iDB holiday gift guide: Chris’ picks

Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again and iDownloadBlog is right on cue with its traditional Holiday Gift Guide. Choosing the perfect Christmas gift can be stressful, whether you’re looking to surprise your best friend with a useful item that won’t break the bank, delight your gadget-toting family members with handy accessories, or give that special someone in your life a unique surprise.

Here’s a list of holiday gifts that, based on my personal experience, provide long lasting value without costing too much. Needless to say, it’s a highly subjective list and you may not agree with all of the recommended products. That’s beyond the point, however, as the article is meant to provide an inspiration as you research before buying things for yourself and the people in your life you care about.

urBeats headphones

ur Beats in-ear headphones image 001

With Beats headphones, audio accessories and services now part of Apple, it’s high time you upgraded your music listening experience. Apple’s own $29 EarPods with Remote and Mic are fine until you start complaining about audio and build quality. Enter urBeats, a $100 in-ear headphones marketed under the Beats by Dr. Dre brand.

Encased in precision-machined, single-billet metal housing that prevents vibrations and unwelcome sound from tainting your listening experience and with in-line mic for music control and incoming calls, these headphones deliver Beats’ signature bass, crisp highs and clear midrange and comes with multiple eartip designs to block out external noise.

The urBeats is available through Amazon at a reduced price of $90 (and now in gold).

Microsoft Band

Microsoft Band image 001

If your significant other is a fitness nut who has been in the market for a smartwatch but can’t really wait until the Apple Watch hits store shelves, you really can’t go wrong with the Microsoft Band. It works with iPhones, Android and Windows Phone, sports a comprehensive set of fitness and health functions to capture data about your daily physical activity and integrates with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice activated personal assistant for Windows Phone.

Its built-in screen shows alerts for incoming calls, text messages and voicemail notifications, calendar alerts, email previews, weather updates and more. Microsoft is throwing in a free $5 Starbucks gift card to pay for your drinks at Starbucks.

The $199 Microsoft Band is available exclusively via the Microsoft Store.

Withings Smart Body Analyzer

Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer

The perfect gift for both the active types who hit the gym on a regular basis and couch potatoes who obsess over their weight. Not only does the WS-50 smart scale by Withings measures your weight, but also body mass index, fat percentage, heart rate and air quality.

It’s easy to set up, can be used by up to eight different users and feeds data to the free Health Mate app that turns it into easy to read graphs while providing life coach functions. As a bonus, it syncs data with iOS 8’s Health database and integrates with over a hundred popular health and fitness apps such as RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and LoseIt!

Last but not least, it even supports IFTTT recipes to trigger an action when you weigh in, achieve a goal and more! Available in White and Blue, the WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer can be purchased for $145 over at Amazon.

Amazon Fire Stick

Amazon Fire TV Stick (image 004)

Those in the market for a pocket-sized yet powerful streaming media stick can choose between a variety of devices like Google’s $35 Chromecast dongle, Microsoft’s $60 Wireless Display Adapter and Amazon’s recently launched $39 Fire TV Stick.

And with four times the storage of Google’s Chromecast, a dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM, built-in dual-band, dual-antenna (MIMO) Wi-Fi and the included remote, Amazon’s device may be the best option around.

The Fire Stick lets you fling or mirror content from your phone or tablet to a big screen TV, stream video from many popular services including Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, including, of course, Amazon’s own Prime Instant Video service.

One last, not to be overlooked, bonus which completely seals the deal is its ability to run downloadable games. The downside? Content mirroring is currently limited to Android phones and tablets, with support for iOS devices coming soon.

The $39 device is available for order through Amazon’s webstore.

iTunes Gift Cards

iTunes Gift Card

Physical or digital iTunes Gift Cards can be purchased in any denomination between $15 and $100 and are of special interest to Apple users outside the United States. All you need to do to start enjoying the richest selection of apps and media on the U.S. iTunes Store is create a U.S. App Store account without a billing method and redeem the code provided by the card. You can then start spending iTunes credit on apps, games books, music, TV shows and movies.

