2,050, 30 TDs rushing, 2 receiving TDs
— JOZEF RUIZ, Van, Jr. -- 9-10 FGs, 57-57 PATs, 19 touchbacks
Offensive Player of the Year: Cedric Battle, WF Hirschi
— TYRIQ BURNET, Wills Point, Soph. -- 88 tackles, 13 sacks, 24 TFL, 2 FF, 2 FR
— DEDRICK GARNER, Fairfield, Sr. -- 93 tackles, 23 TFL, 8 sacks, 4 FF, 4 FR
— D'SHAN HARLEY, WF Hirschi, Sr. -- 54 tackles, 29 TFL, 15 sacks
— ALBERT MAGALLANES, Rio Hondo, Jr. -- 75 tackles, 20 sacks, 23 TFL, 2 FF, 3 FR
— AARON BERNAL, Boerne, Sr. -- 149 tackles, 8 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 FF, 2 FR
— DEVIN EGGINS, Fairfield, Sr. -- 170 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 FF, 3 PBU
— ZACK MCMAHEN, Vernon, Sr. -- 119 tackles, 24 TFL, 5 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT, 1 defensive TD
— REAGAN ANDERSON, Devine, Jr. -- 8 INTs, defensive TD, 11 pass deflections, 31 tackles
— DIAMEON BREWER, Wilmer-Hutchins, Jr. -- 62 solo tackles, 9 INTs, 3 FF, 7 PBU
— JUSTUS PARKER, La Vernia, Sr. -- 53 tackles, 7 INTs, 11 pass deflections
— CAMERON WEISS, Mineral Wells, Soph. -- 50 tackles, 14 PBU, 8 INTs, 2 FR
— CLAYTON HARP, El Campo, Sr. -- 45.6 avg., 17 punts
Defensive Player of the Year: Devin Eggins, Fairfield
— Thorn Berry, Gladewater, Sr.; Jonathan Castillo, Perryton, Sr.; Colton Hall, Liberty Hill, Sr.; Jacob Perez, Cuero, Sr.; Kyle Rickman, Seminole, Sr.
— Blake Lynch, Gilmer, Sr.; David Snelling, Boerne, Sr.
— Jarrett Stidham, Stephenville, Sr.
— Tre'von Jackson, Sanger, Sr.; Nick Ralston, Argyle, Sr.; Juwan Washington, Kennedale, Sr.
— Edgar Sanchez, Henderson, Sr.
— David Bearden, Argyle, Jr.; Colton Knapp, Pleasanton, Sr.; Daylon Mack, Gladewater, Sr.; Cameron Reynolds, Stephenville, Sr.
— Darrin Bradley, Houston Wheatley, Jr.; Bohner Cottongame, Graham, Jr.; Derrick Walker, Ferris, Sr.
— Landon Gonzales, Graham, Sr.; Clay Johnston, Abilene Wylie, Sr. ; Houston Vela, Perryton, Sr.; Derrick Williams, Kennedale, Sr.
— Zane Boles, Henderson, Sr.
HONORABLE MENTION OFFENSE
LINEMEN: Josh Albert, Geronimo Navarro; Carlos Becerra, Celina; Chance Bishop, Kennedale; Spencer Brandt, Yoakum; Ty Crabtree, Monahans; Ty Crain, Sweetwater; Isaac Espinoza, Gladewater; Andrew Flanagan, Kennedale; Jose Gonzalez, Graham; Cooper Hedge, Abilene Wylie; Blake Hickey, Godley; Wil Holmes, Robinson; JP Ortiz, Devine; Noah Perez, Stephenville; Carlos Ponce, Krum; Roberto Requena, Caldwell; Jacob Rowland, Wills Point; Chris Simmons, Levelland; Sean Strickland, Midland Greenwood; Taylen Vaughn, Celina; Esteban Vijil, La Vernia; Matt Waggoner, Argyle; Brance Watts, Sanger; Josh West, Athens; Jarod Wood, Kilgore.
RECEIVERS/ENDS: Trestan Ebner, Henderson; Drew Estrada, Argyle; Chase Harrell, Huffman Hargrave; Keenan Holdman, Bridgeport; Cody Jones, Burnet; Michael Lawrence, Sweetwater; Deionte Thompson, West Orange-Stark.
