It’s less than a week until Christmas, and if – who am I fooling – since we still have some gifts left to pick up, and need ideas, consider this offering of eight potential presents for those hard-to-buy-for folks on our lists. All prices listed are in Canadian dollars.
If there’s one thing that every tech owner knows, it’s that screens get grubby, fast. If it isn’t from fingerprints, it’s from things we must not speak of (the dog sneezed on my tablet – ewwww).
Toronto-based Whoosh! has a suite of non-toxic products ranging from wipes to sprays to special antimicrobial cloths that will safely render your devices shiny and sanitary. A portable pack of 20 wipes goes for about $10, and a container of 70 costs $15, while the Screen Shine Go packet containing a pocket or purse-sized bottle of screen cleaner with two reusable antimicrobial cloths can be tucked into a stocking for $10.
The longer the pandemic goes on, the more grateful I am for my e-reader. When you can’t go out to buy a book, having something fresh to read can be a joy, and with these devices, there’s no waiting for deliveries – you just download the title and dive in.
Both primary e-reader vendors recently launched new models and depending on the recipient’s needs, either could be a good choice.
Amazon introduced a new Kindle Paperwhite ($149.99) and Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition ($209.99) this year. The regular model offers a 6.8 inch 300 PPI display and up to 10-weeks battery life. The Signature Edition ups the storage from 8 GB to 32 GB and adds wireless charging and an auto-adjusting front light. Both are waterproof.
The issue with Kindle is that it’s tied to the Amazon ecosystem. It has a proprietary file format that can only be read by the devices and by Amazon’s app on a computer or phone (you can, however, sideload PDF and TXT files). But if you can live with that restriction, they’re very nice devices.
Canada’s Kobo, on the other hand, supports 15 file formats, including ePub, ePub3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, and CBR. Its two newest models are the Libra 2 ($179.99), an upgrade to last year’s Libra which has a 7-inch screen, and 32 GB storage while the Sage ($299.99) has an 8-inch display and 32 GB of storage. Both can play audiobooks as well as display eBooks, are waterproof, and offer weeks-long battery life. The Sage also supports pen entry of notes using the Kobo Stylus ($49.99).
With a Kobo, you are not tied to any ecosystem and can even borrow books from many libraries from the device. The books return themselves when the loan expires. You can also easily sideload books and other documents from free sources like Project Gutenberg, as well as, of course, purchasing them from the Kobo store or Chapters Indigo.
According to IDC, smartwatches are beginning to replace fitness bands on peoples’ wrists, which could make them appealing packages under the tree.
Consider the brand-new Huawei Watch GT 3 (from $328.99). It comes in two screen sizes – 46 mm and 42 mm – and offers all-day SpO2 monitoring along with the now-standard heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring, stress monitoring, and other physical indicators (it will even track women’s menstrual cycles), more than 100 workout modes, Bluetooth calling, and is compatible with both iOS and Android phones. Naturally, it also displays alerts from apps you permit, has stopwatch and timer functions, a step counter, and much more, and is water-resistant.
But the killer feature for me is the battery life – up to 2 weeks for the 46mm, and one week for the 42mm. And in my experience, it really does last that long. Then you pop the watch onto its little wireless charging pad and it’s juiced up in an hour or so.
Another attractive option is the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Classic (starts at $379.99; after Jan 6, 2022 it will be $499.99). It comes in the same two screen sizes as the Huawei, with one additional 46mm model that includes LTE as well as Bluetooth for $569.99. All models
will work with iOS or Android phones. Its options include the usual fitness suspects, plus fall detection and body composition detection that looks at skeletal muscle, fat mass, body fat, BMI, and body water (be aware that some features, such as ECG, that you may see mentioned in foreign reviews are disabled in Canada). It also includes NFC, so you can use Samsung Pay right from your wrist. It, too, is water-resistant.
The big downside is the battery life. Samsung says the watch will run for up to 80 hours under “normal” use – that’s just over 3 days.