by Joe Henry | August 29, 2017
Consumer electronics are about as reliable as it gets when it comes to pleasing employees in your incentive program. Admittedly, the category doesn't have a lot of surprises -- products that have done well for years are largely still doing well.

Incentive suppliers still see iPads doing well, as they have since their inception, while the Bose QuietComfort line of noise cancelling headphones and earphones remain a top choice when redeeming award points. They are available through Incentive Concepts.

Newer but so popular that they are nearly becoming "tried and true" are activity trackers, including the various Fitbit models. The most recent popular iteration of this line is the Fitbit Charge 2, available through Capitol Sales and other incentive merchants. The Fitbit Charge 2 has a heart rate tracker, sleep monitor, personalized exercise modes, and shows notifications from a connected smartphone. 

Still, there are some new categories that are growing rapidly, notably in the Smart Home field. The Amazon Echo, available from incentive industry suppliers including Links Unlimited continues to surge in popularity, as does the latest generation of Google Nest thermostats -- smart devices that learns your routine to track and regulate temperature more efficiently and reduce energy consumption, also available from Capitol Sales, among others. It also is remote controllable, can alert you to temperature spikes and drops suggesting problems, and connects with other smart home products ranging from Nest-branded smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and home security cameras to third-party lighting, lawn sprinklers and even ovens. As well as Google Home, of course.

Of course, audio equipment in general does well -- including headphones and speakers. Beats Solo3, a wireless headset that debuted late last year, is a popular item offered by Harco Incentives. It has better battery life and quicker recharging as compared to the models that preceded it. Sony also finds headphones a strong category, with its wired and wireless MDR-XB line of Extra Bass headphones and noise-cancelling models. 

On the high end, another headset that's been getting a lot of play - particularly from customers who are interested in a truly premium device, is the noise canceling Bang and Olufsen Beoplay H8, available through Rymax Marketing Services. This is a sturdily-built product. Whereas most headsets are assembled from plastic, the Beoplay H8 is leather and metal, with sheepskin earcups. Sheepskin and aluminum are also used in Bowers & Wilkins' very high-end P5 and P7 wired and wireless headphones for serious audiophiles.

When it comes to speaker systems Bluetooth wireless is a hot segment, and Bose products always do well, especially its SoundLink Speaker II, available through Harco. It's a portable Bluetooth speaker that's water-resistant and can be used as a speakerphone. It also has a built-in mic so users can interact with their smartphone assistants -- like Siri or Google Now. And it easily pairs with supported NFC devices with a quick tap. 

And of course, televisions remain top redemption items. Among the most popular are Samsung Smart LED TVs, usually up to 40". These television sets feature in HD 1080p and connect to the internet. It has a built-in web browser and mirroring technology so you can see your handheld display across the TV set. And you can hook up to 12 cable boxes, gaming consoles or DVD players into it. It's the perfect television for employees with loads of entertainment needs.They are available from PMC and Power Sales, among others.