In the spirit of the season, I've picked out 10 geeky gifts that cost less than $100. Some are practical. Some are fun. All would be good additions to your gift list for friends and family -- or your own wish list. (Ranked by price.)
1. Freehands Gloves, $18, Freehands.com
It's the winter conundrum for all iPhone users: Keep your hands warm or feed your addiction to your touch-screen device? Freehands gloves allow you to do both. The thumbs and forefingers flip back on the gloves for easy browsing and texting, then close to keep your fingers warm. Made of materials from fleece ($18) to cashmere ($70).
2. Clocky Alarm Clock, $34.95, Amazon.com
This alarm clock on wheels will make sure you get out of bed. Clocky allows you one snooze, then hops off your nightstand and rolls around the room flashing and beeping like R2D2. You have to catch it to stop the alarm. Users report it's great for getting kids out of bed in the morning.
3. Targus Chill Mat XC, $34.99, NewEgg.com
If you've ever used your laptop on your lap, you know how hot it can get. That's where the Targus Chill Mat comes in. This gadget includes two fans to keep the computer cool, soft padding for your lap and ergonomic design for typing, all in a lightweight package.
4. Novophone Retro Phone Handset, $35, UncommonGoods.com
As cell phones get smaller, it's harder to use them for their original purpose: making calls. Novophone allows you to plug a corded handset (circa 1980) into your mobile phone. While it may seem gimmicky (and is sure to attract some stares), users report that it has great sound quality on both ends, reduces fatigue on long phone calls and protects you against the potential danger of cell phone radiation. You may need to purchase an adapter, depending on your phone; check Novophone.com to be sure.
5. Clickfree Traveler (16GB), $58.95, BuyDig.com
The credit-card sized Clickfree Traveler makes it easy to back up your data when you're on the go. Just plug the slim device into your USB drive; it uses its own software to back up your documents, photos, e-mail and presentations. The Clickfree Traveler works with both Macs and PCs, and reviewers praise its functionality. It also comes in 32GB and 64GB versions.
6. Nike+ SportBand, $59, REI.com
The Nike+ SportBand tracks your distance, pace, time and calories burned while you run using an in-shoe module and watch/wristband. The watch face then converts to a USB device for easy data uploading to nikeplus.com, where you can log runs, get training advice and connect with the Nike running community.
7. Seagate BlueAnt S1, $59.98, Buy.com
This handy gadget clips to the driver's side sun visor to allow hands-free calling via Bluetooth. Reviewers report that it has a good quality speaker phone and microphone and that it cancels out road noise nicely. The BlueAnt can connect with two phones at a time, and answering is as simple as a spoken command.
8. Roku, $79.99, Roku.com
Many people are forgoing cable TV in favor of watching their favorite shows on the Internet or via DVD. Roku brings these trends together in a set-top box that lets you stream movies from NetFlix and Amazon Video on Demand, Internet radio from Pandora, games from MLB.com and content from other services. You can pay $20 more for a high-def version.
9. chumby one, $99.95, Chumby.com
My boss swears by this little device, which streams Internet radio, sports scores, headlines, stock quotes, weather, podcasts, etc., 24/7. Choose from among 1,500 different widgets, connect the chumby to your wireless Internet, and you're ready to go. The original chumby costs about twice as much; the recently released (and backordered) chumby one features a more basic housing but greater horsepower inside.
10. Powermat Wireless Charging Mat, $99.99, BestBuy.com
The Powermat Wireless Charging Mat is this holiday season's top toy for adults. This product's magnetic technology allows you to charge up to four devices (such as MP3 players, cell phones and handheld gaming systems) without a tangle of power cords. Critics point out that you must first plug your devices into specific receivers that run $30 to $40 each, but reviewers say it's worth the cost. The Powermat includes one receiver and comes in two versions; one for home and office and another for travel.
(c) 2009, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.).
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