Many of my genealogy friends have long lists of family history-related tech tools they want to buy, but never get around to purchasing. With the holiday season approaching, now is a great time to dream about the new tech tools you want—and ask someone else to buy them for you.
This portable, battery-powered, color flatbed scanner is well worth its $149.99 price tag. Family Tree Magazine readers have raved about this scanner, available at Family Tree Shop. Aside from its
portability and convenience for research on the road, the small screen boasts functional capabilities worthy of a much larger scanner. The EasyStitch feature can seamlessly piece together a larger image.
Flip-Pal Sketch Kit
Already have a Flip-Pal? Ask for the Flip-Pal Sketch Kit accessory. With this $22 kit, you can label a digital copy of your family photo or document. Simply lay a clear “sketch sheet” over the photo or document; write names, places, dates and other details with the erasable markers provided; and scan. Now you have a digital copy permanently paired with information about it (scan an unlabeled copy, too).
The Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop Personal app is perfect for genealogists on the move. The app lets you use your tablet to remotely access your home computer—so you can edit, amend and add to all your genealogy files from anywhere. Just keep your home computer turned on and connected to the internet when you’re away. The app is free for Android and Windows devices, and $4.99 for iOS devices. An opt-in subscription provides anywhere access for $16.99 per year. (Hint: Ask your family for a gift card to the appropriate App store so you can purchase the app on your device.)
Now that you can make free digital copies of records at many libraries and archives, a USB flash drive is an essential tool. The durable LaCie RuggedKey (from $39.99 for 16GB to $99.99 for 64GB) has a lot of storage space. Its cover protects it from physical damage, such as from a fall out of your research tote, and it’s heat- and water-resistant. The device makes data transfer faster with USB 3.0 technology. You can use it as a keychain so you won’t forget it, and even password-protect the contents.
Need a way to organize your family photos, genealogical data and record images? Heritage Collector Suite software ($79.95) will help you organize your photos and audio and video recordings from all over your hard drive into “collections.” It also lets you create family tree calendars and multimedia storybooks that you can burn onto CDs or DVDs (thus creating your own family history gifts to share).
Have you been swooning over a certain genealogy subscription site—say Ancestry.com, GenealogyBank or MyHeritage—but you just haven’t wanted to fork over the annual subscription fee? Well, now is the perfect time to put one or more of these top sites on your holiday wish list. Subscription prices vary greatly. MyHeritage.com costs about $120 per year, Ancestry.com is $99 to $199 for six months (depending on subscription level), GenealogyBank is $69.95 per year and findmypast is about $100 per year (it also has pay-as-you-go options). Ancestry.com even offers gift subscriptions.
Take better photos with your iPhone using this handy attachment. The $99.99 lens attaches to your iPhone around the camera lens and provides 2x optical magnification while reducing glare. It’s great for enhancing the quality of family photos or pictures of documents and tombstones.
If typing on your iPhone’s touchscreen isn’t your favorite thing to do, this tiny Bluetooth keyboard case may help. The case slips on to your iPhone 5 or 5s and provides a tiny, raised, BlackBerry-like keyboard you can type on. It’s a little pricey at $99, but this is your holiday wish list, right?
If you’d prefer a regular keyboard to the touchscreen keyboard on your iPad screen (or to the small Typo keyboard mentioned above), check out the KeyFolio Expert Multi-angle Folio and Keyboard (about $170). This folio is a case, stand and keyboard all in one, and even connects to your iPad via Bluetooth. There’s also a version for Windows and Android tablets.
Nothing can be worse than having your smartphone or tablet battery die when you’re on the verge of a big research discovery, or when you’re in the middle of nowhere trying to find a cemetery off the beaten path. The Innergie PocketCell ($59.99) is a portable rechargeable battery pack that lets you extend the life of your devices when you’re not close to an outlet.
Our Family Tree University online courses cover a variety of research topics for both beginners and advanced genealogists. Courses last one, two or four weeks, and they help you tackle genealogy fundamentals, research strategies, US records research, preserving and sharing your family history, and tracing your ethnic heritage.
Whether you’re staying in a hotel for a family reunion or researching at an archives or library, Belkin’s Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger ($24.99) can help make sure all your devices are safely charged up and ready to go. This charger has three-pronged outlets (for items such as your laptop) plus two USB ports (for charging your smartphone or tablet).
Haven’t splurged on a genealogy software program yet (or badly need an upgrade)? Add a program such as RootsMagic ($29.95), Family Tree Maker ($39.99), Legacy Family Tree Deluxe Edition ($29.95) or MacFamilyTree ($49.99) to your wish list. See reviews at FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
Get rid of your paper notes this year. You can use Evernote’s free Penultimate app <evernote.com/penultimate> to take notes right on your iPad or iPhone and organize your notes. The note files sync with your Evernote account, so you can access them from anywhere. To ensure the notes you take turn out as readable as possible, use Adonit’s Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus ($74.95), a high-tech, fine-point stylus that feels more like a real pen than it does a stylus.