2013 ILMK Holiday Gift Guide
As we enter into the biggest shopping period of the year, there are a lot of choices to make.
You want to get people gifts that make them happy…and make you happy, too.
That means something that is a good value, both in what they get out of it and what you have to put into it to get it.
I’m always leery when people ask what the “best” something is. People and use cases are different: what would be best for one person might not be best for another.
You might be the only person on your Amazon account…or you might share it with a hundred people.
You might just read on one device…or you might switch between your EBR (E-Book Reader), phone, and tablet.
You might live in a place where you have wi-fi everywhere you go…or where the only hope of connecting is 3G/4G.
You might be interested in watching movies on your high-tech gadget…or just want to settle in with a good book.
That said, I’m going to make some suggestions for things which I think would be good. If you think otherwise, or have more questions, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
There are two distinct lines of hardware called “Kindles” (you can see my comparison of all of the models here).
One of them is the Fire line. Those are multifunctional tablets. Yes, you can read on them (I do that daily), but they are really well suited to multimedia, like watching videos and playing games.
The other line is the one with dedicated reading devices. They are great for reading books: you can read easily inside or outside, and battery charge life is measured in weeks, not hours.
Many people own both.
If you want to get something for a reader, I recommend the Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light (Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). The Paperwhite line is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had…including paper. It has frontlighting, which means that the light shines at the screen, not in your eyes. It can do some fancy things, but it doesn’t need to do them. It’s currently $119 with Special Offers (those are ads which reduce the price of purchase), or $139 if you aren’t willing to let advertisers subsidize the purchase. It also comes in a model that does both wi-fi and 3G (at AmazonSmile)…for $70 more. Having 3G available can make the device a bit easier to use, because you don’t have to know your wi-fi network password at home…you don’t even need to have wi-fi at home. Where I live, there is plenty of wi-fi available outside of my house (Starbucks, Whole Foods, and so on), and I have no problem entering a wi-fi password.
Alternatives: the less expensive ($69) “Mindle” (at AmazonSmile), which doesn’t have a touchscreen or a light, and the Kindle DX (at AmazonSmile) ($239), which has a much larger screen, but a lot older technology. Other older models may also be available, especially refurbished or on the secondary market.
In terms of the tablets, I went with personally and would recommend the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile). It’s the latest generation, and has the incredible Mayday feature. You tap a button on the screen, accept the connection, and get live tech help on your screen…24 hours a day…typically within fifteen seconds…who can take over your device (only if you want) and fix things for you…for free! It’s probably the greatest innovation in Customer Service in decades. You can give a Kindle Fire HDX to a non-techie relative, and as long as you get it on the network for them, you won’t have to be tech support. This one is not going to sit in a drawer because somebody can’t figure it out. You can finally actually get e-mails from all your relatives, regardless of their tech ability…that’s a good thing, right? It’s $229 in its least expensive configuration. Why would you spend more? To get more memory (if somebody is going to store several videos on it at the same time, that’s important), and to get 4G (so you can connect more easily in more places…but that will require a monthly payment for a data plan). There’s also a larger model with a back-facing camera (so you can take pictures with it more easily).
Alternatives: Kindle Fire HD 7″ (at AmazonSmile) ($139)…no camera and no Mayday.
What do you get to go with a Kindle? Maybe somebody already has one, or you want to get a gift to go along with one you or somebody else is giving.
The one that I would consider to be important to have is a cover, and there are many options for that.
New this year (directly from Amazon) are customizable covers (both for Fires and non-Fires: www.amazon.com/kindlecreateyourown (at AmazonSmile). You can upload your own image to be printed on the cover, which makes a really unique gift. Even if someone already has a cover, this is a great way to go.
Alternatives: there are many cover choices (and skins and sleeves), but we like a relatively inexpensive brand called Fintie. They have fun colors and patterns, and come for both Fires and non-Fires.
Going from the aesthetic to the practical, power supplies make good gifts. Sure, Kindles come with some way to charge them, but in some cases, it’s just by USB (which is much slower than by wall. The other thing is that I use more than one: I keep one with me at work, and I have more than one at home.
This is less of an issue for non-Fires, because they stay charged for so long. For Fires, though, your gift recipient may be doing some power intensive things (like playing games or watching movies)…and may want to use it plugged into the wall.
