We all know that holiday shopping can be tough. Finding the right gifts, braving the crowds, trying not to blow your budget... it's a pain. So we're here to help. This is the Mobile Nations 2015 Holiday Gift Guide, our picks to help you find the perfect gifts for every name on your list. And this doesn't have to be for just that special someone — it's perfectly okay to get a little something nice for yourself too. You've earned it.
So as we roll into the biggest and craziest shopping and gift-giving season of the year, it's time to find out what should be on your wish list — and what's on everybody else's. So dive right in to the Mobile Nations 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for the very best gifts for everybody from the writer and the student to the home automator and the businessman.
Our smartphones and tablets are phenomenal tools, especially when it comes to creation. We're able today to digitally create more rapidly than we ever have in the past, and it's all in a form that's easily transmitted and transmuted, certainly more so than our creations of years past. Instead of stifling art, technology has been embraced as a means to accelerate, democratize, and enhance art. And you don't even need a high-powered computer with a giant screen running Photoshop or Illustrator for that art to take shape. A tablet will do just fine.
Apple's latest and largest iPad provides a 12.9-inch display that's the ideal canvas for any digital artist. Its impressive 2732 x 2048 resolution takes media to new heights and is powered by an A9X chip. When paired with the new Apple Pencil the iPad Pro becomes an artist's dream machine, allowing amazing possibilities and precision that's never been accomplished to such an extent. Starting at $799 for the 32GB Wi-Fi version, the iPad Pro is available in silver, gold, or space gray.
Wacom's Intuos Pro is an amazing tool for artists to sketch their work out in front of them and see it on the screen of their Mac or PC. This touch tablet enables multi-touch gestures with the included stylus, features 8 programmable shortcut keys, and responds to 2,048 levels of pen pressure. It's available in 3 sizes, the largest at 19 x 12.5-inches. The Intuos Pro also includes a wireless module that allows you to work cable-free at your desk or couch. The medium-sized model is a great place to start at just $300.
Beats by Dre still manages to make an impression with audiophiles and the Powerbeats 2 Wireless Headphones are an excellent example of the company's commitment to quality audio. These headphones feature a comfortable earhook that allow the ear buds to stay put no matter the movement. Incredibly lightweight and flexible, they can push out music for up to 6 hours on a full charge. These are a great pair of headphones that work for any activity for extended periods of time without discomfort.
For the absolute best drawing and writing experience with the iPad Pro, you can't go wrong with the Apple Pencil. It's sensitive to both pressure and tilt, letting you vary your line weights, shading, and third-party artistic effects. It also provides the best palm rejection technology we've ever seen for a stylus. Underneath the Pencil's magnetic cap is a Lightning connector for easy pairing and quick-charging with your iPad; you can also connect the included adapter to charge fully via USB.
They say that the best camera is the one you have on you, as it doesn't matter how great your best camera is if you don't have it when that fleeting photo is happening right now. So why not make the camera you have on you the best it possibly can be? Thankfully that's easier than ever today, thanks to phenomenally-good sensors and lenses built into practically every top-end smartphone and a bevy of accessories to make them even better. Today the best camera you have might actually be the one you've got on you.
$399 on-contract to $956 off-contract
The new iPhone 6s Plus is the largest iPhone to date featuring a 5.5-inch retina HD display. It captures stunning images with its 12-megapixel iSight camera and is capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second. For the smartphone photographer this device is an excellent option with Apple's new Live Photos feature, face detection, noise reduction, burst mode, and exposure control. The iPhone 6s Plus is available in 16, 64, and 128GB models and comes in a handful of colors.
GoPro's new HERO 4 Session is their smallest and lightest camera yet. Not only does it capture professional quality video at up to 1440p, it can snap 8-megapixel photos with a 10FPS burst. Its durable, waterproof design is built to handle every environment without extra housing. Even for a novice the HERO 4 Session is simple to use with its one-button control. This starter bundle includes everything needed to jump right into the action: the HERO 4 Session Camera, headstrap mount with quick clip, and a 32GB MicroSDHC card.
A unique gift for any iPhone 6/6s or 6/6s Plus owner is the Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens that adds flare to photos taken with the device. This lens simply slips over the top of the iPhone, resting above the stock camera. You can swap between 4 different style lenses including fisheye, wide-angle, 10x macro, and 15x macro. The Olloclip Lens is easily portable too, so you can keep it in your pocket until you’re ready to take a picture. Although it’s not very compatible with any iPhone cases, Olloclip does offer a compatible skin case with a perfect cutout for the lens system.
An excellent entry-level camera to consider for the aspiring photographer is the Nikon D3200 DSLR. Its 24-megapixel sensor produces low noise images at a high resolution using a user-friendly interface. Whether you’re using raw or JPEG modes, images taken with the D3200 are of an outstanding quality for its price range. When it comes to shooting video, the dedicated record button makes it quick and simple while you capture amazing Full HD 1080p video. Nikon’s Autofocus Technology packs a bunch of built-in features that manage the best shots for environment.
