What Makes a Good Gadget Gift and What Makes a Dud

The telltale signs that may make you want to rethink that gift.

ByALYSSA NEWCOMB
December 03, 2014, 3:00 PM
PHOTO: Check out some of the best tech stocking stuffers for 2014.
Check out some of the best tech stocking stuffers for 2014.
Jose Luis Pelaez/Getty Images

— -- Sometimes a cool gadget seems like the perfect present for that hard-to-buy-for person on your holiday shopping list.

What's not to love about that wireless face massager, soda maker or the drink dispenser that looks like a golf putter?

The latest flashy tech gadgets may seem like cool gifts to cover almost everyone on your list. (Who wouldn't want to dictate their shopping list to a machine that then prints it?)

Before you go the gadget route, here are the questions to ask yourself. The answers may be the telltale signs you need to know whether your gift will be a hit or will collect dust inside of a drawer.

Does It Pass the 'Toothbrush Test'?

Google co-founder Larry Page uses the "toothbrush test" to decide whether he wants to acquire a company. It also has practical applications when it comes to holiday shopping.

Is the gadget you're considering buying something that will make that person's life better? Will they use it once or twice per day?

A paper towel hub with USB ports for charging your phone may pass this test. That 7-in-1 tool that attaches to their key ring may not make the cut.

Are Refills Required?

The modern day equivalent of the Easy Bake Oven, but for adults, is a soda maker. It may thrill the recipient who eagerly experiments with new drinks but the fun ends when the carbonating cartridge is empty and the soda flavor mixes have been used.

"You generally want to avoid something where you're hooked into buying other things from the same company," Ray Maker, who writes about sports-related electronics on his popular website DC Rainmaker, told ABC News.

How Big Is It?

Great gifts come in all shapes and sizes, but it's important to consider whether its practical for the person receiving the gift.

"Try to figure out what kind of person they are and whether they’ll use the device," Maker said.

What about that laptop drink holder? It just complicates things.

That mobile office may seem like a great idea for a spouse who is always on the go, but look at the size of it. Do they need it so badly that they'd be willing to carry it in and out of their car?

If the answer is yes -- then go for it. If not, congratulate yourself from preventing another holiday gift gadget from becoming another piece of clutter.

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