Holiday Gift Guide 2012: 25 Hot Ideas For Your Techie4:00 PM EST Tue. Nov. 20, 2012
With all the gadgets on the market today, finding the right holiday gift for your techie can be a challenge. That's why CRN has compiled this list of 25 must-have products, ranging from smartphones to keyboards to solar-covered tablet covers, for tech-lovers of all ages.
Some are on the pricier end and some are a steal -- but all are sure to please. Take a look.
Apple's new iPad mini delivers all the same features your techie loves about the iPad, just in a smaller, more portable package.
Great for frequent travelers, the iPad mini measures 7.87 inches (full-sized iPads, by comparison, measure 9.5 inches) and is just 0.68 pounds. Its smaller frame lets the iPad mini easily slide into purses or brief cases, and users can hold the tablet with just one hand.
The only drawback is that the display is a bit of downgrade compared to bigger iPads, but other specs, such as battery life and cameras, are identical. The iPad mini ranges from $329 to $659, depending on the model.
If a 7-inch tablet tops your techie's wish list this season, Amazon's Kindle Fire HD may be the way to go, touting specs that give Apple's iPad mini a run for its money and costing nearly $130 less.
The Kindle Fire HD comes equipped with a 1,280-by-800 HD display, dual-driver stereo speakers and dual-antenna Wi-Fi that, according to Amazon, lets it download content 40 percent faster than the third-generation iPad. Plus, it comes with a free month of Amazon Prime, which lets users stream unlimited movies and TV shows and borrow books from the Kindle library.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD comes in a 16-GB model for $199 and a 32-GB model for $249.
Give the gift of Wi-Fi this year with Verizon's Jetpack Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L.
This little gadget may not look all the snazzy, but it's a great way to ensure those Wi-Fi-only Kindles, iPads and Nexus tablets always find a hot spot. It provides Verizon's latest 4G LTE Wi-Fi and can support up to 10 mobile devices at a time. It also gets an impressive 10 hours of battery life, so makes for a great travel companion.
The Jetpack goes for $50 with any Verizon two-year contract.
There's nothing worse than having to remove your gloves in sub-zero temperatures just to post that urgent tweet. So help your techie keep warm this winter -- while still staying digitally connected -- with Digits, mini conductive pins that attach to the fingertips of gloves. Users can post pictures, search the Web and more on any touchscreen device -- without having to shed the gloves.
You can get a four-pack of Digits on www.quirky.com for just $12.
For any old-school gamers out there, consider Discover Bay's Atari Arcade for the iPad.
The dock itself sells for $60 and transforms your techie's iPad into a classic Atari gaming console. Users can choose from 99 different games, including old favorites like Asteroids, Centipede and Missile Command, which are available via the Atari Greatest Hips app in Apple's App Store.
For any musically-inclined techies, there's the Line 6 Mobile Keys 25 Controller, which turns any tablet, PC or Mac into a mini-piano.
Equipped with 25 full-sized, velocity-sensitive keys, this portable keyboard is compatible with any CoreMIDI music apps, along with digital audio workstations such as GarageBand. It's bus-powered, too, so there's no need for batteries or an adapter.
The Line 6 Mobile Keys 25 Controller sells for $150 on Line 6's website.
Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is essentially two gifts in one, arming your techie's iPad with a secure carrying case and a wireless keyboard.
When on-the-go, the case snaps securely over the tablet, protecting it from any of those dreaded bumps and drops. When it's time for business, the cover can be snapped off and used as a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard, allowing users to quickly type up emails and other documents.
It goes for $100 dollars and comes in black, white and red. Personalized engravings are also available.
Can't decide whether to surprise your loved ones this year with a tablet or a smartphone? Give them both with the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Its half-smartphone, half-tablet design makes the Samsung Galaxy Note II stand out from the slew of other mobile devices on the market today. The gadget comes with Google's latest mobile OS -- Android 4.1 Jelly Bean -- along with 4G LTE support and a 5.5-inch HD display. Samsung also offers its S Pen stylus along with the Note, meaning users can jot down digital notes or doodle directly on the screen.
The Galaxy Note II starts around $300 with most two-year contracts.
Velocomp's iBike Powerhouse is a unique gift for any techie's whose new year's resolution is to shed a few pounds.
