Apps can expand a smartphone or tablet’s usefulness a thousand different ways, but they don’t make the most satisfying gifts. They simply don’t have a commanding presence under the tree nor do they have that satisfying rattle when you shake them.

This year, fill your wish list with some accessories to expand the usefulness of your favorite device and avoid the glut of iTunes gift cards.

I know what you’re thinking, but smartphone and tablet accessories have come a long way. They have finally broken free of the standard case/stand/headset trifecta. Now, when synced with your smart-device via Wifi, Bluetooth or your wireless network, accessories have the ability to expand what you can see, hear and feel. Take a look and see just what your device can be capable of now.

UP JawboneUP

$129.99

UP is a wristband that tracks your movement and sleep in the background. Data is stored and accessible through your smartphone or tablet where you can also input the meals you eat and moods you’re feeling to build a comprehensive record of your health.

Cool feature: By monitoring your sleep, UP will wake you at the optimal time within 30 minutes of your set alarm time.

Image courtesy Jawbone.com

BoostTurbine1000Etón BoostTurbine1000

$50

What does your smart-device need more than anything? Love. After that it needs power. We take for granted our access to electricity until a superstorm slams into the Eastern Seaboard. A battery backup can extend a device’s charge for a few more hours, but then it needs to be recharged itself. That’s when the BoostTurbine really proves its flexibility. Not only can it be charged via an electrical outlet, but it has a built-in hand crank to generate power after its onboard battery is drained.

Cool feature: In one minute, the hand-powered generator can produce enough power for a 30-second call or a few texts.

Image courtesy www.etoncorp.com

Logitech K810Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810

$99.99

There is nothing quite as efficient as typing on a full-size keyboard, but having a keyboard for your computer and one for your device on your desk is decidedly inefficient. Save some frustration and desktop real estate with Logitech’s K810 keyboard which can switch between your computer or device — iOS or Android — with the touch of a switch.

Cool feature: The keyboard is backlit for low-light conditions.

Image courtesy logitech.com

Ribbon StreamerRibbon Stereo Bluetooth Streamer

$69

In a world of wireless advances, earphones seem to have made the least progress. Bluetooth earphone sets are either bulky and uncomfortable or prohibitively expensive. A decent compromise is the Ribbon Stereo Streamer which relays the music from your device to any speaker with a 3.5mm plug. So, why not just plug your earphones into your device? The Ribbon easily clips to your clothing and includes volume and play controls so you can leave your device in your pocket without getting tangled in the wire.

Cool feature: The Ribbon includes a built-in microphone to make and take calls while you listen to music.

 

Image courtesy myblueant.com

PebblePebble

$150

Yes, you already have a watch, but does it sync with your smartphone to display caller ID, email, alerts, social media messages and the weather? The Pebble alerts you to notifications with a vibration. Dismiss notifications with a shake of your wrist.

Cool feature: The Pebble has three time displays: analog, digital and written word.

Image courtesy getpebble.com

DropcamDropcam

$149

Up to now, watching a closed-circuit feed on a smart-device has been an incredibly frustrating achievement for anyone without a degree from MIT. Dropcam claims to have the setup process down to one minute with three simple steps. The camera is HD, sound and motion activated, has remote zoom control and can see in the dark. Receive an alert when sound or movement is detected and see what is happening on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Cool feature: Dropcam has two-way audio so you can tell Fido to get off the couch.

Image courtesy dropcam.com