Cool new personal tech ideas for Valentine’s Day

*Steve Makris is a technology expert who does a Tech Talk segment during Edmonton’s Sunday Morning News. You can watch his segment above.

Like it or not, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner which means I’ve been inundated with gift suggestions for your significant other.

Rather than showing off the latest and greatest big dollar items such as 4K TVs, tablets or smartphones, how about a few ideas on small, new personal technology items for the person you most care about? That includes yourself!

Smartphone cases that go beyond

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Ventev Powercell 3015 3000 mAh portable battery while Ventev regen heals scratches

The following products can also be found online at amazon.ca or the listed sites and can still be shipped in time for Valentine’s Day.

The regen from Ventev.com/mobile, $24.99, for iPhone 6 or Plus is a low profile transparent snap-on case with self-healing micro filling technology that makes scratches disappear. This invisible barrier removes most scratches from the case within minutes.

Credit card storage and a folding movie stand feature makes the Ventev penna wallet, $34.99, for iPhone 6 plus a classy, genuine outer leather, all-round protection case.

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Keep your phone running twice as long with the otterbox.com Resurgence, $99, now available for the iPhone 6 with full 2,600 mAh battery power, which provides a full additional charge. Resurgence is made up of a specially formulated polycarbonate to improve impact resistance and absorb energy from drops and bumps. A two-piece snap design simplifies assembly. It is drop proof from four feet on all faces, edges and corners.

The Lychee wallet case from Kelowna-based farbetechnik.com for iPhone 6, $29.99, doubles as a wallet featuring two card slots and a money holder so you can leave the bulk at home. It’s easy to take off or put back on and it gives you access to your speakers and ports, such as volume, camera, charging and earphone jack. It’s available at iShopNation.com, shop.ca and soon at futureshop.ca and bestbuy.ca for folks who want to feel before they buy.

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Canadian Caseco thin Codex 360 vertical and horizontal stand and ID Wallet for cash and credit cards

Also all-Canadian, Toronto-based Caseco.ca offers unique functionality in new cases like the Codex 360, $29.99, an ultrathin flip case that becomes an adjustable-angle vertical or horizontal stand. It closes tight, magnetically protecting your iPhone from all angles. It’s also available for the iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Caseco products are available in Canadian specialty mobile stores and on Caseco.ca. It should be noted that Caseco does no plan price increases despite the unfavourable Canadian exchange rate.

The Caseco ID Wallet Folio, $39.99, has two card slots in its suede interior. When the folio cover is closed, the phone can be unlocked to show time or weather through the window, and becomes a mirror when the phone is off. It is available for the iPhone 6 and Plus.

Phone accessories

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The Core 360 from Caseco is small sturdy and leaves no stain from car and phone mounts

One of the smallest, quality-built car mounts from Caseco.ca, the Core 360, $49.99, uses removable stain-free adhesive to mount its steel ball base on your car’s dashboard. It magnetically holds a small washer adhered on the back of your phone which still fits in cases. It is easily adjustable, rock solid over bumps and comes with an extra phone washer ring and adhesive. Smart!

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Tangle-free Caseco TuneZip with extra bass and noise cancellation

Caseco also makes the TuneZip tangle-free noise cancelling and bass-boosted earbuds, $39.99, in red or white. The adjustable cords. with built-in mic and mute, literally zip the two earbuds together for tangle-free storage.

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Caseco wireless Bluetooth Blu – Toque with built-in speakers comes in two styles and is washable

The second edition Bluetooth wireless Blu-Toque, $49.99, from Caseco.ca comes in slouchy and regular fit and features two built-in wireless headphones. The dual-layerd synthetic wool beanie comes in five colour designs and charges up to two hours. Just unzip the inner pouch for removing the speakers and toss the Blu-Toque in the wash for cleaning. The Blu-Toque also talks to you to let you know when it is on or needs charging.

Want privacy? The Alpha Glass, $29.95 – $49.95, from otterbox.com protects your privacy by limiting the angle of view from folks next to you. It’s also anti-shatter/scratch and easy to put on. It’s available for iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5/5s, iPhone 5c, iPad Air 2, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, LG G3 and Nexus 6.

