Holiday Gifts Under $100 for Geeks

Ahh, the holidays. The time of year when you just have no frickin’ idea what to get your geeky friends or significant other. How are you supposed to know what gadgets they already have and which they really want? There’s just way too many devices and gizmos out there. I’m sure that empty floor below your Christmas tree is looking like it could use some nicely wrapped gadgets. So I’m here to help you with your voyage of holiday gift shopping for that tech-geek person in your life.

I’ve pulled together a (small) list of gifts that would put a smile on any geek’s face. They’re all available for purchasing with a click of a mouse, and the best part is that they’re all under $100. So grab some eggnog n’ cookies (and your wallet) and let’s get started.

Apple TV – $99

First on the list is the second generation Apple TV. Apple announced its latest revision of the Apple TV during its September 1st conference this year. In that announcement came the attractive $99 price tag and the ability to stream content from YouTube and Netflix. Hook it up to your HDTV and begin streaming movies, TV shows, pictures and much more from your Mac or PC with iTunes. And now with the latest update to iOS you can stream content from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch using AirPlay. However, all this streaming only comes at a sad maximum resolution of 720p.

Apple TV is a real gem to those who already have an HDTV and an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. I look at the Apple TV as a compliment to those devices, but definitely not a very worthy standalone device. So if your “giftee” is an Apple fanboy I’d definitely recommend adding an Apple TV to his or her collection. If they’re not much of an Apple lover, I’d suggest a different media streaming set-top box (with a higher price tag, however).

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote – $99.99

Next up is the Logitech Harmony 650 remote. This universal remote is like a Swiss Army knife when it comes to remotes. If you have a lot of devices surrounding your TV (i.e. an A/V receiver, Xbox, DVR, etc.) this remote will help with turning on exactly what you need with a click of a button. You know how every device you have near your TV has its own remote? Well the Logitech Harmony 650 takes all those remotes and smashes them into just one. Logitech’s website lists what many, many devices are compatible with the remote. But before you start using the remote, you’ll need to connect it to your computer via mini-USB and program it to your specific needs.

For example, you can set up a “playing Xbox” activity button to turn on (or off) specific devices that you use while playing your Xbox. Just press the “play Xbox” activity button and your Xbox, HDTV, and A/V receiver would all turn on. It will even switch the input on your TV so the Xbox will be displayed. It also turns off any devices that aren’t needed for that activity if they happened to be on prior.

It’s guaranteed that most home theater geeks are already very familiar with Logitech’s Harmony series; these remotes have been around since 2001. But I’m sure there are still people who were never willing to shell out the $100 for something that only saves a few seconds of your time. However, the Logitech Harmony 650 can spare the confusion of having stacks of remotes for different devices. And I don’t know about you… but that’s a keeper in my book.

GelaSkins – $14.95 to $29.95

Numero tres on the list is GelaSkins. Think of GelaSkins as an extended wallpaper for your iPhone wrapping around your entire phone. It’s scratch-resistant laminated vinyl that is easy to remove without leaving any smudges on your device. The cool part is you’re given the opportunity to download the exact fitted wallpaper for your device’s background from their website. With the wallpaper, it will appear that your entire device is covered from head to toe.

They offer GelaSkins for a variety of products – Playstation 3, Drobos, iPods, all kinds of smartphones, plus much more. It’s a cheap gift, but would make any aesthetic-conscious device owner happy. It would also make for a good stocking stuffer.

Pogoplug – $99

Second to last is the Pogoplug, a device that allows you to host files on the Internet using your own hardware. How does it work? You connect your hard drive or flash drive via USB to the Pogoplug. You can connect up to 4 total devices. The Pogoplug is then connected via Ethernet cable to the Internet – like a middle man between your files and the interwebs. You can then access these files anywhere you have an Internet connection.

You can access your files on your desktop or laptop via a web browser by going to my.pogoplug.com. They also have mobile apps for Android devices, Apple iPhone, and Apple iPad which is nice if you’re the kind of person who fills up your phone with music, videos, games, etc.

The Pogoplug is a great gift for media junkies. It gives users the ability to stream music or videos when their device’s storage is full. However, this assumes you have a solid WiFi or 3G connection. And if you have AT&T… well, you know.

Dots Gloves – $20

Edit (1/2/11): I understand this disclaimer is coming a little late and well after the holidays. However, I want to make sure that everyone who may read this post is informed about my (and many others) situation with Dots Gloves.

After seeing this post my girlfriend ordered a pair of Dots Gloves in the beginning of December for my Christmas present. She still has not received them and it’s already January. After many emails and phones calls, I told her it’d probably be best to file a complaint with PayPal and get her money back.

Please do not order Dots Gloves. I understand that they may have received an abundant amount of orders prior to the holidays, but the least they could do is simply apologize and reply to emails. They have terrible customer service and I highly recommend not ordering from them.

And last on the list is Dots Gloves. It’s winter time here in Chicago. That means I avoid using my iPhone outside at all costs. My bare fingers tapping that screen for so long in the freezing cold is a recipe for cold, achy fingers. But that’s where Dots Gloves come in handy. These gloves are made with Merino lambs wool – known for being softest and finest of lambs wools. I’m not sure exactly what they’re made out of that allow them to mimic the electric current of your finger, but whatever it is, they’re selling fast.

Oh, another important thing you should know: only the thumb, index finger, and middle finger are “touchscreen compatible”. Not a big deal, but I’m sure there are some people who would think their gloves are “broken” because their pinky finger isn’t able to stretch an Angry Bird to fire.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get a pair by the time Christmas rolls around. According to their website all their gloves are “…currently backordered two to three weeks. Orders placed today will not arrive by Christmas“. But if your giftee is desperate enough for a nice pair of gloves, I’m sure they won’t mind opening a nicely wrapped receipt stating the gloves will be arriving soon. I know I wouldn’t (hint hint, girlfriend).

Conclusion

And that concludes my list of geeky holiday gifts. Hopefully you’re still thinking about getting these gifts for someone else and not yourself. But hey, everyone deserves a gift from themselves every once and a while.

Are you considering buying a pair of Dots Gloves? How about a new Apple TV? Have any more gift ideas to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

Patrick is the founder and editor-in-chief of pinglio. He works as a system administrator and studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He currently lives in Chicago with his girlfriend and two dogs.