Four Ways to Pay it Forward This Holiday Season

Everybody likes a good deal for Black Friday or getting a shiny new toy on Christmas morning. But I also know that between the economy, the government shutdown and just the regular old bills of everyday life, this might not be the year to spend too much on the holiday season. And maybe that can be a good thing! If we’re not putting all our focus on just buying gifts there’s more time to really think about the holiday season, family and our communities. Here are three ways to really get into the holiday spirit and pay it forward this year:

1. Make a Charitable Donation in Someone Else’s Name

Making a charitable donation to a cause you know someone cares about is a great gift. Check out, which has a database of 1.8 million charities to choose from. You can also buy a Charity Gift Card from them, which allows the recipient to choose the charity of their choice so that they can feel good about paying it forward too. It doesn’t have to be expensive: donation levels start at $10 and they’re also tax-deductible. Read More

Get Your Pet Something Nice This Holiday Season!

Some people would say it’s silly to buy your pet a gift this holiday season. But if your dog, cat, bunny, iguana, fish or even elephant is truly a part of your family, they deserve the same loving kindness you show everyone else this season.

Here’s some great tech gifts I think you’ll love:

tagg tracker


Sure, you’ve got the wristband that connects to your smartphone and the apps to track your runs and the heart monitor and the… But WAIT—Doesn’t Fido deserve some tech to keep him healthy as well?

The Tagg pet GPS system includes absolutely everything you’ll need to GPS location track your dog and also start tracking their activities as well! It’s a simple and easy way to make sure Fido isn’t just lounging around and putting on the pounds while you’re at the office. tracking for your pet. Useful even if your dog’s not a runner, and maybe lifesaving if he is! $99 for the device and three months of service from Tagg. Read More

Tech Gift Guide: 10 Great Gifts Under $100

This is my roundup of great gifts under $100. I hope there’s something here for everybody. And if you find this inspiring, or have questions, feel free to ask in the comments – I’m happy to try to help!


Instacanvas by @gilliancclarke $39.99 & up

A great way to take your Instagram photos offline, either on canvas, as a framed print, prism, greeting card or iPhone case. Custom-designed iPhone cases start at $39.99, while a 16″x16″ stretched canvas is $60. If you want to give a personal, thoughtful gift, you really can’t get any more personal than this!

If you don’t feel 100% on your artistic choices, you can also choose from the photos of others as a great way to give  custom art at a very reasonable price. More at


Amazon Kindle
Amazon Kindle – $69

Amazon Kindle: $69 & up

Most of the big-ticket gadgets, like tablets and e-readers, are well over $100. Amazingly, the basic Kindle model starts at $69 for the model with special offers, or $89 without, so it’s a great way to gift the latest tech without spending a fortune. The basic model has built-in Wi-Fi with no light, but if you want to go a little over, the Paperwhite illuminated Kindle starts at $119. Either way, you get access to all of Amazon’s ebooks, and many libraries are beginning to provide ebooks too. For more, see my hands-on video with e-readers or compare at Amazon.



Duracell Powermat
Duracell Powermat

Duracell Powermat: $99

The Powermat is a charging system that does double duty. First, it’s a mat you can set your phone on so it will charge wirelessly. But second, it’s a backup power source you can take with you to charge your phone. We like it so much that we hosted a party with Powermat! This is a great gift for anyone with an iPhone (prior to iPhone 5) or Samsung galaxy Siii. Trust me, they’ll use it. The complete charging system is $99 from Duracell directly.

belkin ipad cabinet mount
Belkin iPad Cabinet Mount

iPad Kitchen Cabinet Mount from Belkin: $49.99

If you know anyone who cooks from their iPad, this is a great gift! There are tons of awesome cooking apps for the iPad, but if you’re in danger of getting sauce on your iPad it’s not worth it! The cabinet mount keeps your iPad up off the counter, safely and securely, at a height that makes it easy to use to the tablet as a cookbook. It’s $49.99 from Belkin, a company know for their great tech accessories. You could also pair it with these $20 iPad sleeve protectors from Brookstone that repel liquid for the whole tech-cooking package!

