Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
It’s that time of year again—time for my annual guide to geeky gadgets guaranteed to gratify the dads and grads you love.
Fun Fitness for Geeks
In January, I reviewed Activ5 from ActivBody, a small, battery-operated handheld device about the size of a flattened tangerine. It measures compressive force when you press its exterior surfaces either between two body parts (like your palms or your bicep and forearm) or when you press it against a stationary object with a body part. A free iOS (or Android) companion app coaches you through exercises. It’s compact, portable, fun, and healthy, making it an excellent gift for any geek, and especially appropriate for geeks on the go.
Another health-related gadget I’ve been testing is called Stealth Core Trainer, a “planking” device with multi-angle movement in all directions. To work out, you rest your forearms on the Stealth board with your feet on the floor, place your iPhone (or Android) into the recessed cradle, and launch the Stealth Fitness app.
The workouts are “gamified,” so you fly through space (Galaxy Adventure) or hang-glide over the earth (Speed Gliding) by leaning left, right, forward, or backward, which is claimed to work up to 29 different muscles. The website says Stealth “transforms basic (boring) plank exercises into a fun, dynamic full-on gaming experience,” and I agree.
One last thing: Stealth Standard usually sells for $149 but is currently on sale for $99; the cushier Stealth Deluxe, which usually costs $199, is now on sale for $149.
Geeks Love Music
Moving right along, here are a couple of great gifts for the music-loving geeks in your life:
I listen to music (or podcasts) pretty much all the time—in my office, in my car, on my daily walks, in the kitchen, and almost everywhere else. So, I’m always on the lookout for the killer Bluetooth speakers or earphones.
On the earphone front, I love my Apple AirPods Pro, but at $249 a pair, they’re not for everyone. Even the non-Pro AirPods, which start at $159, might stretch your budget. After testing many sets of what I think of as AirPod clones, the only ones I can recommend are Anker’s Liberty Air 2, which look, sound, and perform almost as well as AirPods Pro but cost just $99.99.
(Sadly, Liberty Air 2 doesn’t have active noise cancellation, which is one of the features I like best about my AirPods Pro.)
Finally, the speaker I’ve been using most around the house lately is StormBox Micro by Tribit. It’s water and dustproof and small enough to clip to your belt or handlebars with its integrated tear-resistant strap. With 8 hours of playtime per charge and up to a 100-foot range, it’s a great personal speaker and the one I’ve been grabbing most often lately.