December’s newsletter is perhaps the easiest and most fun for me to write because it gives me the opportunity to rattle off some great tech toys and gifts.
First up, an update on a recommendation from last year. For men who wanted a wallet case for their iPhone, I recommended a product from Speck, who has been making iPhone cases for years. The SmartFlex Card will hold three credit cards or ID and a couple of cash bills. It’s $35 at Speck’s website or $25 at Amazon. This recommendation is still valid for 5 and 5S users. For those who have moved to the iPhone 6, look at Speck’s new CandyShell Card for iPhone 6. While I don’t like it quite as well as the SmartFlex Card, which I hope will come to the iPhone 6 soon, the CandyShell Card does a solid job of not having to carry both a wallet and your iPhone. Its hard plastic, while heavier than the SmartFlex Card, offers more drop protection for your iPhone.
A second great gift idea for your iPhone users, particularly those who misplace things, is to purchase some Tiles. These Tiles contain Bluetooth transmitters that you can attach to keychains, place in purses or luggage, and track the location of your item. You can even use adhesive to attach one to your TV remote. Once an item is tagged with a Tile, you open Tile’s iOS app to play a “hotter-colder” locator version of where your item is. Furthermore, if you happen to lose your item outside the range of your iPhone’s Bluetooth, you can report it lost and, if another Tile user comes within range of your lost Tile, that user’s phone will report your Tile’s location back to you. It’s a very cool use of technology to alleviate a common annoyance. You can buy Tiles on the company’s website where they sell 1 Tile for $25, 4 for $70, 8 for $130, and 12 for $180.
Third up on this year’s gift list is an item I’ve had my eye on for a while: the Kenu Airframe. If you use an iPhone as your GPS navigator, the Airframe mounts easily on your car’s air vent to hold the phone in place without adhesives, suction cups, or other traditional mounting hardware. The $25 clip has an expandable grip so that it will fit an iPhone with or without a case. The unit is also small enough that you can travel with it and use the Airframe in rental cars without carrying some large window mount in your luggage or renting GPS hardware from a rental company. Plus, it makes it easier to keep your eyes at least near the road when using your iPhone as your GPS navigator.
Moving on from iPhone, for those using MacBooks, I have two recommendations on travel bags for you. The first is for a TSA-compliant messenger bag, the Timbuk2 Command. The bag comes in three sizes, priced from $129 to $149, and features ample storage space for traditional items like pens and papers. But, it also includes a lie-flat storage pocket for your MacBook and iPad, so that you don’t have to remove them from the bag when going through airport security. The bag is very durable and has survived more than two years of my daily usage.
My second bag recommendation, for those who don’t want to carry a bag that looks like a laptop bag, would be to grab a laptop sleeve from WaterField Designs. Their sleeves are very durable and nestle nicely in briefcases and shoulder bags that weren’t designed with laptop pouches. I generally recommend the MacBook Laptop SleeveCase, which starts at $49. But, there are many different kinds of sleeves from which you can choose, all top-quality and American-made, just like the Timbuk2 bags, incidentally.
My final recommendation for this year’s Apple gift guide is from Nice. If you’ve ever tried to reach into a draw or your bag for an iPhone or iPad charger and had the cord tangled around something else, pulling out a mess of pens, paperclips, et cetera, Nice has a solution for you. They sell two charger cord wraps called Goldie, for iPhone, and Nibbles, for iPad. They are fish-shaped cord wraps where the charger fits in the fish’s mouth and the cord wraps around its tail. Each cord wrap is $13 and makes for a fun stocking stuffer.