Eye-Fi Pro for Streaming Photos from Camera to Phone or Tablet
Eye-Fi Pro X2

Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Card: $99

Sometimes it’s the little things really make you feel like you’re living in Star Trek or something. These memory cards work just like a normal SDHC card you’d put in your camera, but they use wireless connectivity to automatically send your images to your laptop, phone or tablet. In turn, that frees up more space on the memory card for more photos and videos. The Pro model is worth the slightly higher $99 price for increased storage space (16GB) and additional features like geotagging and RAW file uploads. Make sure to double check camera compatibility with Eye-Fi’s camera checker.


Little Pocket Book Pad and Quill
Little Pocket Book from Pad and Quill

Little Pocket Book for iPhone 5: $59.99

The idea is pretty simple: an iPhone case combined with a wallet that works for men or women. The outside looks like a notebook, while the inside has leather in custom colors, depending on what you like. It’s handmade of leather and wood in Minnesota by Pad and Quill, and while it’s not cheap at $59.99, that’s actually not bad for a wallet AND an iPhone case in one!

Oregon Weather Station
Oregon Weather Station

Oregon Scientific Weather Station: $99

Weather stations are serious fun and are great for anyone with some outdoor space that geeks out over the weather. This weather station is advanced enough to give you plenty to fiddle with, but at $99 it costs way less than similar pro models. It does rainfall measurement, barometric pressure readings, atomic time, moon phases and more. It’s a high enough level that your lucky recipient can even become a weather station for weather underground.


apple magic trackpad for $69
Apple Magic Trackpad

Apple Magic Trackpad: $69

This is great for relieving mouse fatigue! It’s so easy to use, and takes a lot of the stress of your hands at a desktop or laptop. Generally Apple recommends these for use with desktops, but there’s no reason not to use it with your laptop too, since it easily pairs with both. A great way to avoid carpal tunnel, or at least those hand cramps.


Logitech T650 Wireless Trackpad from Staples
Logitech Wireless Trackpad from Staples

Logitech T650 Trackpad for Windows 8: $59.99 at Staples

No reason for Mac people to be the only ones who get to skip the mouse! This trackpad is great for Windows 8, makes using the new tiled interface even easier, and recharges via USB so you can stay wireless most of the time. A really nice trackpad really is a great experience that beats even the nicest laptops, and the Logitech is one of the nicest. A great upgrade for the laptop power-user in your life.

Sony sweat-proof headphones for sports
Sony Sport In-Ear Headphones

Sony Sport Headphones: $89.99

Headphones are crazy, because you can spend anywhere from $15 to $300 on a pair. But what I like about these Sonys (the XBA-S65) is that they are water and sweat-proof! After you work out with them you can actually wash them to get the sweat off! And they’re designed to stay put, so your don’t have to spend all your workout time trying to put your earbuds back in. They may not sound quite as great as a $300 ear-covering model, but they’re still noise-canceling and are a great choice for anyone who likes to exercise.

Tech Gift Guide: 10 Great Gifts Under $50

When it comes to tech, less expensive gifts may be less obvious than the big-ticket items like laptops and tablets. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of great gifts out there! Here are a few of my favorite gifts that won’t break the bank:


iphone cable trigger for hands-free iphone photos
iPhone Cable Trigger – $23.00

iPhone Cable Trigger

Here’s why this is cool: you don’t have to touch your phone to take a photo. That means if you’re taking a picture in low light, the extra stability will make the the photo less blurry. And if you’re taking a video, you won’t have the initial shakiness when you start or stop recording. And it’s only $23 from PhotoJoJo, a great price for a fun gift. Plus you can use it with the fam over the holidays!



ihome rechargable mini speaker from staples
iHome Mini Speaker

iHome Rechargable Mini Speaker

This speaker is small, but surprisingly loud for its size! It’s rechargeable from USB, and can be used with anything that has a headphone jack, like your laptop or smartphone. It’s not going to power your home theater setup, but it’s great for both portability and price: it’s on sale right now for only $14.99 from Staples.




