Five Christmas gifts for Hong Kong tech lovers who enjoy the great outdoors

From the Fitbit watch that comes with a built-in music player to the LifePowr SUN20 portable solar panel that can charge a smartphone as quickly as a normal wall outlet, we’ve scoured the shelves for the best buys

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 December, 2017, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 December, 2017, 7:17pm

If you are stuck with what to get for your sporty self or significant other this holiday season, we have shortlisted five tech gifts that are a perfect fit for those with an active lifestyle.

Fitbit Ionic

The newest wearable from activity-tracker company Fitbit is perfect for your outdoor needs with its colour display and multiday battery life. Like its predecessors, the Fitbit Ionic keeps an eye on your heart rate around-the-clock, allows you to track your workouts and the quality of your sleep – including how much time you spent in REM sleep. Plus with water resistance of up to 50 metres, it will track your swims, too.

At first glance, the most outstanding aspect of the Fitbit Ionic would doubtlessly be its outstanding colour display. The 1,000-nits display is vibrant and fully viewable in bright sunlight. While the bezel seems thick, this is offset by the weight of the device, which is lighter than other smartwatches from Huawei or Apple.

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The Ionic addresses a criticism of older models that comes with non-removable straps; a new design lets you swap it out for straps of varying designs and lengths.

Aside from the ability to change clock faces, the Ionic also comes with a built-in music player to help you keep motivated during workouts. You will need to supply your own pair of Bluetooth headphones though. One downside of the screen is that it blanks out after a while to conserve battery. You can configure the “Screen Wake” configuration to Auto to bring the screen to life when you lift your hand, though sensitivity appears to vary.

Google Pixel 2 XL

If you’re looking for a new smartphone that can shrug off rain and take excellent pictures outdoors, then the Google Pixel 2 XL may be just what you need. The newest smartphone from Google is a well-designed device and one of the first with Android 8.0 installed out-of-the-box.

Unsurprisingly, it is packed with high-end specifications such as a Snapdragon 835 processor and a gorgeous 6-inch display with a high pixel density of over 500ppi. Elsewhere, neat tweaks such as the ability to bring up Google Assistant by squeezing the phone means that you don’t have to take your eyes off the trail.

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When it comes to capturing your adventures, the Pixel 2 XL comes with an excellent camera tuned to take startlingly beautiful pictures and accurate colours in either bright sunlight or lowlight environments. For video, a blend of optical stabilisation and software optimisation makes it an excellent choice for hikers and cyclists who want to ensure that the video of their outdoor adventures don’t turn out overly jerky – and stays watchable. Note that the Pixel 2 XL can also capture full-HD video at a frame rate of up to 120 fps or 4K video at 30fps.

LifePowr SUN20

If you plan to explore completely off the grid, then you may want to bring the LifePowr SUN20 portable solar panel along too. Weighing just 650 grams, the ultra-light device is waterproof and folds in two to protect the solar panels when not in use. Deployed, the solar charger can quickly juice up your power bank, smartphone or tablet through its USB-C port.

With QuickCharge 3.0 and USB-PD (Power Delivery) support, the device maker says on a sunny day, the SUN20 will charge a compatible smartphone as quickly as a normal wall outlet, or recharge a MacBook Pro directly.

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And if you are looking to power your camping lights through the night, two SUN20 units can also be daisy-chained together to charge a LifePowr A2, the company’s portable battery product that comes with an integrated AC outlet.

Bose SoundLink Micro bluetooth speaker

If you are going cycling or trekking, the Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth speaker is one item that you will want to bring along. The pebble-shaped body is sheathed in scratch-resistant silicone rubber for a practically indestructible design, while the IPX7 rating means that it will work in all weathers, even completely submerged in water. This pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker can be stuffed into your pockets, or clipped onto your bike or backpack using the integrated, tear-resistant strap.

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Despite its compact design, the SoundLink Micro delivers the trademark Bose sound, assisted by a bass port on its underside to boost the bass when placed on a flat surface. Overall, the diminutive speakers deliver unmatched volume for their size. The built-in speakerphone lets you make calls when necessary. Unlike some of the newest speakers with 360-degrees coverage, note that the SoundLink Micro only outputs sound through its front. Battery life is rated at a good six hours, and is recharged through a micro-USB charging port – though be prepared the batteries to fade if you intend to turn up the volume beyond the halfway mark.

Kindle Oasis (2017)

Leaders are readers, they say. Now you don’t have to stop reading just because you are off camping or spending the day at the beach. The latest iteration of the Kindle Oasis e-reader is a best-in-class e-reader that is thinner, lighter, and sports a larger 7-inch display for 30 per cent more words per page. And did we mention that the IPX8-certified device is waterproof and can withstand immersion in water for up to two hours?

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The Kindle Oasis tapers to a thin 3.4mm with an anodised aluminium back, and last six weeks on a single charge. Elsewhere, it also adds support for audiobooks from the company’s Audible service, allowing you to listen to them on the go. You will need a pair of Bluetooth earphones for that though, which isn’t included.

Like previous generations of the Kindle, the Oasis’s e-ink display reads like real paper and is completely viewable even in bright sunlight. For night-time reading, the e-reader comes with 12 LED lights for more granular backlighting, and incorporates a sensor that can automatically adjust screen brightness based on your surroundings.