AirPort Time Capsule

AirPort Time Capsule mid-2013 (image 004)

An extremely practical gift, Apple’s Time Capsule wireless appliance provides a zero-configuration automatic wireless backup for your Mac via OS X’s Time Machine software and its built-in 2TB or 3TB hard drive. Additionally, it acts a powerful base station with three times faster 802.11ac simultaneous dual‑band Wi-Fi networking supporting up to 50 network users. It has four Gigabit ports for fast wired connections and a built-in USB port for wireless printer sharing and an external hard drive.

Available in two storage flavors, the $280 2TB edition and the $360 3TB variant, the AirPort Time Machine is available over at Amazon at a discounted price.

Twelve South SurfacePad for iPhone 6/6 Plus

Twelve South SurfacePad for iPhone 6 (image 001)

Protect your pricey new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus without adding bulk or concealing the handset’s beautiful industrial design with this case from Apple-exclusive accessory maker Twelve South. The SurfacePad is made from soft napa leather on the outside with reinforced stitching around the perimeter for long-term durability and features soft microfiber lines on the inside to keep your device in pristine condition.

Twelve South SurfacePad for iPhone 6 (image 005)

You’ll also find two slots for plastic cards on the inside to tuck away your card-sized IDs and credit cards while carrying your iPhone 6 around. Last but not least, you can flex its back to put your iPhone into display mode for hands-free selfies, enjoying your media and apps and what not, without taking the sleeve off.

The $39.99 SurfacePad for iPhone 6 and the $49.99 for iPhone 6 Plus are available in Black, Red, White and a new Camel finish to fit your tastes and the iPhone 6’s Gold, White and Space Gray color ways. Purchase yours through Amazon.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV (Homescreen 002)

As the unbearable, never-ending wait for an Apple TV hardware refresh stretches into its third year, recommending the current incarnation of Apple’s $99 media streamer is becoming increasingly embarrassing to anyone but die-hard Apple fans.

Last updated in 2012, the Apple TV is long in the tooth nowadays. Even folks who don’t live in the Amazon ecosystem will find the $99 Fire TV set-top box hard to resist. It streams Netflix, supports 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, incorporates dual-band and dual-antenna Wi-Fi, includes a Bluetooth remote with built-in mic for voice input and of course is deeply integrated into Amazon’s vast ecosystem of digital content licensed from Hollywood majors and broadcasters via Amazon Prime Instant Video.

What more could you ask for? Apps? Games? No problem, the device doubles as an Android-driven games console so you can download games starting at 99 cents and use the Fire TV as a home console for casual gameplay.

You can pick up yours over at Amazon for $99.

TYLT Syncable-Duo micro-USB to Lightning cable adapter

Tylt Syncable-Duo splash

TYLT’s micro USB to Lightning adapter with Apple’s ‘Made for iPhone’ seal of approval helps solve the challenge of keeping enough USB and Lightning cords around to power all your devices. The aptly named Syncable-Duo combines a USB-to-micro-USB cable and a tethered 2-inch attachment piece incorporating a micro USB to Lightning adapter into a ruggedly coated and sturdy cable.

Available in three length options and in Black, Blue, Green and Red color options, the Syncable-Duo starts at just $22 via Amazon.

Tim Cook is My Homeboy T-shirt

Tim Cook is my Homeboy T-shirt image 001

Made from 100 percent cotton, this American Apparel branded short sleeve T-shirt with durable rib neckband is an amusing way to show your love and respect for Apple’s chief executive. Available in XS, S, M, L and XL sizes in Lapis, with other color options available at request, the shirt can be purchased for $24 a pop through StockMarketShirts.

If the Cook shirt is a little too tongue-in-cheek for your tastes (and are an investor/analyst or dream about becoming one), they’re also selling the Bear and Bull shirts as well as Carl Icahn and Bernie Madoff themed ones.

Here’s hoping my guide inspires you to choose the perfect holiday gift for that special someone. If not, you may want to check out Cody’s and Jim’s selection of holiday gift ideas.

Stay tuned as other members of the team will be publishing their own recommendations in the coming days. We’re open to your suggestions and ideas concerning holiday gifts so leave your feedback down in the comments or email us at