Blurb Book of Instagram Photos
Custom Blurb Book of Instagram Photos

Custom-Printed Book from

Blurb specializes in helping you bring anything and everything you can imagine to life as a book. But what’s cool is that you don’t have to get 10,000 copies: you can get 1 printed as a special gift, or print up a cookbook for everybody in the family. Books are hardbound with as many pages as you like, and there’s even a feature for Instagram or Facebook photos. PERFECT for newlyweds, the grandparents, dedicated bloggers or aspiring photographers. There are tons of configurations, so the price will vary depending on what you choose, but you can make a hardcover 8×10 book starting at only $19.95.

outlet with usb chargers
Outlet with USB Chargers

Dual USB Outlet

So it can be hard to buy something for a gadget geek who has everything. Or seems to. That’s why this gift is great: everybody’s got devices that can charge with a USB port, but almost nobody has one built into the wall. With the right cable (that a gadget lover will already have) you can charge almost anything with this wall outlet, without a special adapter. Installation isn’t rocket science, and it’s only $24.95.



made in maine front-pocket rfid blocking wallet
RFID-Blocking Front Pocket Wallet from Rogue Industries

Rogue RFID-Blocking Wallet

Many credit and debit cards now come with RFID chips that let you touch to pay instead of swiping. Problem is, RFID tech is vulnerable to scammers who use special scanners to steal your credit card info from inside your wallet. So the hot new accessory is a wallet that will block those scanners, like this made in Maine Front Pocket Rogue Wallet for $40. Yes, you could just wrap everything in tin foil, but a roll of Reynolds is probably not the best holiday gift choice!


gloves for the iphone

Agloves Touch Gloves

These gloves are special: they have silver in them. Thanks to the magic of physics, that means these gloves will work on any touchscreen. Plus they have small textured rubber grips to help you hold on that fancy touchscreen device so you’re not DROPPING expensive tech. The gloves are $29.99, but that’s way cheaper than replacing an iPad Mini with a busted screen!




Moleskine style iphone case
Little Black Book for iPhone Case

Little Black Book iPhone Case

It’s kind of amazing that the big selling point of iPhones is how well designed they are, but then we cover them up with these cases that are anything but aesthetically pleasing. That’s why I love the Little Black Book iPhone case: it’s got the right level of design-savvy and quality to match the iPhone, and I love the Moleskine look. Plus there’s the convenient interior pocket option, plus customizable colors. It’s just NICE! $39.99 from Pad & Quill.



Roku Box

Roku HD
Roku HD – $49.99 (on sale!)

Streaming media in HD for under $50? Yeah, obviously a great gift, right?! The Roku Box hooks up to your TV to let you stream Hulu, Netflix, Amazon instant video, Pandora and more right to your TV. Normally the HD model is $60, but right now Roku is offering the HD box for $49.99. Unless you know somebody already has a Roku, or doesn’t have a TV, this is a great gift that can work for anybody, and doesn’t require them to pay extra fees once they have the box!


Near Field Portable Speaker
iFrogz Near Field Portable Speaker

iFrogz Near Field Speaker

This speaker is another portable and affordable option that runs off either AAA batteries or USB. But what’s really cool about this particular speaker is that it uses Near Field to work wirelessly with your speakers, so all you have to do is set your phone or tablet on the speaker to play music. It’s faster and easier than bluetooth, because you don’t have to pair the device to the speaker. It’s only $24.04 on Amazon, and eligible for Amazon Prime, so no worries about this one getting here on time!


lightning to 30 pin adapter for iphone 5
Lightning Adapter for the new iPhone 5 and iPad

Lightning Port Adapter

Know someone that was NOT HAPPY when Apple updated their dock connector? Given how angry people were, you probably do. A great gift for that person is a Lightning to 30 Pin Adapter to make new iDevices compatible with old accessories. Think of like the tech equivalent of buying someone socks and underwear: it’s practical, it’s useful, and you can never have too many. And some people LIKE getting socks and underwear for  Christmas! It’s $29 from Apple.

