Right now you’re shopping for gifts. Whether that’s online or in stores, you’re probably experiencing quite a hassle. It can be pretty tough getting the right things for friends, family, and everyone else who’s special to you. Let the experts help you. Throughout the holidays you’re going to see gift guides from the team at TechnoBuffalo, and the type of items I’m recommending for 2017 focus on portability.
Taking technology with you to work, on vacation, out camping, or on a run doesn’t have to be challenging. There are plenty of great products that are compact yet effective.
Here are the gifts you should seriously consider getting for someone loves simple, portable devices. And don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone if you decide to gift these products for yourself. No one will blame you for treating yourself after a good year.
Money is No Object
Microsoft Surface Book 2
One of the hottest items to buy during the holidays are laptops, but you have to get the right one. That low price heavily advertised on social media and in weekly circulars is often a sign that the specifications are outdated. You need a powerhouse of a laptop, and maybe you even want a tablet. Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 gives you everything in a single package since it’s a hybrid.
The Surface Book 2 is built for both work and play. It’s a beast featuring a 13.5-inch or 15-inch PixelDense display, Intel’s Core i5 or i7 processor, the option for NVIDIA’s GeForce 1060, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage, and enough ports to keep everyone happy. As you can tell, this 2-in-1 is ready for gaming just as much as it is data-filled spreadsheets. And it’s going to last a long time while doing all of that. The official estimate for battery life is up to 17 hours of video playback on a single charge.
There’s no doubt that Microsoft’s newest Windows-based machine is expensive. That doesn’t mean the Surface Book 2 isn’t worth the money. You’re getting impressive portability because, despite having top-tier specifications, the device measures between 15mm and 23mm thick.
As someone who owns the original Surface Book, you can’t go wrong with the Surface Book 2. It’ll meet your expectations and then exceed ones you didn’t know you had.
Gifts Under $2,000
Google Pixel 2
Wherever you go, your phone goes. So pick up one of the world’s most reliable phones for yourself or that special someone. Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have been in the headlines a lot since debuting in October, but really there’s nothing stopping them from being the best Android devices on the market today.
HTC and LG stepped forward to help Google create its latest flagship. The Pixel 2 doesn’t skimp on premium design and high-end specs. Made from metal and glass, the gives off a vibe matching its price tag. You just can’t beat its performance, either. Since it’s Google’s phone, the hardware and software are tailored for each other. So the Snapdragon 835 keeps Android 8.0 Oreo on this phone blazing fast. Oh, and the camera is just jaw-dropping with the pictures and videos it captures.
The Pixel 2 comes into two sizes, though the specifications are largely unchanged. Only the display size/resolution and battery are different. And there’s optimization in those areas to keep the changes barely noticeable.
There are benefits from buying Google’s Android phone over Samsung’s, LG’s, or Motorola’s. A few software-based features are exclusive to the Pixel 2. The phones offers unlimited cloud storage at full resolution on Google Photos, real-time analysis with Google Lens, always-listening music recognition, and first dibs on software updates.
If you or the person you’re shopping for don’t care for Android, take a look at the iPhone X from Apple. It’s an iOS-flavored device receiving a ton of praise around the world. Like the Pixel 2, Apple’s iPhone represents masterful hardware and software working together. Google and Apple nailed it in 2017 even though there have been some complaints directed at both companies.
Gifts Under $500
Samsung Gear Sport
Just two smartwatches are worth your attention in 2017. The Apple Watch is, of course, the best choice if you own an iPhone. But Samsung’s Gear Sport arrived late in the year and has done great job proving those with Android devices still have a viable option.
The Gear Sport is suitable for more than just physical activity, especially if you get the black model. Even with the blue model you can go out and wear the smartwatch is nicer settings. Samsung’s sibling to the Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier appears to be the best smartwatch of the family because of its versatility. In addition to tracking your every move, the Gear Sport can pass as regular timepiece that serves up notifications.
Gifts Under $250
Google Pixel Buds
Google’s been getting busy in hardware in recent years, and that couldn’t be any clearer now. The Pixel Buds are the company’s most ambitious product for 2017. Although it does have a wire connecting the two earpieces, Google’s technology inside them is the selling point.
The Pixel Buds produce above average sound, feed Google Assistant and notifications right into your ears, and perform real-time translation. And, when pairing the $169 item with your phone, Google introduced a fast and seamless method. Simply bring the Pixel Buds close to your phone and a notification should appear to link them. Then you’re ready enjoy all the benefits these wireless earbuds bring to the table.
