Santa’s list for the IT Pro-ho-ho

Wondering what IT professionals have on their Christmas list? I asked for suggestions from a number of readers, and here’s what they’d love for Santa to bring them. I’ve selected the most popular items from their lists.

The Apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. 

No surprise, there were a lot of suggestions for everything Apple – Air Tags, Air Pods, Apple Watches. It’s hard to go wrong. Even the most dedicated Android, or even PC, user could have a Mac or iPad. So you probably can’t go wrong with something Apple.

But if you want to try something a little more creative in your major gift-giving, here are some gifts that are bound to please any tech pro.

MetaQuest Pro

MetaQuest Pro
Source: Meta.com

MetaQuest Pro presents itself as the ultimate in virtual reality headsets. It comes in at a pretty stiff price (starting a C$2,299.99) so you better have been extra good this year. The website notes that “Meta Quest Pro comes with all the goods and then some, so you can start working, creating and collaborating — Meta Quest Touch Pro Controllers, charging dock with rapid USB-C power adapter, 10 advanced VR/MR sensors, 256GB storage, 12GB RAM, and a Snapdragon XR2+ Qualcomm processor.” For twenty-three hundred bucks, we sure it comes with everything!

Sonos Wireless Speakers

Sonos Speakers
Source: Amazon.ca

Sonos Wireless Speakers are the audio/technophile’s “to die for” present. Sonos made its name by using wireless connections to connect speakers in a network, versus the classic “Bluetooth” connections for wireless speakers. Wireless makes for much better coverage and connections, even when your speakers are some distance away from your wireless router.

Sonos has a wide range of speakers available. Some are battery-powered, and some use plug-in power. Some have WiFi only, and some have Bluetooth as well as WiFi ,so you can take them into the yard or anywhere outdoors. You can get them as speakers only or they can include a “smart speaker” package making them Alexa or Google-compatible.

But as a basic gift, you can get a simple pair of stereo speakers (pictured above) or anything up to a full package for a home theatre setup. No matter what you purchase, you are getting an amazing speaker that will satisfy even a real audiophile. As a musician myself, these are the speakers I have throughout my house.

The package above retails on Amazon.ca for C$499.00 for the pair. They are not exactly cheap, but they are top-rated speakers, and compared to the MetaQuest headset, they are a bargain.

Oura Ring

Oura Ring
Source: Oura.com

Oura Ring – For the person who wants a comprehensive health and fitness tracker, but hates wearing a watch, the Oura Ring is an elegant alternative. It has a sleep tracker, a fitness tracker and even what they term a “holistic picture of health” delivered from the ring to an app on your phone.

Unlike the clunkier Fitbit, this is all delivered via a very stylish piece of jewelry, and everything about this screams elegance – from the design of the ring to the phone app. Two styles are available, listing for US$299 and US$349.

Not only is it a beautiful alternative, but if you believe the website, the ring is more accurate than the wrist-mounted alternative since it reads its data from your finger.

SanDisk Portable SSD

Source: Amazon.ca

SanDisk 1 TB Extreme Portable SSD – What do you buy the person who has everything?  How about somewhere to store it all? Whether you buy the SanDisk that one of our team of readers suggested or some other brand, this is a thoughtful gift, whether it’s for home backup or as part of a home network.

The solid-state drive makes it a great replacement for that aging magnetic drive that some of us still have that holds photos, videos, music, or backups of our data. More than that, it’s portable and durable. You can toss it in your pocket and take it anywhere. It costs C$134.99 on Amazon.ca.

Wacom Smartpad

Source: Henrys.com

Wacom Smartpad Digital Notebook – When it comes to IT professionals, you may discover that they have many talents and interests that go beyond technology. One of our team suggested that they love to draw and express ideas visually. For that, they felt the Wacom notebook was a great choice. Unfortunately, the notebook they most liked was either discontinued or out of stock. Wacom has a number of options on their site – but unless you have lots of patience, I’d only recommend this site to someone on the naughty list.

