Pocketables Holiday gift guide

One thing 2020 hasn’t taken from us is the exchange of gifts during the holiday season. As always this year we’ve assembled a guide of some of the best things we’ve had the pleasure to review this year, all of which would make excellent gift for the appropriate parties. In addition we have a video that is connected with these, a new feature for those who would prefer to watch and listen as opposed to read through, although some prices and links may have been updated between shooting the video and the writing of this article.

Always a good option for the holidays is storage. Personally i’ve been looking at the T183 and T193 flash drives as gifts this year since they offer reasonable although not the fastest speeds alongside unique features such at bottle openers and protractors. You can see their video reviews here for the T183 and here for the T193. The T183 is also available in a 3 pack of 64gb units for an excellent deal if you plan to use them as gifts.

The next thing that I’m looking at this year is document cameras. I’ve gotten a ton of use out of the Okiocam T as a tool interacting with my colleagues and they present an excellent prospect for students and teachers. The ability for a teacher to have an overhead projector that can be sent over various chat services is a must in 2020 there’s also the smaller Okiocam S although with a 20 dollar difference between the two I have a hard time recommending it for all but the most budget constrained.

Available in both letter and notepad sizes the BoogieBoard Blackboard devices are an excellent gift standalone or when combined with a document camera. Designed for temporary lists such as shopping or to do lists these pieces of digital paper can be erased with a single click as well as scanned in via an app if the information on them needs saved. The idea of using them with a document camera as a digital blackboard is a powerful concept as well.

Smart home devices are always a popular item for either discount upgrades or holiday gifts this time of year. For the devices themselves the three companies I’m looking at this year are Yeelight, Sengled and Tp-link. Yeelight tends to make expensive but flexible smart products that offer excellent features such as good color reproduction and open web interfaces. This makes them popular for various projects but at 30 dollars per bulb they were a bit on the expensive side for doing my entire house.

Sengled however tends to be a more economical choice for smart home lighting offering massive starter kits that include the required zigbee hub and up to 8 bulbs. These lights although not temperature or color controllable(although they do offer those) are dimmable and have a nifty feature of showing their kwh usage(as well as savings compared to traditional bulbs) inside the sengled app.

Finally there’s tp-link’s kasa lineup of products. These are fantastic little devices scaling from single plugs to strips with 6 plugs and switchable usb ports. I use these regularly at home and work to control non smart devices(displays, remote pc restarts, dehumidifiers) and love the included scheduling as well as voice control integration with google home and alexa.

Storage is always something I have an eye out for deals on and the holidays are no different. I’m keeping a close eye on some of the top ssd’s I’ve seen this year which include micron’s MX500 Sata drive and the surprisingly high value Mushkin helix-l. Although the helix isn’t the fastest nvme drive it offers uncompromising price to performance often beating out sata drives for value.

Displays are another item i’m considering for the 2020 holiday season. I’ve seen myself gravitating towards portable units like the Viotek P16C to prevent crowding around my laptop when I need to show things to clients. I’ve also had my eye on the larger 27″ 144hz ips panels offering excellent gaming performance while not comprising on display quality.

Tools are always a popular choice for gifts be it fathers day or Christmas. Most(although not all) of the General Toolsmart lineup managed to impress us and if appropriate for the recipient would be welcome gifts. Although the wifi flashlight is one to avoid everything else from the moisture meter to distance measuring tool and everything in between seems to work as advertised during our testing so far.

Multi meters are a subject of their own and we have to to recommend for the holidays in 2020. The pokitmeter is a small puck shaped meter that offers Bluetooth connectivity, your expected range of standard measurements and an oscilloscope and is fantastic to keep in a bag, although it’s sadly limited to 60v at the max it is perfect for hobby projects. The general tools TS04 on the other hand is a more traditional entry level meter offering Bluetooth connectivity for recording information just like the rest of the toolsmart lineup.

We’ve unboxed, and torn down a lot of mikrotik gear, and still have more to come. If you’re the kind of person, or know the kind of person who is excited about that kind of stuff mikrotik has some excellent devices for gifts. The mAP lite and mAP micro offer the full Router OS experience and a level 4 licenses for all the tinkering you could imagine(well only 200 vpn tunnels but you’ll run out of cpu/ram first on these tiny devices)

The last(but not least) item on our 2020 holiday list is connected instruments. Specifically the Jamstick line from zivix. We’ve reviewed some of the earlier models(and have a Jamstick 7 in the studio) these are excellent tools for teachers and students alike allowing a wide range of use cases from simply listening to the device via headphones all the way to being a production tool when used as a midi input. Offering various battery options these can be used on the go as well.

Closing Thoughts

I hope something on our list helped you find what you’re looking for as a gift for that special someone. If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to ask, especially on some of the more open ended(there are far more than 2 ssd’s or cheap mikrotik devices) ideas.

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Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is a full time IT administrator at a medium sized private business former FRC coach and technology enthusiast.