What do the kids want? Gramma? Dad? Your sister? I will tell you. They want intangibles like eternal love, happiness, world peace, acceptance, and a clean house. But those are difficult to wrap. So we buy each other gifts so everyone will have something to open. As long as you don’t buy something truly awful, the love and hope message somehow gets through. So all you have to do? Not screw up.
Everyone loves tech. So I rounded up some awesome tech that it’s hard not to like. And I made sure it wouldn’t break your budget so you can spread the love far and wide.
1. Galaxy Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR: $99, Samsung.com
Want to blow someone’s mind? Here’s how: First, they need to have a Samsung Galaxy phone. (Or see below.) Those fit neatly into this slick viewing goggle. Next, dial up some Virtual Reality (VR) content on that phone, strap the Gear VR goggles to their noggin, and send them instantly into an immersive three-dimensional, virtual world. They will go into space, swim with dolphins, ad play games that recall a Star Trek holodeck. They will stand up, turn around, and touch things in a world only they can see. I guarantee it: Mind blown. In fact, be careful not to do this near stairs or at the edge of a cliff because your lucky giftee will believe what she is seeing. She can also watch Netflix and Hulu in there, so it might have some practical benefit – for travel and watching movies in the closet and such?
No Galaxy phone? Consider the much-cheaper Google Cardboard, which works with any phone running Android 4.1 or later and starts at just $24.
2. Altec Lansing Evolution headphones
Altec Lansing Evolution: $30, AltecLansing
In a world where headphones can easily run upwards of $300, this completely affordable pair from Altec Lansing does pretty well. They sound decent, fold up for travel, and will let you answer the phone with the integral microphone. The microphone even sounds good to callers, which is often a problem with low-cost headphones. The materials aren’t plush and there is no Bluetooth. But these are comfy and easy to clean. And the headphone cord is a flat, no-tangle one it’s hard not to like. These are a good pick for a kid who loses things or anyone who isn’t an audiophile or a slave to headphone fashion. I’m wearing a pair now.
3. BaubleBar for Target iPhone Cable
BaubleBar for Target: $20, Target and Target.com
We all make ugliness concessions to our tech addiction. And that tangle of charger cables on the bedside table and desk is one that bothers everyone — OCD-prone and slob alike. If you know someone who loves beauty (and carries an iPhone), perhaps one of these woven-cable-mixed-with-glam-metals lightning chargers would elevate that bedside mess from snarl to style? Sometimes, it’s the little things. Especially when it’s a little thing you can’t live without.
4. Ventev Powercell 3015c backup battery
Ventev Powercell 3015c: $50, Ventev.com
This cute little battery charger will put an end to end-of-day dead battery worries. It’s small enough to tuck into a pocket or purse. It has its own integrated charger cable (order for either micro-USB or Apple lightning). Though it is pretty, slight, and slender, it has the juice to add 12 hours of talk time to your phone. Don’t underestimate the cute factor on necessary tech accessories. I get compliments at parties carrying this.
5. Edyn Garden Sensor
Edyn Garden Sensor: $99.97 at Home Depot; Black Friday Deal: $79
Anyone who gardens is familiar with death. We plant seeds that never sprout, seedlings that whither, and plants that fail to thrive. The problem, as with many things, is data. Unless you know that plot of land — sunlight, moisture, alkalinity, soil nutrients etc. — very well, some efforts will be (expensive) trial and error. Data is what this little garden stake gives you: It collects everything you need to know about soil, light, and atmosphere in that spot and sends it to your phone. It will even ping you (or your watering system if you add the compatible controller) when your plants get thirsty. Then it goes one better and makes in-app suggestions of plants that will thrive in that particular corner of your garden. Genius.
6. Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard
Logitech K380 keyboard: $40, Logitech.com
There’s a tablet in the kitchen for recipes. One in the bedroom to control mood lighting, another in the living room to run the TV. All of them, of course, are ready to jot the great American novel when inspiration strikes. And, for that, they would all be more useful with a keyboard. Solution: This keyboard. It pairs with three devices (Android, Apple, Windows, whatever) simultaneously, has a roomy layout, the keys give a nice tactile response, and you can pick it up and take it to the couch or bed when kitchen inspiration leads to serious verbiage.
7. Zolt Charger
Zolt Charger: $99, Amazon.com
Hauling a laptop around isn’t so bad. It’s only when you add the charger and all its accoutrements that you outgrow your little bag and get forced into a backpack or something dorkier. This universal charger is brilliant. It’s small. It’s even cute. And it will power just about anything: Most laptops, your tablet, and your cell phone. Just find the right tips, connect it to the specialized wires, and plug three of them into the base at once. Now you are traveling light.
8. Turcom: AcoustoShock Wireless, Shock-Resistant Speaker
Turcom AcoustoShock speaker: $90, Turcom.com
Wireless speakers have completely changed where we party. Head out to the garden, deck, or beach. Throw down a chair, pull out a speaker, power up some tunes, and your party is wherever you find beauty. It’s not until you have left a speaker in the rain or sand that you realize why they make shock-resistant, dust-proof, and waterproof speakers. This substantial Turcom is all of that and also has enough heft to deliver some deep base sound. So if your party (or deck) is big, this can deliver tunes to all the ears without damaging the mood by going wimpy and tinny on your merriment.
9. Amazon Fire Tablet
Amazon Fire Tablet: $50, Amazon.com; Black Friday Deal: $35
Obviously, everyone on your shopping list wants a new tablet. And the Amazon Fire 7-inch tablet is now affordable enough to make you the all-time star of gift giving. The Fire has some nice parental controls so it’s a good gift for kids. It holds a library of books for the price of a couple of hardcovers so it makes a book-geek happy. And it delivers Amazon Prime movies and TV to the backpack so students dig it. It’s a portable, practical, entertaining tablet for $50 – or less. What’s not to like?
10. Edwin the Duck
Edwin the Duck: $100, Best Buy or EdwintheDuck.com
The rubber ducky. It’s a childhood classic friend that makes bath time so palatable as to induce pruney fingers. Edwin is the Rubber Duck for a generation hatched among the rise of robots and self-driving cars. It comes out of the bath and interacts inside books and games on a tablet. When your tot moves or shakes him, he responds inside stories. He has a thermometer to tell you when the bath is too hot or cold – or just right. He knows kids are scared of the dark so he’s also a night light. And when she tells him, “I don’t feel well,” he can take her temperature and send that data to mom. (She will have to put his butt on her forehead for this but I’m sure the kids will look past that.) He is rechargeable and utterly adorable.
Want more great deals? Check out these other Yahoo Tech stories:
- Lumoid Lets You Try Tech Gear Before You Buy
- Dash and Dot, the Robots That Do More than Just Bump Into the Walls
- Sentri Home Security Screen Helps Save Your Stuff — and Your Money
- Here Are All the Tech Deals In Walmart’s Black Friday Sales Event
- How to Clean up the House for the Holidays (Without Getting Cleaned Out)
When not out finding great deals, Christina Tynan-Wood can be found here on Twitter.