A more portable and affordable option that takes great quality photo and video is the HTC RE Camera. The ultra-wide angle lens on this 16-megapixel shooter provides an impressive 146-degree view with automatic image stabilization. Recognizing your grip as soon as you’re ready to record, the HTC RE Camera automatically kicks on, eliminating the need for a power switch. There’s only one button to manage on this device and you can store all your shots on a MicroSD card. It's even waterproof, so you can take underwater shots without worrying about water damage.
There's never been a better time for lovers of music. We have more and better sources than ever, with everything from Taylor Swift to Slipknot to the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra just a few taps away. And we've got the best mobile speakers, headphones, and home audio systems listeners have ever had — all intimately tied into a wide range of services. It's truly a good time for audio, regardless of whether you're listening to today's Top 40 or the music of yesteryear.
$199 to $550
Give the gift of amazing home audio this year with a Sonos Wireless Speaker. These top of the line speakers are super-simple to set up and provide excellent quality for any genre of music or media. The smallest of the bunch is the Play:1, but you can step it up to the next level with the Play:3 or the brand-new Play:5 that’s set to release November 25 — just in time for the holidays. Although slightly different in design, what they all have in common is superior sound. Whether you just want one as a gift or a couple to pair together for a full spectrum of awesomeness, Sonos Wireless Speakers are a safe bet for any audiophile.
The market has been overly-saturated with Bluetooth speakers these days and it can be time consuming finding the right one that meets the quality sound and design you’re after. The PWS.01 from Grain Audio fits the bill for both, packing two 2-inch loudspeakers and a passive radiator that uses a bass isolation system to keep the overall mix crisp, thick, and most importantly — clear. Its beautiful walnut enclosure is matched with a rubber edging that keeps the speaker from sliding around while rocking out. On a full charge the PWS.01 is good for up to 8 hours and even includes a handy mesh carrying bag for travel.
If you have a favorite speaker at home that doesn’t use any Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but wish it did — Chromecast Audio grants that wish. This little puck connects to any standard speaker via the 3.5mm auxiliary cable on the side and is powered by a Micro-USB charger. While this audio accessory is connected it grants Wi-Fi access to your speaker, allowing you to cast your favorite music apps, whether it be Spotify, Pandora, or Google Play Music. You also have the benefit of utilizing your smartphone without interrupting your cast, unlike traditional Bluetooth speakers.
These over-the-ear wireless headphones provide a comfortable way to enjoy music and media for an extended period of time without fatigue. The noise-isolating fit with Skullcandy’s soft leather seal lets the powerful 50mm drivers push audio the way it’s meant to be heard. The Hesh 2.0 Headphones connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone, tablet, or TV and will stay powered up to 12 hours off a complete charge. There’s even a built-in microphone if you need to manage your calls while enjoying your playlist. These headphones come in black, camo, or hot lime.
There's been talk of this being the golden age of television, but it's also a golden time for those that love movies. Not necessarily because there are great movies out there (there are, no doubt), but because it's never been easier to watch our favorite TV shows and movies. Combine large high-resolution screens on smartphones, speedy LTE connections, and services that stream our entertainment straight from the cloud, the options are nearly limitless Even home entertainment is being revolutionized — you don't have to rely on mere discs anymore for the very best in entertainment.
The new Apple TV brings all the mobile apps you love to the big screen, whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, or your favorite games. The Siri Remote features a touch surface, Bluetooth 4.0, accelerometer, and gyroscope that makes finding what you want to watch easier than ever. Apple TV is also a great way to share all your photos and video via iCloud conveniently and easily. You can grab either the 32GB version for $149 or opt for the larger 64GB for $199.
Bring your movies to life with Sonos’ Playbar which features 9 amplified speakers inside its low profile design. Connect it directly to your TV or wirelessly to your Android or iPhone for streaming music. The Sonos Playbar can also be set up with other Sonos speakers around your home if you want to spread the tunes to more than just one room. With only a power and optical cord to connect, setup is straightforward even for a novice
If you’re going to get the most out of your movies you should have a legit TV to do the job. Nothing says awesome quite like Samsung’s 4K UHD Smart TV. This 50-incher is a good size for most setups, but is also available in a 75-inch version if you want to get serious. The 4K UHD delivers resolution 4x higher than full HD and utilizes a quad-core CPU that assists in a highly responsive user interface when accessing the TV’s built-in apps. Samsung’s PurColor and UHD Dimming Technology keeps colors accurate and vibrant with deeper blacks and purer whites. It’s a true movie machine.
