Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Affordable Gifts for the Holidays

Everyone's feeling the pinch this holiday season. While the December issue of here's how! magazine is chocked-full of holiday gift ideas in every category of technology (it'll be available soon!), I thought I'd offer up some small, affordable gadget gift ideas for those working on a really tight budget.

Belkin Rockstar: If there's a Hannah Montana-loving teen or tween on your list, this device will probably bode well with her. It's a star-shaped hub equipped with six 3.5 mm jacks for sharing music from a connected iPod or other MP3 player with a group of friends. Songs can even be mixed together using an optional second wire. At just about $25, it's certainly an attractive option for the budget-conscious.

NRG2 12-Volt Charger: If there's an avid business person on your list that's often on the road, this new charger will be ideal for him. The gadget can charge your phone (11 different models are available to accomodate 90% of the phones on the market today), but also charge a second device, like a Bluetooth headset or portable navigation unit, via a side-mounted USB port. It's convenient, and helps to reduce glove-box clutter! $35

Nintendo DS' Personal Trainer: Cooking: If you know an adult who owns a Nintendo DS gaming system, they might appreciate this cool "game" which not only feature hundreds of recipes from around the world, but also teaches you how to make them through written and video instructions. You can also learn how to perform basic tasks that someone foreign to the kitchen might not be clear on, like how to julienne vegetables (huh?) or properly chop an onion. The unit can also serve as a virtual shopping list, storing items you select (from recipes you plan to make, perhaps?) in a file you can later pull up at the store. About $20

HP Photo Books: When the economy is weak, people stay home. While watching TV and movies, and playing video games will be a popular past-time, others like to muck around with the PC and digital photos. HP's Photo Books are some of the neatest ones I've seen, mainly due to the bendable spine that lets you pop out and rearrange pages as you like. This not only helps with the creative process, but also allows you to continually modify your project until it's picture-perfect. Each book comes with software for creating visual masterpieces with not just photos, but also momentos, like ticket stubs, cards, and the like. $14.99-$24.99 (5x7 and 8.5x11 sizes)

Scosche passPORT
: Last month, it was brought to my attention that the new, 4G iPods could not be charged with older-model accessories, like docks or FM transmitters. They would work, but just wouldn't simultaneously charge. While this might seem like a minor setback, many rely on that secondary charging function to keep an iPod going during a party, or keep the tunes coming in the car. An iPod-lover that just bought a fourth-gen model will appreciate the passPORT, even if he doesn't yet realize he'll need it. The small device sits in between the iPod and the accessory and facilitates the charging function. While the currently-available model only works with in-car accessories, Scosche is in the midst of developing a similar device that will work with home accessories, including speaker systems and docking stations. $30

Gene Simmons AXE Rock Band Guitar: Any KISS fan that likes to rock out on Rock Band or Guitar Hero won't be able to resist the wireless AXE guitar, which is designed as an exact (but smaller) replica of the original, and comes signed by Simmons himself. It works with both Rock Band and Guitar Hero for the PlayStation 2 and 3. A Nintendo Wii version is coming later this year. $80

Powerstick On-the-Go Charger: Made by environmentally-friendly company Ecosol Solar Technologies Inc., this gadget (depicted above) charges up via USB in about 90-minutes (for about 90% of its full capacity), then can be used on-the-go to charge a multitude of portable devices via nine connectors (included), like mobile phones or MP3 players. Since all its power is drawn from your PC, you're not using up additional valuable energy resources. $70

Roots Tuffskin for BlackBerry Bold: The BlackBerry Bold just came out this year, and early-adopters who have already picked one up (especially since the price has dropped considerably) are likely in the market for protective case. I particularly like this model because it offers simple protection around the perimeter of the device while still allowing you to access all of the functions. As a bonus, the included belt clip doubles as a desktop stand (via grooves in the metal clip) so you can watch a video on the airplane, or "dock" the device on your desk. $25-30

Samsung CLEO Mobile Phone: Any woman you know who loves everything feminine and pink will go crazy for Samsung's CLEO phone, which comes finished in the delicate colour, but also cleverly looks just like a make-up compact. While you'll need a contract through Bell Mobility (or Solo Mobile, but this carrier only offers the phone in champagne), the phone itself will cost $25 if you sign them up for 3-years. Not too shabby!

Belkin Mini Surge: Everyone knows someone who travels a lot for either work, fun, or a combination of both. Every time I walk into a hotel room, I'm hunting around for outlets to plug in my laptop, DSLR charger, video camera, and cell phone. Often times, they end up spread around the room (my phone in the bathroom!), or I alternate charging devices using the few outlets that are available. The Mini Surge turns one outlet into four power and two USB instantly, eliminating the issue, and letting you charge everything in one spot. $30

This only scratches the surface of "gifts under $100". Stay tuned to the Holiday issue of here's how! magazine for more gadget gift ideas, as well as more ambitious and pricy gifts, from flat-panel TVs to DSLRs and PC products. Also keep an eye out for our picks for Gear of the Year.

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Marta said...

Would you happen to have a link to a website that shows the HP Photo Books?

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Marta,

Funny enough, you are not the first reader to ask me that. I am told by HP Canada that the books can be purchased through www.hpshopping.ca, and through select retailers, including Wal-Mart. I hope this helps!

NewYork Baby said...

Another great gift suggestion is the new ShareBuds MX twin stereo headphones.

It offers a fun and easy way for 2 friends to share their favorite playlist on iPods and mp3 player. ShareBuds can be purchased through http://www.sharebuds.com or on amazon.com

I highly recommend it as the best headphones for sharing music!