NEW YORK – Flowers wilt and candy can add extra pounds, so why not get mom what she really wants for Mother's Day -- gadgets that can make her life easier.
Tech gadgets for mom? But she can’t even set the VCR, you chide. Relax, manufacturers are well aware that some mothers are tech-phobic, and have taken steps to make more user-friendly products, according to Frank Sadowski, vice president of merchandising for Amazon.com electronics.
“Rather than putting every single feature you possibly can and having multiple buttons and displays, (manufacturers) have made products that focus on design so they operate in much more straight forward and intuitive way," he said.
Some retail watchers say traditional gifts are being swapped for modern-day gizmos that mom will appreciate.
"We get a healthy share of Mother's Day gift shoppers," said Robert Padgett, spokesperson for Brookstone, a nationwide chain known for functional gadgets.
Padgett said popular choices this year include Tempur-Pedic's slippers made with a NASA-designed heat sensitive foam that contours to one's feet, and talking photo albums in which the gift-giver can record messages mom can hear with every page turn.
"If mom is into bird watching or traveling, we have great digital camera binoculars," Padgett suggested. The DigiCam Binoculars not only magnify a subject, but can snap digital photos too.
Time-saving devices are a top pick as well.
“We are very in touch with moms across America and we know they are super busy and trying to do 100 things at a time all before noon,” said Sara Anderson, lifestyle editor at Redbook. “Great gadgets can make their life much easier and carve out extra time."
Anderson recommended the Mini Digital Voice Recorder from Brookstone, which holds 200 minutes of digital messages, as a thoughtful gift for time-crunched moms.
“This device is not just for high powered execs, it’s great for moms on the go," she said. "She can put shopping lists on it, reminders of which kids get picked up at what time and to-do lists."
The fastest growing category in consumer electronics is digital cameras, and women have always been big buyers in this department, according to Sadowski.
“The new cameras are truly plug and play,” he said. “You can upload photos and e-mail them in seconds.”
And the price is right for the cameras, Sadowski added.
“Brand name digital cameras start at under $200,” he said. “The new Pentax Optio digital camera fits in an Altoids tin, has incredibly good resolution and is under $400.”
Another product that has multiple features but is easy to master is the Palm Zire 71 organizer with integrated digital camera, Anderson said.
“It keeps all of your appointments, phone numbers and can even set off an alarm when it’s time to go to the dentist," she said. "Plus it’s super easy to use.”
To the increasingly tech-savvy kids of today, operating these gadgets may seem like a snap, but Anderson advised carefully considering mom’s skills when picking out gifts for her.
“If I were shopping I would ask someone how hard is this to program, and get a feel for how long it will take to do the set up,” she said. “If it takes more than 10 minutes to set up, it's not going to be very fun for mom to spend her day putting together her own present.”
Or for other more affordable options, there are plenty of gifts that make the car a more pleasant place to be.
The Discovery Channel Store's 12-Volt Car Coffee Mug is an offering for the budget-concious ($19.95) that performs a simple but pleasing task – keeping her Joe warm no matter how many miles she travels.
“Moms don’t usually have the luxury to sit down for 20 minutes and sip their coffee,” said Anderson. “Why not make her life a little smoother by having the perfect cup by her side for hours on the road?”
And for $49.95, the Navigator Hands-Free Cell Phone Car Kit transforms a cell phone into a car speakerphone. Just plug the unit into a car's cigarette lighter, place the phone in the cradle and adjust the car speaker volume.
Techy treats, whether it’s a new digital camera or a simple heated cup, could be just want mom needs on her special day.
“It might not seem like an indulgent gift at first," said Anderson. "But any mom would tell you if she can get any gadget that will save her an hour a day to spend with her kids that’s a great present."