Sometimes you just need to enjoy a movie while shutting out the world around you. Sennheiser’s Urbanite XL Bluetooth Headphones are just the tool for the job. Using Bluetooth 4.0 and aptX technology, you can connect them to 3 different devices at once and are designed for all day comfort. The amazing 25 hours of battery life you get from one full charge means they’ll keep up with your House of Cards marathon, too. They’re constructed with durable metal hinges and aluminum ear cup sliders that fold into a compact form for easy storage or traveling purposes.
The 2015 Amazon Fire TV packs 75% more processing power than before, uses a dedicated graphics engine, improved Wi-Fi support, and now supports 4K UHD for exceptional picture quality. The matching voice remote allows you to say what you want to watch for a quick result and an optional game controller is sold separately for those interested in taking advantage of the huge list of games available. Amazon Fire TV also features Alexa to get the latest updates on sports, weather, and more. It’s without a doubt a top contender this year.
Today's writer is no longer chained to a keyboard or limited to a notepad. Not even the portability restrictions of a laptop are a constraint anymore — today you can put down everything from scholarly articles to literary prose to abstract neo-gothic limericks on tablets and smartphones. In fact, some might say it's better: you can do it anywhere you have the device, there dozens of apps and keyboards geared especially towards writers. A writer can be a writer anywhere.
Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro 4 is certainly an improvement over its predecessor, offering a refined experience that’s great for the first-timer or veteran Surface Pro user. There are plenty of packages to choose from varying in price and specs, however even the base model should suffice the everyday writer. Its 12.3-inch display features a 2736 x 1824 resolution and an extremely high contrast with low glare allowing you to work during the day without straining your eyes. Another great feature of the Surface Pro 4 is the new Surface Pen that adds a whole new level of precision, whether you’re drawing or taking notes.
The iPad Air 2 may not be the latest from Apple, but it’s still a worthy gift for any writer. When paired with the perfect keyboard case, this tablet becomes an excellent writing tool for its sleek design, easy portability, and beautiful Retina display. Inside the iPad Air 2 you’ll find an A8X CPU that keeps performance up to par along with an 8-megapixel camera and Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Prices vary depending on the model — 16, 64, or 128GB — topping out at $950.
Another great gift to consider for writers is a Chromebook. The latest Chromebook Pixel comes with an i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 32GB SSD or a more powerful i7, 16GB of RAM, and 64GB SSD. It features a universal Type-C charger that gets a 2 hour boost from only 15 minutes of charging and is capable of beautiful HD video and high transfer speeds through said ports. This Chromebook is extremely lightweight and has a 12.85-inch display with a 2560 x 1700 resolution that’s perfect for the basics.
The new Magic Keyboard from Apple is a great tool when paired up via Bluetooth to an iPad. The slim and sleek design of this keyboard weighs in at only a half-pound and packs a rechargeable battery that typically lasts over a month before needing another boost. Apple's improved the scissor mechanism underneath each key for a lower profile and sturdier build. A Lightning to USB cable is also included with the Magic Keyboard for a direct connection to any USB charger, PC, or laptop. If you work standing up, and you want your keyboard at arm level and your iPad Pro at eye level, the Magic Keyboard is a great go-to gift.
If the upgrade to the new Surface Pro 4 isn’t in the cards this holiday season, you can still enhance your existing Surface Pro 3 by switching over to the new Surface Pen. This improved stylus is backwards compatible and allows you to simply click your way to OneNote or click and hold to access Contana. It’s also paired with pen tip kit that assists you in choose which feels most natural for what you’re working on. The new Surface Pen can even erase mistakes as if it’s the real deal. With 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and reduced latency, it’s a must-have for any Surface Pro 3 or 4 user.
The past few years have brought an explosion in fitness technology. Where we used to be limited to basic pedometers and then fitness trackers that were little more than glorified pedometers with a Bluetooth radio, today's fitness devices are tracking our movements in all dimensions, monitoring our vitals, and are even smart enough to dispense advice in real time. Fitness gear has come a long way in a very short time.
The new Microsoft Band 2 has been designed to be more comfortable and more user friendly than the original. You can track your heart rate, exercise, calorie burn, and sleep quality while still staying on top of emails, texts, and calendar alerts on its horizontal display. It’s not native to just one OS, either. The Microsoft Band 2 works with Windows Phones, iOS, and Android devices. Other features include GPS mapping, UV monitor, and a barometer to help monitor your activities more accurately and reach your goals.
An excellent fitness tracker that works with iOS, Android, and Windows is the Fitbit Charge HR. This high performance wristband rocks an OLED display for all your activity tracking, whether it be steps taken, overall distance, floors climbed, or sleep quality. Along with caller ID, you can sync up the Fitbit Charge HR to your computer to sync your stats and monitor your goals, food, trends, and achievements. It’s a truly a universal option for kicking off a new healthy lifestyle after the new year.
