Buying gifts for the tech-savvy people on your list can be a daunting task if you’re not up on the latest trends in the digital world, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to disappoint your favorite gadget geek. There are lots of reliable options out there if you have some passing knowledge of your intended recipient’s lifestyle or general interests.
In the interest of making your gift the best surprise of the holiday season for your favorite techie, here are some suggestions to get you aimed in the right direction.
For the photographer on your list, Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Cards instantly send photos from a digital camera to a registered computer via Wi-Fi, eliminating the need to manually transfer images from your camera’s memory card to your computer. The Eye-Fi card can also be connected to the user’s Flickr or Facebook accounts for instant uploads as the photos are taken. A 4GB card will run $50, while the “Pro” card will cost $100 for 8GB of photo space.
If there’s someone on your list who’s never without a smartphone or tablet computer, you can make the winter months a little easier on him or her with the Agloves touch screen gloves. Silver nylon thread woven into the gloves allows them to conduct the body’s bio-electric current through the material—which enables you to use your iPhone without taking off your gloves. There are several versions of the gloves available, with the basic pair costing $18.
For the old-school music-lovers on your list, why not give them an easy way to transfer their favorite vinyl or cassette tapes to digital form? What used to be an expensive process is now fairly cheap—and simple—with Ion Audio’s Tape Express and Quick Play Flash. Both items connect directly to your computer via the standard USB drive, and offer a quick way to convert analog music to digital-standard MP3 format. The Tape Express will cost you $60 to preserve your precious mixtapes, while the Quick Play Flash will run you $70 for its vinyl-converting magic.
If converting music isn’t an issue, but playing it on the go is, make sure to check out the X-Mini Capsule Speaker. Sure, it looks like a yo-yo, but this palm-sized speaker packs a powerful sound. It uses the standard 3.5mm output jack, and its collapsable, accordion-like design allows it to fit just about anywhere. The best part? You can combine several of the speakers together to increase the audio output. The X-Mini will cost you around $30, but the amount of fun your intended recipient will have with it is priceless.
So, what about the health-conscious techie on your list? Well, the Fitbit Ultra has quickly become the must-have item for anyone interested in tracking their fitness (or lack thereof) routine. The tiny device tracks all of your activity throughout the day, whether it’s simple steps, climbing stairs, jogging, or even sleeping, and creates all of the charts and graphs you could possibly want from the data. Want to know how many steps you walked today or how many hours of actual sleep you got last night? The Fitbit Ultra will tell you. On top of all that, it’s Wi-Fi compatible, so there’s no need to constantly sync it up with your computer or upload any data. This pocket-sized personal trainer will run you $100.
Of course, if your tech-friendly giftee is more of a sedentary type, there are a lot of options out there on the entertainment side of the industry, too. The Roku Streaming Player is the hands-down favorite among streaming video boxes, offering the most bang for the buck when it comes to channels, apps, and options that make overpriced cable plans look silly. For those who aren’t familiar with streaming video boxes, the devices hook up to your television and offer an organized, intuitive arrangement of free streaming video and subscription-based services (like Netflix and Hulu Plus). Basically, it allows you to choose your own programming options and watch streaming video without the need for a full-on computer attached to your TV. The basic Roku box costs just $50, with more expensive models offering higher-definition video.
Finally, what about all those tablet computers everyone’s talking about? Well, when it comes to that market, Apple’s iPad 2 is the industry leader by a wide margin, but Amazon’s new Kindle Fire has been closing the gap since it launched last month. No one will turn down an iPad 2, but if you want your gift to be the one everyone wants to try for themselves, pick up the Kindle Fire. The 7-inch tablet takes up barely any space in a backpack or satchel, has access to thousands of awesome apps, and is optimized for reading your favorite books. It’s safe to bet that the Kindle Fire will probably be one of the most popular gifts this holiday season, and with a $200 price tag that’s significantly cheaper than an iPad (basic models start at $500), it’s hard to go wrong with this one.
And there you go, aspiring gadget-gifters—a list to delight even the most hardcore tech geeks. Whether you’re buying for your friends or family, each one of these gifts is likely to make its new owner’s eyes light up like an LED. And while the admiration and thanks each gift will earn you makes it a sort of win-win deal, we won’t think bad of you if you decide to double-up and pick up one of these gadgets for yourself, too. ‘Tis the season, after all.