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Holiday Hardware Gift Guide 2016 Part 1

Tis the season for frantic running from store to store or Google searching looking for all the right presents. Let me help you a bit with my Holiday Hardware Shopping guide. Here’s a quick look at some products that have come across my desk recently that may be just right for that “one” person on your list.

Whoosh! Wipes

Let’s start simple. Stocking stuffers. Everyone’s phone and tablet screen becomes a fingerprint wasteland at some point. Whoosh! Wipes are a quick and easy way to clean and polish your screens. They come in a box of 12 wipes with a polish cloth. Think of them as wet naps made safe for use on your screen.

For more information on Whoosh! Wipes see the official website.

Thinium Power Chargers

I was recently given the opportunity to use the THINIUM IPHONE CHARGER.

I took this charger on our recent trip to New York with moderate expectations, and 2 additional chargers.

The device is thin and light, making it easy to stow in a purse, pocket, or backpack for travel.

This battery pack is easily charged either by plugging it directly into a wall outlet, or by using a USB cable. It charges quickly once plugged in, and held the charge for quite some time.

It has a unique charging port that "stows" away on the device. I Simply released the port, plugged my phone into the device, and it quickly charged my iPhone.

The 2 small suction cups on the device added extra staying protection to my phone.

I was extremely pleased with the performance of the THINIUM, did not use either of the other 2 chargers I brought, and would recommend it to anyone, 5 out of 5 stars!

I think it worked out well for them. The Thinium ReCHARGER+ also has a USB port on top you can plug other devices into for charging.

Recently I upgraded my phone, but it has the new USB-C plug. Since the USB-C plug is very new many companies do yet not support it. As such I wasn't able to review the micro-USB version. Instead I asked co-reviewer, Nathan, to take it for a run. For him, the Thinium micro-USB wasn't as good.

It's thin. Really thin. I can drop it in my pocket like a phone and not even notice it. With my phone attached to it, I can drop it in my back pocket and forget about it. The way the adjustable micro USB base allows it to fit flush to the back of any phone with or without a case is super convenient.

After leaving it charging all night, it can charge my Galaxy S7E 40% before it runs out. That's like an extra 4ish hours of battery. Compared to the other battery chargers I've used that can fully charge the phone 3-5 times on a single charge, it's ridiculously low.

The 1.5a output is also pretty lame. It charges reeeeally slow. Since you can leave it on without too much inconvenience, it's not the worst, but...for any sort of charger to have less than a 2.1a output these days is confusing.

There's also the micro USB base. It's super wobbly. You have it hold it carefully so the phone doesn't tilt off to the side. The main concern there is that either the USB or the plug could get twisted/damaged. The suction cups are supposed to help, but only if the phone is not in a case.

Sounds like a tale of two worlds. We all agree the thin design is nice and we were all able to use the chargers with our cases on our devices. It might be a better gift choice for an Apple user than other devices.

For more information on Thinium Power Chargers see their official website.

Lamp Champ

Taken from the “why didn’t I think of that” files comes the Lamp Champ. So you have a room with no computer. No convenient outlets near your comfortable place but you have a table lamp next to your favorite chair. You are using your phone like the power user you are and suddenly the low battery alert pops up. Your charger is in another room, but you are comfy in your chair and you just happen to have the USB cable for your phone with you. Well if you have the Lamp Champ, problem solved.

OK, late night commercial spiel over, the Lamp Champ is a device I do wish I’d thought of first. It’s a USB power outlet that screws into any light socket and lets you use the lamp and charge/power a USB device at the same time. Yeah, you read that right. Don’t you wish you thought of it now too?

It screws into the light socket and then you can screw the bulb into the Lamp Champ, letting you use the lamp like normal. It has it's own on and off switch if you want to continue to have the power go to the USB port but turn off the light. The Lamp Champ is just one of those perfect ideas that will also make for a great gift or a stocking stuffer.

For more information on the Lamp Champ see their official website.

Yi Dome Camera

If you or someone you know are looking for an in-home monitoring camera then the Yi Dome Camera might be right up your alley. This dome camera is a quick and easy sets up that allows you to monitor a room from your phone via WiFi or cell service once paired. Because it has bidirectional rotation, from your phone, you can move the camera around to see every angle of the surroundings.

It captures video/photos at a nice 720p HD and has infrared night vision. You can set it up for stationary, motion capture, or have it look in a set pattern. It can record video to your phone, an onboard microSD card or save to the cloud. Lastly, it has the bonus of two-way communication.

This is a great device if you want to be able to monitor a child’s or elderly parent’s room. With the two-way communication, you can tell them dinner is ready, instead of the old fashioned way, hollering until you are horse. At the price point in the $50-$75 range, the Yi Dome Camera makes for a great family gift.

See the Yi Dome Camera website for more information.

Atari Flashback 7

Everyone is so gaga right now over the Nintendo Mini NES it’s easy to forget that there are other retro consoles out there. At Games has been scratching that retro game itch for a while now. They have the licenses for the Atari 2600 and the SEGA Genesis. I’m going to be taking a quick look at their Atari Flashback 7.

First off the Atari Flashback 7 boasts 101 games and wireless controllers, unlike the NES Mini, which has 30 games and wired controllers. The Flashback 7’s main unit is small, about half the size of the original 2600 it’s made to look like. Set up is easy enough. Plug the composite cable into your TV, the AC adapter into the wall, then into the unit itself, and lastly 4 AAA batteries, 2 for each controller, are put in. Done.

Power it up and you are greeted with a screen listing the games in alphabetical order. Find the game you want (Pong, Space Invaders, Centipede, or even Frogger), press fire on the joystick and away you go. The wireless controls work fine as long as you remember that they need line of sight to work. If you want an authentic feel, and not worry about maintaining line of sight with the controller, there are ports on the front that will let you use both the original Atari joysticks as well as the original paddles. The only other downside besides the line of sight needed is the lack of HDMI out. It's not a deal breaker, but it is one of the big selling points of the NES Mini. As cool as the pure retro look is, my curiosity would love to see an Atari Flashback console that has an original and HD switch. Purists might scoff, but I'm hopeful. So if you have a retro-game aficionado or you want to introduce your children to the games of your youth, at $40-$50, it’s worth giving.

For more information on the Atari Flashback 7 see their official website.

Here’s to a great start to your Holiday Hardware shopping. Look for more gift ideas in part 2!

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