I recently got this one: Pwr+® Extra Long 6.5 Ft Cord 2A Rapid Charger Ac Adapter Micro-usb Power Supply Cord (at AmazonSmile). It’s a good home cord. It seems to charge my Fire quite quickly, and I like having the longer cord (you can even use your Fire as a nightstand clock…it has a mode for that). The prongs don’t collapse, though, so I don’t like it as well for travel.
Do you have someone who is a world traveler on your list? Fortunately, all Kindles are “universal voltage”, which means that you don’t have to have a power converter. However, you do have to have an adapter, so it can fit in the wall outlets (which are different in different places), unless you plan to charge just by USB. Amazon has the Kindle PowerFast International Charging Kit (for accelerated charging in over 200 countries) (at AmazonSmile). This is a power supply with twist-on adapters.
Are you thinking about headphones? Not all Kindles have sound (the Paperwhites don’t), and only some of the Fires have Bluetooth (all of the current generation Fires do, the HDXs and the new HD). The ones that can do headphones have a 3.5mm jack, which is pretty much the standard for mobile devices (if it says it will work for an iPod/iPad, it will work for these Kindles).
Here is something a little out of the box. For people who have the HDX, they can use it to “mirror” their screens to a TV (some other devices do this, too…my Galaxy S4 phone does). That means you can display what is on your Fire HDX on your TV. However, many TVs do not have the necessary Miracast wireless capability. If it’s a modern TV, it is likely to have an HDMI port. I bought the Netgear Push2TV which is about $50. Before you buy that, read my post on it: A Miracast adapter that works with the Kindle Fire HDX. It isn’t perfect, and I did have to update it (which wasn’t super easy), but I do use it every day now.
For accessories, there are also styluses, stands, screen protectors (I don’t use the last one)…a lot of possibilities.
Brand new this year is the ability to gift Amazon Prime to people. For $79 a year, they get free two-day shipping on many items at Amazon. It amazes me how much we use that! For Kindle owners, though, there are other advantages. You can borrow up to a book a month (from a list of over 100,000 titles…many of them are from small publishers, but there are some well-known books as well) at no additional cost. You can also get a pre-publication book for free…this is new, and the first month we had four choices. For people with Fires, or with other ways to watch Amazon Instant Video, you also get access to tens of thousands of videos at no extra cost. These include TV shows like Under the Dome and Downton Abbey, and many movies, including popular, fairly recent movies like Skyfall and Thor.
Amazon Prime (One Year Membership)
You can gift most e-books in the Kindle store. You can’t do it if they are free, and there are geographic restrictions. To gift a book, go to it on Amazon…you’ll see a “Give as a Gift” button under the Buy button. You even specify a future date for it to be delivered, and include a message. So, if you see one go on sale (quite likely), you can buy it at the low price and have it delivered on the gift-giving occasion. I mention sale books quite often in this blog.
Unfortunately, you can’t gift all kinds of content (in particular, instant videos and apps come to mind). It’s also hard to know exactly what somebody wants. No problem: you can give Amazon Gift Cards (at AmazonSmile). You have lots of options: electronic, gift box, animation featuring you (from Jib Jab), your own photographs…you can also make a suggestion with the card, but the person doesn’t have to use it for that. For example, you could suggest somebody get a sweater, and they could pick the right size and color (or get something entirely different). You can set the amount as low as fifteen cents (!) and as high as $2,000. These are so much more flexible and fun than they used to be, and every Kindle owner will make use of it! Note: even though some gift cards have designs that have to do with a Kindle or even specifically a Kindle Fire, all Amazon gift cards can be used for any eligible item. Some items can not be bought with gift cards, like periodical subscriptions (they have to have something they can bill each month).
Amazon Wish Lists
One other thing (added to the post). Many people have Amazon Wish Lists. This can be the best way to see what people really want…even if you don’t get something directly from the list (and you can’t always…see Gift Cards above), you could see the types of items they like.
They can send you a link, or the list may be searchable. You can search for lists here:
Amazon Wish Lists
Those are some suggestions: hope you and yours have great times together…that’s the best gift of all.
* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! :)
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.