Gift Guide 2013 – Part 3

Gift Guide 2013 – Part 3

This series of gift selections is selected for people who live with technology. This is not a list of obvious technology items – those items people feel they have to live with – but items most people don’t know they need and whose lives would be enriched possessing such things.

Because it’s the Christmas season, I’m going to try to make as many of these options available with Amazon Prime shipping (free 2-day shipping).

Definitive Technology Sound Cylinder Portable Bluetooth Speaker – $199
If it seems like I keep hammering add-on audio, it’s because I believe it’s just that important. If the Audio Engine speakers in Part 1 won’t work, perhaps try the Definitive Technology Sound Cylinder. It seems every Bluetooth speaker is endorsed by a hip-hop or dub-step artist – but not this one. R&B singer John Legend put his name on the Sound Cylinder for a reason: it sounds musical. Other wireless speakers make music, but it’s an approximation with boomy bass and shrill highs. Not so with Def Tech. This small cylinder produces good quality audio. The form factor is also great; it can clip on an iPad or laptop, providing high quality audio on the go.

Eastern Collective woven USB cables
I have nothing to say about these cables except that the look cool. Fashionable, woven mini- and micro-USB, Lightning, Apple 30-pin, and 3.5mm auxiliary audio cables for your smartphone, iPad, or laptop. They range from $14-$20, and would add pop to your friend’s fashion-forward aesthetic. Don’t expect performance enhancement, only the satisfaction of being cooler than the cool kids. (I’m fond of the hounds tooth pattern.)

Saddleback Leather iPad mini Case – $88
This case isn’t cheap but it may well be the nicest thing the recipient will receive this year. Saddleback uses the highest-quality leather and highly-skilled craftsmen to make all kinds of leather goods (of which I’m intimately familiar), so you can trust they know how to keep an iPad safe. These things are over-built, and will protect not just against scratches but drops as well. It comes with a hand strap for one-hand grip, and may be folded into a stand for reading, typing or watching video. Available in four colors: Dark Coffee Brown, Chestnut, Carbon, and Tobacco. It’s a bit of an investment, but it feels like a million bucks.

SONOS PLAY:1 Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music – $199
Not just another wireless speaker, the Sonos system is a way to create a whole-home entertainment system incrementally. Start with a PLAY:1 speaker in the kitchen for $199 (which comes with a free BRIDGE on special from Amazon right now), and later on add a PLAY:2 to the bedroom. Sonos streams internet audio from practically every source: MOG, SiriusXM, RDIO, Songza, AmazonCloudPlayer, Spotify, Hype Machine, Pandora, TuneIn, Rhapsody, iHeart Radio,, Batanga, Sticher, Slacker and more, all through a really cool and intuitive interface loaded on your tablet, smartphone or computer browser. Sonos is so cool it received the highest rating for customer satisfaction, being recommended to acquaintances even more than Apple. Get one for your friend or family member now and they’ll add on until they can fill the whole home with Christmas music next year.

More handpicked gift ideas are forthcoming.

About Steven Kippel

Steven Kippel has worked as a systems designer for a leading high-end audio/video custom integrator in Southern California since 2003. He is responsible for researching new technologies and integrating them into existing systems and new construction projects. He has designed several high-profile systems for discriminating clients on the cutting-edge of technology. When he is not hard at work, Steven is spending time with his wife, playing with his band or promoting concerts and bands in the Inland Empire. His favorite bands include The Cure, U2, Eisley, Living Sacrifice and DragonForce.

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