webOS Holiday Gift Guide: For the parent
We’re down to just a few weeks until the holidays smack us square in the face. If you’re reading this, then you’re certainly looking for webOS gifts for a loved one (or for yourself to recommend to that loved one). You are? Fantastic, we just so happen to have a few suggestions for you. We’ve already touched on what to get for the webOS-loving student and traveler, but what about the webOS parent? They’ve certainly got unique needs and demands, so after the break we dive into just what to get for the webOS loving parental unit on your list.
When it comes to webOS smartphones, the Pre3 has no equal. It’s bigger yet slimmer, feels better, and is just darned faster than anything webOS smartphones offered before. But it only ever saw a very limited release. Thankfully, it’s still plenty available, so long as you’re willing to plumb the depths of the PreCentral Forums or eBay.
There are three versions of the Pre3 available: GSM unlocked from Europe, AT&T, and Verizon (in descending order from plentiful to rare). Obviously if your loved one is in Europe or practically anywhere but the United States or Canada, grab the unlocked GSM Pre3 – it will work on 99% of international GSM networks and supports HSPA+ speeds.
In the United States the unlocked GSM will work, but the rare AT&T Pre3 and even rarer Verizon Pre3s are the preferred option. Obviously you have to pick based on the network your loved one is using (sorry Sprint fans).
Say your webOS lover is both a small phones person and on AT&T. If they’re using a Pixi Plus and lamenting how slow and old it is, or a Pre 2 and just think it’s too darned big, then we’d like to point you to the HP Veer – the smallest gosh darn smartphone you ever did see. It uses the same screen as the Pixi, but it runs webOS 2.1 (something the Pixi will never do) and has a better keyboard, more compact design, glass screen, faster processor, and more RAM. Plus the Veer is actually still available from AT&T, and will cost just a penny on a new contract (at least at the time of publishing). If you’re off-contract it’ll cost considerably more, but unlike getting a Pre3 off eBay it at least comes with the option of carrier support. And let’s be honest, between laptops and books and a double shot macchiato, students are lugging around enough as it is. The Veer will lighten the load, especially in comparison to those massive Android phones.
Loved one wants a tablet, but didn’t get onto the TouchPad train while the getting was good? Fret not, dear shopper – there are still TouchPads. There are plenty of TouchPad still available be third party retailers on Amazon, some brick-and-mortar joints, and, of course, eBay. Nothing says “I love you” better than a moderately-hard-to-find collector’s item of a tablet.
Feeling particularly generous? Go hit up eBay for one of the rarer versions of the TouchPad. While anybody can get their hands on a black 32GB TouchPad, how many people can say they have a white TouchPad with a snappy 1.5GHz processor? Your loved one can, so long as you’re willing to pay the price. Amusingly, that price tends to come in below the $500 starting price of the 16GB TouchPad at launch.
So long as your traveling loved one doesn’t already have (or you haven’t already bought for them) a Pre3 or Veer as their webOS smartphone, there’s one thing they’re almost certainly disappointed with: the battery life. The Pre, Pre Plus, Pre 2, Pixi, and Pixi Plus all use the same battery, and they’re available for good prices in standard, extended life, and super-extended life (and size) (Pre only) versions.
Even then, a spare battery is only good if it’s charged. If you need power now and there’s simply not an outlet nearby, the gadget industry has a solution: the backup battery. There are number of good battery packs from the likes of Seidio, Motorola, and others that allow you to just plug up with a USB cable and get charging. The backup battery is also a good option for that loved one that has a Veer or Pre3 (or one waiting for them under the tree), as the first has an integrated battery and the latter never had spare batteries.
While webOS devices may mot come with spare batteries, they at least come with chargers. But plugging in a micro USB cable is just so... archaic. We were introduced to the magic of inductive charging for smartphones over two years ago via the Touchstone charger. The little angular black puck is still compatible with every webOS smartphone, and has been expanded into a large adjustable Touchstone charging stand for the TouchPad. Of course, you can also opt for a Micro USB charger or two, but frankly Touchstone’s just too darned cool.