A simpler way to track your steps, calories burned, and quality of sleep is Jawbone’s UP MOVE wearable. Great for going head-to-head with your friends and family using the iOS and Android-compatible Jawbone UP app, you can check out your standing on team leaderboards or even stay on top of what you’re eating and drinking. You can use the included clip for attaching to your shirt, bag, or pocket throughout the day or opt for the Onyx Slim Strap to wear it on your wrist like a watch. For only $30, it’s a great way to get healthy without breaking the bank.
Still after that perfect pair of headphones that won’t slip out of your ears during your workouts? The Jaybird X2 Headphones are a great place to start, providing up to 8 hours of skip-free music over a Bluetooth connection. Not only are these sweat proof, they sport memory foam ear tips that are designed to stay in place whether you’re running, walking, or lifting. There are a plenty of different sized earbuds and ear pins in the package in case you’re worry it’s a one size fits all kind of deal.
It's getting harder and harder to go out into the woods and disconnect. Perhaps you don't even want to actually be disconnected — worrying about everything back home will just stress you out more than being able to check in Thankfully it's easier than ever to stay connected, even when you're miles from civilization. Specialized hardware exists for practically every outdoors scenario, so there's a wealth of choices for the modern outdoorsman.
Most smartphones these days are built with durability in mind, but what protection they do offer is moderate at best, leaving us to hunt for cases and covers to handle the brunt of an impact. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Active is a device that’s constructed for the all-around rugged user, withstanding dust, water, and the inevitable drop. The phone features an IP68 rating, meets military standards, and is ready for anything right out of the box. Its 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display and 16-megapixel shooter should meet the needs for most, equipped with a 3,500mAh fast charging battery inside. A jam-up device to consider for the outdoorsman if AT&T is their provider.
If you’re roughing it in the woods for a weekend or just need a beefy speaker to strap to your ATV, the Fugoo Tough is the only way to go. This Bluetooth speaker is crafted from fiber-reinforced resin and solid aluminum, featuring shock absorbent side grips that can certainly handle a drop. Inside are 2 tweeters, 2 woofers, and 2 passive radiators that are all tilted upwards for optimal clarity. Don’t worry about getting wet either, because this thing rocks an IP67 rating and can hang out in the mud, snow, or rain. Whether you’re playing your favorite playlists or taking calls over the built-in speakerphone, the Fugoo Tough keeps the party going up to 40 hours on a single charge.
Power banks are a great backup when the battery life of your gadgets get critical, but even power banks can deplete. Anker’s Dual-Port Solar Charger gets its energy straight from the sun and is capable of delivering up to a 2A charge under direct sunlight. The 21W solar array provides enough power to charge 2 devices simultaneously and is made of an industrial-strength PET with a polyester canvas to handle poor weather conditions. Its fold-out design means it stays compact when not in use and is perfect to carry in your hiking bag.
It’s more than just a waterproof flashlight: it’s a 5,200mAh power bank, too! This amazing outdoor accessory is a must-have for just about anyone. Its durable design is perfect for any environment and the LED light can push 250 lumens on its highest setting. Need to break a window? Flip the flashlight over and use the stainless steel window breaker. It’s an all-around handy product to have for all sorts of emergencies.
Technology doesn't have to be used just for serious things by serious people — it can also be hugely fun. Tech today is so small, powerful, and mobile that it's changing how we play. Everything from the miniature race track to model planes to building blocks are being revolutionized by the integration of technology, and in the end it's really just freaking cool.
Your kid doesn’t need to be a Star Wars fanatic to appreciate how fun this mini-droid can be. The BB-8 connects to your Android or iOS device so you can control its movements and even talk to it. The authentic movement of this droid is pretty amazing when matched with its autonomous behavior and adaptive personality. You can even create and view holographic videos with the BB-8, however the feature is a little underwhelming as it stands. Whether you want to keep the kids entertained for hours or torment your pets, this is definitely one of the hottest tech-toys of 2015.
Using an immersive combination of virtual reality and augmented reality, Mattel’s View-Master VR box revitalizes the classic design from our childhood and makes room for our phones for a truly unique experience. By downloading one of the View-Master VR apps on your smartphone you can enjoy 360-degree environments that pull you in like never before. The viewer itself is built pretty solid so it should stand up to some heavy use — perfect for kids. Included with the Starter Pack is the View Master viewer, 1 preview reel, and an adapter for the iPhone 5 series of smartphones.
Let your little ones bring Marvel’s Avengers to life with this incredibly fun Repulsor Starter Pack. By loading up the smart figures onto the power activators they become part of the battle while you track progress and receive new missions with the AvengersNet app. The wearable Repulsor Gear reacts to player movements using motion-sensing technology and lets you battle through missions with 3 blast modes, dodging, blocking, sneaking, running, and jumping. Kids will love the amazing light and sound effects that go along with the Repulsor vibrations on every blast.
Give the gift of flight this year with the Syma X5C Quadcopter that features an HD camera and can pull off flips at the press of a button on the included remote. Using its 6-axis gyro stabilization system, the Syma X5C flies with maximum stability even with wind resistance. With a little over an hour of charging this drone you can get about 6-7 minutes of air time before it needs another charge. It’s not the best drone available, but it’s a great starter under $50 for any kid interested in learning to fly their very own.
