Mother's Day is May 9 this year and it's a pretty big deal for many families actually getting together – in person – for the first time since the pandemic began. But even if you're socially distancing, there are some spectacular gifts you can still order and ship in time for the big day.
I go hands-on with thousands of new gadgets a year, and so far, 2021 has offered up some of the best, most fun and most useful tech tools to date. Here are 10 of the top new gadgets reviewed and approved by me – a mom who knows the best tech helps bring more balance – and make life a little easier overall.
1. Do-everything device
There was a time when I carted around a laptop, tablet, eReader, camera and smartphone. Now? I've paired way down thanks to the latest "do-everything devices." One of the newest to hit the market is Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga. Like all of the Yoga devices, it has three main modes, laptop, tablet, and "tent" mode, which is great for streaming or video calls.
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This is a beefed-up business-minded device, with an 11th Gen Core i7 processor and ultra-rugged magnesium-aluminum chassis to help protect it from bumps and tumbles. Still, it manages to be super thin – just 11.5mm – which is the same width as a tiny button, and it weighs just 2½ pounds. It really is a terrific find for that busy mom who needs one device to do it all.
2. A smartphone she'll flip for
The smartphone is often the most-coveted mom-gadget around, and yet we all know those moms still carrying around a cracked-screen handset she's had since her teens were toddlers.
Foldable phones are all the rage, and Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5G checks all the boxes. It's an eye-catching smartphone that folds to fit into a pocket or purse, and the little Hideaway Hinge unlocks Flex mode for a hands-free experience when she needs it most. The 6.7-inch inch display is great for a split-screen viewing, so she can do two things at once. All in all, this is not your Grandmother's flip phone (but it could be now).
3. Robot house cleaner
If you're like me and you love a clean house, but not the time it takes to make it sparkle and shine all the time, check out the iRobot Braava Jet M6. It combines a powerful sweeper and mop in one smart device. It can clean up everything from crumbs to grease with ease, and it learns and adapts to your space, so it knows where to clean and when to do it. Attach a mopping or sweeping pad and the robot automatically takes it from there.
4. For a mom trying to keep everyone healthy
The new airKAVE portable antiviral air sanitizer is a travel-mug sized super gadget that promises to kill airborne SARS-COV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – along with all kinds of other nasties like the flu and E. coli. It doesn't have any filters to fumble around with and change-out. The company says it uses micro-lighting plasma tech and is safe for home, work, and on the go. One device cleans a 100-foot radius around you, while two snapped together can clean-up even more of the air you're breathing.
5. Stress-free home gardening
The Rise Gardens Wi-Fi-connected, mobile app-guided hydroponic system lets you grow dozens of different types of plants right in your own kitchen. It manages everything from leafy greens to vining crops like tomatoes and peppers – even strawberries and microgreens – without soil or sunlight. The app knows exactly when to add nutrients, add water, manage lights, track progress of your plants and know when to harvest. It comes in a range of sizes from a small personal one to one that's capable of feeding an entire family.
6. If she's a crafty mom
For that mom who makes her own cards, and labels everything she gets her hands on, the Cricut Joy is a small but mighty machine that can help her tackle just about any crafting project under the sun. It's basically a printer and cutter made for all kinds of projects, whether paper, vinyl, or fabric.
She can use it for making custom graphics for t-shirts, phone cases, creating her own line of bespoke cards or adding custom decals to … well … everything. What's really cool is that it can create intricate designs on more than 50 kinds of materials, and works with an app to send the designs to Joy via Bluetooth.
7. A more balanced blender
If your mom loves smoothies – and who doesn't – she'll adore the way this beautiful Millo blender takes the cumbersome process of making them and cleaning up after into a futuristic and elegant process with no mess. She can set the texture of her blender with an app on her smartphone and the device is so quiet – because of the magnetic air drive – that she will not have to shout while blending. It's also small enough to tuck away so her counters are clear when she isn't blending. Right now the blender is only available in Europe, but it's coming to the United States very soon!
8. Gaming gear: For the mom who's got game
I've recommended this one before, and the Oculus Quest 2 remains my top pick for any mom who could use a little escape into the virtual reality world of her choosing. It's an affordable wireless 2-in-1 VR system that offers up an entire world of experiences with stunning visuals and controls that let her interact naturally.
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It's great for beginners or seasoned pros, and lets her do everything from explore Mount Everest to take on Sith lord Darth Vader at his Mustafar fortress. And to sweeten the deal, Quest 2 owners can now enjoy untethered PC gaming thanks to the new Air Link feature that just dropped a but earlier than expected. That means with a strong enough wireless connection, she can play all her favorite PC games without any cables.
9. New mom miracle worker
The best gift you can give any sleep-deprived new parent is a full night of uninterrupted slumber, and that's exactly what the Snoo can do. It's an incredibly high-tech, smart bassinet that uses motion and white noise to calm your baby back to sleep. While many new parents say it's priceless, the $1,400 price tag puts it out of reach for most families. Now, you can rent it for $129 a month including sheets and swaddles from a site called Happiest Baby. You can gift the rental right this second, and it ships to the 48 contiguous states, with an added shipping charge for Alaska and Hawaii.
10. For the sporty mom
If your mom loves nothing more than to get on the water, get some exercise and have fun – preferably all at the same time – the Retrospec Weekender Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board will be a huge hit. It's a 10-foot gadget that packs up so small, she can actually carry herself and it fits in her car, even if she and her car are both tiny. This simple, sturdy, stand-up paddleboard weighs only 17 pounds when fully inflated. Each board comes with a lightweight, adjustable paddle, carry bag, high-pressure dual action pump, removable fins, leash, and waterproof phone case. When deflated, she can roll it up and toss it into the back seat. It has its own carry bag and is both stable and fun on the water.
Be sure to read all of our gadget gift suggestions both here and on our sister site, Reviewed.com.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech columnist. Email her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mother's Day tech gifts: Mom reviewed and approved