updated 06:36 pm EDT, Fri October 18, 2013
Finding the right tech gifts for your fit friends
It used to be that holiday shopping season started the day after Thanksgiving, and one encountered Yuletide music only for just under a month. Halcyon days, those, but days gone by. Now, one is best served getting the jump on Christmas shopping early, and Electronista, as always, has your back. In the first installment of our Holiday Gadget Gift Guide, we're taking a look at the best fitness-oriented tech presents to keep hidden in the crawl space, because everyone already knows to look under your summer clothes in the closet.
For the more fitness-oriented among us, the tech gift segment has become much more attractive over the past couple of years. There is seemingly no end of gadgets geared toward gym rats and yoga addicts, meaning they can track their activity levels more than ever.
We'll begin with what will likely become the center of your recipient's tech-fitness life, Apple's iPhone 5s. Not only are you giving the best smartphone on the market, the lucky recipient gets a device that tracks movement like no iPhone before it. That is all thanks to the M7 chip that Apple built into its new flagship handset. The M7 is a "motion co-processor," a low-power chip that continually receives data from the 5s' accelerometer and other sensors. It monitors a user's motion throughout the day, and it relays that data to any app that asks for it.
All that means that your fitness-loving gift recipient need not activate an app like RunKeeper or EndoMondo in order for those apps to keep data on their movements. They can step out for a pre-lunch run and the data will sync to a favorite app once said app is activated.
A 16GB iPhone retails for $199 with the activation of a two-year contract through Apple or through any number of carriers and retailers.
That new iPhone 5s will measure a user's activity levels while they're walking about with it in pocket, but the real monitoring fun begins when they take it out on a run. Whatever the workout, the 5s is slim and light enough to pack along, and that means you'll need to pack in a sport armband for your recipient. We'd recommend you go with Belkin's EaseFit Armband. Belkin is a well-established maker of iPhone-compatible accessories, and the EaseFit continues the company's tradition of quality. The EaseFit fits snugly around the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and the iPhone 5s, allowing access to the headphone ports while on the go. Its clear plastic screen also allows for easy access to the touchscreen while out on the run, and the whole accessory snugly fits around the arm, making sure that the 5s stays in place. The EaseFit Armband retails for just $16 at Amazon.
Next up, you'll need some snazzy tech to pair with the iPhone 5s. If you're buying for a real fitness geek, you're probably buying for someone that likes to keep an eye on their heart rate. In that case, you'll want to take a look at Mio's Alpha heart rate sensor. The Mio Alpha wraps around the wrist and uses a pair of green LEDs and an electro-optical cell to read changes in the color of your skin. It converts that data into a continuous readout of your heart rate, which can be streamed in realtime to a favorite running or workout app. It works with apps like EndoMondo, RunKeeper, Nike+, and a number of others, just through simple Bluetooth 4.0 pairing.
One doesn't even have to pair the Alpha with a smartphone. Simply taking it out on a run with the monitoring function activated will allow one to keep track of a heart rate throughout a workout. It also functions as a watch. Bonus.
The Mio Alpha is available from Amazon for $199. It comes in gray or gray with white accents.
Heading out for a run can get you back in touch with nature or the city under your feet, but if your fitness seeker is anything like us, they probably want to tune everything out. The headphones that come with the iPhone are terrific; truly, they are. But cords are so pass√É∆'√'¬©, aren't they? Instead, you should look into the Jabra Sport. The Jabra Sport is a set of Bluetooth headphones that will link with the iPhone and other devices, doing away with headphone cables and granting full motion without the need to worry about getting snagged or tangled in something. They work up to 30-feet away from a paired device, and their sleek design is shaped to stay out of the way during a workout. The Jabra Sport has A2DP, AM3D Power Bass audio enhancement and a wind-shielded microphone allowing users to take calls through the headset. It also has a built-in FM radio, and its internal battery gets between three and four and a half hours on a single charge. It also syncs up with the free Endomondo Sports Tracker app, allowing users to get an update on their workout progress just by pressing the Play/Pause button.
The Jabra Sport retails for $60 at Amazon. It comes in just one color option: yellow and black.
Our last gift suggestion isn't just for the fitness geek; it's a good idea for anybody that carts around a lot of tech. Inevitably, one will find oneself running low on power, and that's where something like Anker's Astro3 external battery comes in handy. The Astro3 packs a massive 12000mAh Lithium-ion battery and is compatible with iPhones, iPads, and just about any electronic device capable of charging via USB. It also has a shake-to-wake function, meaning you don't have to search about it for a power button to activate it and charge your gadgets.
The Astro3 sports a nifty circular LED charge indicator that grows and shrinks as the battery's power level rises and falls. Best of all, it has three USB ports, meaning you can charge multiple devices at the same time. That 12000mAh battery, along with those three USB ports, means that one will be able to charge an iPhone, a heart rate monitor, and the Bluetooth headset all at once, and each device will get a full top-off. Trust us, if you're traveling with your gadgets, this is a terrific device to have along, just in case you can't find a plug.
Anker's Astro3 battery pack is available for just $50 at Amazon. It comes with its own charging cable, but it does not come with cables for all of the devices you'll be charging. Fortunately, you'll already have those on you.
And that wraps up this installment of Electronista's Holiday Gift Guide. Your fitness-loving gadget addict should be more than satisfied with the offerings we've presented. We'l be back soon with another edition that will help you kit out the workaholic on your shopping list.