The Ars Holiday Gift Guide 2018—good tech for a energy user in your life

A energy user, desperately anticipating for a NAS this year, can't assistance themselves and contingency slice into this beautifully wrapped gift.

After focusing on gifts for a road and gifts for a home, Ars’ third installment in a 2018 Holiday Gift Guide goes a opposite route. Since Ars is a site for people who don’t mind digging low into how tech works, a thesis currently is present ideas for “power users”—those who are some-more concerned with difficult tech and can’t mount to use reduction than entirely featured gear.

Basically, these equipment seem tailor-made for a people in your life who competence already review a site like Ars Technica. The custom here is a same as it was with a initial dual guides: we’ve looked behind on a year of tool contrast and dull adult a smattering of equipment we consider would make your desired one happy. Fair warning: since this sold lamp is directed during people who direct high application and/or high performance, some of a equipment next are a small pricey. But, as always, we get what we compensate for.

Note: Ars Technica competence acquire remuneration for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

Oh, a things we can do with a Raspberry Pi. Everyone’s favorite mini mechanism is still an affordable gateway to a universe of uncanny side projects and hacked-together DIY gadgets.

The latest iteration of a small Linux PC, a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, combined a speedier quad-core, 64-bit, 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 processor, faster Ethernet support, and some-more clever dual-band Wi-Fi alongside a common audio jack, Bluetooth 4.2, and HDMI port. The bottom motherboard costs $35, yet you’ll wish to safeguard your desired one has a microSD card, energy supply, feverishness sinks, and a gangling HDMI wire accessible if they’re a first-time Pi user. (You can get a bundle that includes all of that if we don’t have such tools already.)

Once that’s all set, there are a billion opposite things your desired one could make with a Pi. A retro diversion consolewith no diversion limits!—is a renouned one, though they could also build their own intelligent speaker, garage doorway opener, flying quadcopter, or any other plan with a good tutorial. The Model B+ itself isn’t strong adequate to be a great media pennon or bone-fide PC, though it’s technically able of being those things, too. Whatever a use case, as prolonged as your desired one has adequate calm to get by a initial training curve, a Pi tends to move fun to those who honestly adore tech.

Mophie Powerstation AC

Mophie's Powerstation AC battery. The tangible AC pier is on a tip of a device.

A unstable battery is evermore useful for someone who lives on a road, though many packs are designed for smartphones and tablets some-more so than bigger laptops. If you’re shopping for someone who frequently works on a go, a some-more clever battery like a Mophie Powerstation AC is clever adequate to keep their cover charged when they can’t strech a wall outlet.

The Powerstation AC carries an plenty 22,000mAh of extract and can put out a small some-more than 100 watts of energy by a built-in AC port. That’s equivocal profusion for thinner Ultrabooks and clever adequate to supplement several hours of use to many bulkier 15-inch laptops. Whether or not it can completely recharge a incomparable laptop will count on a distance of that notebook’s battery, though it should during slightest get between 70-80 percent of a approach there, that is still clever relations to other batteries in this market.

There’s a 30W USB-C Power Delivery pier for fast recharging smartphones and other USB-C inclination on tip of that, as good as a USB-A pier for recharging comparison inclination during 12W. The USB-C PD creates it so that refilling a Powerstation AC itself doesn’t take as prolonged as it could, either—though, as with many hulk unstable batteries, it will still take dual to 3 hours to get behind to 100 percent. This Mophie is designed well, too: a rubber strap protects a AC pier from intensity debris; activating a AC energy is as elementary as dire a small energy symbol on a tip of a device; and we privately suffer a fabric cloaking covering a device. It comes with a two-year guaranty on a off possibility something goes wrong, and Mophie is a well-known, comparatively infallible name in a marketplace filled with untrustworthy brands.

The Powerstation AC isn’t though a flaws. While it isn’t all that shrill compared to other AC packs, it still creates some-more sound than a normal unstable battery. Likewise, while many competing packs are bulkier, a Powerstation AC isn’t accurately small: it’s 7.5 inches high and weighs 1.7 pounds, so it’s meant to be stashed in a backpack. Mophie substantially could have combined during slightest one some-more USB port, too. Most notably, this battery is certainly pricey for a 22,000mAh capacity. But some of these issues are unavoidable for an AC battery. For this sold use case, a Powerstation AC is a absolute and discriminating choice for visit flyers or energy emergencies.

Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Lite

A ceiling-mounted UAP AC Lite.

On a extended level, a arise of “mesh” Wi-Fi systems over a final few years is great. The consumer networking attention should make it easier to discharge coverage passed spots around a house. But if your desired one suffers from that code of bad Internet and doesn’t mind using a few some-more Ethernet cables around their place, they can solve that problem for many reduction income by investing in some-more normal wireless entrance points like those in Ubiquiti’s UniFi AP line.

These small discs bond to your home network by a connected Ethernet pier and lamp out Wi-Fi to their surrounding area. This eliminates any issues a filigree complement competence have transferring a wireless vigilance from entrance indicate to entrance point. As a result, even a entry-level UniFi AP AC Lite, that costs $80 per unit, customarily performs improved or at least on standard with filigree WI-Fi kits that are dual to 3 times as expensive.

How good it performs will count on a distance and blueprint of your desired one’s place, though they don’t indispensably have to go full Lee Hutchinson with their setup: one AC Lite should be adequate to cover a standard apartment, while one or dual should be good adequate for many houses. So prolonged as your present target is OK with a few some-more cables and using Ubiquiti’s program controller on a mechanism to set adult a device (it’s not as difficult as it sounds), this should assistance yield smooth, arguable Wi-Fi in spots that were once a source of frustration. That said, we do like Netgear’s Orbi (RBK50) filigree kit for those who are peaceful to compensate adult for a simpler, some-more wireless setup—Orbi’s raw throughput is still impossibly considerable for that category of device.