Bloomberg News

Gadgets Under $300 Top Techie Gift List: Rich Jaroslovsky

December 20, 2011

(Adds information about pricing of both BungeeAir models in eighth paragraph.)

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Your favorite digerati should be easy to shop for. After all, a new must-have gadget comes out every other week. Somehow, though, many families -- my own among them -- disagree, arguing that with so many choices, finding the right gift can be a bewildering task, especially for non- techies.

So consider yourself lucky if Mom has her heart set on an iPad 2 or Sonny pines for an Xbox 360. But if you’re facing no such obvious option, here are a dozen other suggestions for the holiday season.

UP activity monitor (www.jawbone.com, $100). This colorful waterproof wristband, made to be worn 24 hours a day, measures the wearer’s number of steps and sleep patterns, issues reminders about getting up and moving around and tracks progress on a free iPhone app. The approach may be on the primitive side, but it’s fun and simple.

Nook Tablet (www.barnesandnoble.com/nook, $249). Sure, Amazon.com captured most of the budget-tablet buzz with Kindle Fire’s smoking $199 price tag and ready-made ecosystem of music, movies and e-books. But for only $50 more, Barnes & Noble gives you twice the memory, twice the storage, sleeker hardware and fewer software bugs.

TimeCommand alarm clock dock (www.steminnovation.com, $100). Who wants a boring old alarm clock when you can pop your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch onto this round dock, download the free Stem app and make it do all sorts of tricks? Connect a lamp, for example, and program it to come on at the same time as your morning music. A new, space-saving mini version costs $20 less.

Peel universal control (www.peel.com, $79). This palm-size, pear-shaped device and free app allows an Apple or Android phone to take charge of TV and home-entertainment gear without wires or plug-in modules. Even better, the app learns its owner’s viewing tastes and makes intelligent recommendations about what to watch.

Play 3 wireless speaker (www.sonos.com, $299). This smaller, lower-cost addition to the Sonos multiroom stereo system lets you stream music wirelessly from your computer or from Internet services like Spotify and Pandora. You can play different music in different rooms or pair up two of them for enhanced stereo.

BungeeAir Power wireless security tether (www.kensington.com, $100 with built-in battery, $80 without). For those who are more attached to an iPhone than to some family members, consider this: A case paired with a keychain fob that sounds an alarm if they -- or their phone -- wanders off.

GoFlex Satellite wireless hard drive (www.seagate.com, $200). Store up to half a terabyte of movies, TV shows, photos and music on this nine-ounce gadget, then stream them simultaneously to up to three nearby tablets or smartphones. A godsend for parents looking to keep young ones amused on long car trips.

AR.Drone flying game device (www.parrot.com, $300). Pilot this Wi-Fi-controlled gyroscopic hovercraft with your smartphone. Play augmented-reality games. View a real-time video feed from the onboard cameras. Crash into stuff. What’s not to like?

Nest learning thermostat (www.nest.com, $250). If you put an Apple Store inside a Home Depot, this is what it might sell. It’s designed by Tony Fadell, the guy who built the original iPod. Nest is a high-tech, Wi-Fi-enabled intelligent thermostat that learns your habits and preferences, adjusts itself accordingly and lets you control everything from your iPhone.

Nintendo 3DS handheld game console (www.nintendo.com/3ds, $170). The 3DS provides lots of options for having fun. The glasses-free 3-D effects make games that much more immersive. The built-in camera takes 3-D photos as well as creating customized avatars. Most mind blowing: the included augmented- reality games.

Soulra XL beach boom box (www.etonsoulra.com, $250). Twenty-two watts of thumping sound from your water-and-sand- protected iPod or iPhone is nice. Even nicer is being able to listen all day with no electrical outlet in sight and still have juice left over, thanks to the fold-out 72-square-inch solar panel. The company claims eight hours of continuous use; I got more than 10.

Logitech K750 wireless solar keyboard (www.logitech.com, $80). The keyboard charges itself in any kind of light -- artificial as well as sunlight -- and Logitech says it will stay charged for up to three months in total darkness. Who says it’s not easy being green?

(Rich Jaroslovsky is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

--Editors: Jeremy Gerard, Zinta Lundborg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rich Jaroslovsky in San Francisco at rjaroslovsky@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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