webOS Holiday Gift Guide: For the traveler
It’s that time of year again, folks – the holidays are upon us, and if you happen to have a loved one (or yourself) that needs some webOS love, then we have a few suggestions. We’re going to have a few different gift guides running here, so be sure to check back in the coming days for more. Today, we’re tackling what to get for the webOS fan that’s constantly on the move.
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). If your Verizon-using webOS lover is also a globetrotter, they’ll love you even more, as the Verizon Pre3 is a CDMA+GSM world phone compatible with international GSM networks.
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. When you're traveling, the less you have to lug around and the smaller and lighter it can be, the better. 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.
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. Deals with the TouchPad have already been made public for Black Friday that don’t require you to buy an HP laptop too, plus there’s always eBay and Amazon third party retailers. 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. Feeling particularly generous? There are a handful of AT&T-ready TouchPad 4G tablets out there. Where are they and how much do they cost? That’s a question for your private investigator. But if your loved one travels a lot, they’ll certainly appreciate the work you went through to get them the rarest of the 10-inch webOS tablets. Or, you know, just get them a mobile hotspot from your carrier of choice. It’s a bit cheaper (and they can use it with everything that supports Wi-Fi).
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.
If there’s one thing that all webOS devices thankfully have come with, it’s a charger. But only one, and if you’re like us you’ve got it set just how you like it on your desk, nightstand, or side table. It’s one thing to have to unpack a charger when staying at a hotel, but in your own home? That’s just unacceptable. That’s also where a Micro USB travel charger comes into play. They’re cheap, and they’re plentiful, and everybody should have at least one.
Let’s say your loved one does all of their traveling in their car. Long haul trips where they like to use their webOS phone to stream music, listen to podcasts, and get navigation directions. Plus they need to be able to browse the web, send emails, make phone calls, and all of that other magic when they get to where they’re going. They need a Micro USB car charger.
Now, anybody can do a Micro USB car charger. And that can work with every smartphone on the planet, excepting the iPhone. But this is webOS, and that means we can do fancy inductive charging. Sure, HP never released a car-compatible Touchstone charger, but that hasn’t stopped anybody. The Touchstone’s sticky-but-not-adhesive back can stick to just about any surface, and you can always add in a car grip mount for additional security. Just be sure to wire it up with a compatible car charger (the Palm vehicle charger is guaranteed to provide enough power) and your loved one will have set-it-and-forget-it charging in their car for their Pre, Pixi, or Veer. Setting up the Touchstone in a car requires a little bit of work (especially if you want to do a clean set-up that routes the wire out-of-sight), but it’s less nerve-wracking than smartphone surgery and still shows that you care.
While we’re on the subject of webOS in the car, let’s touch on Bluetooth. There are of course dozens upon dozens of Bluetooth headsets one could use (we’re fans of the Jawbone Icon and Era as well as the Plantronics Discovery 975), but for in car use you simply can’t beat a Bluetooth speakerphone. Even here there’s a multitude of options, including the Blueant Supertooth 3 and Jabra Drive. Once dear travel gets where they’re headed, shacking up the night in a hotel is always made more hospitable with music – get them a Jawbone Jambox portable Bluetooth speaker so they can pump the tunes out of something other than their phone’s tiny mono speaker.
This is where things get less clean (and you thought hacking together phones was dirty). There is currently no mechanism for gifting individual apps from the webOS App Catalog or even sending app credit to friends and family. But you want your traveling loved one to be able to make the most out of their webOS traveling 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?
If your loved one is the road warrior type and isn’t willing to pay the monthly charge for navigation on AT&T or Verizon (or any other network than Sprint, really), get them on-device GPS navigation app NDrive. We’ve linked to the US version, but there are also maps available for most of Western Europe, Canada, and Mexio. At $24.99 for each version, NDrive is also among the most expensive apps in the Catalog, but you can’t put a price on love and not paying a monthly charge to the carrier, can you?
Not every traveler does it by car – in fact, it’s very difficult to be a globetrotter with just four wheels to get you around. Loved ones that are racking up the frequent flier miles will benefit from some App Catalog selections, including FlightPredictor ($2.99) to tell them what to anticipate for future flights and Flight Tracker ($3.99) for detailed real-time info for flights around the world. And if they have (or are getting) a TouchPad to take with them, you can’t go wrong with FlightPredictor HD ($1.99), which adds much-needed major airport maps to the mix so they don’t miss their connection by not knowing how to get to Gate 42B in Concourse C.
There’s plenty that goes into planning these trips, as you well know. Making the traveling life easier is the goal of the TripIt itinerary service, which “drags travel kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.” TripIt lets you log your flight, hotel, rental, and other vital travel info in one easy-to-access place. There’s a fantastic webOS client – TripThat ($4.99) – that makes managing and accessing all of that data on the go a piece of cake. It’s a must-have for the frequent traveler.
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!