Earlier this month I broke down all of the gifts you should get for the Apple lover in your life that loves entertainment. Items in that guide ranged from speakers to game controllers to headphones to TVs and more. In this guide, however, I’m going to breakdown some of my personal favorites on the market right now that I use everyday, as well as some items that are on my own wish list this year. These items are all gifts that any tech lover in your life would love to receive this holiday season…
Ecobee HomeKit Thermostat
The prices of items in this guide range from perfect for the those shopping on a budget to those wanting to spoil that special someone in their life with something a bit more expensive…
As a huge music fan, the idea of being able to set up a house-wide wireless system for playing music is incredibly appealing. Sure, you can use things like an AirPort Express to make a standard speaker wireless, but there’s no way to play through multiple AirPort Express speakers at once from iOS (only from iTunes). Sonos, however, allows you to create a completely wireless full-home set up, albeit it for a steep price.
Zac took an in-depth look at the Sonos Play:5 earlier this month and praised the sound quality and ease of use that the platform offers. At $499 a unit, however, setting up a full-home system adds up quickly. You can however, pair the the more affordable Play:1 ($199) and Play:3 ($299) with the Play:5 for a multi-room setup. Or, if you went surely with the Play:1 models, you could get a three-room setup for $600, although it would be less powerful than a setup with the Play:3 or Play:5 models.
As for Apple Music support, it launches in beta for Sonos users on December 15th with a public rollout sometime in 2015. You may have to wait a little while before you can stream Apple Music to your Sonos, but having a whole-home wireless setup makes it worth it.
One of the biggest crazes of 2015 has been the release a variety of electric “hoverboards.” While these aren’t the hoverboards that Back to the Future told us we would see by 2015, they’re pretty cool nonetheless. A variety of different models exist across various price points. Some have features like built-in speakers, allowing you to connect your phone and play music through the board itself.
On Amazon, a model with Bluetooth runs $449.99. You’ll get a max speed of around 10mph and battery life of 10 to 15 miles depending on your weight and riding speed. A model without Bluetooth on Amazon runs $388.88 with delivery by Christmas. This model features a max speed of 8mph and a distance of 9.5 miles on single charge.
These boards are definitely pricey investments, but make no mistake, they are incredibly fun to ride. It seems trivial at first, but once you actually ride one, you realize how fun it can be. I was insanely skeptical before I tried one myself, but now I think they’re well worth the money if you’re looking for fun.
Eltrochome Archer Vinyl Record Player
Vinyl has made an odd comeback over recent years. Many modern acts are still releasing their music on vinyl and affordable record players have become an insanely popular holiday gift. Personally, I have the Electrohome Archer Vinyl record player ($99.99). It features a beautiful gray and black design inspired by models released in the 1960s. It can play 7, 10, and 12-inch records at 331/3, 45, and 78 RPM.
The Electrohome player features a nice combination of the classic record player technology with some modern features, as well. There’s a USB port for playing MP3s, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack for connecting your iPhone or iPad or a pair of headphones.
If you’re buying someone a record player this holiday season, you might as well throw in a few records too. You can’t go wrong with the classic Abbey Road album by The Beatles ($18.96 on vinyl). Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd ($27.99 on vinyl) is one of the best albums of all time, especially on vinyl. As for more modern artists, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness by Andrew McMahon ($16.99 on vinyl) is a beautiful album. You also can’t go wrong with A Head Full Of Dreams by Coldplay ($32.38 on vinyl) or 25 by Adele ($22.99 on vinyl).
A piece of technology that really intrigues me are drones. It’s such a cool concept to be able to fly a drone with a camera above an area and receive recordings back. I’m not fully familiar with drones, but the UDI U818A ($109.99) seems like a popular option that would be a good way to get my feet wet in the drone category.
The UDI U818 offers 7-9 minutes of flight and remote distance of up to 30 meters. It features a camera, albeit rather low quality, as well as 360 eversion for doing cool flips and rolls, although I envision myself running it into a wall immediately after takeoff.
Higher-end drone options do exist, such as the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite ($302.99), but the UDI U818 seems like the best option for a beginner like me.
When I use my 12-inch MacBook on my desk, which I’ll admit is not incredibly often, I always put it on the Rain Design mStand360 ($53.89). This is an all-aluminum stand that really blends in great on a desk full of aluminum Apple gear. The stand is tilted forward, making it easy to see the display and has a swivel base, allowing you to rotate it a full 360 degrees.
The stand also has a hole in the back of it to allow for clean cable management, helping keep your desk even further clutter free. The aluminum build acts as a heat sink as well, preventing your MacBook from overheating. The mStand 360 is compatible with all recent MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models.
