Less than a week left until Christmas. If you’re still looking for gift ideas for that special person in your life, time is running out and you’re probably starting to feel a bit desperate. Well, if that person has a smartphone or tablet, I have a few ideas that might take you very quickly from holiday zero to holiday hero.
Nomad ChargeCard. This ingenious device is a very flat charging cable that lays flat in space equivalent in size to a credit card—and almost as thin. It’s a little bulkier than your average credit or debit card, but with the ChargeCard in your wallet you won’t be scrambling to find a charging cable when your smartphone or tablet runs out of juice in the middle of the day. You will still need to find a USB power source to charge from, but you’ll have the cable handy. The ChargeCard comes in either Lightning or MicroUSB for $25.
There’s also a variation called the ChargeKey which is about the size of a standard key and has a loop to connect to a keyring. It is also available for the same price for either Lightning or MicroUSB.
Foxl Dash 7 Speaker. Despite continued improvements by tablet manufacturers, sound quality is not generally a selling point for most tablets. The Dash 7 is less than eight inches wide, and only three-quarters of an inch thick, but yields deep, rich sound. It’s slim size, and a weight of just over seven ounces make it easily portable.
The battery is capable of booming bass for up to 12 hours, and the device also has a noise-cancelling microphone so you can use it for audio and video conferencing on the go. Soundmatters offers the foxl Dash 7 speaker for $220 in black, red, or white.
Sennheiser Presence Bluetooth headset. At face value, the Presence is just another Bluetooth earpiece. The kind you see plugged into the ear of the guy on the elevator who appears to be talking to himself. As annoying as it can sometimes be when people are constantly talking on a Bluetooth headset while wandering about, it is an exceptionally useful device for a busy person who happens to be wandering about.
The Presence has been designed to function smoothly with a variety of unified communications platforms, including Cisco, Polycom, and Microsoft Lync. It does an excellent job of noise cancelling background noise in your environment, providing clear HD audio for the listener on the other end. You can answer and end calls by using the sliding arm—a simpler and more intuitive method than fumbling with buttons on other devices, and Sennheiser claims it will deliver 10 hours of talk time on a single charge.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard cover for iPad Mini. The iPad Mini is a great device for both entertainment and productivity on the go. It needs some sort of cover to protect the glass display, though, and sometimes it’s better to have a physical keyboard instead of typing on a virtual keyboard on the display.
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is aptly named, and it does the trick. I did find the smaller physical keyboard less useful than the Logitech keyboard cover for the larger iPad model because the tiny keyboard is a bit cramped for “power typing”. Also, I appreciate that you can prop the iPad Mini in the keyboard cover and use it like a tiny ultrabook, but I found it cumbersome when I just wanted to use the tablet as a tablet. You can’t fold the keyboard cover all the way back, so you have to detach it and hold both the cover and iPad Mini.
Those caveats aside, the iOS-specific keys make navigating the iPad Mini and getting things done a simple key-press away, and it gets months of battery life on a single charge. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is $80.
Duracell Powermat PowerSnap Kit. The more advanced our mobile devices get, the harder it seems to be to keep the device charged. The Duracell Powermat PowerSnap Kit addresses this problem in two ways. First, it lets you charge your iPhone 5 wirelessly by just placing the iPhone in its Powermat case on a Powermat charging surface.
Second, it provides a thin add-on battery pack that effectively doubles the battery life without adding too much bulk. The SnapBattery adds 0.32 inches of thickness, and an extra 3 ounces to the weight, but that’s not bad if it lets you get through the whole day without needing to recharge.
The PowerSnap Kit for the IPhone 5 (or 5s) comes in either black or white for $100.