Best Buy has launched a specialand invited us to serve as one of their mobile technology and gadget experts for this Holiday Season. I put together an extensive list of gear we have reviewed on the site and/or Judie and I use on a daily basis. Then I set about shortening the list.
I tried to remain platform agnostic, but I ended up with a list that is more than a bit Apple-centric. Thinking about why this is the case presented me with some clarity about the approach I currently take to mobile gear. The bottom line is this: when all of your devices are part of the same ecosystem, when it matters little WHICH device you have with you at any given time since ALL of them work in tandem with the others, then you have truly achieved mobile-nirvana.
For example, if I can create a task list on my iPhone and have it appear on my iPad and MacBook too, then I don’t have to so much as think about which device I bring with me. Similarly, if I were to started this article at home on my MacBook — but then left home while being able to continue writing it on my iPad mini it — once again, matters little which device or devices I am carrying.
When all of your devices are part of the same ecosystem, it becomes possible for all of your work and files to not only be accessible on all devices — no matter where you are — but you can also continue working on them regardless of what you are doing. And that holds true for any ecosystem. That’s why someone who has an Android phone is going to benefit from using an Android tablet. And it is why my list of mobility gifts is centered on Cupertino.
So let’s jump into it.
We begin with the cornerstone of any mobile life, the smartphone. More than a phone, a smartphone is now a pocketable computer with more power than the first few computers many of us owned. My top recommendation is, of course, the iPhone 5. It is a fantastic phone that provides access to a library of hundreds of thousands of apps. When buying one I strongly urge you to consider getting at least a 32GB iPhone. Apps have grown larger and the devices shoot pictures and video that can quickly consume space on the device. 32GB will give you the elbow room you need if you are, for example, taking a trip and want media to enjoy and space to capture memories. I have and use an iPhone 5, and I absolutely love the device. Check it out.
Media Players: If you don’t need or want a phone but want access to the iTunes App Store, then you might want to consider the iPod touch. More than an iPhone-training wheel device, the new 5th generation iPod touch is a great piece of mobile gear in its own right. It sports the same screen at the iPhone 5, it has a camera that is good for both video AND pictures, and provides access to Siri. Plus it offers “The Loop”, a special accessory that brings a wrist strap to the touch! The touch can serve as your media device, your point and shoot camera, and as a pocketable computer.
Use It: The new iPod touch might be a bit pricey but it is a great first iOS device to give a younger person. This one gift gives them a gaming device, a media player, a camera, a web browser and access to apps that make learning, and playing, a blast. Check it out.
Accessories: The best phone, media player or tablet can be made even better with the right accessories. I’ve broken my list down into a few main categories.
Speakers: You can’t go wrong with either the Jawbone JamBox or the Jabra Solemate. We’ve reviewed both on Gear Diary. These small speakers pack a punch. They are portable, they have great sound, and hours and hours of mobile playback make them a terrific gift you a loved one… or yourself. I’m going to go with the JamBox for my list, simply because it is smaller and lighter. That gives it the slight edge when we are talking about mobility.
Use It: Grab the JamBox when you are headed to the beach. I know I’ll be bringing it along when I head to Aruba next month. Check it out.
Power: While devices have become more powerful the battery technology used to power them has lagged behind. I always carry an external battery with me. They are great in a pinch and make for a terrific gift that the recipient might not think to buy for him or herself. The Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation has a sleek look, and it packs a charging punch for under $80. The MyCharge Peak Portable Battery isn’t quite as refined, but it does have a 6000 mAh battery inside, and it can charge three devices at once. My pick for this list? The MyCharge Powerstation thanks to its built-in connectivity.
Use It: During the recent power outage here in New Jersey this power pack came in quite handy keeping my iPhone running. If you are traveling and don’t know when you’ll be near a power source this is a must have. Check it out.
Headphones: There are lots of great headphones and headsets currently available, and we have reviewed many on the site. Picking just a few was a challenge, but here they are.
For a headset I pick the Plantronics Voyager Legend. This is Plantronics’ latest generation Bluetooth headset. It builds on the already-impressive Voyager line and adds even more call clarity, power, and features. It is the headset I use and, were it to be lost, I would buy another without hesitation.
Use It: If you drive you need this headset. It sounds great and lets you answer (or reject) calls without having to take your hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road. Check it out.
For wired headphones, the SMS Audio STREET by 50 Cent makes my list. These headphones look good, sound good, and they are comfortable to wear for extended periods. Excellent sound isolation means you won’t need to pump the volume up quite as high while listening; your ears will thank you.
Use It: Walking down the street of New York and want your tunes blasting? These headphones let you enjoy your music and not look like a lemming with white earbuds hanging from your ears. Check it out.
Your iPhone 5 needs protection, and I’m putting the Lifeproof case for iPhone 5 on my list. This case is waterproof, dustproof, and… well, lifeproof. If you need to protect your iPhone as much as possible, then this is the way to GO!
Use It: If your kids love to play with your iPhone you want this case. Seriously, when the iPhone sits in its LifeProof case they can drop it, kick it, toss it in the tub and it will still be good as new. I know my in-laws will be protecting their new iPhone 5s in them when they travel to Antarctica next month. Best Buy also carries their amazing Nuud case for the iPad. Check it out.
Tablets: Tablets make a great gift. When they were first announced people called them “consumption devices”. While many use them that way, thanks to a plethora of apps tablets are now serious work devices too. If you can afford it go for the new iPad. Its retina display is gorgeous and access to Siri makes it a workhorse. If you want something a bit smaller, lighter and cheaper check out the new iPad mini. While it doesn’t have the gorgeous retina display, it does offer 10 hour battery life and it has Siri too. I would opt for one of these over the iPad 2 which lacks both the retina display and Siri.
Use It: The iPad mini is the ideal tablet for a student looking to carry fewer backs and still have textbooks handy. Then, when class is in session they can use it to take notes and record the lecture. Check it out.
For something thin and light, you should check out the Sena Florence Portfolio. We reviewed this case extensively and, in fact, helped the company refine it through the three iterations that led to the current, awesome, version.
Use It: If a loved one uses their iPad at work this is a great way for them to look both stylish and professional while also keeping their iPad safe. Nothing says “classy” better than a refined leather case like this..
Notebooks: Finally, for ultimate computing get the 15” MacBook pro with Retina Display. This is my current computer, and it is by far the best computing experience I have ever had. The screen is amazing, the power and speed are fantastic, and the experience of using one? I love it! The MacBook Pro Retina makes my list.
Use It: The MacBook Pro with Retina display is great for the professional who does a lot of writing but it is also ideal for the creative person who needs to edit pictures and movies. Everything looks fantastic on the gorgeous screen and, thanks to the solid state drive, the computer will likely be the fastest you have every used..
You can check out our #GiftsthatDo Pinterest Board, here; you can .