December 2016: Good things definitely come in small packages — especially if they’re tech-related. And especially this year.
If you missed out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and still want to get a little (and we mean little) something special for someone special, check out our choices for 2016’s best tech gifts that can fit in the palm of your hand. You can even get all 12 in a single stocking — what a gift that would be!
Automatic Lite ($80) and Automatic Pro ($130)
Did you know you can use the port underneath your car dashboard — its fancy name is the standard diagnostics (OBD-II) port — for more than diagnosing engine problems? Plug a device like the Automatic Pro into the port and the port becomes a useable data hub, namely a vehicle tracker, engine pre-heater, emergency caller, mechanic communicator, mileage tracker, parking spot reminder, and more. All via the cloud and apps. The Pro version includes the fancy options while the Lite version is more about tracking mileage and other business-related expenses.
Tile ($25 and up) and TrackR ($30 and up)
Does someone you love constantly misplace their keys? Can’t remember where they left their phone or where they parked the car? Consider gifting them a tiny Bluetooth-powered tracking device to keep tabs on their stuff and keep their (and your?) sanity. Just attach a mini-tracking device to an object and the object becomes trackable. Both Tiles and TrackRs work with apps so you can see where your tracking devices are and have them make sounds, if you need them to. Tiles also work both ways — you can click on a Tile to have your smartphone make noise — and communicate with each other so the entire Tile network can help members find lost stuff. TrackRs are about the size of a quarter and, as of this writing, have a buy four/get 12 holiday special — that’s a lot of tiny gifts for lots of forgetful people.
iXpand Flash Drive ($50+)
If you know someone who’s always worrying about running out of room on their iPhone or iPad, this little flash drive from SanDisk will be a welcome relief. It frees up space by letting you move photos and videos from the camera roll to the flash drive so you can transfer them to the computer later. Or it can back up the Camera Roll automatically each time you plug it in — a lightning connector on one end and a USB 3.0 connector on the other makes transfers fast. Encryption is supported and you can watch movies directly from the drive. Available in four GB sizes — 16, 32, 64 and 128.
Hero Session ($199) and Hero5 Session ($299)
These tiny, waterproof video and still cameras do (almost) everything as the other tiny GoPro cameras but in even smaller packages. At just 1.5-inches square, you’ll barely notice the camera clipped to your body as you race down the slopes or ride through the woods or snorkel with the fish. Control it with one button and an app — or an Apple Watch. The newer Hero5 Session shoots 4K video and takes 10MP stills. Both models come with accessories in the box.
AirPods ($159) and Earin M-1 ($199)
These tiny Bluetooth earbuds are the closest thing to implanting wireless speakers into your ears that you can get. Apple’s AirPods look a lot like the EarPods that come with your iPhone but without the wires — reviewers say they sound about the same, too. The real performance difference is with the noise-cancelling microphone. AirPods work with all Apple devices and just double tap to get to Siri. While they’re not yet available as of this writing (a delay in the rollout), they’re supposed to be ready in time for Christmas. Earin M-1 Bluetooth earbuds are available now, are even tinier and get high marks for sound, convenience and comfort.
Chromecast ($35), Chromecast Ultra ($69) and Chromecast Audio ($35)
No cable? No DirecTV? No stereo? No worries — get your loved ones a Google Chromecast device. If you’re not familiar with these little devices, they allow you to stream media from smartphones to TVs via HDMI ports. Or stream music to speakers. Download apps to access free services like Pandora, Spotify and YouTube or subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and Showtime Anytime. They can also mirror their Android device screen. Chromecasts work with mobile devices (Android and Apple), laptops (Mac and Windows) and Chromebook, and the Ultra version gets you 4K Ultra HD and HDR. If you want to see how they compare to the competition, including Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, Apple TV and Roku’s Streaming Stick, check out CNet’s article.
Us frogs are crazy about devices that help you get more done faster — and have more fun. Most of the devices we work with are behind the scenes and not tiny at all, so when we get the opportunity to share information about tech products that share joy, count us in. Happy Holidays to you!
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