Charging, too, is simple. Google ships the Pixel Buds in a fabric-made case that, aside from storing the wireless earbuds, comfortably wraps the wire.
Again, there are alternatives if you’re buying to pair with an iPhone. Get Apple’s AirPods instead. Unlike the Pixel Buds, they’re completely free of wires while connecting to your phone via Bluetooth. Google’s Pixel Buds and Appel’s AirPods are priced similarly, and they’ll give you the on-to-the go first-party listening experience you’ve long wanted.
Buy now: Google Store
Booq Saddle Carbon
Booq’s Saddle Carbon was given to me as gift a few years ago, and I haven’t decided to retire the bag yet. Will that change anytime soon? Probably not because it’s so well-made. My bag hasn’t shown signs of wear and tear. To this day it looks new.
Here’s how Booq describes the bag:
“Understated, functional, and ultra-lightweight. The design brief called for all three of these attributes, and we think we hit the nail on the head. Evolving from a familiar idea, the Saddle laptop bag evolves the traditional briefcase style into a modern design that feels both fresh and professional.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. The Saddle Carbon doesn’t come across as an old-style bag. It’s modern and slim, but you retain the necessities of a briefcase. When I leave the office to go to meetings and events, the Saddle Carbon always serves me well. It easily fits my Surface Book, Sony A6000, Nexus 9, Nintendo 3DS XL, chargers, battery packs, and a few other items. The tapered design allows the bag to look small but fits a lot of stuff.
The Saddle Carbon fits laptops between 13 and 15 inches, so chances are your current Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS device can be stored comfortably.
Gifts Under $100
Amazon Fire HD 8
Amazon offers the best value in tablets. The Fire-branded devices are great because you can get a lot for spending little.
The Fire HD 8 boasts an 8-inch HD display, a quad-core processor, 12-hour battery life, and Alexa integration. Those things are common for tablets; however, only Amazon successfully brings them into a device priced at just $79.
Don’t go out spending money on an Android tablet that’ll be outdated tomorrow or an iPad that costs way too much for what you need. Google doesn’t know what to do in the category, and Apple’s hardware is too much for most people. Pick up the Fire HD 8. Amazon’s 8-inch tablet may be cheap in price, but it performs fast and smooth jumping between apps on a daily basis.
A nice touch by Amazon is selling the Fire HD 8 in Canary Yellow, Marine Blue, and Punch Red. There’s a black-colored model, but that’s so common. There’s also a Kids Edition that adds child-friendly content and damage protection for $20 extra. That makes the Fire HD 8 a perfect gift for people of all ages.
YI Lite Action Camera
Shopping for an action camera? You’re going to be overwhelmed by the number of products on Amazon. Perhaps, though, your search can end after you hear about the YI Lite Action Camera. It comes from YI Technology, which is on the rise in the United States and a few other countries. The company’s been successful lately because its affordable products are durable and match what competitors have on the market.
The YI Lite Action Camera achieves video recording of up to 4K/20fps through its 16MP camera. If you don’t need to shoot in such a high resolution, the settings can be tweaked to 1080p/30fps and 1080p/60fps. This device has a Sony IMX206 image processor, a 2-inch LCD touch-enabled display, 130 minutes of battery life, and compatibility with all of YI’s accessories. Also, you can control it with your phone via Bluetooth in case you need to position the action camera somewhere specific.
Amazon lists YI’s $99 action camera as a top pick amongst its customers, and the company makes other models with upgraded components if you need more power. YI’s other other models are also rated highly on the online retailer’s site. Needless to say you have choice in the action camera that records your adventures.
Gifts Under $50
Tronsmart Edge 20,000mAh
Get Tronsmart’s Edge 20,000mAh if you don’t already have a portable charger. You’re not always going to be near a wall outlet, so carrying around this accessory ensures your phone won’t die and leave you stranded. Seriously, there are situations that can be prevented simply by having a portable charger on-hand. Tronsmart is well-known in the space and uses safe, updated technology to charge mobile devices as fast as possible.
JBL Clip 2
Please don’t buy anyone (or yourself, for that matter) a cheap, lifeless portable speaker that costs less than $20. There’s a reason why they’re inexpensive, and that’s because they sound awful. Spend a few more bucks to get the Clip 2 made by JBL. You’ll get a compact portable speaker that sounds great, can handle a dip in water, and comes in different colors.
The Clip 2 receives audio from a Bluetooth connection or a wired connection, whichever works best for you. It’s also capable of being paired with another unit to create a more immersive effect. If you do end up getting a second unit, take advantage of the handy carabiner.