Enlarge / An influence person, desperately hoping for a NAS this yr, can not help themselves and should rip into this superbly wrapped reward.

Aurich / Thinkstock

After specializing in items for the highway and items for the house, Ars’ third installment in our 2018 Vacation Reward Information goes a unique route. Since Ars is a website for individuals who don’t thoughts digging deep into how tech works, the theme as we speak is reward concepts for “energy customers”—those that are extra concerned with fashionable tech and may’t stand to make use of lower than absolutely featured gear.

Principally, these things appear tailored for the individuals in your life who could already learn a website like Ars Technica. The protocol right here is identical because it was with our first two guides: we’ve seemed again on a yr of gadget testing and rounded up a smattering of things we predict would make the one you love glad. Honest warning: as a result of this explicit information is aimed toward individuals who demand excessive utility and/or excessive efficiency, among the gadgets under are somewhat expensive. However, as at all times, you get what you pay for.

Observe: Ars Technica could earn compensation for gross sales from hyperlinks on this publish by means of affiliate applications.

Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

Enlarge / Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+.

Raspberry Pi Basis

Oh, the issues you are able to do with the Raspberry Pi. Everybody’s favourite mini laptop continues to be an inexpensive gateway to a world of bizarre aspect tasks and hacked-together DIY devices.

The most recent iteration of the tiny PC, the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+, added a speedier quad-core, 64-bit, 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 processor, quicker Ethernet help, and extra sturdy dual-band Wi-Fi alongside the standard audio jack, Bluetooth four.2, and HDMI port. The bottom motherboard prices $35, although you’ll wish to guarantee the one you love has a microSD card, energy provide, warmth sinks, and a spare HDMI cable helpful in the event that they’re a first-time Pi person. (You may get a bundle that features all of that in the event you don’t have such components already.)

As soon as that’s all set, there are a billion various things the one you love may make with the Pi. A retro recreation console—with no recreation limits!—is a well-liked one, however they might additionally construct their very own sensible speaker, storage door opener, flying quadcopter, or every other undertaking with a superb tutorial. The Mannequin B+ itself isn’t sturdy sufficient to be an incredible media streamer or full-fledged PC, nevertheless it’s technically able to being these issues, too. Regardless of the use case, so long as the one you love has sufficient persistence to get by the preliminary studying curve, the Pi tends to deliver enjoyable to those that genuinely love tech.

Mophie Powerstation AC

Enlarge / Mophie’s Powerstation AC battery. The precise AC port is on the highest of the system.

A conveyable battery is eternally helpful for somebody who lives on the highway, however most packs are designed for smartphones and tablets extra so than greater laptops. In the event you’re shopping for for somebody who ceaselessly works on the go, a extra sturdy battery just like the Mophie Powerstation AC is powerful sufficient to maintain their pocket book charged after they can’t attain a wall outlet.

The Powerstation AC carries an ample 22,000mAh of juice and may put out somewhat greater than 100 watts of energy by means of its built-in AC port. That’s borderline overkill for thinner Ultrabooks and powerful sufficient so as to add a number of hours of use to many bulkier 15-inch laptops. Whether or not or not it may fully recharge a bigger laptop computer will rely on the scale of that pocket book’s battery, nevertheless it ought to a minimum of get between 70-80 % of the best way there, which continues to be sturdy relative to different batteries on this market.

There’s a 30W USB-C Energy Supply port for shortly recharging smartphones and different USB-C units on high of that, in addition to a USB-A port for recharging older units at 12W. The USB-C PD makes it in order that refilling the Powerstation AC itself doesn’t take so long as it may, both—although, as with most large moveable batteries, it should nonetheless take two to 3 hours to get again to 100 %. This Mophie is designed effectively, too: a rubber flap protects the AC port from potential particles; activating the AC energy is so simple as urgent somewhat energy button on the highest of the system; and I personally benefit from the material coating masking the system. It comes with a two-year guarantee on the off probability one thing goes mistaken, and Mophie is a widely known, comparatively reliable identify in a market full of shady manufacturers.

The Powerstation AC isn’t with out its flaws. Whereas it isn’t all that loud in comparison with different AC packs, it nonetheless makes extra noise than a standard moveable battery. Likewise, whereas many competing packs are bulkier, the Powerstation AC isn’t precisely small: it’s 7.5 inches tall and weighs 1.7 kilos, so it’s meant to be stashed in a backpack. Mophie in all probability may have added a minimum of yet one more USB port, too. Most notably, this battery is undeniably expensive for a 22,000mAh capability. However a few of these points are inevitable for an AC battery. For this explicit use case, the Powerstation AC is a strong and polished selection for frequent flyers or energy emergencies.

Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Lite

Enlarge / A ceiling-mounted UAP AC Lite.

Ubiquiti

On a broad stage, the rise of “mesh” Wi-Fi methods over the previous couple of years is nice. The patron networking business ought to make it simpler to get rid of protection lifeless spots round the home. But when the one you love suffers from that model of unhealthy Web and doesn’t thoughts working just a few extra Ethernet cables round their place, they will remedy that downside for a lot much less cash by investing in additional conventional wi-fi entry factors like these in Ubiquiti’s UniFi AP line.

These little discs connect with your house community by means of a wired Ethernet port and beam out Wi-Fi to their surrounding space. This eliminates any points a mesh system may need transferring a wi-fi sign from entry level to entry level. Consequently, even the entry-level UniFi AP AC Lite, which prices $80 per unit, often performs higher or a minimum of on par with mesh WI-Fi kits which can be two to 3 instances as costly.

How effectively it performs will rely on the scale and structure of the one you love’s place, however they don’t essentially must go full Lee Hutchinson with their setup: one AC Lite ought to be sufficient to cowl a typical condominium, whereas one or two ought to be adequate for many homes. As long as your reward recipient is OK with just a few extra cables and working Ubiquiti’s software program controller on a pc to arrange the system (it isn’t as difficult because it sounds), this could assist present clean, dependable Wi-Fi in spots that had been as soon as a supply of frustration. That stated, we do like Netgear’s Orbi (RBK50) mesh package for many who are keen to pay up for an easier, extra wi-fi setup—Orbi’s uncooked throughput continues to be extremely spectacular for that class of system.

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