We’re a mere eight days from Christmas. If you’re like me, panic mode is probably starting to set in. ?
You’ve realized that you’re still far from finished Christmas shopping and now it’s crunch time. The problem is that most retail stores have been totally gutted. This means all the prime picks are basically gone. How do you finish your last-minute Christmas shopping without settling for crappy gifts or spending too much?
Have no fear. I can help you finish your Christmas shopping. Below are ten of my favorite last minute tech gifts for this holiday season. All of them are really cool or useful and they all cost under $100. In fact, I’ve split them into price tiers: three potential tech gifts under $100, three gifts under $50, and four gifts under $25. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Gifts under $100
One hundred dollars seems like a lot to spend, and that’s because it is. Especially when you’re shopping for a distant relative or not-so-close friend, a hundred-dollar gift is probably overkill. But for those who matter the most — a best friend, parent, sibling, or mentor — a hundred-dollar price tag is much more reasonable. So let’s start with these top-tier gifts.
VR Headset — Up to $95
Okay, so I’ll admit that I might be cheating by not choosing one specific headset. Instead, I wanted to highlight the two main headsets that are popular for this Christmas season with the first being the Samsung Gear VR. In partnership with Oculus, Samsung’s Gear VR was really the first VR headset to hit the market and become moderately popular. The original version has not been succeeded by a newer edition, which is available on Amazon for a cool $95; however, a number of other websites sell this headset and there are often promotions, even on Amazon, so feel free to have a look around.
The other popular VR headset is Google’s new Daydream View headset, released for the Daydream VR platform. It costs $79, comes in three color options, and can be purchased from the Google Store and Best Buy. The one caveat is that the current list of devices that support Daydream is relatively small with only Google’s own Pixel devices and the Moto Z line compatible. Of course, you can expect this list to expand in the months ahead, but for those who can use it, the Daydream View offers a truly impressive VR experience. (My own review of the Daydream platform is coming soon.)
Status Audio CB-1 headphones — $79
If the person for whom you’re shopping is an audiophile or even a slight music enthusiast, consider gifting the Status Audio CB-1 headphones. The ‘CB’ in the model number stands for “closed back”, making these great for those who really want to hear all the different layers and nuances in music tracks. In fact, these headphones are consistently hailed by audiophiles as being one of the most neutral and sonically accurate on the market. So it’s even better that they’re so ridiculously affordable at just $79 dollars.
Leading up to the holidays, you can get the Status Audio CB-1s directly from Sonic Audio for just over $63 after using promo code “HOLIDAY20” for twenty percent off their full retail price. Of course, this promo isn’t going to last forever; once it ends, you could also get them for their normal retail cost from Amazon with free two-day shipping for Prime members.
Chromecast Ultra — $69
Google’s Chromecast isn’t exactly new. The original Chromecast (which is still available for its original price) was announced and released in July 2013. Although it was a cool device that let you stream video from your smartphone or tablet to your TV, completely wirelessly. When it was first released, it became incredibly popular, partly because it only cost $35 while most other streaming devices cost $50 or more.
When Google released the Pixel and Pixel XL this fall, the company also announced an updated Chromecast called the Chromecast Ultra. Basically, the difference between the two is $34 and the fact that the Ultra version supports 4K HDR video. So if you’re shopping for someone who doesn’t already something similar, a Chromecast Ultra is a fantastic tech gift that won’t break the bank. Right now you can buy the Chromecast Ultra (and the original Chromecast) from the Google Store and Best Buy.
Gifts under $50
It’s probably at the fifty-dollar mark that many of us start to get most comfortable with gift purchases. This is a great price point for close friends, maybe a niece or nephew or cousin, your boss or a coworker, etc. At $50 or less, we hope to find a great gift that doesn’t break the bank, and I’ve certainly got some suggestions.
Amazon Echo Dot —
You’re probably aware that smart home tech is one of the hottest tech categories right now. Everybody wants to have their lights, appliances, doors, windows, and thermostats connected and controllable from right on their smartphones. And arguably the most important piece of the smart home puzzle is the part that controls it all, which is where Alexa comes in.
Amazon Echo has been out for a couple of years now and is surely the most popular voice assistant available right now. Until recently, the only way to get Alexa was to buy the Amazon Echo for $179 because the more budget-priced Echo Dot was a limited edition version of Alexa. Fortunately, Amazon has brought back the Echo Dot for a second generation. Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that you can snag a black or white Amazon Echo Dot for just $39 from Amazon; this is ten dollars less than the normal price. This makes the Echo Dot a great gift for someone who’s getting into smart home connectivity or who would be interested in using a voice assistant. (I personally own an Amazon Echo and can attest to how convenient it is to have.)
Divoom Aurabox —
Connected devices are all the rage this year. You’ve got your Bluetooth speakers, Bluetooth headphones, and a range of other devices that are meant to enrich our daily lives. But here’s a Bluetooth device that’s truly unique. It’s could also be really useful, too, and it’s the Divoom Aurabox, the Bluetooth smart LED and speaker.
First, let me say that if you’re buying the Aurabox as a Bluetooth speaker, you’ll probably want to look for better audio quality elsewhere. When you hear the Aurabox, it’s clear that its speaker functionality was meant to take a backseat to its smart LED abilities. Look at the Aurabox and you’ll see a square consisting of pixel-inspired LEDs; using the accompanying app, you can have the Aurabox’s LED lights display a picture, be an animated equalizer for your music, an alarm clock, alert you to your notifications, or a number of other functions. It’s a really interesting and fun little device that will surely be the most unique gift under your loved one’s tree this year. Best of all, it’s currently available on Amazon for less than half its retail cost.
