The Tools and Toys 2013 Christmas Catalog
The 2013 Tools & Toys Christmas gift guide. For the Gadget Geek, the Coffee Drinker, the Music Listener, the Apple aficionado, the Hard Worker, or just The Guy Who’s Hard To Shop For. As always, only the finest gifts suggested.
The New Kindle Paperwhite
Every year a new Kindle comes out, and this year the new Kindle Paperwhite is the best Kindle ever. If there’s not already a Kindle (or two or three) in your house, this is a gift that can’t go wrong. You can buy books from Amazon’s vast eBook library, and have them downloaded and ready to read within a matter of seconds. ($119)
Leather Cover for Kindle: The Kindle Paperwhite is pretty sturdy on its own, but if you’d like a custom-fitting leather cover then this is the one to get. ($40)
Cameras & Photography
Most of us are running around with an amazing camera already built in to our iPhone. But for those wanting to dive deeper into the hobby of photography using a camera superior to the one in your pocket, you’re in luck. There are a slew of very affordable and incredibly high-quality cameras on the market. The mirrorless camera system has radically pushed the needle forward when it comes to the quality and affordability of compact cameras.
DSPTCH Wrist Strap: The wrist straps that come with the Olympus cameras are pathetic. Get a strap from DSPTCH. They are high quality, very adjustable, and competitively priced. ($32)
The Olympus E-PL5: This is the best-kept secret of micro-four-thirds (M43) cameras. The E-PL5 is compact, has an excellent build quality, works with any of the vast array of wonderful M43 lenses, and and is very friendly to the new-but-anxious-to-learn photographer. This is an ideal camera for those who are new to photography but serious about it. ($600)
Olloclip for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4/4s: If you’re getting into iPhone photography, the Olloclip is an awesome little lens attachment that slides on to the corner of your iPhone. I have one and have taken some really cool shots with it. ($64)
SD Cards: With a new camera you’ll need a few SD cards. These are the best ones to get, and they’re cheapest at Amazon. ($19)
Olympus E-P5: If you can afford to spend the extra money, I’d get the E-P5 rather than the E-PL5. It has more manual dials (without discarding the automatic settings for beginners), it’s faster, and even looks better. ($1,400)
DSPTCH Shoulder Sling: Like the DSPTCH wrist straps, these shoulder slings are a far better alternative than certain factory-issued models. Do your photographer friends a favor and get them one of these instead. ($44)
So much new and awesome Apple stuff
iPad Case: These iPad cases are some of the nicest we’ve ever seen. They’re a great balance between offering functionality and features that are more robust than a simple iPad sleeve, but they’re not full-on bags. ($45-$55)
The new iPad Air: The new iPad Air is thinner, lighter, and faster than ever before. Finally, a full-sized Retina iPad that you can comfortably hold one-handed. ($499-$929)
Apple TV: The Apple TV seems like it should be a staple in any Apple-centric household. You can rent movies and TV shows, watch Netflix (and ESPN and HBO if your cable subscription offers them), stream music from your iOS devices or Macs to the speakers connected to the Apple TV, and more. For just $95 it’s a great gift the whole family will love! ($95)
The new iPad mini:The new iPad mini is amazing. It has a Retina display and the same super-fast internal processor as the iPad Air. If you’re able to decide whether to get the mini or the Air, let us know, because we still can’t pick. ($399-$829)
Extra lightning cable(s): Nobody ever complained about having an extra charging cable nearby. ($18)
Bowers & Wilkins P7 Headphones: Quite possibly the nicest looking, nicest sounding headphones out there. ($399)
Audyssey Computer Speakers: The Audyssey’s are bigger than they look in the pictures, and they sound absolutely fantastic. Very full, rich, and crisp. For their price (~$180), you can’t go wrong on this top-shelf pair of computer speakers.
