Love it or hate it, it is that time of year. Once again, we are forced to display our familial affection in the purchasing of gifts. Much as many of us loath this time-honored ritual, we all have to do it – so you might as well do your research and find something that doesn’t suck.
We are parting with tradition a little with this year’s gift guide. Every single gift on the list is a product that we have submitted to extensive hands on testing.
The Braven 650 Bluetooth Speaker
I had the pleasure of receiving a Braven 650 at the end of last month and it quickly grew to become my go to speaker, both for my phone and my iMac. It weighs next to nothing, has more battery life than you are likely ever to need and, most importantly, it sounds amazing
Logitech G710+ Mechanical Keyboard
The Logitech G710+ is Logitech’s first foray into the mechanical gaming keyboard business. If you have never used a mechanical keyboard, it is hard to know what all of the fuss is about. The keys are a lot more responsive, which makes them great for gaming and very good for typing. Plus, each key is rated for 50 million presses, which means that, as long as it is properly maintained, it will last almost indefinitely.
I had seen a couple of longboarding videos in the past and it always struck me as something that I would like to try. Then the opportunity arose to put a couple of Landyachtz boards to the test. I felt like a kid again, not in the sense that I felt like I was doing something childish, I didn’t – but in that I was doing something that gave me pure unadulterated joy. Now I find myself planning ninja missions to bridges and clean downhill roads that I find to and from work on my daily commute. Longboards are a lot of fun.
You should probably include a helmet.
I am really, really accident prone. Any mobile device in my possession will be dropped, thrown in my pocket with keys and subjected to random acts of gadget torture. Pound-for-pound, this case seemed the perfect balance of protection and usability. The Defender provides more protection, but for the Commuter is a lot less bulky and has stood up to plenty of abuse.
Note that it comes with a screen protector. The OtterBox screen protector works, but I really liked ClearPlex’s new iPhone 5 covers. I found my ClearPlex to be a little bit clearer, but what really sold me was the texture – it feels smoother than the actual iPhone 5 glass… and it is bullet resistant.
An External Battery
With external batteries, there tends to be a sweet price point right around 10,000 mAH mark. Beyond 10,000 mAH, things start to get a lot more expensive for what amount to fairly unimpressive gains in battery life. Batteries are batteries and lithium cells degrade over time. The cases in which they enclosed may look more or less pretty, but basically they all do the same thing – and it is going to spend most of its time in someone’s bag anyway. One of these batteries will give you 4 and a bit full iPhone charges – very useful for anyone who spends a lot of time on the road or off the grid.
Get the cheapest that you can find (as long as at least one of its USB ports is 2.1A).
The Iain Sinclair CardSharp 2
A credit card knife might seem like a really, really bad idea – but this thing grows on you in a big way. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t use it for something, It makes short work of boxes and packages and it is the perfect letter opener. Of all the cool swag I have picked up over the last few years, the CardSharp 2 has drawn the most comments.
Render K Machined Metal Pen
The folks at Karas Kustoms sent me a shipment of stuff earlier in the year and I was very, very impressed. The Render K is a machined aluminum pen (minus the ink). It works with a wide range of refills. They look great and will more than likely outlive the intended recipient.
Just remember that the pen is only as good as its refill – Parker ink is a little more pricey than Pilot but makes for a nicer writing experience. It seems the appropriate choice for a writing instrument of this caliber.
Render K Price: $45
Parker Ballpoint Refill Price: $5.10