The iBike Powerhouse kit, which includes a cycling app from iTunes, a water- and shock-resistant iPhone case, and a handle-bar mount, transforms your iPhone or iPod Touch into a personal spinning instructor. The iBike app lets users create a personalized cycling program designed around their unique fitness goals, while also keeping track of cycling speed, distance, time and calories burned. Once the app is downloaded, users can securely fasten their Apple devices to their bikes and get cycling.
The iBike Powerhouse kit sells for $280 on Velocomp's website.
One of the most portable and powerful wireless speakers on the market, Jawbone's Jambox would make a great gift for any tunes-loving techie.
According to Jawbone, Jambox is one of the few wireless speakers available that's equipped with a pair of proprietary acoustic drivers, letting it deliver a really big sound in a really small package. Jambox is compatible with most Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as iPhones, iPads, iPods, Android smartphones and tablets, and most Macs and PCs. Plus, it weighs under a pound and gets a solid 10 hours of battery life, making it a great gift for on-the-go music lovers.
Jawbone's Jambox speakers come in a variety of designs and colors, most of which start at $200.
Put safety first this holiday season with the GoSmart Clip, a nifty little gadget that lets you attach your smartphone to your car steering wheel so your eyes never have to leave the road.
Compatible with iPhones, BlackBerrys and pretty much all other smartphone on the market, the GoSmart Clip securely fastens to steering wheels of all sizes, making GPS navigation and placing phone calls much easier -- and safer -- while driving. The clip can also be attached to items like shopping carts, baby strollers, beach umbrellas and exercise equipment, and it includes a kickstand for viewing videos hands-free.
The GoSmart Clip sells for $26 on Amazon.com.
Delight your Apple fanatic this year with an iPhone 5 (assuming, of course, they didn't already wait in a line for two days to nab one).
Faster, thinner and lighter than previous iPhone models, the new iPhone 5 created a frenzy when it was launched in September, and Apple sold more than 5 million of them within the first three days of availability. So what's all the fuss about? Apart from its more powerful processor and thinner form factor, Apple's latest smartphone also runs iOS 6, Apple's latest mobile software, and includes the same top-notch Retina display that debuted with the third-generation iPad.
Now that the rush is over, you can get an iPhone 5 at Apple and carrier stores, starting at $299.
Apple's iPad may rule the tablet market, but that doesn't mean there aren't any worthy competitors out there. Google's Nexus 10, a 10-inch, Android-based tablet, is one of them -- and it sells for at least $100 less than the fourth-generation iPad, letting you save a few bucks this holiday season.
And don't worry -- its modest price tag doesn't mean sub-par specs. The display on the Nexus 10 actually has more pixels than the fourth-generation iPad's Retina display, plus it runs a powerful ARM Cortex 15 dual-core processor and weighs in at just 1.3 pounds.
Google offers a 16-GB model of the Nexus 10 for $399 and a 32-GB version for $499.
If your techie is trying to go "green" this year, go for Impecca's eco-friendly and wireless keyboards.
Hand-carved from 100 percent natural bamboo, Impecca's keyboards are both biodegradable and beautifully designed. They feature 2.4GHz wireless technology and are compatible with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 (but not yet with Windows 8 or Macs). Impecca also offers a bamboo mouse, to complete the package.
The keyboards and mice come in cherry or mahogany bamboo and start at $99 for a set.
If you techie is eager to give Windows 8 a go, Dell's XPS Duo 12 is one of the most unique form factors out there touting Microsoft's newest OS.
The hybrid PC boasts a half-tablet, half-notebook form factor that lets users pop the screen out of a detachable bezel frame when they want to use the device as a tablet and pop it back in when they want to use it in laptop mode. The XPS Duo 12 is also fully touch-enabled and, according to Dell, has 97 percent more pixels than standard HP displays, making the Windows 8 "Metro UI" pop.
The PC starts at $1,199 and is available on Dell's website.
Microsoft Surface is the perfect gift this year for any techies curious to test run the software giant's first go at a tablet.
Running Windows RT, the ARM-specific flavor of Windows 8, Surface is a 10-inch tablet that comes with an integrated kickstand, allowing users to prop it up to watch movies or browse the Web hands-free. It starts at $499 and can be bundled with Microsoft's Touch Cover keyboard for an additional $120 to offer a more laptop-like experience.
