Chris’s gift picks: 2012 holiday guide
I didn’t upgrade my trusty iPad 2 to the new iPad or the iPad 4th generation and I am still glad I didn’t. The iPad 2 does everything I need it to do in a lighter form factor and it has saved me a fortune too. I would still recommend (and have for that matter) the iPad 2 to people who don’t really care about a razor sharp screen or have any need for it either.
For me, it is the best iPad made so far, lighter and cheaper than the newer models out there now. I have had it for nearly two years now and it still makes me smile every time I use it. If you don’t want to pay the extra for the Retina display, don’t be put off by the iPad 2. It is still the best tablet out there in my opinion and should not be dismissed as yesterday’s technology. The fact that it can be easily jailbroken and used as an XBMC client is the icing on the cake!
- From $399 - Buy Now
Soundwave SW50 Bluetooth Speaker (UK)
I have been on the lookout for a reasonable priced good quality Bluetooth speaker that I can use in my bathroom and bedroom. Sure the Jambox is a lovely solution but the price is just a bit too tasty for me. Instead I decided to go for the Soundwave SW50 Bluetooth speaker and I am really glad I did.
I ordered it from Amazon here in the UK and it cost in total with free shipping, just £20 or $32 and to say I am impressed is an understatement. Once I paired it with my iPhone 5 (which was very straight forward) I started to play some music through it and the quality was excellent. The most impressive part is the bass reproduction for a speaker that fits in the palm of your hand; it is really loud, more than good enough to fill a reasonably sized room. It even comes with a rechargeable battery which uses micro-USB to charge it and it can even be used as a Bluetooth speaker-phone.
The Soundwave SW50 is a real bargain and is now sitting in my bathroom. It is compatible with any phone, mp3 player, tablet or laptop that supports the Bluetooth A2DP profile. It's available from Amazon in the UK.
- From £19.90 - Buy Now
If you're not in the UK, check out the Jambox.
- $199 - Buy now
This accessory was an absolute must after I upgraded my iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5. I listen to music and podcasts all of the time when I am driving around and my iPhone 4S had a kit that allowed the audio from the dock connector to be piped straight into my car stereo. Due to Apple' change in dock connector from the 30 pin to the Lightning connector, I could no longer use this when I switched to the iPhone 5; this is where the TuneLink Auto comes in.
The TuneLink Auto is a Bluetooth stereo audio interface that plugs into your car's 12-volt power socket and then into your cars AUX 3.5mm input. Your iPhone can then connect to the TuneLink via Bluetooth and it plays your music through your stereo all without wires. It also comes with a USB port so you can plug in your Lightning cable and charge your iPhone 5 if needed. The sound quality is fantastic and as soon as you start your car the iPhone pairs to the TuneLink and your music or Podcasts start playing without any interaction needed. It works perfectly every time.
If your car doesn't have an AUX input, fear not, the TuneLink also has an inbuilt FM transmitter included too so you can tune it to a free radio station and listen to your music that way; the sound quality using the FM transmitter is nowhere near as good as with the wired solution. The TuneLink is a top piece of technology and I love it!
- $79.00 - Buy Now
If you want something that can be used both in the car and around the house, check out the BlackBerry Music Gateway:
- $49.95 - Buy now
If you love know someone who just getting started using Twitter, then you must give them Tweetbot. It is quite simply the most elegant and functional Twitter client for iPhone. It has been designed from the ground up to take advantage of the buttery smooth animations found when developing for the iOS platform. Not only does this app look the best it performs the best and has the best features too.
From multiple timelines to smart gestures, push notifications to mute filters, this app has them all and so much more.
- $2.99 - Buy Now
I love listening to podcasts, I subscribe to loads of them and need an app that helps me stay organized and tells me when new episodes are available. Thankfully I discovered Pocket Casts which fits into my life perfectly.
Pocket Casts has a fantastic clean user interface and features in abundance. It can download new episodes in the background; notify you when new episodes have been released and so much more. It is an excellent app and one I use on a daily basis. If you know someone who needs a good podcast app, gift them Pocket Casts.
- $1.99 - Buy Now