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Blogger News: Your 2015 Guide to Holiday Tech Shopping 23.11.15

Gift guide for techies.

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Right about now the holiday shopping guides are starting to roll out across the Internet. In fact, we’ve already seen a few cross our screens. This year, rather than tell you what we think you should buy, we thought we’d help get your mind in the right place to pick out great gifts that truly fit the people you’re gifting them to. Of course, we’re focusing on technology – more specifically, we’re looking at some key smartphone accessory categories. Let’s dive in!

Portable Chargers

We’re starting with chargers. The options are plenty, so deciding which one is best for you or your loved one will be based on a few key factors:

  • Overall battery capacity
  • Input and output levels
  • Port availability
  • “Luxury” features like passthrough charging

Portable chargers come in a wide range of battery capacities, from small, low-powered ones (3,200mAh) that fit in your pocket, to monster chargers (25,600mAh) that charge multiple devices at once and weigh as much as a small puppy. Something to note is that, when it comes to capacity, these chargers will not give you all they have – unless manufacturers say differently, assume you’ll get about 70% of the charger’s full power.

Also, many chargers come with multiple port types—USB, micro-USB and lightning—to support charging both phones and tablets, so consider how many and which types of devices you want to be able to charge.

Luxury features like passthrough charging, which is the ability to re-charge a charger while it’s charging another device, can be nice to have if you have the budget to spend a bit more money. Related to this, the input and output levels of each charger will have an impact on how quickly it charges a device and how quickly it can be recharged.

Cases

Phone cases seem like an easy gift to select, and for the most part they are, but there are a few less-obvious considerations to keep in mind while you’re picking out the perfect design.

  • Fit
  • Material
  • How do you most frequently use your phone?
  • Multi-purpose

When looking at cases, make sure you’re looking at a case for not just the right device brand but the right version of the phone! The placement of camera, flash and button cut-outs will make or break your being able to use the case at all.

There are a wide range of case material options on the market these days. Before jumping at the first design that catches your eye, think about how you most often use your phone first. Do you take a lot of selfies? A case with a front-closing cover could be frustrating or awkward in that scenario. Do you spend a lot of time hiking? Consider getting a more rugged case that will really protect your phone.

There are also cases out there that pull double duty, acting as wallet or portable charger and phone case in one.

Portable (Wireless) Speakers

While it’s hard for us to believe anyone would need more than BoomSound for all their listening needs, we know there are probably a few of you out there who are looking for a good portable speaker. What you want to pay attention to is sound quality, usability and affordability.

When considering sound quality, listen for clarity and balance. Also, how loud can the speaker get before the sound quality starts to diminish? As with the other accessories we’ve mentioned, think about how you’ll most often use this speaker. Do you want it to power your home sound system or just support your summer pool parties?

If you’re looking to get more than one, make sure to find out if the brands/models you’re looking are able to pair with other speakers. Also consider connectivity – portable speakers can use different technologies to enable connectivity and streaming play, like NFC and aptX. Each method of connection and transmission has its pros and cons, so do your research to figure out which will work best for you.

Wireless speakers often come with rechargeable batteries so pay attention to battery life, and some also come with nice-to-have features like the ability to use speakerphone.

Lastly, consider your budget! Prices can vary pretty widely, but the good-quality speakers on the market will cost you. Looking for that balance of good sound, usability and price is key.

Phone Cradle Kits for Your Car

There are some very clear points of consideration when you’re looking at phone cradles to install in your car:

  • Where you want to put it
  • Adjustability of cradle
  • Movability — tilt and swivel
  • Appearance

There are a surprising number of ways to mount a phone cradle — windshield, dashboard, air vents, rearview mirror, cupholder, and the list goes on. Think carefully about where you would want to look and interact with your phone while in your car, and also find out if there are any laws in your area banning windshield mounting.

You want the kit you install to be adjustable to different phone widths so you can use this cradle over time and not just for one specific phone. Also make sure the cradle can tilt and be moved around, and make sure it’s not so bulky or awkward that it becomes more of a hindrance than a help.

The biggest takeaway here is to think fully about how you or your loved ones use a smartphone, especially as it relates to the accessories you plan to buy. If you do that first, whatever you choose will be a win. Happy holiday shopping, everyone!

Image by comedy_nose on Flickr



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