Ted on Tech

The 2018 tech gift guide for accountants

With the holidays fast approaching, now is a good time to let your staff (or bosses) know that they are appreciated. Of course, money is almost always a sure bet, but a thoughtful gift that they can put to use can often be more meaningful.

As a columnist and reviewer, I get bombarded with spiels for “Holiday Gift Guide” coverage starting around June. Some of it I look at for possible coverage, but most I don’t bother with — I’m not one of those people who just wants to collect “stuff.” Going through the samples I’ve received and tested, I’ve come up with a number of suggestions you may want to consider when making up your professional “naughty and nice” list. These vary in cost from reasonable to moderately expensive, so chances are you’ll find something to fit your budget.

For a good charge

I’ve got great kids. Recently, my son surprised me with a new iPhone XS and an Apple Watch. The Apple Watch has a small round charger that is inductively coupled to the watch so there’s nothing that actually plugs into the watch to charge it. The iPhone, from the iPhone 8 to the X series, has a Lightning port that can be used to charge the iPhone, but can also be charged wirelessly with Qi-compatible chargers. A few emails sent, and I had a bunch of chargers to try.

The most elaborate of these was the Belkin PowerHouse. This $99 device is a stand with an arm poking out of the right side. The stand part holds an iPhone vertically, and has an adjustable height lightning plug on the bottom that can be adjusted to accommodate most phone cases, while the arm is used to hang the Apple Watch on and contains a wireless charger. Put the PowerHouse on your nightstand, and charge both devices while you use the iPhone as an alarm clock. It works well, but if you just want a wireless phone charger, I had several of these to try out as well.

If you just want a wireless charger for your iPhone (iPhone 8 and later), there are plenty to choose from. The Logitech Powered supports Qi wireless charging on iPhone 8 and later, as well as some supported Samsung model. In nondescript white, you can just drop the phone in vertically, or lay it in horizontally, and it will fast charge. If you want something a bit more colorful, the Candi, from WITTI comes in a variety of colors, and is also a fast charger. At $19, you can buy several of these and spread them around the office. One thing to note is that the Candi doesn’t come with a power brick — you have to use the one that came with the phone, or a higher powered one available from other vendors.

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p-7ChristmasEveShopping--The checkout lines were busy on Christmas Eve at the Best Buy store in Corpus Christi, Texas on Dec. 24, 2006. Eddie Seal/Bloomberg News

For the travelers

While FaceTime, Skype and other video conferencing apps and equipment have cut down on the need for some travel, there are always still clients that need to meet face-to-face and conferences to go to. For the accountant on the run, I’ve found some nice bags that will make great gifts.

These days, many of us have moved back to briefcases from stuffing things into laptop cases. To be honest, I don’t see much difference between the two in many offerings. I’ve gotten a bunch of “briefcases” in recent months, and to my eyes, they don’t really look much different than the laptop cases I’ve collected in recent years, other then the fact that they look more polished and seem to have a few more pockets.

Two of the nicer ones that I’ve received are the Hammish Briefcase from Solo NY, and the Infinity Convertible Briefcase from Hex. The Hammish is a really nice-looking case with room for a 15-inch laptop, an iPad or other tablet, and two pockets on the side of the case. At $119, it’s not inexpensive, but the waxed canvas material it’s constructed from looks like it will stand up to a lot of abuse and wear well. At 4 inches wide, it’s also somewhat roomier than most laptop cases, so you should be able to jam in lots of reports and papers if needed.

The $99 Infinity Convertible Briefcase looks more like a typical laptop case, with one important difference. Hidden on the rear of the case are two straps that convert the case into a backpack. Other than that, the Infinity Convertible Briefcase is just a nice typical laptop case, but it’s one I wish I had on my last trip with a roller bag. It would have been a lot more comfortable than the messenger bag I took on that trip.

For the butterfingers

Finally, if you have someone on your staff who is as clumsy as I am, a new phone case is always a good choice. I’ve used both Otterbox and Lifeproof cases in the past, and the Defender case I’ve had on my phone most recently is both good-looking and tough. This time around, I wanted something a bit lighter, and Urban Armor Gear sent the Pathfinder case. It looks good, complementing the iPhone XS, and at $35, it’s very affordable.

And, hopefully, you and your staff will have a wonderful holiday season.