updated 06:00 pm EST, Tue November 5, 2013
The right gifts to get Dad to acknowledge that it's Christmas
Most folks look forward to at least part of the holiday season as a sacred time for kicking back and relaxing, as one is meant to do on holidays. We've all got that one relative, though, that can't be satisfied with family and copious amounts of food: the Workaholic. Yes, that perplexing creature that pounds away at the Peterson report while everyone else is bickering over who gets to go first on the new PS4. Electronista knows your struggles in shopping for this strange beast, and we've put together a special installment of our Holiday Gadget Gift Guide aimed at outfitting your workaholic with the best tech gifts that will, well, probably just further their work addiction.
If they've managed to look up from the laptop at all, your workaholic is probably looking askance at you as you read this on your tablet. The notion of using such a frivolous, non-productive device is entirely foreign to your work-loving acquaintance, and they are firmly resistant to the tablet era of computing. Now, though, you've got an option to ease them away from the old standard computing model and into the post-PC touchscreen era: Microsoft's Surface Pro 2.
The Surface Pro 2 is part of the second generation of Microsoft-designed Windows hardware. Unlike its companion, the Surface 2, the Surface Pro 2 runs the full version of Windows 8.1, meaning your workaholic will be able to keep all those old enterprise applications they rely on so often for compiling reports and so forth. Most importantly, the Surface devices are the only ones out there that run native versions of Microsoft Office, so your workaholic can transpose, concatenate, and table pivot to their heart's content.
For those rare occasions when your workaholic doesn't need a notebook, the Surface Pro 2 functions pretty well as a tablet. The Windows Store isn't as well-stocked as competing app repositories from Apple or Google, but apps like Kindle are there, as are a number of other very popular games. It is a fine way to ease a person into the world of touchscreen computing, and perhaps even a serviceable Trojan horse to eventually pull them away from those 70-hour workweeks.
But let's be honest: we all know those workweeks aren't going to shorten, so it's probably best to make sure your workaholic is working smarter, not harder. With the computer part of our gift guide taken care of, it's time to devote some real thought to the smartphone, the computing device that's most likely to be at hand. Here, we think you can't go wrong giving out Samsung's Galaxy Note 3.
We've been enamored of Samsung's Note series for quite some time, and the newest entry in that line is the best one to date. Simply put, the thought that Samsung has put into its stylus-enabled line of superphones has produced the best productivity tools available in a phone form factor. They are quite a bit bigger, yes, but not so large that they cannot fit into a coat or pants pocket. The first time your workaholic gift recipient receives, views, annotates, and resends a PDF from their phone, they may well drop what they're doing to call and thank you. Okay, we both know that's not going to happen, as they'll definitely go on to the next report immediately, but it's a fun thought.
Right now, you might be wondering why we didn't follow up the Microsoft-made Surface with a complementary Windows Phone device. That's because the Note 3 really does beat out any of those competitors in terms of potential productivity. The S Pen stylus built into the device is something that no other competitor has matched to date. Further, with Microsoft already having rolled out Office 365, one can access, view, and edit Office documents from just about anywhere. There is already an Android app for the service, as well, which brings us to our next point.
You'll want to pick up an Office 365 Home Premium subscription. Office 365 is the productivity suite solution for what we'll call the "Office Lifer," the one for whom the "365" portion of the product name isn't just a suggestion, but a way of life. Signing up for Microsoft's cloud solution will give remote access to one's documents from Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac OS X devices, and subscribers with iOS and Android devices can access Office 365 through Microsoft's respective apps for those platforms.
Office 365 gets your workaholic access to their Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook documents while at home or away. While they're at it, they can also keep the family organized with shared calendars and task-list tools, or stay in touch with 60 minutes of Skype calls each month. They'll be able to use Office on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as five mobile devices.
With this lineup, you're virtually guaranteed to have pulled your workaholic away from those due diligence reports on Christmas morning, but let's try sealing the deal. You can add to the devices on the home desktop and clean up the papers on the desktop at the same time with Neat's NeatConnect cloud scanner. This sleek device doesn't even need to be plugged into a computer in order to store scanned content. It connects to your house's wireless network and, once it's been logged into a user's NeatCloud account, will simply scan material direct to NeatCloud, where it is automatically organized for later viewing. Neat's service also has automatic character recognition, meaning that documents will be searchable soon after they're uploaded.
The NeatConnect can do dual-sided scanning for full-size documents, receipts, and business cards. Setup for the device is a snap, with users able to get online and scanning within five minutes of turning the device on. Neat's service also has apps for Android and iOS, meaning that your on-the-go work fiend can simply take a picture of that lunch meeting receipt and have it ready and waiting in the cloud for forwarding and documentation using only the aforementioned Galaxy Note 3.
We'll round out this installment of the Gadget Gift Guide with a nod toward space. In an increasingly digitized era, everyone needs more of it than they think, so we'd suggest you top off your workaholic's gift bundle with the 840 EVO-Series drive from Samsung. This baby - available from 120GB up to 1TB - is meant as an internal solid state drive, but an optional USB 3.0 cable allows it to function as an external drive also. That means your workaholic can plug it into that Surface Pro 2 while on the go and have access to super speedy storage. We could go into detail on read, write, and transfer speeds, but all you really need to know are three letters: SSD. That's modern tech-speak for "fast enough for anything you're going to be doing."
And that about sums it up. With the notebook/tablet, superphone, cloud productivity suite, cloud scanner, and external storage all under the tree, you've ensured that your work-obsessed gift recipient will have no need to interact with friends and family once everything is set up. We'll be back with another gift guide in the near future telling you what to get for the college student dreading the end of winter break.