Instead, you might want to support a great Canadian business – Henry’s. I found the Wacom One 13” tablet for C$399.99 and there are a number of models on the site. I haven’t been to a Henry’s in a while, but they used to be famous for having great helpful staff. I learned about SLR photography by talking to them at their downtown Toronto location. Just to see if they still had that special touch, I called them, and got a call back from a very friendly staff person who could either answer all my questions or assured me they could get answers from one of their experts.

If Wacom isn’t available, or just not what you’d consider, there are alternatives. Huion is another popular brand, and there is a number of models in a similar price range. The iPad and reMarkable tablets are alternatives, but are significantly more expensive. The reMarkable, while it has many exceptional qualities, only operates in black and white, but for the compulsive doodler or for simple black and white sketches it’s great, and it has a “paper-like” feel.

Breo Box – The ultimate in surprise gifts?

Source: Breobox.com

Breo BoxThe reader who suggested this called it “a mystery box full of tech stuff.” This is exactly what it is. Breo Box sends a package of 4 – 8 cool tech items or gadgets to that special person on your list. What’s in the box? That’s part of the fun. They don’t tell you.  You can see what they’ve sent in the past, and there’s even a “spoiler alert” showing two of the items from this month’s box. But overall, it’s just a great surprise.

You can choose a single box for US$159.00, or prepay for 4 boxes and at US$144.75 per box and have a new gift delivered every quarter.  There’s even a small “stocking stuffer” version for under US$100.00

There are mixed messages about whether this is available for Canadian delivery. One site announces a special fee for Canada, and another says that delivery is not available to Canada. We are checking with the company to get a clear answer.

Kobo e-reader

Source: Chapters.Indigo.ca

Kobo e-reader – Tired of trying to figure out what book to give? Have they already read it? If so, the Kobo e-reader is another great suggestion from our panel. There’s a full range of devices that you can give, from a simple e-reader to a powerful unit that will also play audiobooks over Bluetooth connections, and even one with a pen that allows the reader to make notes as they read. And – bonus – all Kobo users can borrow e-books from their public library directly on the device.

Kobo e-readers range from just over C$100 to the ultimate device at C$500. So you can give someone a starter kit, or surprise them with a big upgrade to their current reader.

And if you want to add that little something extra, you can pick up some great ebooks like, say, something on Digital Transformation?  Okay, it’s a shameless plug for Fawn’s and my book, and it would only compound that to say that “it’s available for Kobo, and also on Kindle as well as a printed book from Amazon.ca.”  Hey, you can’t blame an elf for trying 🙂

Digital Transformation in the First Person
Digital Transformation in the First Person

Final thoughts

These are the most popular suggestions from the group of IT pros we consulted. But as one of our panel noted, “my parents taught me to say thank you to any gift, as the thought itself is truly appreciated.” Another sent a note saying that a great gift was a donation to charity.  We can’t agree more.

So with these thoughts and in the spirit of the season. While it’s fun to do a list like this, many of your IT Pros already have a lot of stuff. If they are like me and if they’re also totally honest, they don’t use it all.

So why not give the gift of giving some of the old stuff away? There’s a tremendous need for recycled electronics by charities, and by those who may benefit from technology but aren’t as blessed. Check out this article from IT World Canada that talks about this issue and features one company, ERA, that recycles tech for use by charities.

If anyone would ask what I’d want for Christmas? Here’s what I’d say: Take the money for that gift and give it to your local gift program for kids. Or donate a few dollars to a local food bank. There are a lot of people with kids who don’t have a lot, or may be struggling with food costs and gas costs and just trying to keep a roof over their heads. I don’t know about you, but technology blessed me with the ability to make a good living and there’s not a lot that I need. The thought that someone else could have some joy is, as the Mastercard ad used to say, priceless.

With that, thanks and Merry Christmas from me and the team of IT pros that put this together – Greg Kaufman, Ion Drumea, Bruce Tuncertain, Michael Morris, Raiman Dilag, Tal Vilenski and more.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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