Even though we tried more than 50 different tech devices and gadgets for our annual Cool Yule Tools holiday gift guide, there are still a ton of other products that we didn’t get to try. Most of these were because they either came out after our deadline, or they were late in shipping to us.
We’ve had a few weeks to try out some additional items, these would make excellent gifts for anyone on your list:
Dart laptop charger
More info: https://finsix.com/shop/dart/
There are a bunch of mobile power batteries aimed at recharging your smartphone or tablet while you’re on the go (or traveling), but when it comes to recharging your laptop, you’re left with a big, bulky power brick with a cable. The Dart laptop charger aims to lighten the load here a bit – it claims to be the “world’s smallest laptop charger”.
The “brick” part – with the two-pronged power dongle – is a lot smaller than your regular power brick – it’s about the height of a cigarette lighter. The included 6-foot cable connects to the adapter, and splits to include a USB port (if you also want to recharge a phone or tablet – you have to provide your own charging cable). On the other end of the Dart cable, you connect a tip that corresponds with your computer’s brand – the system comes with nine different tip styles, corresponding with most major PC brands. It doesn’t yet support the Microsoft Surface or Apple MacBook Pro, but the company says these are under development.
The unit provides 65W of power, so it should be as fast as your regular charger, but with a lot less bulk. The USB port provides 2.1A of power, so you can recharge a tablet or a smartphone while you’re also recharging your notebook.
iHome Color Changing Wireless Stereo Speaker + Built-in Power Bank (iBT84BC)
More info: https://www.ihomeaudio.com/iBT84BC/
I think we’ve all graduated beyond the Bluetooth speaker that just plays audio (either music or phone calls). This year, we want a speaker that does more – that means things like floating (we’ve enjoyed several waterproof speakers) or providing additional functions.
The iBT84BC from iHome is one such device. Not only does it provide great sound wirelessly, but the exterior can change color (via LED lighting) while it’s playing the music. Several different modes let you change the color and the mood (for example, slow fade, fast change, or our favorite – pulsing to the music). You can change the color/mood via a button on the device, or through an iHome app.
Not only that, the speaker includes a USB port that can also recharge your mobile device (the internal battery holds a big charge). This combination of Bluetooth speaker, mobile device power battery and color-changing light show makes this a winner in our book!
More info: http://pdp.com/en/pixel-pals/
My family (OK, me and my son, at least) has been obsessed with pop culture vinyl toys made by Funko (the Funko Pop! Line). These “Pops” cover the worlds of gaming, TV, movies, sports (my wife loves her Tom Brady Pop) and even politics (they came out with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump pops this year). They don’t do much other than sit on your desk (although the Marvel Pops are bobbleheads)), but that’s OK. Sometimes you want to show the world your love of certain characters.
Gaming accessory maker PDP is getting in on the fun but with a small twist. Its line of Pixel Pals take the world of video game characters and create little mini-statues (slightly taller than a Funko Pop) that also light up (powered by batteries). The first three characters in the launch of Pixel Pals include Nintendo hero Mario, the Fallout Boy character from the Fallout game series, and Mega Man from the Capcom video game series.
Like the Funko Pop collectibles, the Pixel Pals aren’t meant to do anything other than sit on your desk, shelf or other area. But if you’re one of those people who obsess over one of those three characters (hopefully the brand will come out with more gaming characters, I’d love to have a Pixel Pal version of Ezio from Assassin’s Creed), this can make a good stocking stuffer item.
PowerA Fusion gaming headset
More info: http://www.powera.com/products/fusion-gaming-headset/
I’m always amazed at gaming headsets that are designed for one particular console or PC, as if that’s the only thing that people want to use headphones for. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced and comfortable headset that will also work well with your mobile phone, computer and tablet, check out the Fusion gaming headset from PowerA.
The headset is compatible with the PS4, Xbox One (later versions – earlier versions require an extra adapter), PCs and Macs (with a single headphone/microphone jack – if you have a system with two ports, you need a separately sold Y splitter), as well as your mobile phone or other music device.
Features include nicely padded earcups that felt comfortable for long-term gaming sessions (minimal ear fatigue), a memory foam headband that doesn’t weigh down on your head, and the ability to adjust sizing on both sides of your head. For audio, the headset features 50mm drivers for stereo sound, a detachable microphone (with an on-earcup button for muting), and on-ear volume controls if you don’t want to adjust the volume in the game or on your computer. Sound was good on all of the different systems I tested this on. Another nice feature – the cord that attaches the headset to the audio source (game controller, computer, phone, etc.) was braided (42-inches in length), which reduces tangling.
For the price offered, this is a good headset for people who want an all-around headset for multiple devices, and don’t need the whiz-bang features offered on higher-end, console-specific offerings.
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