Super Saturday holiday shopping is upon us. Look no further than this holiday gift guide for a few great ideas. There is still time to shop before the end of 2014, so let us get to it.
Android Smartphone: Sony Z3v from Verizon $99 with 2 year contract- Smartphone upgrades are usually the number one thing people are looking for during the holidays. Sony’s Z3v is waterproof and shoots 4k video with its excellent 20MP+ camera. You can feel the build quality on this Android smartphone right away. Take high quality photos and videos during holiday travels. Sony has been known to supply their camera technology to other brands because they produce great images. Coupled with Qi wireless charging technology, it helps to keep the phone watertight. Blaze videos up to YouTube with Verizon’s 4G XLTE next gen service. If that was not enough, the Z3v supports RemotePlay via home WiFi or use the smartphone for a second-screen gaming experience.
Sony’s Z3 Product Lineup
Media Streaming Server: Netgear ReadyNAS 1TB $269 - Your family and friends may want to see photos or videos on the big screen rather than everyone having to huddle around a phablet screen this holiday season. Load up your multimedia on the Netgear ReadyNAS and then stream those files to your TV or the set in the guest room via its DLNA protocol. Automatically backup and sync files from your PC or Mac to the included 1TB drive or add a second 1TB drive to enable RAID redundancy. Its ReadyNAS OS 6.2 ensures a proper file backup with five levels of defense. Netgear’s ReadyNAS is now capable of backing up files off site to another ReadyNAS or to the ReadyNAS Vault cloud service. The ReadyNAS Vault service allows for scheduled backups and immediate recovery of files via a web interface. A great use case scenario for the vault service is if a file gets corrupted and then backed up to the cloud. You can set it to backup multiple versions of files, so that you may recover a known working document. Free Netgear mobile apps helps to access the cloud connected drive from anywhere and to backup files while on the go.
Qi Charging Base: Incipio Ghost 220 $79.99 - Incipio is expanding into battery and charging technology. They have come up with a dual Qi charging base with an external USB port that offers up to 2.1A of power. Quick charge any non-Qi wireless device while simultaneously charging two Qi enabled gadgets.
Qi Enabled Battery Pack: Incipio offGrid Qi Battery $69.99 - Charging external battery packs usually means taking up one of those precious wall chargers that could otherwise be charging a smartphone. Incipio has come up with a small 4k mAh external battery pack that can charge via Qi. Bring along the Ghost 220 to charge it, a smartphone and a tablet all at once while only using one wall socket.
Smartwatch Android Wear: Moto 360 $249- Motorola’s Android Wear smartwatch is one of the top models on the market this season. The smartwatch comes with style and class via its stainless steel casing, Gorilla glass screen and top rated Horween leather. Say, “Ok Google” to initiate a number of voice commands like turn-by-turn Google Map directions. I have even used the smartwatch to board my airplane via e-ticket. You will need an Android smartphone running 4.3 or higher. The battery powers up via Qi wireless in a custom charging dock.
By Bill Cody @VegasBiLL
Microsoft Lumia Phone: Lumia 635 $79- Microsoft has a wide variety of smartphones available from multiple carriers. The Lumia 635 offers a sub $200 price off contract, 4G LTE and a 5MP camera. It has Microsoft’s newest voice assistant Cortana, which is ready for when you need help. Windows Phone 8.1 provides a significant increase in battery savings over the latest Android mobile OS. That means you can stream more music and videos.
LEGO Kits From Toys-R-US: Star Wars Imperial Starship $116- Do you know a kid or is a kid at heart who wants to have fun with LEGOs tomorrow and into the foreseeable future? The Star Wars Starship kit comes with many mini fig characters from the SciFi movie series and over 1,300 pieces. Fun for groups too.
Minecraft Crafting Box $49- Minecraft, the online game is so huge, Microsoft purchased it for $2 billion dollars. LEGO has come up with a fun kit called the Crafting Box of over 500 pieces. Build one of the four pre-designed options or make whatever you want, because it is Minecraft after all.
