More Than a Dozen Tech Gifts That Won't Melt Your Credit Card
Strapped for cash? Keeping up with the latest technology doesn't always require pinching pennies. From Blu-ray players to Bluetooth devices, you can find a plethora of useful technology gear, each item priced less than $200.
Here is our collection of seriously cool tech gifts and stocking stuffers. With such affordable products to choose from, even the most frugal shopper can survive this holiday season without breaking a sweat. Our picks are sure to make your bank account happy--and you (or your gift recipient) even happier.
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Powermat Wireless Battery Charging Pad, $100
Each wireless device you own comes with its own plug-in battery charger, which can occupy a lot of room and crowd power outlets. The solution?
Consider a battery-charging pad such as the convenient Powermat, which uses magnetic induction technology. After you plug the pad in, you can charge multiple devices at once simply by placing them on it.
Once the devices come in contact with the Powermat, they automatically begin to charge. The Powermat's foldable sides make it perfect for travel, too.
Shure SE210 Noise-Isolating In-Ear Canal Headphones, $180
If you're looking for an upgrade from your standard Apple earbuds, try the Shure SE210 set. These noise-isolating in-ear headphones block out loud street noise and deliver crisp, rich sound, playing your music at its full potential.
The headphones come with several different sizes of earbud sleeves to help you achieve a snug fit and to create a listening experience personalized to your needs. Their tiny size makes them great on-the-go headphones--an ideal match for your portable media devices.
Samsung BD-P1600 Blu-ray Disc Player, $179
While it isn't the lowest-priced Blu-ray player on the market, the Samsung BD-P1600 has special features that set it apart from less-expensive models.
Capable of displaying good-quality video from both Blu-ray discs and DVDs, the BD-P1600 is also one of the few Blu-ray players that allow you to stream Pandora radio through your TV or home theater system. You can also stream Netflix videos and add the BD-Live system if you have wireless Internet capabilities.
With Blu-ray/DVD flipper discs on the horizon, the time is right to invest in Blu-ray technology.
Click Free C2 Portable Backup Drive, $140 (250GB)
The Click Free C2 portable backup drive offers an easy, hassle-free way to back up all of your files. It has an integrated USB cable and can back up more than 400 file types, and it automatically updates when you hook it up to your computer.
In particular, though, this drive's ability to back up or transfer songs from your iPod makes it a standout choice. To perfom the iPod backup, you simply plug your player into your computer while the C2 is connected, follow the on-screen instructions that pop up, and watch as your songs jump from your iPod to your PC.
Kodak Zi8 HD Camcorder, $180
The Kodak Zi8 HD camcorder creates stellar video footage in 1080p, full-HD resolution--an impressive feat for a pocket camcorder.
Nestled securely at number 20 on our PC World 100 list, the Zi8 also includes digital image stabilization and a microphone-in jack that lets you use headphones or earbuds as an external mic.
With a wide range of other resolutions and frame-rate counts to choose from, it gives some full-size camcorders a run for their money.
Jabra Halo Bluetooth Headphones, $130
Designed to be paired with your iPhone or other music playing phone, Jabra Halo headphones offer rich playback of your tunes, as well as the ability to answer a call.
If you receive a call midsong, just push the play/pause button on the right earpiece of the Halo to pause the audio and answer the call. When the call ends, the song picks up right where it left off.
Though our tests showed that the Halo's music quality outperformed its call quality, the set's sleek design and comfortable fit make these wireless stereo Bluetooth headphones a great two-for-one item.
Vantec NexStar External USB SATA Drive Dock, $40
Have more spare hard drives sitting around than you know what to do with? The Vantex NexStar External USB SATA dual drive dock acts as a home for your hard drives, keeping them in an easy-to-store device that your home computer can easily access.
Just plug your 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives into the docks' slots and hook the dock up to your PC with a USB or eSATA connector. Without having to open your computer's case, you gain lots more room for transferring, backing up, or copying your files.
Etre Touchy Gloves for Mobile Equipment Use, $33
Using wireless devices with gloved hands can be a pain. We recommend the Etre Touchy gloves for winter weather.
These gadget-friendly knitted gloves expose only your index fingers and thumbs but keep the rest of your digits warm and toasty as you text away. Pushing buttons, answering calls, and using touchscreens are a breeze. The different patterns make these gloves a great stocking stuffer, too.
Note: The Etre Touchy gloves ship from the UK, so order them soon to ensure that they arrive in time for the holidays.
Nintendo Wii Game Console, $199
Since its arrival in 2006, the Nintendo Wii has been a favorite console for both gamers and nongamers alike.
The Wii, best experienced with multiplayer games, features a fun-to-use motion-sensing remote. Originally $250, the Wii underwent a price drop recently, making it a must-have for any household.
The console comes with one Wii Remote, a nunchuk remote attachment, and all appropriate wiring. You also get the Wii Sports disc, an excellent first game that features five different sporting categories designed to teach you how to move with the Wii Remote.
Scosche SolChat Bluetooth Car Speakerphone, $100
If you're not a fan of traditional Bluetooth earpieces, the Scosche SolChat is an unusual option for hands-free chatting and driving.
This unique Bluetooth speakerphone device attaches to your car visor or windshield and continuously charges the battery through solar panels. Special features include voice dialing and voice-announce caller ID. No sun? No problem--you can use the car/USB charger.
Chumby One Personal Internet Player, $120
The alarm-clock-size appliance streams preselected content from your computer to its 3.5-inch LCD color touchscreen.
Just activate your Chumby online and choose from more than 1500 widgets that you'd like to have at your fingertips, including widgets for Facebook, Flickr, Pandora, Twitter, games, and live news updates. All widgets are free to download; you pay no subscription cost or monthly fee.
Whether you use the Chumby to read your e-mail right before bed or you set it up to keep you company in the kitchen, it's a fun alternative to a smartphone.
Livescribe Pulse Smart Pen, $170 (2GB)
With a smart pen handy, you never have to worry about missing information in your important meetings. That's why we like the Livescribe Pulse. Using a digital pen brings note-taking to a whole new interactive level, as the device records audio and links it to what you write.
This clever pen also matches the history of your notes to the timing of the note recording--just tap the pen on a word, and it automatically plays back the voice notes captured at the time you wrote that word.
The Pulse requires special dotted paper (a notebook is included); it functions by recognizing specific patterns. Commands at the bottom of each sheet control when the pen starts, stops, and plays back parts of the recording.
The digital pen also has a USB port to transfer your audio notes to your computer.
Interested in other smart pens? Consider the Adapx Capturx, a pricier model designed to work smoothly with Microsoft Office.
Universal Remote Control RFS200 Remote and RF Receiver, $89
Using only one device to control all of your A/V components can make your home theater system run much more smoothly--and make your life much easier.
We recommend the Universal Remote Control RFS200 PowerPak Bundle, which allows you to control up to ten different components with one remote.
The device's strong RF receiver picks up signals through walls, floors, and doors, so you can control your home theater system from anywhere in your house. The remote is so strong that it can even work outdoors (perfect if your theater system extends to your backyard).
Give yourself some time to program the remote, and be sure to reference the program guide; setup can leave you confused if you're a home theater rookie. Once it's ready, however, it's easy to use. This universal remote is a great deal at its low price.
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