It used to be that gaming was purely the purview of the TV-tethered console. And then PC gaming started to become a reality, and today mobile gaming is powering another revolution of gaming. Today's smartphones and tablets have high-powered internals that still manage hours of battery life playing games that are entertaining, challenging, and take advantage of the unique interface opportunities presented by touch screens and motion tracking. It's an exciting time to be a mobile gamer.
To enjoy the new release of Halo 5, you’ve got to be rocking an XBOX One for the best experience. This limited edition Guardians Bundle includes a spacey 1TB XBOX One console that’s been custom-crafted Halo style along with a Spartan themed Steel Book containing a full game digital download of Halo 5: Guardians, Warzone REQ Pack, and FOTUS-class armor. Of course a wireless controller and gaming headset is included for good measure. Halo 5 greatness aside, there’s still plenty more to enjoy with the XBOX One like easy access to endless games, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Blu-ray movies.
Enjoying the latest games with the best graphics requires a console that can keep up with anything you throw at it. Sony’s Playstation 4 Battlefront Bundle is a great place to start. This 500GB PS4 includes a digital voucher for the standard edition of Star Wars: Battlefront — an amazing fast-paced FPS based in the Star Wars universe — set to launch on November 17. Next to that you’ve got all the basics to jump right into the action like a DualShock Wireless Controller, required cables, and a mono wired headset. The PS4 is a great console not only for games, but as a media hub as well. Stream your favorite movies and shows on Netflix, Amazon, and more.
If you’re not going with one of the major gaming consoles this year the Shield Pro from NVIDIA is capable of 4K UHD or 1080p along with access to next-gen Android games and streaming popular PC games from the cloud with GeForce NOW. This slim little beast is plenty powerful: 3x fast ther Apple TV, 4X faster than Fire TV, and 10X faster than Roku 4. It even has Chromecast built-in so you can cast directly from your Android or iOS device to the big screen. NVIDIA provides a comfortable Shield controller to use with all your favorite games, too.
Designed for the mobile PC gamer, this unique briefcase from Alienware supports up to an 18-inch laptop and is made of a durable high-density nylon on the outside with a weather resistant non-slip base. Not only is this briefcase TSA checkpoint-friendly, but it packs easy storage inside for all your gaming essentials such as mice, keyboards, USB flash drives, cables, and headphones. Keeping things comfortable is a removable non-slip padded shoulder strap and nylon carrying handles if you want to tote it like a traditional briefcase.
The Elite Wireless Controller for the XBOX One is paramount for the serious gamer looking for a personal fit. This controller includes a variety of metal thumbsticks and D-pads for custom control and ergonomics along with interchangeable paddles. Hair trigger locks on the back allow for independent control and even more fine-tuning using the controller’s app. All the replaceable parts are made of high quality stainless steel next to low-friction, reinforced rings around each thumbstick to reduce wear. Set up a couple profiles directly on the controller for your favorite games and even more in the cloud. It’s essentially the best accessory for the die-hard XBOX One gamer.
Being a student today means being more connected than ever. It means you need power and portability, seamless integration with the cloud and all your apps. You computer needs to be flexible, but still powerful, long-lasting but lightweight. It needs to be a monster at note-taking and adaptable to everything from English Literature to Advanced Biochemistry to Color Theory 101. It means you need to outfit not just a laptop and a phone, but also a dorm room where space is at a premium.
Perfect for the student that’s on a budget, the 3rd generation Moto G is an excellent device, especially at its reasonable price point. Its specs aren’t top of the line compared to flagship devices this year, but they definitely aren’t bad either. The 5-inch IPS LCD display rocks a 1280 x 720 resolution, on the back is a 13-megapixel shooter alongside a 5MP front-facing camera for studying selfies, a 4-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, Adreno 306 GPU, and a 2,470mAh battery inside that’ll keep up with your work load on most days. The 2015 Moto G is available unlocked or on a contract in 8GB (1GB RAM) or 16GB (2GB RAM) models.
Having a portable Bluetooth speaker on hand can be great for tackling your assignments on campus grounds while enjoying some motivational background music. The UE Roll 360 is built for rain or shine and provides excellent 360-degree sound with surprising thickness for its compact size. Its IPX7 rating means it can handle itself above or below the drink in case you take it to pool. Pair it to your smartphone or tablet and enjoy an impressive 65ft. range via Bluetooth and up to 9 hours of battery life off a full charge. It even comes in 6 different colors to suit any student’s personal style.
Dell’s Venue 10 7000 Series is a unique tablet that features a spine for an easy grip and quick connectivity to an optional magnetic keyboard. For its price it’s hard to beat that gorgeous 10.5-inch OLED display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution. Currently powered by Android Lollipop and a 2.33GHz Intel Atom CPU, there are several different packages for the 7000 Series to consider depending on how much storage you require and accessories to go with it.
