This year was big for us in terms of purchasing electronic gadgets.  We are not wealthy by any means, and so making a pricey purchase in our family means doing lots of research and saving up before we plunge in.

And so, I wanted to share the five big items that we bought this year.  It might help you if you are looking for gifts or ideas in the future.  It’s also fun to just share what we got and why!

So here are our 5 big tech gadget purchases of the year:

Nabi 2 Tablet

After playing with several friends’ Ipads, my kids really wanted a tablet that they could take on our travels to play and keep up with friends.

But we couldn’t afford an Ipad.  So I went in search of a kid-friendly tablet that would be sturdy and safe.

The Nabi 2 runs off an Android operation system, it comes preloaded with dozens of apps, songs, and videos, and it’s rubber case makes it durable.

I looked at all kinds of reviews and test videos for tablets.  The Nabi 2 was unique in that it has a kid mode where I can choose what apps and media my kids can use, but it also has a mommy mode where I can use it just like a normal tablet.  We even got the Kindle and Nook apps on it so we can read all our ebooks from both sites.

The kids love it. Gaius does puzzles and watches cartoons, Raven likes Skyping on it, and Denna loves the game apps like Fruit Ninja.  It is perfect for car rides and long sits in the waiting room.


About this time last year, Jay and I decided that we were done with DirecTV.  We had issues with our DVR since we moved from Washington and had to pay to replace it twice.  Plus, we only kept up with a few shows on television.

So, we got rid of our satellite TV and just watched Netflix on the Wii.

Then I heard about a little box called a Roku that allowed you to stream internet shows directly onto your TV.

For about $50 (for the box), plus the monthly cost of our Netflix account, we have access to tons of free channels with movies, TV shows, previews, radio, and more:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • K-drama
  • Classic Movies
  • YouTube
  • Fitness TV
  • Pandora
The YouTube channel alone gives us access to all kinds of webcasts.  We may miss some of the more popular shows on regular TV, but we have so much to watch on our Roku that we don’t really miss paying monthly for satellite.

Wii U

This was our one big Christmas present for the year. Our Wii was 6 years old, and while it worked perfectly fine, the girls wanted to upgrade because they saw their favorite DS game coming out for the Wii U.

Yes – Scribblenauts Unlimited is an amazing game.  And we have loved the Wii U.  The touch controller allows someone to play games even when the TV is being used for another purpose (like streaming a show on the Roku).  The new system plays all the old Wii games, so we can still have a Dance Party and get our Lego Batman on.

What is great about the new Scribblenauts game is that  not only can you create items and personalize those items with adjectives, you now have the ability to change the behavior of those things!

So if you make a dog, you can program the dog to bark every time a person walks by.  And then you can make that dog a giant zombie dog.

Our favorite thing about the new Wii U touch controller is that you can plug it directly into the cord charger.  We don’t have to buy batteries and the charge lasts about 2 hours of continuous play.

If you have an ipad – check out the Scribblenauts Remix app!

Sony HDR-CX190

Our latest purchase was something we had been discussing and researching for a while.  Technically, you can call it our “other” big Christmas present. However, we have been saving up for this.

When we found out we were going to Korea, Raven and I found a webcast called Eat Your Kimchi that we really enjoyed watching together.

Then Raven had the idea of making videos of our adventures in Seoul as an unschooling military family.  I thought it was a great idea!

So we started doing research into getting a good video camera.  We finally decided on the Sony HDR-CX190 because:

  •  It had better zoom capabilities
  • Lightweight, easy to carry around
  • Built-in microphone that pics up great sound
  • The most options in our price range
We were looking at the GoPro but since we wanted to use it as a family camera as well as webcasting, we didn’t like that there was no zoom, no control over sound, and very little options for hand use.
So far the camera has taken great video, even in low light.  I would recommend getting an extra (off-brand, not Sony) battery as the one that comes with the camera is not the greatest.

Bamboo Connect

I bought the Bamboo Connect for Raven on her birthday because she loves drawing and art so much, this was a perfect way to connect that passion to her love for computers.

The Bamboo Connect is a digital pen & tablet used to make graphic art.

Raven created the Rainbow Dash above as her first project with her new gift.

If you have an artist, this is great for sketching, tracing, making web cartoons, animations, and so much more.  I am hoping that she can use this in the future to create coloring pages and other graphics for my projects.

What gadgets did you buy this year? Are you getting any for Christmas?


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3 Responses to Five Tech Gadgets We Purchased In 2012

  1. Kristen says:

    do you have netflix still in Korea? is it through your Roku and Wii? we’re moving there this summer. thanks

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