Small portable battery chargers

A two-in-one wall charger plus built-in 3,000 mAh backup battery makes the mobile power, $49.99, from farbetechnik.com a perfect space-saving gift. Its 12,000 mAh dual USB Mobile Power Bank, $74.99, is ideal for long trips for charging your phone four times or more. Nice.

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Ventev Powercell 3015 Caseco Power Beacon and Farbe Technik mobile power feature 3000 mAh batteries

The Caseco Power Beacon, $39.99, also packs a car outlet rechargeable 3,000 mAh battery, a USB out for charging devices and an LED light in a small package.

Ventev’s powercell 3015, $34.99, is slightly larger than a credit card and thinner than most phones with enough power to add 12.5 additional talk time hours on any phone from its 3,000 mAh Li-ion Polymer cell.

Fitness for two

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Garmin Vivosmart receives notifications and shows active health stats while on the go

The sleek Garmin Vivosmart, $175.99 at Sport Chek, comes in large and small size for him and her. It features an invisible display that comes to life when you get a text or mail notification, or when you give the band a tap. The OLED display shines through the band to reveal your steps, distance travelled, calories burned, time of day and more. The optional heart rate monitor kit version $199, can be shared between the two devices. It works with iOS, Android, Mac and Windows.

Giveaways

The tiny but powerful Sonos Play:1 is a wireless WiFi speaker, part of the unquestionably best designed and performance Sonos speaker system. You can build your audio system with an array of Sonos speaker sizes including Sound Bar and Bass and control each speaker, or group of speakers, in your WiFi-enabled home from an iPhone, Android, Mac or Windows PC. Sonos supports 29 streaming music services including Songza, Spotify and Google Play Music. You can also check out the Valentine play list from Rdio. Sonos is not cheap but it has been around for a long time and proudly boasts that its first speakers still work in homes today.

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Our giveaway Sonos powerful Play 1 WiFi speaker and Google pure Lollipop OS Nexus 6 phablet

The Nexus 6 phablet smartphone in midnight Blue oozes style and class with its 6-inch AMOLED 1440×2560 brilliant touch screen. Made by Motorola Mobility, with 32 GB memory, the slim phone features the newest Lollipop Android 5.0 OS, which as in previous Nexus lines, is in its pure form unhampered by phone makers extra app features. Its long battery life and turbo charger mode keeps your mobile life active with 24-hour talk and 330-hour standby. It has a sharp 12 MP camera and a front 2 MP selfie. Its large selection of frequencies allow it to work outside Canada and it comes unlocked.

Phone trends for 2015 – BYOD is here to stay

Personal smartphones are the tool of choice for keeping in touch with friends, news and entertainment.

What about work? That’s changing too, as more companies are letting their employees bring their personal devices to work. The “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend is expected to become even more popular as a long-standing confrontational BYOD relationship between employee and employer is changing to a win-win affair.

A recent 12-country Intel-commissioned study by MSI Research found 78 per cent of respondents use personal devices for work-related activities and 65 per cent of respondents feel IT is responsible for protecting personal data on work devices.

“Historically, people have wanted to bring their phone to work, connect to the network and get their corporate email on the phone, but haven’t wanted corporate to have any control over that,” said Simon Hunt, CTO of End Point Security with Intel.

“It used to be ‘stay away from my phone’ to ‘OK, you can protect my phone, that’s good for you and good for me.’ Having a willing IT department and willing user makes things so much easier,” he said.

Seventy-five per cent of Canadian and US workers who responded to the survey say personal, confidential or private activity conducted at work is considered sensitive to somebody. This shows North American workers are more sensitive to privacy issues than their counterparts in the other 10 countries surveyed, who reported lower percentages.

Hunt said the majority of BYOD users want to be more productive at work.

“Users are not evil, they are trying to be better,” he said, adding that the least prepared for BYOD are the companies who think they can stop it.

“BYOD is happening, so get on board, mitigate and try to reduce the risks,” he said.

© Shaw Media, 2015

Steve Makris

About the Author, Steve Makris

Steve co-hosts a live weekly Tech Talk segment on GlobalTV Monday and Sunday Morning News, accompanied by blog posts. Steve also contributes technology features to Globalnews.ca as well as Postmedia. Follow Steve’s personal blog on more technology at www.techuntangled.ca