2013 Holiday Gift Guide

The Holiday season is upon us once again. It is a time for family, food and of course, gift giving.  2013 was full of amazing new technology products, which can be overwhelming for the casual gift-giver. This year I am limiting my holiday gift guide to five great products I own and use personally. These products are ones that I own and use myself and highly recommend them for holiday gifts.

1. Google Chromecast:
At the low price of $35, Google’s Chromecast allows users to stream content from their computers, smartphone and tablets to their televisions. The Chromecast is a simply HDMI attachment one can plug into their TV and draws it’s power via USB, which many televisions have built in. However, for those without a USB port on their television set, the Chromecast also includes an outlet adapter for wall power.

Chromecast can stream content from a growing number of applications including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Youtube, Pandora, and many other apps listed on the Chromecast website. Users can also “cast a tab” from their Google Chrome browser on their Mac or PC via a browser extension; and will eventually be able to do this from their smartphone and tablet. Chromecast is a great device for entertainment and for projecting content from one’s devices to the big screen. At it’s price, it appears to be a low-price alternative to set-top boxes such as the Roku and Apple TV. However, they can operate as stand-alone devices, while the Chromecast is dependent on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
2. Fitbit Flex/Force:
The Fitbit provides a way to track one’s activity including steps, calories burn, distance walked and even how one slept. The products themselves are a simple wristband, the Flex features a simple dots display, while the newer Force has a full LED display with a watch. The Fitbit Force syncs via bluetooth low-energy most newer smartphones and to one’s computer via an included adapter.

The Flex costs $99, while for the Force sells for $129. In my opinion, the Force is worth the price increase, simply for the watch and the display. However the Flex is also a great product for those who want to get fit and track their progress.

3. Crashplan Backup Subscription:
Backing up one’s data is essential to protecting oneself from data loss. As I have mentioned in previous posts, online backup is the ultimate backup because even if a disaster strikes one home or office, the data is safe. Crashplan is my favorite backup service and it makes it easy to give the gift of backup to one’s friend and family. Unlimited backup for one computer is $60 per year and unlike some of it’s competitors, includes backup of external hard drives.
4. Sinjimoru Docks:
Docks make it easy to plug-in, sync and display one’s device, however, many  docks, especially those made by Apple, do not work with devices in a case. Sinjimoru makes elegant aluminum docks for a many devices. They are a bit pricey, with their iPhone dock going for around $25, and the iPad for $40, not including the required cables. However, they do provide an elegant, case-friendly docking station for one’s devices.

5. Mophie Juice Pack

For anyone who travels a lot or are unable to charge their devices throughout the day, portable power is a must. The Mophie Juice Packs have been a portable power staple since the first iPhone was released an continue to be one of the best power cases on the market. The Juice Packs start at $79.95 for the lowest power case, providing 80% extra battery life. The highest power juice pack costs $119, which can provide up to 120% extra battery life.  Mophie makes Juice packs not only for the iPhone but for the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy phones and iPads too.

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