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Here’s a tech gift guide for the workaholic executive on your holiday list

December 14, 2018

Your favorite executive, entrepreneur or small business owner with a techie bent is expecting something sweet in the stocking or under the tree. Whether you’re an employee, loved one or family member, the time has come to show your gift-giving meddle.

Not to worry, Texas Inc. has you covered. Behold our first Executive Gift Guide, in which we dive deep into Santa’s gear bag to find geeky gifts to give at all price points.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

Sleep Cycle AB

For iOS and Android

Free, with premium options from $1.99 to $19.99

Let’s face it, you want your favorite executive - particularly if she or he is your boss - to get a good night’s sleep. Giving this app won’t break your budget, and if your recipient puts it to good use, you might find that person is in a much better mood.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock monitors and analyzes your sleep by listening to your activity after you drift off. You set your wakeup time, and the app starts sounding off within a 15-minute window, noting when you’re in a lighter phase of sleep.

Once you’re up, Sleep Cycle shows you how well you slept with a graph and other details, including notes you can add yourself. For example, you can add whether you had wine before you went to bed, then check historical results to see overall how that affects your sleep.

Don’t worry, the sound being monitored stays on your phone, though the data that’s generated by the app’s analysis can be stored in the cloud if you pay for the $19.99 annual online backup service. (The truly paranoid may prefer to switch to monitoring based on movement, in which you place the smartphone running the app next to you in bed.) But your recipient may be happy just to get the $1.99 premium version, which unlocks additional features.

Kung Fu Grip Case for iPhone XS, XS Max

Silk

For iPhone X, XS, XS Max

$11.99

Austin-based Silk’s cases are just about everything you’d want protection for your smartphone to be: protective yet not bulky, attractive but not flashy, and best of all, inexpensive. The Kung Fu Grip model (originally known as the Base Grip before the iPhone XS line came out) is a good price even at its $12 list, but you can usually find it selling for less at Amazon.com.

Made of a thin, flexible plastic, the Grip comes in blue, black, red and a floral print on blue. There’s a lip around the screen to protect the display, and a similar area on the back for the camera’s dual lenses. The plastic has a slightly rough texture so it’s less likely to slide out of your hands.

Unlike a lot of flexible plastic cases, the Grip won’t stretch out of shape and allow dust and grit to get inside, but it still slips on and off with relative ease. And because it’s thin, it will allow your iPhone to get juiced up on a wireless charger.

Would your favorite executive prefer a wallet case for carrying cash, credit cards or even business cards? Silk makes a version of this with a pouch on the back called the Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 for $14.99.

PowerWave Fast Wireless Charger Stand

Anker

For iPhone 8 and later; Samsung Galaxy S7 and later

$29.99

And speaking of wireless chargers, this one will look great on your favorite executive’s desk. Anker’s PowerWave is the latest iteration of this company’s wireless chargers, which work with any smartphone that is compatible with the Qi charging standard.

It’s a fast charger, working with power adapters that provide up to 10 watts of charging power. Unlike chargers that lay flat on a desk, this holds the phone upright so the screen can be viewed. It will also keep charging if the phone is in landscape orientation, so your favorite executive can catch a few episodes of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” while pretending to do actual work.

Black is not your recipient’s favorite color? There’s a white version, too.

A power adapter isn’t included, but Anker will be more than happy to sell you one, such as the PowerPort Elite 2, for just $10.99

PowerPort Solar Lite 2

Anker

For most smartphones and some tablets

$39.99

Does your executive spend lots of time in the field - literally? This lightweight, tough solar charger will work anywhere there’s sunlight, providing enough charge to power up modern smartphones and even some tablets.

The PowerPort Solar charger delivers up to 2.1 amps, which is enough to charge an iPad Air 2, so long as it is in direct sunlight. This charger does not include a built-in battery, so if the sky clouds up you’ll find charging may slow or even stop.

The solar panels are mounted on a flexible material designed to wrap around the outside of a backpack, making it easy to charge a phone even while on the move. And it’s small enough that it can be folded up and stashed inside that backpack if rain starts to fall because, yeah, it’s not waterproof.

Surface Headphones

Microsoft

For Bluetooth-enabled devices and those with a standard audio jack

$350

Microsoft has been on a hardware roll lately, and these headphones - which can be used with or without an audio cable - continue that tradition. The Surface Headphones look great, are very comfortable and reviews have praised its sound reproduction and noise cancellation.

If your favorite executive enjoys music, she can listen via Bluetooth and go wire-free. But an included audio cable with a standard headphone jack allows a direct connection if that’s preferred. Controls are touch-based, making it easy to make volume adjustments, advance to the next song or bump up the noise cancellation.

Speaking of which, the Surface Headphones have both passive and active noise cancellation, along with a microphone that allows you to make voice calls.

The deep padding on the over-the-hear cans provide all-day comfort. Unfortunately, it only comes in one color. Hope your executive likes gray.

Surface Go

Microsoft

$399-$679

If your favorite executive is a Windows user on the Go, they’ll appreciate the extreme portability of Microsoft’s new tablet/laptop hybrid. The Surface Go has a 10-inch screen and weighs just 1.15 lbs, so it fits easily in a briefcase or purse and you may not even know it’s there.

The Surface Go has a claimed battery life of up to nine hours, though that will depend on how you use it and which configuration you buy. It comes with a magnetically attached keyboard for use a laptop. When you remove it, the screen changes to a tablet-based configuration.

It also has the ability to be an always-on device. It will connect to LTE networks - just insert a SIM card from your preferred mobile provider and you’ll be online instantly. And, of course, there’s also Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Surface Go uses Windows 10 in S Mode, which limits you to acquiring or buying apps from Microsoft’s online app store. You can switch out of S Mode to run Windows 10 Home or Pro at no charge - but once you do, you can’t go back to S Mode. Choose wisely.

MacBook Air

Apple

$1,200-$1,400

Is your favorite executive an Apple person? If so, chances are he’s been waiting a while for an update to the venerable - read: long in the tooth - MacBook Air. Apple finally delivered in late October, giving one of its most popular Macs a facelift.

The new MacBook Air finally gets an improved display, upgrading to Retina status like the MacBook Pro line. Its processor is much faster, as are its graphics, and it’s even a little lighter.

The base model comes with 8 gigabytes of memory and 128 GB of storage. Pay $200 more and you get 256 GB of storage.

And as with the rest of Apple’s newest laptops, it now only has USB-C connections, which means if your recipient has favorite perpipherals to connect to it that use other types of plugs, you’ll need to throw an adapter or two into that stocking. Welcome to #donglelife.

dwight.silverman@chron.com

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