QUARTERBACKS: Quez Allen, Paris; Zane Boles, Henderson; McLane Carter, Gilmer; Nick Gerber, Levelland; Jalen Gross, Ingleside; Jase Hammack, Andrews; Tyler Handson, Sinton; Tre'Vontae Hights, Yoakum; Jake Hugghins, Rusk; Kaegan Jeffrey, Sweetwater; Chase Musgrove, Atlanta; Tobyn Tannehill, Big Spring; Landry Turner, Graham; Justin Ventura, Perryton.
RUNNING BACKS: Dakarius Bell, West Columbia; Keyshawn Chambers, Caldwell; J.K. Dobbins, La Grange; Kevin Dove, El Campo; Kendrick Freeman, Borger; Logan Fuller, Athens; D-Jay Glenn, Rusk; Ronald Hayes, Kennedale; Clay Johnston, Abilene Wylie; Isaiah Love, Vernon; LeVonte Owens, Robinson; Derrion Randle, Navasota; Kaegun Williams, Stephenville.
KICKERS: Ignacio Gomez, Ferris; Zane Kottwitz, Kennedale; Michel Martinez, Navasota; Cesar Rivera, El Campo; Edgar Sanchez, Henderson.
HONORABLE MENTION DEFENSE
LINEMEN: Brant Addison, Seminole; Zach Allen, Henderson; Baylen Baker, Abilene Wylie; Jackson Graf, Celina; Isaiah Heredia, Rio Hondo; Jabril Hunter, Navasota; Robert Knox, Sinton; Jacob Kovar, Caldwell; Eric Loya, Borger; Michael Lozano, Rio Hondo; Jonathan Marshall, Shepherd; Dariet McDuff, Dallas Madison; Noah McMeans, La Vernia; Dustin McWhorter, Graham; Micah Melton, Andrews; Sam Miller, Canton; A.B. Ramirez, Levelland; Nathan Schneider, Big Spring; Michael Scyrus, Bellville; Ricky Thompson, Robinson; Devontay Wheatley, Dallas Madison; Cedric Wilcots, Wilmer-Hutchins; Dakota Williamson, Gilmer; Jake Wright, Geronimo Navarro.
LINEBACKERS: Roel Benitez, Rio Hondo; Demarco Boyd, Gilmer; Jarrett Carpenter, Fairfield; Laterrance Carter, Rusk; Brennen Dominguez, Seminole; Heath Dunson, Vernon; Dalton Goode, Henderson; Kody Hall, Burnet; Trenton Hambrick, Celina; Kris Haynes, Kilgore; Darius Heath, Carrollton Ranchview; Seth Hensley, Henderson; Coy Imhoff, Navasota; Michael Mueller, La Grange; Tyrik Ray, Mexia; Hunter Redmond, Van; Manuel Rodriguez, Robinson; Jake Rogers, Midland Greenwood; Heath Runnels, Hondo; Coleton Spradley, Krum; Taylor Sweatt, Argyle; Taylor Thibeau, Kennedale; Hagen Tucker, Longview Spring Hill; Dale Turner, Mineral Wells; Garrett Wigington, Big Spring; D'Ante Willard, Lubbock Estacado; Jordan Williams, Paris.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Sabraun Adams, Seminole; Adrian Alameda, El Campo; Kris Boyd, Gilmer; Ashton Branch, Wharton; Chasten Brooks, Tatum; Colton Cohea, Sinton; Landon Cook, Kennedale; Jace Cordell, Andrews; Tristan Czajkoski, China Spring; Trestan Ebner, Henderson; Travon Fuller, Athens; Daylon Gordon, Gladewater; Ronnie Graves, Wilmer-Hutchins; Joey Guzman, Rio Hondo; Tre'Vontae Hights, Yoakum; Davon Jernigan, Navasota; Willie Keilman, Hondo; Dane Ledford, Argyle; Isaiah McGee, Sweetwater; Ernesto Oyervidez, Fort Stockton; Jeff Sims, Celina; Mark Villarreal, Sinton; Keidrien Wadley, Carrollton Ranchview.
PUNTERS: Trey Cook, Bridgeport; Travis DeBault, Yoakum; Jeffrey Elliot, Levelland; Drew Estrada, Argyle; Jake O'Connor, Wimberley; Tristan Perry, Mineral Wells.
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