Sometimes your mobile devices just can’t keep with a heavy workload and you need a backup battery to revitalize them on the spot. Anker’s PowerCore 20100 Power Bank packs a lot of battery in an extremely compact size. With a 20,100mAh capacity and dual 2.4A USB ports for simultaneous charging, the PowerCore gets the job done quicker than most 1A power banks on the market without taking up as much space in your bag. Anker’s PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology deliver the fastest possible charge for each device plugged in without overcharging or overheating them. This handy backup comes in solid black or a brilliant white.
$70 - $80
There’s no reason your messenger bag can’t be comfortable and stylish, because it shouldn’t be. Keeping your gear safe and secure is the TimBuk2 Laptop Messenger Bag that leaves out the typical nylon exterior and rocks a softer fabric instead. Inside is a tricot-lined front pocket and a removable sleeve for your laptop. Two clips on the front keep the messenger bag closed and you can carry it using the comfy shoulder strap or durable nylon handle on the back.
Both the budding coder and the experienced programmer will find something to love in today's technology. Google in particular has partnered with manufacturers to create developer versions of their devices that come ready out-of-the-box with the very latest software, high-end hardware just waiting to be pushed to the limit, and the ability to easily get rolling with developing. And today's operating systems are more powerful than ever — even the lowly web browser is capable of some pretty amazing things these days.
Released alongside the Nexus 6P, the smaller Nexus 5X features a 1920 x 1080 5.2-inch display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, making it a sound choice for developers. The 5X comes in both 16GB and 32GB versions and features 2GB of RAM, a 2,700mAh non-removable battery, and a Type C port that’s capable of fast charging the device using the appropriate cable. The 12.3-megapixel camera on the back isn’t bad either. Take your pick of black, blue, or white.
The Nexus tablets have always pushed the boundaries of affordability and technical accomplishment, and the HTC Nexus 9 is no exception. Sporting an 8.9-inch 2048x1536 display and an advanced 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor, the Nexus 9 is just about the most advanced Android tablet out there. It also is the first tablet to run Android 5.0 Lollipop, making it an ideal platform for development.
Great for creating all-in-one, integrated projects such as tablets, infotainment systems and embedded projects is the Raspberry Pi 7-inch Touchscreen. With an 800 x 480 resolution you can take advantage of touchscreen drivers that support 10-finger touch and an on-screen keyboard. This display is compatible with Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, B+, and A+ boards using the ribbon cable connected to the DSI port.
This year we finally got to see some new wireless charging technology that leaves the slow-paced 1A Qi-pads in the dust. Although (currently) only the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ can utilize this fast charging technology, pads such as this CHOETECH model will happily charge standard Qi-compatible devices at the standard 1A rate. Not only is this wireless charging pad more affordable than Samsung’s, it also features a smart LED inside that recognizes the lighting in its environment — kicking off when it’s dark so it doesn’t blind you at your bedside. Even if you don’t have the new Note or S6 edge+, this pad is worth the upgrade just to be prepared when you end up with a compatible smartphone.
It’s no secret that devices are starting to move towards this new Type-C charging technology. It’s really fast and simple to use — eliminating the frustration of finding which side faces which when plugging in your Micro-USB cables. This OEM wall charger from Google is the real deal and works flawlessly with compatible smartphones, laptops, and tablets with a lengthy 12ft cord. What makes this charger so appealing is its ability to charge at 3A, but don’t expect to see those numbers climb unless you’re using a device that can accept that kind of amperage.
Mobile technology is enabling business to do more than we ever thought possible. No longer are we chained to an office, a desk, or even a laptop to get work done. We can have a face-to-face conversation from the opposite side of the planet and we can have a spreadsheet shared and edited simultaneously by a dozen coworkers. The modern business is reliant on mobile tech, and mobile tech has never been better for business than it is today.
Being efficient at managing your business means having the best devices for the job. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 is at front of this year’s flagships with its slim metal and glass frame and dual-edge backing that adds extra grip. The larger than normal display is traditionally what sets Note’s apart from other devices, and the Note 5’s beautiful 5.7-inch Quad HD display is an upgrade from its predecessor. Using an octa-core chip inside with 4GB of RAM to back it up, multitasking has never been quicker or more responsive. A refined S-Pen makes Air Command super efficient as well. The Galaxy Note 5 grants the stability and reliability that any businessman can appreciate.
Motorola’s 2nd iteration of the Moto 360 is out and it’s undeniably better in both battery life and performance this time around. Though smartwatches come in many different forms, the overall simple and elegant design of the Moto 360 sets it apart from the rest and just looks natural on the wrist. This new Moto 360 packs a large 400mAh battery in the 46mm version along with a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor which consumes significantly less energy to perform the same tasks as its predecessor. Watch bands from the original are transferrable, too — a nice feature moving forward from Motorola. If a smartwatch is on the wish list this year, the 2015 Moto 360 is definitely one worth considering.