Remote Controlled Fun: Sphero Ollie $99- Sphero has done it again by building an even better iPhone and Android remote controlled toy. The Ollie comes with off road capabilities, tricks and can speed along at up to 14 mph! With the turn of the smartphone screen, the Ollie app goes into trick mode. Along with its multiple LED lights flashing, make the gadget hop and spin on one end. Then, drift around the sofa and spin around to it all over again. I found that the Ollie provided days worth of fun on one charge.
Media and TV Streaming: Slingbox M1 $149 - Traveling for the holidays can be rough when you arrive and there is not an HDTV anywhere to be found. Setup the Slingbox M1 on your home DVR before you leave and stream all of your saved shows, plus watch holiday specials in glorious HD on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Backup Battery Packs: Rugged Braven BRV-Bank $129 - Rugged batteries are now showing up on the market. One of the best examples I’ve tested recently is the Braven BRV-Bank. It comes with a sturdy USB charging cable, a USB flashlight and multiple USB ports to charge a smartphone and tablet. Take it with you camping or hiking and anywhere else you need power in extreme conditions. Keep an eye on its charge level with the included Bluetooth enabled app for your smartphone. Rugged and app enabled, now that is convenient.
HyperMac HyperJuice Plug 18k mAh Bullion $109- HyperMac makes some of the coolest and longest lasting external battery packs on the market. Their 18k mAh Bullion is clad in a gold colored aluminum casing, comes equipped with a retracting wall plug for charging and two USB ports that can handle high drain devices like tablets and phablets. The battery cells in the HyperJuice Plug are of a higher grade, which last longer than similarly priced models.
Mobile Photography: Moment iPhone Lens Kit $$99- Mobile photography is picking up pace with smartphone cameras producing amazing shots. That means some of us will be searching for higher quality accessories like lenses. And I am not talking about those plastic things. Moment’s telephoto and wide-angle lenses are made to create stunning shots that are clear edge-to-edge, are free of distortion and with what they call, minimal chromatic aberration. Moment is iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5S/5c/5, iPhone 4S/4, iPad Air, iPad Mini, Galaxy S5/S4, Note 3 and Nexus 5 ready. They can do this with their innovative thin mounting plates. The plates fit nicely underneath silicon skins and thin cases.
Fast syncing and charging via a USB hub usually means one or the other. Some hubs have a single higher-powered port for charging devices like tablets. That is where the HUB IT from EggTronic at $79.99 comes into play. It has smart custom software that knows what devices are connected and supplies up to 2.5A of power on each port and 5Gbps transfer rate. Directly on top of each port are modules to charge via micro USB, Apple Lightning, 30 pin and mini USB. Internally, there are additional ports to plug in new modules such as their new Qi wireless charging option at $29.99. Connect it to your computer to sync devices in hub mode or connect it to the wall via an included power adapter to charge. I have found that charging several smartphones, a tablet and another device via the Qi module has been easy during testing. With firmware updates promised, it should be able to recognize and properly deliver the right amount of power to them well into the future.
Portable Bluetooth Speaker: Ultimate Ears BOOM $199 - Portable wireless speakers, like the BOOM from Ultimate Ears, provides large sound at 360 degrees that can last nearly all day on its 15 hour rated battery. Bring the party with you by pairing two together for even more sound. When I visited a Verizon Destination Store earlier this year, the BOOM was the loudest and clearest speaker of the bunch.
Activity Tracker: Withings Pulse O2 $119 - Wearable technology like activity trackers is coming out from most major companies. What Withings has integrated into their Pulse O2 takes the tracker to the next level. It counts steps, miles traveled and calories burned, but it also displays elevation covered, intelligently tracks light and deep sleep and can display your heart rate and finally your blood oxygen level via an LED scanner on the back of the health gadget. It comes with a wrist strap and a belt clip. It works with Google’s Android mobile OS too. With all of this technology packed into a lightweight modular design, it actually costs less than lesser-equipped trackers and is comfortable to wear while sleeping.There you have it. Most of the hottest gadgets from 2014 are in this list. Get out there today and finish your shopping for the holidays.
Disclosure: I’m a Verizon Wireless Buzz Ambassador, Microsoft Lumia Ambassador and NETGEAR Ambassador. All products have been supplied at no cost for review. A Lumia 635 has been sponsored by Microsoft to keep. Photos are courtesy of the respective brands. All thoughts and opinions are my own.