Parents love webOS for good reason – it makes multitasking so easy even their idiot children can do it. But having to hold the phone up to the side of your face to use it as a phone puts a damper on screen access for that multi-tasking. Solution? Bluetooth. It’s that slick device-to-device wireless pairing system that gave us the Bluetooth headset. For parents with homes filled with screaming children that make it hard for the other side to make out their voice, we have to recommend excellent noise-cancelling headsets like the Jawbone Icon and Era as well as the Plantronics Discovery 975. And for parents that are constant shuttling the kids back-and-forth between school and soccer practice and sleepovers, a Bluetooth speakerphone can’t be beat. The options here are plentiful, but at the top of the list you’ll find versatile choices like the Blueant Supertooth 3 and Jabra Drive. And with a car full of children, the more hands on the steering wheel the better.
If your student has a Pre3, we’ve got bad news: there are no Pre3-specific cases out there. Same goes for the Veer. And that’s a problem, as parents need tough phones that can take the abuse of kids picking them up and using them as paint brushes. Thankfully the Pre3 and Veer have solid Gorilla Glass screens that can take the abuse (to a degree), but for the parent that’s carting around a Palm-branded Pre (original, Plus, or 2) or Pixi, there are thankfully several case options available, including tough-as-nails-and-nuclear-bombs Otterbox cases (Pre, Pixi) and slim-but-protective-and-colorful snap-on cases by Incipio, Smartphone Experts, and Seidio.
While the Pre3 and Veer are pretty toughly built, but the TouchPad can be another story. It’s big, thin(ish), and faced with an expansive sheet of glass on one side and easily-broken plastic on the other. For the custom-fit option, there’s the HP Folio case, which in addition to protecting also folds around to serve as a stand for watching videos or typing at an angle. To protect from scratches and gouges, you can slap on protective films by BodyGuardz, and to keep a TouchPad safe in a bag, there are a number of available padded protective sleeves (though to be honest, pretty much any original iPad-compatible sleeve will also work)
This is where things get less clean (and you thought hacking together phones was dirty). There currently are no mechanisms for gifting individual apps from the webOS App Catalog or even sending app credit to friends and family. But you want your studying loved one to be able to make the most out of their webOS companion. You’ve got a couple of options, including sending them money over PayPal and telling them to use it to buy a specific app, or just forcibly grabbing their phone, downloading the app, and handing it back with a few Washingtons for their trouble. Now, what apps should you be forcibly downloading?
Rockus Sound Machine, available for both smartphones ($1.99) and TouchPad ($3.99), may have a frightening name, but it’s nothing if not relaxing. Rockus is an ambient sound generator, capable of spitting out the comforting sound of the city, countryside, coast, the Congo, and anywhere in between. For the parent, it can serve two uses. One: to lull the children to sleep, and two: to lull themselves to sleep after a long stressful day of work and rambunctious kids.
We’re going to stick with the two-fold for-the-kids and for-mom-and-dad apps. Sometimes the easiest way to pacify the kid is to hand them your smartphone or tablet with a simple, repetitive game to keep them occupied and out of your hair for a little while. We have a few suggestions on that front. Angry Birds, available in classic (free), seasonal ($1.99(, and tropical varieties ($1.99) might be the epitome of the for-kids and for-adults game. Children get to fling birds across the screen for the sheer delight of knocking down the poorly-built swine forts, while parents do the same for the stress relieving aspects of porcine destruction. Disconnect the kids from the world, and then disconnect yourself.
So that’s what we’d get and why we’d get our webOS-loving loved ones to assist them on their travels. It’s a little bit of everything from stocking stuffers (batteries and chargers) to “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” (Verizon Pre3), but all enough to show that you both care and are paying attention to their needs. But that’s just what we’d get – we know you have your own opinions on the matter. Sound off in the comments!