Managing those days when your phone’s ringing off the hook are best handled hands-free. Taking care of that convenience is the Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset from Plantronics. This device uses signature audio technology and enhanced voice clarity through Bluetooth 4.0. Once the Voyager Legend is picked up and placed on your ear it automatically recognizes the switch and will instantly push incoming calls to the headset. Use the built-in voice recognition to answer or ignore calls while you stay focused on tasks at hand. This headset is built to be an incredible tool used inside the office and out.
Just in time for the holiday season the tech world has the chance to get their hands on the new Android-powered BlackBerry Priv. This smooth and sleek device brings back the old-school slider design that reveals one of the best physical keyboards you’ll ever use. The 5.4-inch OLED WQHD display pushes a 1440 x 2560 resolution and features curved edges on both sides. Keeping the BlackBerry Priv alive during those demanding work days is a whopping 3,410mAh battery. With BlackBerry Hub and a smooth running version of Lollipop, the Priv is certainly a smartphone that leaves an impression.
The Huawei Watch features a similar design to the new Moto 360, sporting a 1.4-inch 400 x 400 resolution AMOLED display — slightly smaller than its competition, but offers a brighter, more brilliant colored screen. When the Huawei Watch isn’t in action it slips into ambient mode, helping to conserve its battery life while still showing its watch face. Despite its 300mAh battery inside, this smartphone can last 1-2 days on a complete charge. Huawei includes 40 watch faces to choose from which does a lot for giving the gadget a truly unique look.
There's plenty of gear out there to outfit the modern traveler. From smartphones with batteries that last from today well into tomorrow to smartwatches to gear to keep the rest of your gear running, there are options galore. So much of today's traveling is done with the assistance of a smartphone, so it's important that you know it's going to work whenever you need it. For that, you need all the power you can get.
Known for it’s amazing battery life that can last up to 2 days without needing a charger, the DROID MAXX 2 sports a beefy, but removable 3,630mAh cell underneath its water resistant coating. The vibrant 5.5-inch Full HD display of the device plays your favorite movies and games in 1080p while you kick back and enjoy your flight, train, or backseat adventure. There’s also the option of expandable memory on the DROID MAXX 2 — up to 128GB to be exact. The 21-megapixel camera on the back will capture all your travels vividly and accurately. It’s a safe bet as long as you or who you’re gifting it to is on the Verizon network.
Toting all your tech for traveling is one thing, but having the ability to keep multiple gadgets charged up while packed away is a unique feature that can be found in the TYLT Energi Backpack. This convenient carry-on features over 1,450-inches of storage space inside with a 10,400mAh power bank inside that provides 3 USB outputs. Found inside multiple pockets of the backpack are custom cable routing loops that reach from the bottom to the top. There are dedicated compartments for up to 15.5-inch laptops, smartphones, tablets, sunglasses, NFC tags, and drinks. The durable poly material on the exterior keeps your tech protected for your journey.
No one wants to fight over the only car charger — especially when there’s 3 or more people in the vehicle that could use a boost. Tronsmart’s 54W 4-port Car Charger keeps everything under control as long as you’ve got enough cables. One port packs Quick Charge 2.0 for any device that can support it, but all 4 have VoltIQ technology that identifies a suitable current for each device connected. Even if you’re not an avid traveler, this 4-port car charger is a no-brainer for its $20 price tag.
If your vehicle doesn’t already have some sort of GPS or entertainment system set up inside you’ve probably used or at least considered purchasing a car mount. Most are cumbersome and block vision if mounted on the windshield or dash. iBOLT’s magDock 360 takes a different approach to holding your device, even if you’re rocking a relatively slim case for protection. Using a strong magnet inside the mount it can attach to your smartphone using a matching magnet that sits between your case and device or attaches with a 3M adhesive pad. When mounted, this thing is sturdy and holds up to vibration, bumps, and quick turns. The best feature of all is that it’s extremely low profile, mounting to either an AC vent or with a 3M adhesive to your dash.
Power banks are great accessories to have at your disposal and bringing one (or two) along for any trip is a wise decision. This slim backup battery from Aukey packs a 10,000mAh capacity and features 2 USB outputs — 1 dedicated to Quick Charge and the other a standard 1A. As a bonus, there’s even a built-in flashlight between both ports. Although it’s not up to Maglite standards, it’s bright enough to help you find what you’re looking for in the dark.
The long-dreamed-of smart home is finally becoming reality. The rapid advance and miniaturization of technology combined with revolutionary new interfaces and software has led to an exponential proliferation of devices that make our homes smarter than ever before. From thermostats to lights to sprinklers, just about everything about the home can be automated these days — and most of the time you don't even have to run new wiring to make it happen.