Cyber Monday: Make Sure You Check Out Deals From These Online Retailers

Cyber Monday Kindle Fire Deal
Cyber Monday Deal: Kindle Fire for $129

Cyber Monday means shopping from the comfort of your own home, without any 4AM craziness or the threat of actual physical harm. Those same stores that were offering doorbusters a couple of days ago are still offering great deals, only online.

But what’s really great about Cyber Monday is discounts from online-only retailers pressured into competing on price. They can’t do Black Friday doorbusters, so they really have to make Cyber Monday count. Make sure you check these online-only retailers: we’ve highlighted a couple of great deals from each to give you an idea of what they have to offer.

For more tips, check out my appearance on the Today Show, where I share great deals and great apps to help you shop.

This is a great source for tech deals year-round, but the Cyber Monday deals are even better, especially laptops & monitors. Unlike a lot of retailers offering “cyber deals” all week, these sales really will end at Midnight tonight, so make sure you don’t put it off. Best bets include a 13″ Lenovo IdeaPad for $599 and a 14″ HP EliteBook for $699.

Another big name online tech, NewEgg is a great source for some of the less flashy computer needs, like peripherals, accessories and components for upgrades (like memory). It may be the tech equivalent of buying someone socks, but some people like that! Practical gifts for the tech obsessed can also be an upgrade someone would love, but wouldn’t necessarily buy for him (or her) self. Think $200 off an Acer home theater projector (now $649) or a computer speaker upgrade, like the Creative GigaWorks for $90 (usually they’re like $150).

Cyber Monday Deals from Fab
Flash sale sites like Fab are great resources for gifts

Sure, this probably surprises no one. The thing to know here is that Amazon is running specials all week. With Amazon, always make sure to research a price, since many times Amazon is not actually the least expensive option, especially if you can find free shipping from the manufacturer or another retailer. Plus for today only, the Kindle Fire is $129, instead of $159, with code FIREDEAL. Check out our tablet buying guide if you need help deciding whether the Fire is a good bet.

Steam (PC Games)
Today’s the last day of Steam’s Autumn Sale and there are some great deals for the PC gamers in your family. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is half off at $29.99, indie hit Castle Crashers is $4.99, and you can pick up some older titles at great prices as well, like the latest Sonic game, Generations, as well as Civilization V for $7.49. EA’s Origin digital games store is having a Cyber Monday sale today as well, where you can get Battlefield 3 for half off, and there are some great deals on the Sims franchise amongst other games.

Flash Sale Sites
There are a ton of these to choose from these days, but they can be a great way to find unique and interesting gifts, tech and non-tech! Some good choices include Fab, Gilt, OneKingsLane, and Woot. These sites already offer a discount on merchandise from clothing to home goods, but also have Cyber MOnday specials to compete with other more traditional retailers.

Direct from Retailers
Cyber Monday is the day to go direct to the source for deals: I covered this in article for AT&T, but basically you want to make sure you check a manufacturer’s website no matter what you’re shopping for. A good example is the Dell website, which has laptops up to 30% off the usual price and is announcing new sales every few hours as a way to recreate that “doorbuster” feeling. Accessories are discounted too – the Duracell Powermat wireless charger is 20% off with free shipping using code CyberMonday20. Lots of retailers are offering discount codes, so if there’s a product you’ve had your eye on, do a quick web search to see if you can find any bonus coupons.

Black Friday Shopping Guide: High-End Smartphones

Black Friday isn’t usually about phones: generally there’s a contract price on a network that doesn’t change during the shopping extravaganza. But a smartphone can still make a great gift. With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick comparison of the top of the line smartphones: you may be surprised how similar they seem.

And that’s somewhat true, except size does matter. Just a quarter of an inch in length makes a huge difference in terms of how a phone feels. Generally, those gigantic phones may not be the best for someone who’s always out and about, or who is mostly interested in the “phone” part of smartphone. Also consider whether the phone will play nicely with the recipient’s other devices: a Windows 8 phone will work well with a new Windows 8 laptop or ultrabook.

