Tried and true gifts for tech lovers

This is no fantasy-league gift guide compiled from weekly sales fliers and the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog.

This guide comes with a pledge: I have tested, evaluated or otherwise observed with excruciating, bug-eyed concentration all products listed here. (Asterisk: That does not guarantee you will like them, too.)

1. Grace Eco Extreme All-Terrain Speaker Case ($50, A heartier waterproof case for your mobile device, secured in a mesh pouch inside the storage area. A partier, too: The Eco Extreme, 8 inches tall and 5 deep, includes a 3-inch speaker that runs on three AA batteries. Decent sound, too, until the volume is pushed too high.

2. Eton Soulra solar-powered sound system for iPhone/Touch ($200, A rugged, sweet-sounding speaker dock powered by a flip-up solar panel. All hail Ra, the Egyptian sun god.

3. Microlab MD332 ($120, A clock-radio disaster - a 24-hour clock, a terrible radio and way too big - but the year's supreme-bargain iPod dock. Good enough to use as a TV soundbar. Hard to find: Try the secondary dealers at

4. Pelican i1015 protective case for iPhone/Touch ($37, In the roughest, most rugged terrain - like jostling in line for first-cut prime rib at the holiday carving station - your or Touch needs the strongest protection.

The Pelican i1015 puts your device in protective custody, shielded from water, dirt and au jus in a clear-lid plastic case, resting on a rubberized bed. (The Droid and other smart phones will also fit.)

These heavy-duty cases have a on the exterior but prevent access to the device's controls. For that, look for slightly less bulletproof cases from Otter Box (

5. Ion VCR 2 PC ($100, Looks like a VCR but also transfers old videotapes to your computer. Easy to use.

6. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC27 noise-cancellation headphones ($120, Maybe this isn't the year to spring for the $300 Bose QuiteComfort noise cancellation cans. Make the ATH-ANC27 your post-recession choice.

Good sound, decent external noise suppression and a durable soft-shell carry case. Available online for less than $50.

7. Clear iSpot 4G Hotspot for Apple devices ($99 with service staring at $45 a month, no contract, At its best, Clear's new 4G service reaches mobile download speeds of close to 6 megabits per second - oh-so-close to a tower, I hit more than 11 mbps regularly - but sometimes 4G is nothing more than 3G with a marketing slogan.

The go-anywhere iSpot disc feeds Wi-Fi service to up to eight Apple devices, including the iPad. For non-Apple devices, try the Clear's Spot 4G.

Check for availability, and signal strength, in your area.

8. Klipsch Lightspeaker ($600 bundle includes two speakers, transmitter and remote control,, Just what you've been waiting for: a speaker-LED light combo that fits into a recessed can and a standard Edison socket. Send music wirelessly into the kitchen or den from a computer or stereo in another room.

Note: The light is controlled only by the transmitter, not the on-wall dimmer switch for the rest of the room's lighting.

9. Mophie Juice Pack charger ($35,, FatCat's ChargeCard ($60, Anyone with a smart phone or iPod can use a stocking-stuffer charger.

I like using the Apple-only Mophie with my Touch - not for recharging but for holding a full charge, hoping to extend the device's long-term battery life. For all-purpose recharging, try the ChargeCard, which works with almost any mobile device, including GPS units.

10. Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 50-inch 3-D plasma HDTV ($2,100, Easily the best TV I saw all year during in-home auditions. No, I don't really care about 3-D, either. As a real-world 2-D machine, this Panasonic comes close to the late, legendary Pioneer Kuro sets.

Don't want to spend this much? You're the boss this holiday season, with brand-name 42-inch sets for as low as $500. If you're not going to do your homework, at least download an app (try CNET Reviews) to avoid making a bad in-store impulse buy.

Explore further

Gadgets: Consumer Electronics Show 2010 roundup

(c) 2010, Chicago Tribune.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Citation: Tried and true gifts for tech lovers (2010, December 7) retrieved 24 September 2021 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors