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Electronista's Holiday Gadget Gift Guide: Road Warrior Edition

updated 08:05 pm EST, Mon December 9, 2013

They're on the road again, hook them up with the right tech

We're into the final stretch before Christmas, and maybe you've got just about everybody on your list sorted out, gift-wise. Everybody, that is, except for the one person you never see: the road warrior. The one that won't be dropping into the holiday family fun until Christmas Day proper, likely because they were off trekking about somewhere or another, be it for business or pleasure. The one that travels light and often. What can you get them that they won't conveniently "forget" on the kitchen table before rushing out to catch that flight? As always, we at Electronista have got your back, so click on through to the Road Warrior Edition of our Holiday Gadget Gift Guide in order to find out what tech you should be getting for your non-resident roomie or loved one.

The Computer... and The Tablet: Nokia's Lumia 2520

Your itinerant gift recipient already knows this, but maybe you don't: the secret to traveling light with tech is knowing what services you most need and which ones you can do without. That's why we're recommending Nokia's Lumia 2520. It's the first Windows RT tablet from Nokia, the Finnish phone maker renowned for its (soon-to-be Microsoft-owned) Lumia line of smartphones. The quality Nokia was known for with those devices shines through in this device.

Windows RT has caught a lot of flak from tech industry observers, as it doesn't run legacy Windows apps. That means the 2520 has to rely on the Windows Store's collection of RT-compatible apps. Admittedly, that catalog is paltry compared to Apple's App Store and Google Play, but we've been playing with a 2520 unit for a couple of weeks now, and that really isn't too big a detractor. Many of the big apps you know are already there, and if you want to actually be productive with your tablet, Microsoft's (really-should-have-been-called-Metro) user interface is just about perfect.

That's also why we're going with the 2520 instead of any number of traditional PCs, iPads, or Android tablets. The device is a beast of a machine that has the option of a keyboard cover that boosts its battery life to around 15 hours. With the Modern UI, users can multitask to a degree that simply isn't possible on other mobile platforms. It's got slots for microSD cards, ports and additional connectivity options built into the keyboard cover, and a speedy processor inside. Add in the built-in 4G connectivity, and your on-the-go gift recipient will be able to connect and create from wherever they go.

The Phone: Motorola's Moto X

We're just about certain your on-the-go gift getter is the individualistic type. You should probably complement that unique streak with Motorola's Moto X smartphone. Introduced earlier this year, the Moto X is the beginning of Motorola's push to give customers personalized devices. If you go to the Moto Maker website, you can pick out the colors and spec for the device, and it will show up at the door a few days later, designed to your traveling gift-getter's tastes. It's just the sort of thing that lets one stick out from the crowd.

The Moto X features Motorola's standard solid design and build quality, but that's not all its got. Its also a relatively powerful phone, with a 1.7GHz processor, a 10-megapixel camera, and a 4.7-inch display. In addition, there's 4G LTE connectivity -- meaning it gets top data speeds on the go. As a bonus, Motorola built it so that Moto X units are compatible with both CDMA and GSM networks, meaning that your road warrior can switch between providers if they choose to (assuming the phone is unlocked, of course).

Another terrific on-the-go feature is the passive listening capability Motorola has built in. Just say "Okay, Google Now," and the Moto X is ready to accept vocal commands. It can search the web, send texts, and more, all without even touching the device. Plus, since Motorola is a Google-owned company, these handsets get Android updates just a few weeks behind the company's Nexus devices.

The Bag: WaterField's Muzetto Leather Laptop Bag

The right bag is an underrated but essential element of the on-the-go tech lover's life. Get the wrong one, and you'll know. We'd recommend going with WaterField's Staad Laptop BackPack. At this point, we feel like we shouldn't have to say much more: just look at the thing. Its got WaterField's classic and classy design and build quality. The slim version fits up to a 13-inch laptop, while the stout version holds up to a 15-inch laptop. Both have additional space, with cushioned interior pockets for laptop and tablet storage.

The Chargers: Duracell's Powermat line

One of the things about being on the go is that you're not always going to be near a power outlet. Oh, sure, there's the outlet in the hotel or hostel or living room of that friend who owed your traveler a solid from that one time in college. Out on the go, though, it can be slim pickings. That's why having a solid, sleek power solution on the go is essential for the itinerant tech lover. We'd suggest that you complement the line of tech gifts so far with a few Duracell Powermat supplies. These offer a convenient wireless charging capability, meaning that one needs only plug in the charging mat and place the devices onto it in order to begin charging.

We'd recommend that you go with the Powermat for Two Devices to start out. There's an option for three devices, but we've had the two-device unit sitting about for a while, and it's just sleek and portable enough that it won't encroach too much on that precious space in a bag or suitcase.

With the Powermat secured, you'll want to secure a Duracell Powermat case for that Moto X. Motorola's new handset has solid battery life, but you'll maybe want to boost that a bit with a charging case, pushing your traveler's battery durability even further. You then complete the package with the GoPower Longhaul backup battery. This beastly little brick packs an 8,800mAh Lithium ion battery inside. That's several times the capacity of your average smartphone, more than enough to charge a mobile device twice while on the go.

Even better, it's got two -- count 'em, two! -- USB ports, meaning you can charge multiple devices at the same time. We've used it for quite some time now, plugging in phones and activating their cellular tethering capabilities. The LongHaul was able to fully charge a phone that was tethering for hours, and it still had more than enough juice to fully charge a tablet or two thereafter.

The Tracker: Find'Em Tracking tags

Wrapping up the package, we've got the one device your traveler is most certain to love. They'll love all of it, of course -- because we're just that good -- but slipping a tracking card from Find'Em Tracking in with the rest of this tech haul may get them to stay an extra day or so before hitting the old dusty trail again. These are super-thin, credit card-sized tracking devices that pair with an iPhone or Android device. They can slip into a wallet, purse, or bag, and they alert users when they have walked away and left a device or possession behind.

Find'Em tags can be set to sound the alarm when they are a certain distance from the connected device. Users can then turn on Find'Em's hot-and-cold radar to point them in the direction of the lost possession. Or they can use Find'Em Tracking to see the last GPS location of their belongings. They can also activate a buzzer on the device in order to have an audio cue as to its location. Just the sort of thing to make sure the phone, bag, or whatever else isn't left in that terminal in Dulles. It's the sort of addition that one hopes one won't need too often, but is indispensable when one does need it.

And that wraps up this edition of the Gadget Gift Guide. With this lineup, your tech-loving traveler is more than set when they set out next from the household. Just enjoy the time you get with them, and the smile as they open each of these suggestions.

by MacNN Staff



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