Back in 2012, Microsoft was working hard to compete with the Apple juggernaut. Unsurprisingly, they threw their hopes into the mobile space, the biggest part of Apple’s business and pretty much universally regarded as the future of computing. They released Windows 8, their first mobile-optimized operating system, and, inspired by Apple’s business model and their own success with the X-Box, they decided to make their jump into computer hardware with the Microsoft Surface—Microsoft’s mobile tablet/computer hybrid.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the release of the Surface, and it was hoped that it would catch on as powerfully as the iPad and reinvigorate the flagging company. It’s been about a year, however, and it looks like the Surface, which we thought was pretty good, didn’t quite live up to the hopes of either consumers or Microsoft. Read More
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!
Instacanv.as: $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 instacanv.as.
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: $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.
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 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 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 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: $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 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 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.