Amazon Echo connects to Alexa, a cloud-based voice series that can provide information, answer questions, play music, check the weather, and more. Since this smarthome tool is designed around your voice it’s always on and ready to listen to your commands and questions even while music is playing. Echo uses 7 microphones and beam-forming technology to hear you, whether you’re across the room or standing right next to the speaker. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns and vocabulary. It’s a pretty sweet speaker, too — featuring dual downward facing drivers that produce 360-degree omni-directional audio. And, Amazon Echo works with your smart devices such as Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Wink, and WeMo.
Looking to give your your home some custom lighting to kick off the new year? The Philips Hue Starter Kit is a great place to start. This kit includes three 800-lumen hue lightbulbs and a Hue bridge to set up unique lighting in your home, allowing you to adjust colors, timers, alerts, and more straight from your phone. Using Wi-Fi you’re able to create mood-setting color schemes or an automatic schedule while you’re away on vacation. The Philips Hue Starter kit is compatible with your HomeKit, Amazon Echo, and Wink setups as well in case you’ve already started automating your pad.
This security camera streams live video in 1080p 24/7 straight to your Android or iOS device, also sending alerts if or when anything happens. With the Nest Cam’s quick and easy setup process you can have everything ready to go in 10 minutes. It stores your video history in the cloud, allowing you access it at any time. Don’t forget about night vision, because the Nest Cam can do that too using 8 infrared LEDs to help illuminate the room in the dark.
ecobee3 comes with a remote sensor, allowing you not to only measure the temperature and occupancy of the room or hallway your thermostat is in, but also in every room with a sensor (extras sold separately). As such, you get more granular control and better comfort and energy efficiency in your house. With the new HomeKit-enabled version of the ecobee3 hardware, you get full support for Siri control, including the ability to trigger actions.
Here’s the kit that allows you to do it all when it comes to home automation. Including a Samsung SmartThings Hub, 2 multipurpose sensors, 1 motion sensor, and a single SmartThings outlet you can control appliances, lights, and more through Samsung’s SmartThings app. Set your lights to kick on when the sensor detect movement in your home or receive alerts straight to your device when doors and windows are opened. It’s not just convenient, it’s also great for security. Of course, the SmartThings Hub is capable of controlling hundreds of compatible devices to customize your smart home, too — just in case you want to pick some some extra accessories to expand your control.
Totally up to you
Sometimes the best gift is letting them pick for themselves. They know exactly what they want, you don't want to be the one that asks them (who does that?) and seem like you don't know their desires as well as you'd like. So just surrender and get them a gift card to their favorite electronics store. Be it the the local Apple Store, Best Buy, Microsoft Store, or even the http://Amazon.com everything-store, a gift card might seem like the easy way out, but it's really your way of saying "I love you and I want you to get that thing that you've been chattering on about for months but I for the life of me can't remember what it was called and couldn't figure out a sly way to bring it up in conversation."
Totally up to you
Gift cards don't have to be limited to just the brick-and-mortar retailers — you can get gift cards for the ephemeral stuff too. Like apps, music, books, movies, and more. The Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Windows Store, Xbox Store, PlayStation Store, Amazon Store, and more. Whatever the device it is your loved one is spending all their free time reading, watching, and playing with, chances are there's a gift card to at least give them something new to read, watch, and play with.
The new and improved Chromecast enables a smooth casting experience from your smartphone or tablet to your TV using a miniature dangling puck rather than the old key-shaped design we’ve been using for a while prior to this new version. So, what’s new with the 2015 Chromecast? Well, now there’s support for 5GHz Wi-Fi in addition to 2.5GHz, it uses new antennas which support the 802.11ac protocol, and a unique magnetic clasp system that’s supposed to keep a tidy design behind your TV while connected to an HDMI port.
Functionality is the same: jump into any Chromecast-capable app and start streaming to your TV! This accessory is a great stocking stuffer and isn’t a huge investment at only $35.
Totally up to you
For the gift that just keeps on giving there's a streaming media subscription. These can come in various forms — some services (Netflix, for example) offer physical gift cards that can be applied towards the cost of the subscription, while others allow you to buy an easy digital gift and send it via old-fashioned email (Audible, Pandora). Some services even offer both options (Amazon, Google Play, Hulu, and Spotify)
$10 and up
That fancy new smartphone is a hell of an investment. You're probably going to have it for at least two years, so you want to make sure it's safe and secure from damage. You'll want a case, and it just so happens that practically every smartphone these days has an array of cases available for it. Whether you want a thin silicone skin or a tough rubberized shock case that's meant to take a beating, there's a case to fit your phone, your lifestyle, and your tastes.
$15 and up
If you're tired of poking with your finger, you can get a stylus. If you're tired of managing a limited amount of storage, you can get a MicroSD card. If you're tired of running low on juice, you can get a spare charger for the car, the office, and a battery for when you're on the go.