Another Mac accessory I love is the Sabrent 4 Port USB 3.0 Hub ($14.99). Made out of aluminum, this accessory also looks great with your aluminum Mac gear and goes well with the Mac mini since the USB ports on it are located on the back of the computer, making them hard to access.
For docking my iPhone 6s Plus, I love the HiRise Deluxe in black ($59.99). It’s pricey but it is built really nice and you can tell that it’s worth the price. I don’t usually dock my iPad Pro at my desk, but rather use this Anker stand ($9.99). With an aluminum look, it again blends in nicely with the other Apple gear on my desk. Finally, keeping with the aluminum look trend, I use the Spigen Apple Watch stand ($15.99) for docking and charging my Apple Watch.
iPad Pro Accessories
So far, I’ve only invested in a few iPad Pro accessories. For my case of choice, I switch between the Logitech CREATE ($79.99) and official Apple Smart Case, both of which are decent options. Personally, however, I don’t like using any case with iPad Pro. In my opinion, putting a case on it makes it slightly too heavy for relaxing use. Instead, I’m a fan of the Joli leather sleeve, which I reviewed in detail here.
Another practical case option, which Jeremy reviewed here, is the Urban Armor Gear’s new Composite Case for iPad Pro ($80). The Composite Case includes an aluminum, 3-angle stand for video viewing and typing, plus an Apple Pencil holder.
I’ve yet to get my hands on an Apple Pencil, but it’s at the top of my wish list this holiday season. Zac was lucky enough to get one around launch and praised it. I really think it will make the iPad Pro stand apart from the competition and be a differentiator from the iPad Air 2.
Zac did an excellent job of breaking down a handful of accessories that unlock the full potential of the iPhone. He mentioned things like the Phillips Hue Starter Kit ($229.99) and the iHome Control SmartPlug ($36.76), which allows you to turn on and off home appliances using Siri, the app, and automation. The latter of the two really intrigues me personally. It seems like a great way to introduce yourself or a loved one to the potential of HomeKit. It’s definitely something that’s near the top of my wish list.
As far as iPhone cases go, my personal favorite is the official Apple Leather Case ($49). I feel like it offers the best combination of protection and maintaining of the iPhone’s sleek design. Another option, however, for more extreme users is the LifeProof Fre ($79.55), which is water, snow, dust, and shock proof. It can really help protect that hefty investment you made when purchasing your iPhone.
For headphones, my personal favorites are the Beats Studio Wireless ($249.95). I have them in the titanium color option, which really matches the space gray color of my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook. Another option for when you don’t feel like using over-the-ear headphones are the urBeats Earbuds ($89.90), although the JayBird BlueBuds X ($134.49) are another great pair of earbuds and are wireless, as well.
I’m also a huge fan of Apple’s CarPlay system. I got the Pioneer AppRadio 4 ($489.99) installed in my car and could not be happier with it. CarPlay is certainly in its early stages of development, but as time progresses and it becomes more prevalent, it will definiltey improve. The AppRadio 4 is my personal favorite headunit for CarPlay because of its reasonable price and capcitive touchscreen. One thing I noticed in shopping for a headunit was the number of screens that still use resistive touchscreens. Going from a capacitive touchscreen device (like your iPhone) to a resistive touchscreen is not something I would recommend in the slightest.
Apple Watch Accessories
While my Apple Watch isn’t my most used Apple device, there are still some third-party accessories that greatly improve the device. My personal favorite band for the Apple Watch is the Pad&Quill Classic Band in the Whiskey color option ($99.95). The leather Pad&Quill uses is far superior to the leather Apple uses in its own Apple Watch bands. My Pad&Quill band gets the most compliments of any band I wear, followed by Apple’s Milanese Loop ($149).
A variety of affordable watch bands are available, as well, although the quality may very depending on the manufacturer. It’s important to keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so don’t expect a $50 steel band to compare to Apple’s $500 steel band. Nevertheless, the Jelly Comb Stainless Steel Band ($34.99) is a popular alternative to Apple’s steel offering.
Another popular gift you could give an Apple Watch lover is getting their Watch plated in gold. WatchPlate is one of the more popular offerings for doing this. It will plate an Apple Watch in yellow gold or rose gold for $349. Read Zac’s experience on the process here.
The holiday shopping season is quickly wrapping up, so be sure to check out our other gift guides for more picks in iPhone, iPad, Mac, photography, entertainment, audio, hot tech, stocking stuffers, and HomeKit, as well as Benjamin’s personal guide.