15 Techie Gift Ideas Under $100

Finding the right gift for the techie in your life needn’t be excruciatingly painful for you and your wallet. The trick is to think of either something new and innovative or something that can be used in tandem with something the recipient already has.

Techies love cutting edge gizmos and/or something that speaks to their inner geek – and if you know where to look, you can find all of this from $10 to $100. Here are 15, sub-$100 gift suggestions that even I would love to receive this Christmas.


1 – Sony Smartband ($74.99) Of all the wearable fitness trackers I tested this year the Sony Smartband is my favorite. While there are many more sophisticated options out there, this one is the most comfortable – and hey when the entire premise of the device is contingent on your wearing it all day, nothing matters more than comfort. The band is available (at Sony stores) in black and a special World Cup edition in Brazil’s colors but you can purchase optional bands in a host of other colors.


2 – Kindle 2014 ($79) If you’re looking for an affordable e-reader consider the 2014 Kindle from Amazon. It’s not the most high-end Kindle available, but its got all the basics – WiFi, a touchscreen, and 4GB of storage. If you can get it in the US it’s only $79 on Amazon, otherwise it is also available from GadgetPinas.ph for P4790. 


3 – Apple TV ($99) While it’s been around for more than a year without an update, the Apple TV is still the entertainment box for the connected generation. The little black box plugs into your television and connects to your home network letting you stream music, TV shows and movies from the iTunes Store. If you have an iPhone or Mac you can also use AirPlay to see or hear, on your TV, anything that’s playing on those devices.


4 – Otterbox Preserver Series ($89.95) When you’re needing extra protection for your smartphone I trust Otterbox. For a test once, I dropped my phone from a ladder 8 feet high, shook it in a tub of water for 5 minutes, and drove over it with a car – and it survived! There are several Otterbox models available, I like the Preserver Series best because it is both shock proof and water proof. There are models available for the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5.


5 – Nude Audio Move S ($29.99) Whether you’re soaking in the sand by the beach, or shuffling around your apartment doing chores portable speakers are a great alternative to headphones. Make no mistake, the Nude Audio Move S aren’t the best sounding speakers around, but they have everything you need Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in rechargeable battery and a waterproof shell that is small and lightweight enough to be carried on your bag like an oversized keychain.


6 – A new bag. I’m always on the look out for great bags to carry all my devices in. Most essential for me is a small handbag for my keys, phone(s) and wallet. The small Crumpler Herbas ($30) in red is perfect for a day out on errands – it’s both fun and extremely durable. The LowePro Streamline Sling ($25)backpack is one step up, still compact but with separate compartments for a camera, a tablet, a water bottle and all your other stuff.


7 – The Pocket Spotlight ($30) Perfect for taking selfies in low-light, the Pocket Spotlight, as its name implies, is a pocketable, rechargeable LED light that mounts via your smartphone’s headphone jack. Charge via USB and the always-on flash will last you about an hour of continuous shooting. It’s $30 via photojojo.com.


8 – Tetris Stackable LED Lamp ($34.99) I promise, the Tetris Stackable LED lamp will bring a smile to any geek. Each piece is stackable like you would on the computer game, and can be setup in a variety of ways. Only the bottom piece is wired, the rest get their power via conduction. You can find the lamp and other quirky techie gifts over at ThinkGeek.com.


9 – MacBook decals ($12) Think of MacBook decals as the gift of individuality – yours will standout in a sea of aluminum Apple laptops . These stickers are designed specifically for the back of a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air and take into account the glowing Apple logo (there is one with Snow White biting into it). They’ve become quite popular, so much so that Apple included hundreds of them in a new TV ad this year. You can find most of the designs at thedecalguru.com for just under $12. You can also order locally via Galleon.PH although you have to request for pricing on specific designs.


10 – Belkin WeMo LED lighting starter kit ($99) The easiest way to get an early Smart Home start, this kit from Belkin includes two energy efficient, 8000 lumen incandescent bulbs that consume only 10 watts of energy, plus a receiver. The lights connect to your home network so you can control them via a smartphone app. You can program the lights to turn on/off at certain times, set the amount of dimming to set the perfect mood, you can even control the lights when you’re away on vacation.     


11 – Mi PowerBank 10400 mAh ($10) If you’re looking for an affordable but reliable powerbank for your smartphone or tablet, look no further you can’t get any better and cheaper than this.  A fully charged Mi PowerBank can charge your smartphone up to 3 times over. It also looks great with sleek lines and an aluminum chassis. Stocks are usually limited and sell exclusively in the Philippines via Lazada.com.ph.


12 – TileApp ($25) Never worry about losing your keys ever again. TileApp is a small device roughly the size of a five-peso coin. You can attach them to a keychain, stick them onto a gadget, throw them into a bag or leave them in your car. Once any of these go missing you can immediately find them using an iPhone app (Android support is coming soon). If within range you can have the Tile beep loudly, or track the last place your Tile was spotted using a map. Tiles cost $25 a piece or $75 for a pack of four. They are waterproof, and don’t ever need to be charged (but they last only a year). Get them online at thetileapp.com.   


13 – Lacie PetiteKey 8GB ($8) USB flash drives are always great gift ideas, but this one in particular is pretty special. Shaped like a key, you can attach the Lacie PetiteKey to your keyring so you have a thumb drive on your person always (assuming you always have your keys with you). The drive is made of metal so it’ll fit right in with the rest of your keys, and is waterproof up to 100 meters. Online you can purchase the 8GB drive for only $8. You can also get the larger Lacie iamaKey via Lazada.com.ph for P1405.   


14 – Belkin Chef Stand & Wand ($29.99) Because I’ve only recently learned to cook, I rely a lot on recipes I find online. Unfortunately tablet and kitchen aren’t always a great mix. The Belkin Chef Stand not only comes with a stand so you can prop up your tablet but also a washable stylus so even if your hands are dripping in batter, no worries.    


15 – A computer game. No matter how old the gamer in your life, there’s nothing like firing up a new game and spending the rest of the day (or week) lost in a new virtual adventure. There are a lot of great new titles. I like Super Smash Bros for the WiiU ($99.99), Dragon Age Inquisition for PS4 & Xbox One ($60) and Pokemon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire for the 3DS ($36.96). All 3 titles are available at DataBlitz.

This piece was first published in The Philippine Star on December 8, 2014 as part of my regular Gadget Week column. The special Technology Section is printed every Monday.