Let’s recall the hacker from December 2018 who spoke through a Nest camera, threatening to kidnap a baby. Breaches like this typically stem from compromised passwords. But smart speakers, including Amazon Echo to Facebook Portal, have always-listening features, which can make private family moments exposed to tech companies.
So while there’s no shortage of gadgets to give your loved ones this holiday season, you may want to consider a refreshing alternative: ones that don’t connect to the internet. (Novel, isn’t it?)
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 ($99), or any similar instant camera, lets you snap physical photos to be framed or pinned to a board. There’s no threat of the photos leaking or not getting enough likes on social media because the analog prints are just for you.
Last year, one of the most sought after gadgets was the Nintendo Switch, a $299 handheld video game console that offers play on the go and can plug into a TV. Now there’s the Nintendo Switch Lite, a more budget version ($199) of the Switch. Although it can’t dock to a TV, you can play games directly from the device without the need of Wi-Fi. Both the Switch and the Switch Lite work offline.
The Sonos Move speaker ($399) requires Wi-Fi for the initial setup, but it can later work with just Bluetooth and its offline option. For those who want to avoid smart assistants altogether, the Sonos One SL speaker ($179) doesn’t feature any built-in microphones, but it does require Wi-Fi to work.
Baby monitors that connect to Wi-Fi are susceptible to hacks, as recent headlines have proven. But there are a ton of options, such as the Infant Optics DXR-8 ($165), that only stores local video, bringing a little extra reassurance to parents.
Future-facing cooking appliances
When it comes to smart home devices like smart toilets and smart fridges, many run on Wi-Fi. But some best-selling cooking appliances are both future facing and offline. If you want a good cooking hack, you can’t go wrong with an Instant Pot ($60) or Vitamix blender ($289). Both are heavy appliances and won’t leave you vulnerable to hackers; just leftovers.
The AudioTechnica Silver Turntable ($99) is a fun, nostalgic way to play music — and there’s no need to subscribe to Spotify or buy songs off Apple Music. Of course, you’ll need to buy records, if you can find them.
Buying a full-sized piano isn’t an option for many households, but a digital keyboard, like one from Yamaha, suits all types of living spaces. It’s possible to compose new songs to later upload to Soundcloud, but that will require Wi-Fi. It’s also a friendly reminder keyboards still exist beyond those that work with computers and laptops. Yamaha keyboards vary in price but start at $100.
Ebikes, such as one from Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes, are an environmentally-conscious way to get around. It’s perfect for that friend or family member who complains about not finding parking at the train station during rush hour. Although ebikes first appeared in the 90s, cheaper options and longer-lasting batteries are breathing new life into the concept. Rad Power Bikes usually start at $1,299.