Cool Tech for Your Commission Check: Tech Holiday Gift Guide

Cullen MacDonald
December 9, 2014

The holiday season is here, and so are we--to help you with a tech holiday gift guide for your commission check. Whether you’re shopping for your music-loving sister, a fitness-conscious friend, or your competition-reality-show-watching parents, you’ll find an awesome tech gift on this list.

A Tech Holiday Gift Guide:

1. Extra Battery Life

The gift of extra battery life. What could be more awesome? Whether you’re on-the-go checking work emails all day or checking your Twitter feed, the battery on your mobile device doesn’t last forever. If you’re away from an electrical outlet, it can be a huge inconvenience. We have a couple options here to fix that problem. You can either go the battery case route, which is an external battery that also doubles as a case for your iPhone, or if you’re looking for more flexibility and power, you could go with a portable charger. Lenmar Meridian External Battery Case for iPhone 5:

This is a small, sleek case that gives your iPhone some decent protection as well as a 2200 mAh battery that will extend its battery life. We haven’t seen one of these released for iPhone 6 yet, but for those with an iPhone 5, this is an awesome case. The Portable Charger:

 This portable charger, which can work with most smartphones and tablets (or any other device that can connect via USB), is much more versatile than an external battery case both in terms of power and compatibility. And you’re in luck! We did an entire post about just this topic. We compiled a list of some of the best portable chargers on the market, in a wide range of prices and sizes. Check it out here.

2. Headphones

A pair of really great headphones can be the perfect gift for the audiophile in your life (or just anyone who loves music). I just have one thing to say before we move on to the recommendations: don’t get Beats headphones. In my humble opinion, these are a waste of money, more about fashion than sound quality. For the price, you can get much higher quality headphones. Here are some suggestions: Relay by Sol Republic:

These durable in-ear headphones were made for use while exercising. Relay calls them “crossover headphones,” created not just with an active lifestyle in mind, but also sound quality. The earbuds were designed to fit anyone without falling out, and are sweat and water resistant. Sennheiser HD25-1 II:

If you’re more into over-ear headphones, then these would be my recommendation. I own this pair and I’m really happy with them. They’re comfortable and durable, and the sound quality is amazing. They work well even in noisy environments, as they were designed with professionals in mind. The best part is--everything on them is replaceable. If a cable or pad gets damaged for whatever reason, you can replace them yourself. You’ll have them forever.

3. Fitness Trackers

For the health-conscious person in your life, a digital fitness tracker could be your best bet. There are a few different options you could go with: Nike+ FuelBand SE:

Nike Fuel measures calories, steps, and sleep, and syncs with your mobile devices so that you can compare your progress with your friends. There’s a really great community built around the product called Nike+, where you can set challenges for friends, share your successes, see the activity of other FuelBand users around the world. Plus, it’s actually pretty comfortable to wear all the time. Withings Smart Body Analyzer:

I own one of these weight scales, and its coolest feature is that it can recognize everyone in your family based on their footprints. The advantage of this is that you can have a bunch of “profiles,” and as the scale tracks your weight, heart rate, and body composition, you can hook up that information for several users to the web or mobile app. You can all then track your progress together. It also has an indoor air quality reading, which is another cool feature. Pebble Smartwatch:

The Pebble Smartwatch is also worth mentioning, as we did another CoolTech post about it. This device can also track fitness levels. Find out more about the Pebble Smartwatch here.

4. Online Subscriptions as Gifts

This is an interesting option for someone who might be a little behind the times. It’s not a common gift, but if you know someone who for some reason has yet to experience the joy of TV binge-watching or unlimited music streaming, then who better than you to bring them into the 21st Century of entertainment? Spotify:

Spotify is my preferred music streaming service. It has more songs and a bigger community than most of its competitors. The cost of ad-free use across all your devices is $9.99/month. Hulu Plus:

Hulu Plus is particularly great for the person who watches a lot of shows on large networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX, but who have busy schedules and can’t be in front of the TV when the shows air live. There’s also a decent list of Hulu-only content. Netflix:

Netflix is perfect for binge watching TV shows and watching movies. If you feel like you’re the last person in your office to have yet to watch The Wire, Netflix will fix that. This is for the person you know who’s still buying TV shows as DVD box sets. There’s also a lot of impressive Netflix-only content, like Orange is the New Black,House of Cards,

and Arrested Development.

5. Cameras

Cameras are great because you can break them out of the box and start using them immediately around the holidays. Whether you’re looking for a specialty camera designed for motion capture or just a higher quality option that can take HD video, here are a couple suggestions: GoPro Hero 3+ Black:

GoPro cameras were designed specifically with action shots in mind. They’re waterproof up to 131 feet, and you can capture professional-quality video on the go, which is great for documenting everything from a snowboarding trip to your son’s soccer game. You may also see the GoPro Hero 4 available, but in my opinion, the Hero 3+ Black is the better value for money for the average person. The Hero 4 is great, but you don’t really need to spend the money. It’s akin to buying a Ferrari when you live in Manhattan. Canon PowerShot S120:

The Canon PowerShot S120 is a really high-quality point-and-shoot camera for both photography and video. Casey Neistat, a filmmaker, made this video both with and about this camera. Despite the design flaw that he points out in the video, if you can handle not putting your finger over the microphone, it’s a great choice.   There are our tech gift recommendations for the holiday season. Questions about anything on this list? Let us know in the comments.