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Gadgety gifts that won’t break the bank

When you think of gadgets as gifts, the phrase “budget-friendly” doesn’t exactly come to mind.  Is it possible to wow your techy friends and still have money left over for sugar cookies? I say a resounding, “you bet.” There are lots of tech gifts under $100 that are as useful, fun, and perfect for everyone on your list, including an especially cool kids gift that is sure to earn you the title of favorite grandparent, aunt or uncle.  I’m back on the Today Show this morning at 10AM ET and PT with Kathie Lee and Hoda (my ladies!) to share my favorites with them— many of which are already en route to my own friends and family this year.

If you know a germophobe or someone whose phone is caked in dirt (yuck), gifts from AM are a must: AM is on a mission to fight gross gadgets, and their brightly-colored collection of cleaning tools are both safe to use on all your gadgets and fun to give (and keep!). Their all-in-one spray bottle ($19.95) sports microfiber sponge sides, so you can spray, wipe and take up little space in your desk drawer or purse. Wipes ($9.95) are handy in the car or on the go, and the larger Giant spray bottle and microfiber cloth ($19.95) is perfect for TVs and monitors in your home.


For the couch-dwelling cinemaphile or TV-obsessed: The Roku LT is under $50 and is pretty much the hero gift of the season.  More streaming movies, TV shows, music, news and sports than you could watch in a lifetime, all streaming directly from the internet (no cable subscription required).  Access your subscriptions on Netflix or Hulu, and grab tons of free content from Pandora, Spotify and so much more.  And it’s all instant and on-demand, like we expect it these days, and with an app that makes it easy to search the vast collection and find what you need quickly.  You don’t even need a new HDTV to use it, so it’s perfect for anyone and everyone.


If you’re running out the door to work and just finished the milk, it might not be the best time to write it down. Fear not, the Hiku ($79) will record your voice or scan a barcode, sending all the information to a grocery list app.  Make a grocery list in seconds (without having to fumble for your smartphone) that you’ll never leave on the kitchen counter. Best of all, Hiku has a magnet on the back, making it the smartest fridge magnet ever.


For the next generation of inventors, building kits from Sparklelabs are the perfect gift to get them away from screens and building things with their hands. The Papertronic Lunar modules ($16) come pre-cut and flat, ready to fold and color. Sit them in their docking stations and a circuit lights them up. Great DIY for a snow day, and definitely a unique present they won’t see everywhere.


Oyster is like Netflix for books, so the bookworm on your list will rejoice at this all-you-can-eat buffet of over 100,000 titles, including best sellers and new releases. For just $9.95 per month you can read it all on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch (Android app coming in 2014), even if you don’t have an internet connection, making it perfect for long airplane rides or trips abroad where you can’t be online.


For your domestic tinkerer, the inventors at Quirky have created Spotter ($49), a multipurpose sensor that can monitor temperature changes, motion vibration or differences in sound or light. Stick it to anything in your home and it talks to an app when things change: You know when the door is closed, the window is open, the washing machine is done, or when the basement gets too cold. The possibilities are endless.

What tech gift is on your list this year? What gadgets have you been giving? Wishing you Appy Holidays and Merry Tech-mas!

1 comment on “Gadgety gifts that won’t break the bank”

  1. How can I get a Fantastical? I am in desperate need of something just like that. I am a caregiver with many clients, and many changes!

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