It’s that time of the year again. Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, the smell of cinnamon and spice fill the air, football is on the TV and you’re trying to figure out what to get your brother for the holidays. Fear not, Android and Me reader, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you’re trying to appease your audiophile cousin, help your clumsy mom, surprise your friend or give yourself something extra special this year, we’ve got your back. We’ve sifted through the junk to give you some recommendations for what we think are the best Android and mobile tech-related products you can buy this holiday season.
Each day this week we’ll be publishing a post covering a different category. Today, we’re taking a look at cases and TV accessories like Chromecast and Roku.
This is one of the harder categories to sift through. Phone cases come in such an extreme variety of color, durability, weight, etc., that it can be hard to pick what to buy if you’re just browsing the web or your local electronics store (They still have those, right?). We’ve found that with so many models of Android phones available, the best tip we can give is to look into reputable brands and go from there.
As for our top recommend brands, we like Magpul, Otterbox, Elago, Spigen and Belkin, to name just a couple. Spigen gets extra points because they support so many devices and offer a wide range within those devices. The Neo Hybrid and Slim Armor are two of our favorites because they offer fantastic blend of form and function. Magpul also makes some truly badass tactical cases. They don’t offer the best protection, and they only support the Galaxy S3, S4, S5 and Nexus 5, but if you are buying for one of those phones check them out.
Of course, we can’t forget first-party cases like HTC One (M8)’s Dot View, Samsung’s S-View Flip Cover and more. Those are always a safe bet. Expensive, but safe.
For the TV
This category has changed a lot over the last year and a half. Now, instead of saying just get a Chromecast, we have to suggest other devices you shouldn’t get before saying just get a Chromecast. In all seriousness, we still love our Chromecasts. But there are options now, including Google’s newest effort, Android TV.
For those of you that need refreshing, the Chromecast is a cheap little stick for beaming content like Netflix, Pandora, Hulu and YouTube from your phone, tablet or computer to your TV. There are several competitors to the Chromecast, but none are as good as Chromecast. The Fire TV Stick looks like it will come as close as it gets, but again, just stick with Chromecast.
If you want an entire platform for your TV, not just a gateway for your other devices, then things get a bit trickier. If you want to live on the edge, Android TV and the Nexus Player have a lot of promise. Not only does the Nexus Player function as a standalone unit that can also play games with a separate controller, it works as a Google Cast device or Chromecast as well. But as far as content goes, it’s not quite as good as the newest Roku 3. Roku has been doing its thing for some time now, and it shows. Plus, Roku plays nice with Android. If you need more than a Chromecast, we have no problem recommending the Nexus Player because it has more than enough content as it is. But be warned that the Roku 3 is probably the better overall deal right now.