Jawbone Jambox: This little Bluetooth speaker packs a surprising amount of punch. It connects to your iPhone, iPad, or other Bluetooth-capable device and is ideal for pumping jams in any room of your house, or outside, or at a picnic, or just about anywhere else. There’s also a mini and a big version of the Jambox. ($179)
Pioneer A4 Wireless Speaker: The advantage of an AirPlay-capable speaker over Bluetooth is that you don’t lose the connection if you walk too far away. We have one of these in our living room, tucked away on the bookshelf. It has excellent sound quality, and it’s easy to connect with any of our iPhones or iPads. Then, once you’re sending music to the thing, you can go anywhere in the house and it’ll stay connected so long as you don’t lose Wi-Fi. Nice. ($199)
AeroPress coffee maker: For the persnickety coffee maker in the family, the AeroPress makes a cup of coffee as delicious as you’ll get from a french press or siphon, yet with the easiest clean up of all. ($29)
Vacuum jug: The Stelton jug seals air-tight to keep liquids fresh and temperature-stable. It also features an interesting rocker stopper design, which seals magnetically while the thermos is in the upright position and opens automatically while pouring. ($75)
Burr Grinder: Conical burr grinders are a coffee aficionado’s necessity — there is no finer way to grind your coffee. Moreover, this grinder from Bodum uses static-free boroscilicate glass to catch the grounds. (~$100)
Gooseneck kettle: The Bonavita variable-temp electric gooseneck kettle is designed to make it easier and more consistent to pour your hot water over your coffee. Since the water is pushed out from the bottom of the kettle, rather than sloshed out from the top, you have a more controlled, consistent pour. ($95)
The Hard Worker
Field Notes: We would be remiss to not heartily recommend having a Field Notes notebook in your pocket or bag at all times. Get a COLORS subscription ($97/year) for that special someone who goes through (or collects) lots of notebooks. ($10 for a 3-pack)
Signo DX Pens: A favorite of Brad Dowdy’s and ourselves here at T&T, the DX is a very consistent writer that uses a durable conical-shaped tip and has a strong, comfortable barrel. If you’re looking for a pen that will make you toss out those old hotel ballpoints and never look back, then the Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38 mm is for you. ($23 for pack of 10)
Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen: A fountain pen that is both expert-level yet easy-to-use, the Pilot Vanishing Point is one of the few retractable-nib fountain pens on the market and it is extremely well done. A great choice for the handwriting nerd in your life. ($140)
32 GB SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive: Named by The Wirecutter as the best flash drive on the market, the SanDisk Extreme is blazingly fast due to its USB 3.0 support, and is very well constructed so that your data is kept safe. ($42)
Dark Energy Reservoir: This portable, rechargeable device can hold enough energy to power a typical smartphone for a week, but is small enough to easily fit into a bag or maybe even a pants pocket. Any device that can plug in via USB is compatible with the Reservoir, so we’re talking iPhones, iPads, cameras of all sorts, and more. ($129)
AeroPress Travel Cap: The AeroPress is an excellent coffee maker to take when traveling, especially since the paper filters and a plastic bag of beans can be slid into the inside of the plunger. The only problem is that the filters and beans have a tendency to fall out.
To fix this problem, the guys at Able Brewing company made a rubber cap that fits snugly over the open end of the AeroPress plunger. The cap allows you to securely store filters and coffee beans when traveling. It also doubles as a comfortable grip for when you’re actually making your coffee. ($10)
Spyderco Sage pocket knife: A well-crafted folding knife is a handy tool for almost anyone to have in their arsenal. With its tough carbon fiber handle and a super sharp blade that locks tightly and yet opens with surprising ease, the Spyderco Sage knife is a reliable choice for everyday carry. ($108)
Instant-read thermometer: The best instant-read thermometer money can buy is the ThermoWorks Thermapan thermometer. It’s accurate and gets a reading within 3 seconds. But it also costs $100. Which is why we recommend the RT600C from ThermoWorks instead. The RT600C is just as accurate, takes 5-6 seconds or less to get a temperature reading, is dishwasher safe, has a 5,000 hour battery life, and costs only $19.