Do you have a gadget geek on your holiday shopping list? Most of us can't afford to go around and give away $350 Nexus 5 smartphones, $500 Xbox One consoles and $1,200 LED HDTVs, but that doesn't mean you can't make for one very happy gadget geek on Christmas morning. Here are some excellent holiday gift ideas that will all run you less than a hundred bucks.
Customizable Tetris Light
I couldn't help but to fall in love when I finally got to see these in person. Available for $49.99 or better, the Tetris Light actually consists of seven individual Tetrimino pieces that can be stacked and rearranged in a near infinite number of ways! The blue bar acts as the base (that's where you plug in the wall adapter), but all the other pieces can be moved around to your heart's content. They light up automatically when the metal borders make contact. You'll need to provide your own Tetris music, but at least the pieces don't disappear when you complete a line!
Belkin WeMo Smart Home Products
The simplest example of the bunch is the WeMo home automation switch shown here, which retails for about $50. You plug it into any wall outlet, go through the wireless setup (which only takes a minute), and then you effectively have wireless control of that power outlet anywhere in the world. Yes, you can even turn the lights on and off over 3G/4G when you're elsewhere in the city or halfway around the globe. I have mine connected to a string of indoor Christmas lights at the moment and it's such an awesome solution.
LUXA2 Mobile Accessories
You may have a hard time finding a great smartphone or tablet for less than $100, but there are lots of great mobile accessories from LUXA2 that will put a smile on any mobile gadget enthusiast. You might recognize some of these from our visit with Luxa2 earlier this year in Las Vegas. For example, the above H5 Premium Car Mount ($49.99 MSRP) is made of high quality aluminum and offers all kinds of adjustability options. It'll hold phones up to 4.8" in size, making it easy to see those GPS directions or glance at a text message while keeping both hands on the wheel.
The Elite Carbon 8mm stylus ($29.99 MSRP) features a conductive fiber tip that will work with just about any touchscreen device on the market. This is great for digital artists who like to work on an iPad, for example, but what's great is that this is also a combo product with a ballpoint pen on the other end. The carbon fiber styling looks great too.
If you don't want something as big as the P-MEGA, there is the LUXA2 P2 slim aluminum battery pack ($64.95 MSRP). Even though it's only 9mm thick and has a footprint comparable to a smaller smartphone, the P2 packs 5,000mAh of juice. That's enough to charge most phones at least twice. The 1A USB output means that it's compatible with most smartphones and it comes with a great carrying pouch to boot.
Atari Flashback Classic Console
Remember when I reviewed the AtGames Sega Genesis classic game console a while back? If that's still too new school for the retro gamer in your life, you can go back even further with the Atari Flashback Classic Console ($59.99 MSRP). It works in much the same plug-and-play kind of way, except you get 75 classic Atari games preloaded on this system, including Space Invaders, Asteroids and Missile Command. There are two wireless Atari Flashback 2600 controllers included. This is perfect for your holiday family gathering, as gamers of all ages can easily hop in and play.
MeCam Wearable Mini Video Camera
This is probably one of the most unique items on the list. The MeCam wearable camcorder ($50+, depending on capacity) doesn't even look like a camera. Instead, it looks more like a plastic button, measuring 5cm across, and it's capable of recording 720p video with sound onto the provided microSD card. Clip this to your coat, hat, or backpack and secretly record your life for fun. There's even an infrared mode for low light situations, but you'll need to remember that this is a $50 novelty product that won't produce super high quality video. Even so, it's a great tool and the price simply can't be beat. Check out my sample videos for an idea of what you can expect.
No Grinches for Christmas
It's not about the price tag; it's the thought that counts. When shopping for the electronics and gadget lover on your list, think about what would be the most useful or the most fun gift for them. These are just a few ideas for awesome presents you can find for under $100. They sure beat yet another pair of socks or yet another ugly sweater, right?