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Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Best Gifts for Technical Lovers

Enlarge / A power user who desperately hopes for a NAS this year can not help themselves and must tear…

 A power user who desperately hopes for NAS this year can not help themselves and must tear into this beautifully crafted present.

Enlarge / A power user who desperately hopes for a NAS this year can not help themselves and must tear into this beautifully wrapped gift.

Aurich / Thinkstock

After focusing on gifts for the road and gifts for the home, Ar’s third part of our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide goes another way. Because Ars is a place for people who do not mind digging deep into how technology works, the theme today is present ideas for power users – those who are more involved in modern technology and can not stand to use less than fully equipped gear .

Basically, these items seem tailor made for the people of your life who can already read a site like Ars Technica. The protocol here is the same as it was with our first two guides: we have looked back on a year of gadget testing and rounded up a smattering of things that we think would make your loved one happy. Fair Warning: Because this guide is aimed at people who require high usage and / or high performance, some of the following articles are a little expensive. But, as always, you get what you pay for.

Note! Ars Technica can earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B +

Enlarge / Raspberry Pi 3 Model B +.

Raspberry Pi Foundation

Oh, the things you can do with Raspberry Pi. All my favorite mini-computers are still an affordable gateway to a world of strange page projects and hacked-together DIY gadgets.

The latest iteration of the little Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B +, added a faster quad-core 64-bit, 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 processor, faster Ethernet support and more robust dual -band Wi-Fi along with the usual audio jack, Bluetooth 4.2 and HDMI port. The base card costs $ 35, but you want to make sure your loved one has a microSD card, power supply, heat sinks and an extra HDMI cable that is handy if they are a first Pi user. (You can get a package that contains all this if you do not already have such parts.)

After all, there are a billion things that your loved one could do with Pi. A retro game console – without game limits! -It’s a popular, but they can also build their own smart speaker, garage door opener, flying quadcopter or any other project with a good tutorial. Model B + itself is not strong enough to be a large media streamer or full-fledged computer, but it is technically capable of being such things as well. Regardless of the usage, as long as your loved one has enough patience to get to the initial learning curve, Pi tends to make fun to those who really love tech.

Mophie Powerstation AC

Enlarge / Mophies Powerstation AC Battery. The actual AC port is located at the top of the device.

A portable battery is forever useful for anyone on the road, but most packages are designed for smartphones and tablets more than laptops. If you buy for someone who is often on the go, a more robust battery like Mophie Powerstation AC is strong enough to keep their laptops charged when they can not reach a wall outlet.

Powerstation AC has an abundant 22,000 mAh juice and can output a little more than 100 watts of power via its built-in AC port. It is cross-border for thinner Ultrabooks and strong enough to add several hours of use to many bulkier 15-inch laptops. Whether it can completely load a larger laptop depends on the size of the laptop battery, but it should at least get between 70 and 80 percent of the way there, which is still strong compared to other batteries on this market.

There is a 30W USB-C Power Delivery port for quick charging of smartphones and other USB-C devices in addition to that, as well as a USB-A port for charging older devices at 12W. The USB-C PD makes it impossible to power the PowerStation network as long as it can, as with most giant portable batteries, it still takes two to three hours to get back to 100 percent. This Mophie is also designed well: a rubber cover protects the AC port from potential junk, making it easy to press a small power switch on the top of the device, and I personally think you have a weave covering the device. It comes with a two-year guarantee on the off-chance, something goes wrong, and Mophie is a well-known, relatively reliable name in a market filled with skim brands.

The AC switch is not without its shortcomings. While it is not so high compared to other AC packages, it still makes more noise than a traditional portable battery. Similarly, while many competing packages are bulkier, Powerstation AC is not exactly small: it’s 7.5 inches tall and weighs 1.7 pounds, so it’s supposed to be stashed in a backpack. Mophie could probably have added at least one USB port too. Mostly, this battery is unequivocally expensive for a capacity of 22,000 mAh. However, some of these problems are inevitable for an AC battery. For this particular application, Powerstation AC is a powerful and polished choice for frequent flyers or power requests.

Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Lite

Enlarge / A ceiling mounted UAP AC Lite.


On a broad level, the appearance of “network” Wi-Fi systems has been large in recent years. Consumer Networking Industry should make it easier to eliminate cover-dead spots around the house. But if your loved one is affected by the bad internet mark and does not mind running any more Ethernet cables around their location, they can solve that problem for much less money by investing in more traditional wireless access points like those in Ubiquiti UniFi AP line.

These small discs connect to your home network through a wired Ethernet port and radiate Wi-Fi to their surrounding area. This eliminates any issues that a network system may have transmitted a wireless signal from the access point to the access point. As a result, even the uniFi AP AC Lite, which costs $ 80 per unit, works better or at least in line with network-WI-Fi kits that are two to three times as expensive . 19659005] How well it works depends on the size and layout of your beloved space, but they do not necessarily need to go full Lee Hutchinson with its attitude: an AC Lite should suffice to cover a typical apartment, while one or two should be good enough for most houses. As long as your gift recipient is OK with a few more cables and runs Ubiquit’s software manager on a computer to install the device (it’s not as complicated as it sounds), this should help provide smooth and reliable Wi-Fi in stains that were a once a source of frustration. It is said that we make the Netgears Orbi (RBK50) network kit for those willing to pay for a simpler and more wireless installation – Orbis raw throughput is still incredibly impressive for that class of device.

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