Another version of Surface, running Windows 8 Pro, is slated to launch in January.
Help your favorite techie stay organized this year with Neat's NeatDesk desktop scanner and digital filing system.
This high-speed device scans all those pesky documents strewn across your home office -- ranging from receipts to bills to business cards -- and then organizes them so you don't have to. Embedded software identifies, extracts and organizes key information from all scanned documents, transforming receipts, for instance, into digital records with specific vendors and amounts.
NeatDesk is available for $400 and works with both PCs and Macs.
Lenovo gave its popular ThinkPad laptop a make-over this year, in the form of its new ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook. It's equipped with the same robust and business-centric functionality that's become synonymous with the ThinkPad brand, but in a much thinner and lighter frame, making it perfect for any techies out there in need of a new work notebook.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook is a 14-inch notebook running Intel's Ivy Bridge processors and Microsoft's new Windows 8 OS. According to Lenovo, the X1 Carbon is just 0.74-inches thick and weighs just less than three pounds. It also has Lenovo's signature island-style keyboard, complete with its little red tracking ball.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon starts at $1,250 on Lenovo's website.
Another gift idea for the eco-conscious is SolarKindle, a unique tablet case that charges the Kindle with a high-performance solar panel built right into its cover.
Also included in the case is a built-in reserve battery to ensure the Kindle never runs out of juice, along with an LED reading light. A USB port is also integrated into SolarKindle, for charging the good ol' fashioned way on those not-so-sunny days. The case sells for $40 on SolarFocus' and Amazon's websites.
With Philip's new Hue light bulbs, the phrase "mood lighting" takes on a whole new meaning.
Hue lights are controlled via an iPhone and iPad app, which lets users turn them on and off remotely and even change their colors -- ranging from light yellow to bright blue -- to better fit the mood. A timer option is also included that gradually brightens the bulb's over time, transforming Hue into a less-jolting alternative to alarm clocks.
A three-bulb Hue start pack can be bought in Apple stores for $200. A single pack with one bulb is also available for $60.
We've all been caught singing in the shower at least once. So this year, let your loved ones embrace their inner vocalists with iShower's wireless speakers.
These fully waterproof, easy-to-install speakers connect via Bluetooth to iPhones, iPods and Android smartphones, providing up to 15 hours of music streaming from up to a 200-foot range. The device, which goes for $100 on iShower's website, is easily detachable, so it can also be used by the pool or the beach, without having to worry about water damage.
Mouse pads aren’t exactly the most sought-after holiday gifts. But GoSmart changes all that by throwing high-quality sheep skin into the mix.
Said to seriously relieve pressure and make for a more comfortable computing experience, the RestPad has a plush wrist rest crafted out of sheepskin that GoSmart claims blows any other wrist rest out the water. The RestPad is also 38 percent bigger than the average mouse pad, which could nicely complement the massive displays used for some desktops and all-in-ones today.
GoSmart offers the RestPad for $35 in tan, black or pink.
Another great pick for athletic techies this year is Jawbone's UP activity-monitoring wristband.
Jawbone offers a wristband for $130 on its website, which users wear and synch with a free iPhone app to monitor exercise levels, steps taken and calories burned directly on their iPhones. Users can also keep track of other health-related items, such as how much sleep they get every night and the nutritional value of their diets.
Roku's most advanced streaming player yet -- the Roku 2 XS -- will arm your techie with hundreds of free movies, plus totally new features such as motion control support for games and even a free full edition of Angry Birds.
What's more, Roku 2 XS has extended-range wireless, support for 1,080-pixel HD video, and Ethernet and USB ports. Over 500 entertainment channels can be accessed with the device, and it works with virtually any TV. The 2 SX player can be purchased on Roku's website for $100.
Sony's Cyber-shot WX150 packs the punch of a bigger, more expensive digital camera into a thin and light frame that makes it much more convenient to use.
Just 0.85 inches thick, the super-slim Cyber-shot WX510 has an 18.2-megapixel sensor, along with Clear Image digital zoom technology that lets users magnify an image by an impressive 20 times. It also has unique features like Picture Effect, which lets photographers customize their pictures using nine different techniques.
The Cyber-shot WX510 comes in a range of colors and sells for $230 on Sony's website.