10 Mobile Gifts for the HolidaysWondering what to give that special small business owner in your life this holiday season? Or maybe you just want to treat yourself to a mobile gadget that could make your busy work life a bit easier. At $799, the iPad Pro might be a budget breaker, but don’t worry. You can find plenty of cool mobile tech gadgets that cost $150 or less. We collected 10 of our favorites and list them here in alphabetical order.
The Automatic App and AdapterDo you drive your car frequently for work? And then sometimes forgets where you parked? Hey, we're all busy—it happens.
Consider Automatic's Adapter that connects to a vehicle's diagnostic port (most cars built since 1996 have one). Automatic's Bluetooth device taps into your car's data on mileage, gasoline usage, performance, and engine health and then communicates that info to the Automatic Android or iOS app. Automatic also logs your trips and gives you an overall score for driving performance.
Using the Automatic app, you can easily tag any trip as 'business.' If you're not sure where you parked your car, the app shows you its last location on a map.
Automatic isn't the only product of its kind, but it's easy to use, the app is nicely designed, and the price ($100) is right.
Belkin Car Cup Mount for SmartphonesBelkin's Car Cup Mount for Smartphones ($29.23 on Amazon) is an ideal way to use your smartphone for GPS navigation while driving.
As the name suggests, the device fits into your car's cup holder. You can rotate the mount 360 degrees to position your iPhone or Android phone in landscape or portrait modes. The expandable base helps the mount fit more tightly in your cup holder, which minimizes the chance of it jumping around when you hit the inevitable pothole.
Plus, you can keep your phone charged by weaving its charging cable through an opening in the mount's base.
Note: Belkin and other companies also sell a car vent mount for smartphones, which lets you attach your phone to a car's air vent. However, we've found that these mounts don't fit all rental car air vents.
Fitbit Charge HRFitbit is our favorite dedicated activity tracker and, at $150, the Fitbit Charge HR hits the sweet spot of all Fitbit wearables. It provides more features, including an optical heart rate monitor, than Flex or Charge. But it's not as bulky or expensive as Fitbit Surge ($250), the company's super-duper sports watch.
Fitbit Charge HR automatically monitors your heart rate throughout the day and night; automatically tracks your sleep; displays caller ID info (when paired with your smartphone); and offers exercise tracking. Plus, it now comes in five colors. Downside: Charge HR needs recharging about every two days, in our experience.
While Fitbit Charge HR won't improve your work productivity per se, it will help keep you active. The Fitbit leaderboard, viewed in the Fitbit mobile app, is a huge motivator, too, because you can see how many steps friends and family members have taken so far this week (provided they opt-in to sharing that info, of course).
iBackPackThis "smart backpack" might test your patience because as of this writing, it won't ship until March. But from what we can see, this looks like it could be worth the wait.
The iBackPack, which raised 893 percent of its funding goal on Indiegogo, includes 4 USB ports, its own Wi-Fi network, big batteries for recharging devices, and GPS for tracking the backpack if its goes AWOL. For $149, you can buy the Power BackPack model now, which will reportedly cost $249 when it ships next spring.
Lexar JumpDrive M20i USB 3.0 Flash DriveRecently on a cross-country flight, a colleague asked us send her a particular photo as soon as possible. Fortunately, the plane had Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the photo was on our iPhone, not on the laptop, for which we'd purchased the onboard Wi-Fi. So we attached the Lexar JumpDrive M20i USB 3.0 Flash Drive's Lightening connector to the iPhone, and copied the image file onto the drive. Then we used the drive's USB connector to transfer the image file to the laptop.
This is just one example of how the ultra-compact, lightweight, versatile drive enables you to transfer files quickly between iOS devices, Macs and PCs. You can also use the Lexar drive to expand your iOS device's storage, playing music or video directly from the drive.
JumpDrive comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. B&H Foto & Electronics' website sells them for $37.37, $53.59, and $85.43, respectively.
LugLocFrequent travelers who check a suitcase may appreciate LugLoc, a $70 baggage-tracking device. LugLoc uses Bluetooth and GSM cellular networking to locate a bag and display it on a map within the LugLoc mobile app. Luggage "traces" are free and unlimited for the first 15 days after you activate the device. Afterwards, you buy traces in bulk starting at $7, which expire one year after the purchase date.
LugLoc eased our baggage separation anxiety on a recent flight to JFK from SFO. Upon arrival, the LugLoc app showed that our bag had made it onto the plane. Downside: You'll need to remember to recharge the device before each trip.
Prop 'n GoDo you like using a Kindle or a tablet to read or watch movies? Then Prop 'n Go should be on your list. The device stand does a good job of propping up e-readers or tablets for hands-free viewing. The top features an adjustable prop for your device and anti-slip surfacing to keep it in place, and the memory-foam bottom provides for comfort.
Available in multiple colors, Prop 'n Go sells for $37 on Amazon.
TileBluetooth-powered tracking devices can help you locate missing keys, wallets, purses, laptop bags, and other everyday objects. Use them to find objects nearby, or use crowdsourcing to help you locate missing items beyond Bluetooth's limited range. We like two types: Tile and TrackR Bravo (which we'll discuss in the next slide).
Inexpensive and easy to use, Tile offers two advantages over TrackR Bravo: a louder alert sound (which helps you locate a missing item nearby) and a larger user community. Pricing for Tiles starts at $25 for one, and the price decreases if you buy in bulk.
TrackR BravoTrackR Bravo beats out the Tile tracker in three areas. It's thinner, so you can comfortably slip it into most wallets; you can replace the battery yourself; and it ships with dual-sided adhesive for attaching to surfaces (such as underneath a bike seat).
A single TrackR Bravo costs $29 (and like Tile, costs less in bulk) and comes in four colors.
Zagg Pocket KeyboardZagg's Pocket Keyboard turns a plus-sized iPhone into a tiny laptop. It's super compact, measuring 9- by 2.5- by 0.5-inches, and it folds up for easy portability. Yes, the keys are on the small side— this isn't the keyboard for writing the Great American Novel. No, the keys aren't backlit, as are many of Zagg's other keyboards.
At $70, the keyboard is somewhat pricey side, but for quick and easy typing on the go, it's among the best Bluetooth keyboards we've used.
James A. Martin, an award-winning blogger who writes frequently about mobile technology, is the author of The Apple Watch Watch blog. Follow him on Twitter, @James_a_martin.
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Whether you're giving or receiving, mobile tools make a great holiday gift for busy small business owners. We found 10 cool and handy gifts for $150 or less.