Mostly though, consider whether a phone is the right gift, since it involves a continued outlay of cash to stay on a cellular and data plan. If you know that a person needs an upgrade, or is on your plan, or can handle the commitment, a phone can be a great gift!

Check out the chart below, and let us know if you have any question in the comments. All of the phones are shown with a contract price (we used AT&T because they’re our partner), except the Google Nexus. The Google Nexus is sold unlocked through the Google Play store, not on contract at AT&T. 

Black Friday Smartphone Shopping Guide Comparison Chart

The best deals this week at Staples

Whether you’re shopping online (and taking advantage of their free shipping online throughout the holiday season) or in-store (to touch and test everything before you buy), you’ll want to make sure Staples is one of the stores you’re including in your shopping plans as Black Friday approaches.

Staples is making it easy for customers to save on technology the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday by making it a week-long event! They are even doing mobile flash sales this year!

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the best deals coming up at Staples.

Pre-Black Friday

Windows 8 Pro – $69.99

Until November 21st, Staples is offering a discount from $199 down to $69 on Windows 8 Pro. If you’re looking to upgrade your operating system this holiday season to the latest from Microsoft, why pay full price?

Windows 8 Pro is similar to Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate. It’s targeted towards tech enthusiasts as well a business customers. Win 8 Pro includes all of the advanced Windows features: remote desktop connections, an encrypted file system, the ability to participate in a Windows Server domain (crucial for some businesses) and more.

Black Friday

HP Pavillion Sleekbook 14” – $299

At $230 off, the HP Sleekbook is a great deal on a bargain laptop. While far from top-of- the-line, the Sleekbook is a bare-bones Windows 8 laptop and includes just enough hardware to get by for basic office and web-based tasks. With only a 1.5Ghz Pentium, 4GB of RAM, and a 320 GB HD, you’re not going to be recording music or editing videos on this, but if you have basic needs you’ll love this for the price. Just keep in mind that it only gets a little over 4 hours of battery life. If you need all-day power, look at some of the other laptop options at Staples.

Toshiba Canvio 1TB Portable USB 3.0 External Hard Drive – $69

I can’t stress the importance of backup enough. You should have multiple copies of your data in case of emergency. For under seventy bucks, the Toshiba Canvio external is a great & super portable external drive. It runs entirely off USB, so there’s no power cable to lug around, and with a terabyte of space should be more than enough to back up your computer. Take my advice and pick up two—keep one backup at home and the other in a secure, off-site location like your office or a safe deposit box. That way, should tragedy strike at home, you’ll still have another copy of your data.

Kindle Fire HD – $199 w/ $20 Gift Card

Manufacturers don’t make money on tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle line. Instead, they make their money on the books, movies and games you buy. For the consumer, that means you’re not going to see any kinds of discounts on theses tablets this holiday season. You can take advantage of deals like this one, where you claim a rebate online and get a $20 gift card back. If you’re looking at gifting a Kindle this holiday season, this is the best deal you’re going to see. The regular Fire at $159 and the 32GB model for $249 are also eligible for this offer.

Cyber Monday

Brother MFC-J430w Inkjet All-in-One – $49.99

The Brother name means quality, and the bargain price at $50 off on for Cyber Monday means a great deal. This printer is a 4-in-1 inkjet that scans, faxes, copies, and prints at 10 pages per minute in B&W, 5 color, and has built-in WiFi for wireless printing. With the Brother iPrint&Scan app for Apple and Android devices, you can even print JPEG images and PDF documents wirelessly straight from your smartphone or tablet computer. How cool is that?

Mobile Flash Sales

And don’t forget! They also have mobile flash sales you can take part in by visiting from your smartphone. They’ll be hooking you up with hourly coupons you can use online only starting 11 p.m Thursday and running until 5 a.m. on Black Friday. You can also use coupons you find on in-store from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m on Friday.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Hey readers, this is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Pre-order your Windows 8 device today from Staples and get FREE help moving to the new OS

This holiday shopping season, I’m going to be working with Staples to help you pick the best holiday tech gifts! In the coming weeks, you’re going to see some great content from us but I can’t spoil too much of it, so today I’m just bringing you an exciting announcement:

Starting today, Staples is accepting pre-orders for a variety of Windows 8 devices, including slates, tablets, touchscreen laptops and more.