DOSS SoundBox Bluetooth Speaker — $35
The portable Bluetooth speaker market is pretty saturated. You’ve got the Bose and Sonos speakers near the top and the many generic brands that promise comparable quality at a fraction of the cost. If you’ve ever tried any of these cheaper speakers, you know firsthand how disappointing they can be, but that’s not the case with the DOSS SoundBox.
For one thing, the DOSS SoundBox is a very attractive Bluetooth speaker with premium backlit touch-sensitive controls on the top and sound quality that reviewers compare to the Bose SoundLink Mini. In fact, it’s roughly the same size as the SoundLink, meaning it’s portable while big enough to offer impressive sound. It comes in four different colors — black, white, red, and blue — and, oh yeah, it’s only 35 bucks on Amazon. If you’re interested in seeing more of their products, they make a variety of high-quality speakers in other sizes and price points, which you can check out on their website.
Gifts under $25
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got the under-25 tier of gifts. Obviously, this price point lends itself to accessories rather than actual gadgets, but just because they’re inexpensive doesn’t mean these will wreak of a bargain basement. So for those distant acquaintances and workplace Secret Santas, let’s dive right into it.
Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh Portable Charger — $24
Though perhaps one of the least exciting of these last minute tech gifts, this portable charging solution is certainly one of the most practical. Even if you’re buying a gift for someone who doesn’t do much traveling or otherwise doesn’t have a frequent need to charge on the go, this 10,000mAh Anker PowerCore is great to have on hand. And not only is it amply sized, it has a number of other cool features, too.
Inside the Anker PowerCore, PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technologies ensure that every device gets the optimum level of power. In other words, every device will charge as quickly as it’s capable of charging, which is one of its main selling points. It can charge an iPhone 7 up to four times and has a durable build; the Anker PowerCore can withstand brutal drops and temperatures as low as -40° and as high as 158°. Plus, Anker is a very trusted brand when it comes to consumer tech. Currently available on Amazon for just under $24, you can’t go wrong with this high-quality portable charger.
Joby GorillaPod Original —
Have you ever had those moments when you’re using your phone but need both of your hands at the same time? This is most common for people who take lots of selfies or who vlog from their cellphones. Alternately, maybe you want to take a group photo without sacrificing a member of the group to go hold everyone’s phones and camera.
Joby is a moderately-known company that makes a lot of photography-related accessories. The Joby GorillaPod is one such accessory that’s actually meant for your phone, but it can also be used for your digital camera. It’s a bendable smartphone tripod that can be used in a variety of different situations, whether you’re vlogging or want to take a photo of a really large area. They’re extremely useful to have, even for just no-handed use, and can be one of your last minute tech gifts for just $20 or less on Amazon.
AUKEY Bluetooth Receiver —
Most of us have gone from using Bluetooth devices occasionally to using them daily. With a number of popular smartphones having lost their 3.5mm headphone jacks this year (i.e., iPhone 7/7 Plus and Moto Z line), Bluetooth will continue to become a mainstay of smartphone use. However, the recent push toward Bluetooth means that many people are finding themselves left behind. Those who use are actually using Bluetooth headphones to listen to their music probably still have many wired headsets lying around the house that are now obsolete. Or are they?
This nifty little device from AUKEY allows you to continue using the wired headphones and earbuds over a Bluetooth connection. For those who have recently switched to smartphones without headphone jacks, the AUKEY Bluetooth receiver is an absolute must have; for anyone else, it helps to cushion the blow of being in-between two major tech trends. It would normally cost almost $26, but right now you can snag this Bluetooth receiver for just under $15 from Amazon.
PopSocket Stand and Grip — $10
At a glance, it looks like the last thing you’d want to spend money on. How on Earth could this thing be useful? But it’s much more useful than you think. I’ve been using one for about a week and it’s unexpectedly great for watching YouTube videos, playing games, and for one-handed use of my Pixel XL. Sure, it’s not as glamorous as Amazon Echo and a Bluetooth speaker, but sometimes the best last minute tech gifts are the ones that are more practical than they are exciting.
Basically, the PopSocket is a retractable “socket” that can be in one of two positions, open and closed. When the PopSocket is open, it sticks off the back of your phone so you can slide it between two of your fingers, making your phone feel more secure in your hand. Or you can keep it closed; in this position, it only sticks off the phone about half an inch and still improves a much better grip. As well, there’s an option mount for the PopSocket that you can buy separate. The mount can be attached to a surface (such as a wall or the dash of your car) so that you can open the PopSocket and slide the open socket into the mount. It’s a much more discreet mounting solution than those large mounts you can buy for the car or your desk. The PopSocket is less than $10 on Amazon and comes in a variety of solid colors, patterns, sports themes, and with images on top. The PopSocket mount costs just $10, too, so you can purchase both a PopSocket and mount for $20 or just a PopSocket on its own.
There are so many interesting, unique, and useful gift options available that I had trouble narrowing this list down to ten. However, your spouse, sibling, best friend, mentor, distant relative, or coworker would be happy to get any one of these last minute tech gifts.
Which was your favorite tech gift on my list? Do you have any suggestions? What tech products and accessories from this year would make it on your list of the top last minute tech gifts? Sound off by leaving a comment below.
Happy holidays ?