CRN Test Center: 10 Geek-Approved Gifts For Your Favorite Techie

Toys For Your Techie

Techies are the easiest people on the planet to buy for, unless you work in the CRN Test Center. With the enormous number of gadgets that pass through our labs, it takes a lot to catch our attention. Here are 10 gadgets that we think the techie in your life wouldn't mind tinkering with this holiday season.

Code Scanner

This is the perfect gift for the mechanic, car buff or anyone who wants intel on the "Check Engine" light before visiting the mechanic. BlueDriver from Lemur Monitors plugs into the OBD II port on any 1996 or newer car sold in the U.S. or Canada and scans the trouble codes coming from the car's systems. An app for Android or iOS connects to the pocket-size device, reads the codes and looks up the vehicle-specific diagnostics online. The app defines the codes, cites possible causes, recommends repairs and can clear the codes, if desired. It also can determine a car's readiness for emissions testing.

Price: $99.95; Android 4.0+ or iOS 7.0+

USB Flashlight

Who needs batteries with so many USB ports around? The Pelican ProGear 2380R Rechargeable LED Flashlight can shine an amazingly bright 305-lumen beacon for more than 3.5 hours on a charge, or 35 hours in its 30-lumen mode, which is still pretty bright. The beam adjusts to spot or flood and a strobe mode can signal an emergency. Shrouded in aluminum, the light weighs just 6.6 ounces with the included battery and carbon-steel belt clip. It also and comes with a battery status LED, USB cable for its hide-away microUSB charging port, and an adapter for using standard or rechargeable AA batteries.

Price: $109; lifetime warranty

Sound Matters

The name of this company also was the philosophy of its late founder, who literally was a rocket scientist. The latest in portable high fidelity is the Soundmatters Dash7, a tiny device that generates amazingly rich sound with maximum volume and zero distortion. The Dash7 is like a flattened version of FoxL, which we reviewed awhile back. It too is a Bluetooth speakerphone, plus a pure audio device with direct or wireless input and sub-woofer output. The price includes the 7-ounce Dash7 with 12-hour battery, 10-watt charger with international adapters, microUSB cable, 3.5mm audio cable and a travel case that doubles as a speaker stand.

Price: $199 list in red, white, black or gray

V-Moda XS

A true audiophile will appreciate the wide dynamic range, compact design and durability of V-Moda XS. With a range of 5Hz to 30,000Hz, these compact but potent on-ear headphones generate an unbelievable amount of pure, realistic sound, and yet fold up to store in a rigid case that's about the size of a grapefruit. The kit includes steel-reinforced MIL-STD 810G-rated XS headphones with left- and right-side inputs, hard "exoskeleton" case with carabiner carry hook, and two Kevlar-coated double-male microphone/control cables. The company also offers optional engraving.

Price: $212 in orange, red, gold or black

Bluetooth My Ride

Unabashedly targeted at gadget-loving guys is Hisgadget, maker of the iClever HimBox Bluetooth Car Kit, which adds Bluetooth phone and media input to any car audio system with a 3.5mm jack. The lighted Bluetooth 4.0 head unit provides remote volume and playback controls and can pair with two smartphones, iPods or other Bluetooth devices for music and hands-free phone calls. A single wire from the head unit splits into USB for power and audio for connecting to the car's auxiliary input. The kit includes a lighted cigarette-lighter adapter with 1A and 2A outputs that powers two devices simultaneously. The test vehicle's audio deck was equipped with a powered USB port, which simplified the installation. Pairing took just a few seconds. The unit automatically reconnects whenever it's in range and resumes playback if disconnected in that mode.

Price: $69.99 list; $39 street

Dell Speaks

For the more budget-minded shoppers for portable sound, there's the Bluetooth Portable Speaker from Dell. This speakerphone and audio device is a must-have option for presentations or other situations when the need is to be heard by a small group. The 7-inch-long unit and its 2.5-watt speakers can crank out loud, undistorted sound for about 10 hours on a charge. There's an auto shut-off, and it supports Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and direct connections. The kit includes a microUSB charger cable and 3.5mm audio cable.

Price: $69 list; $49 street

Slingbox M1

Sling Media, maker of boxes for watching cable, satellite, DVR and other far-away media devices over the Internet, this summer unveiled Slingbox M1, its least expensive solution yet. At half the price of the company's flagship SlingTV, Slingbox M1 replaces the Slingbox 350, a $200 box with similar capabilities minus Wi-Fi. Slingboxes connect in-line with the set-top box and stream everything coming out at resolutions up to 1,080p. The M1 connects via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet and provides composite and component ports. Content can be viewed through a browser or native client on any Mac or Windows PC.

Price: $149 list; $49 street

Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Never again forget to turn off the coffee maker or turn on the Slingbox. Address either scenario remotely or on a schedule with D-Link's Wi-Fi Smart Plug and the mydlink app for Android 4.0+ or iOS 6.0+. The Smart Plug connects in minutes to any Wi-Fi network and can turn on or off a device that's plugged in and drawing up to 1,800 watts. It supports WPS for quick connection to compatible routers, manual on/off via remote control, scheduled events and push notifications.

Price: $49.99 list; $38.99 street

For The Ultimate Selfie

While we don't condone breaking the law to capture the next viral selfie, we have to admit that this is one very cool photo. It was done with the Monopod Selfie Stick from iStabilizer. The kit contains the company's patent-pending smartMount with two sets of threads, allowing the shaft to attach to the side or the back of the smartphone. With a grip that spreads to 3.5 inches, it supports all iPhone models from 4 through 6 Plus as well as Samsung Galaxy 5, Note and S models. The telescopic shaft is 12 inches long when collapsed and stretches to more than 3 feet in length when fully extended, plus a few inches for the mount. Twisting the handle locks the current length. The company offers a special price when bundled with its Shutter Remote for iOS.

Price: $59.92, Monopod-Shutter Remote for iOS bundle

Flux Capacitor

Fans of the 1985 sci-fi classic "Back to the Future" will appreciate having a flux capacitor that actually works. The Flux Capacitor USB Car Charger from ThinkGeek plugs into the cigarette lighter port and provides 1-amp and 2.1-amp USB outlets for charging smartphones and tablets. A power switch activates the ports and the animated fluxing action. Time travel not included.

Price: $24.99; DeLorean optional