The new “tiles” interface in Windows 8

While Windows 8 devices aren’t in stores quite yet, by pre-ordering one today you can be sure to be one of the first people to bring home one of these exciting new devices. The Windows 8 interface, seen to the right, is a radical change to the operating system from Microsoft, and as these devices start to hit store shelves in the next few weeks you’ll get a chance to see (and to touch!) what Microsoft has been cooking up since Windows 7 launched in 2009.

With the “8 Was Easy” program from Staples, they’re making it super simple to get up and running with your new PC from day one. With any computer purchase of $699 or more, Staples will move all of the data from your old desktop, laptop, or external hard drive to your new computer. Or, you can get that same service for just $69.99 for a computer under $699.

Staples is also offering free personalized training with a Microsoft certified advisor to make sure you learn everything about the new operating system. They’ll show you how to navigate the new interface, set up your tiles on your Start screen to get a personalized Windows 8 experience, walk you through the new Windows App Store, and show you how to get your files into Skydrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage system that will help you backup your documents and access them from anywhere.

And what if you have more questions down the line? Staples will be providing free support to help you with any problem you have moving to Windows 8. They’re got a toll free number you can call 12 hours a day during the week to answer your questions, and they’ll be running that service through the end of January.

You can pre-order a Windows 8 device from Staples today by visiting the link:

But what if you need a machine right now, and want to upgrade to Windows 8 when it’s launched later this month? Staples has a great solution for that too.

The Windows 8 upgrade offer from Staples is a great value if you need a machine right now. First up, you can get the Windows 8 upgrade when it’s available for just $15 from Microsoft by registering your purchase at Then, you can get a $15 pre-paid Visa gift card back from Staples by registering at Finally, you get online training and free phone support from Staples so you’ll be covered if you run into any problems migrating to the new OS. So you’re practically getting Windows 8 for free, plus free tech support. It’s a win-win.

Get into a Staples and Go Hands on with the latest eReaders to decide on a gift this Holiday Season

As most of you know by now, I partnered with Staples this holiday season to bring you info on the latest tech and gadgets they’re offering. This winter one of the hottest tech gifts will be eReaders and Staples will be a great place to go and get hands on with some of the latest tech. On top of the Kindle Fire which they’re carrying (and I JUST got my hands on—stay tuned for a review!) Staples is just now announcing that they’re carrying the NOOK Tablet as well!

I’ve always said this but it seems worth repeating—if you can’t decide on the latest tech, there’s only ONE way to figure it out, and that’s to go into a store and TRY IT OUT! Can’t decide between the NOOK and the Kindle Fire? Then get into a Staples and try one yourself.

I know, we’re all busy these days, so what if you can’t make it into a store? Staples is all about making things EASY so check this out—they’ve got a whole section of their website devoted to helping you choose the best eReader. It’s called the eReader Research Center and it’s a great resource. Whether you’re struggling to decide between WiFi and 3G, e-Ink vs. LCD, or just trying to figure out if what you actually want is a tablet computer, Staple’s eReader research center is the best place to look!

The best feature though has gotta be their product comparison tool:

This is the simplest way to check out all the latest eReaders from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony and Pandigital side-by-side and figure out which one is the right fit for you.

And hey, while I’ve got you—don’t forget to enter my $2,300 tech makeover. I’ve teamed up with Staples this holiday season to bring you absolutely all the tech you need to transform your life this winter, including a tablet, an eReader, a laptop, printer, router… I mean really EVERYTHING you’ll need to be up-to-date with the absolute latest tech.

But don’t forget—get off that computer and into a store! Staples Easytech associates are like little Mario’s running around to help you out with the latest tech gadgets. If you can’t decide which gift is right for you or a loved one, then they’re the people you need to figure it out!