22 of the Best Budget Tech Gifts for Geeks
It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to start buying gifts. But you’re not just buying for anyone — you’re looking for gifts for geeks! The tech world offers some tantalizing options.
As always, the cheapest and longest-lasting option is to gift a top online subscription . It might cost you more in the long-term, but you end up saving some cash during these tight months. But a subscription doesn’t have that wow factor. You won’t see the twinkle in their eyes as they unbox the cool gizmo you wrapped. Instead, here’s what you should gift your geek in 2016, depending on your budget.
Gifts for Geeks Under $20
A tiny system on a chip, the Raspberry Pi Zero is a favorite among hackers and geeks. We’ve already seen some amazing Pi Zero projects , and at $5, it’s a no-brainer.
Want to know what your car’s check engine light means? Maybe figure out your actual mileage? Most people don’t know that their car has an onboard computer, tracking all these important things. It’s called the On Board Diagnostics 2 (OBD2) system . All you need is a simple Bluetooth dongle that connects to the standardized port for all cars made after 1996. Buy this, your geek will love you for it.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t get something awesome. The Joby GorillaPod is the best smartphone tripod today , and it costs just around $60. No geek can resist its charms.
Gifts for Geeks Under $30
At some point, everyone’s phone runs low on battery. If they have a TravelCard slim charger in their wallet, they’re going to think you are the best gift-giver in the world. This 1500 mAh battery backup is available for iPhones and microUSB Androids, but not for USB Type-C phones .
You can never have too many flash drives. And when you can gift one of the fastest USB 3.0 flash drives on the planet for less than $50, why would you even think twice? You might as well pick a few up, in case you need to give them as last-minute gifts.
Geeks love Wi-Fi just as much as they hate low Wi-Fi signals. Help out your nerd with this affordable Wi-Fi range extender, a device they’re probably not going to buy for themselves. If you can up your budget, we have other options for the best Wi-Fi extenders of 2016 .
Gifts for Geeks Under $40
It’s the gift that keeps on giving. The Google Chromecast is awesome , and in case your favorite geek hasn’t bought one yet, this is the ideal gift. If they already have the smart TV dongle, then get a Chromecast Audio, which turns boring old speakers into Bluetooth speakers. It’s the less common of the two devices, but just as useful.
This year saw the latest and greatest version of the geek-favorite mini computer. The Raspberry Pi 3 has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and is better than ever before . The great part about the Raspberry Pi is that there are so many useful or weird Pi projects , that you can never have too many of them. So even if the recipient already has one, they’ll be glad to have another.
The Belkin WeMo Smart Switch is a must-have for any geek. It’s the first step in building a smart home, since it can digitize your regular old household lamps . You can also connect other devices to it to manage all your powered gizmos. If you’re gifting this, make sure you point your loved one to our guide to installing a WeMo switch .
Gifts for Geeks Under $50
10. Amazon Echo Dot
The Amazon Echo Dot is the best $50 gift you can give anyone. It’s a smaller version of the Amazon Echo. This tiny little puck can plug into a set of standard speakers and become a smart voice-activated assistant in your home. Just by talking, you can order from Amazon, stream music, find out weather information, hear the news, or control other smart home products.
Anker PowerCore 20000 is the best power bank you can have today. Why? Ther’s the large 20,000 mAh battery, which can charge an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 more than six times. But that’s not all. It supports Quick Charge 3.0 for faster charging times .
Gifts for Geeks Under $75
Probably the hottest geek item this year is the Nintendo NES Classic, a miniaturized version of the famous video game console. Pre-loaded with 30 classic titles and featuring the same remote control geeks first fell in love with, this is a treasure. It’s selling out fast and you might need to hunt for it on non-Amazon sites. Sure, you can play classic NES games for free online , but that’s just not the same thing.
13. Tile Mate
Tile is one of the best gadgets to tag and find items like keys, phones, bags, or remote controls. A 4-pack of the Tile Mate costs just $70, and works with any smartphone. Just attach it to something you lose often, and you can follow it from your phone or make it ring.
14. Jabra Move
Jabra’s Move Bluetooth headphones offer the perfect balance of good quality sound, long battery life, and decent price. They’re value for money, and your geek will love you for them. We have plenty of other Bluetooth headphones recommendations for 2016 , but the Move would be our pick.
Gifts for Geeks Under $100
Who would have thought the coolest $100 item this year would be a pair of sunglasses? But that’s what Snap Inc. (the company behind Snapchat) has done. Called Spectacles, these smart glasses can shoot videos when you tap them, and transmit the video directly to your smartphone. The more you know about Spectacles , the more you’ll want it for yourself instead of giving it away as a gift. You can’t get them online though, since Snap is selling them through “Snapbot” vending machines. Find a Snapbot with this map.
16. Roku Premier+
There is zero doubt in our minds that Roku is the best media streaming player right now. But Roku itself has several options, so which Roku media streamer should you buy? Of those, the $100 Roku Premier+ is a gorgeous gift. It has 4K video streaming support and Ultra HD, point-and-move remote control, and private listening through the remote’s headphone jack.
17. UE Roll 2 or JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth Speakers
Two of the best Bluetooth speakers in terms of value for money, both the Urban Ears Roll 2 and the JBL Flip 3 are strong contenders. The UE Roll 2 is waterproof, so it’ll be great to hang in showers. Plus it looks cute, so we think it makes for a better gift. But the JBL Flip 4 is a better set of speakers overall. So if your geek is particular about their audio quality, the JBL is the way to go.
It’s not a big brand like GoPro, but SJCAM’s SJ400 is one of the best action cameras around and has received good reviews from everyone who has tried it. It records video at Full HD resolution, comes with built-in Wi-Fi, and ships with two batteries, a waterproof case, a head mount, and a bicycle mount.
Can you really get a full-fledged Windows PC for a Benjamin Franklin? Yup, the Kangaroo Mobile Desktop is the best media center PC for less than $100 . It’s difficult to find one online these days, but be on the lookout for it.
Gifts for Geeks Under $150
The Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best e-readers around . While the Kindle Oasis and Voyage are better, the Paperwhite does the basics just right, and then adds a simple light so you can read in the dark. It still doesn’t hurt your eyes, and features incredible battery life. What more can any geek ask for?
21. FitBit Charge 2
Your favorite geek needs to take care of his body, so give him a nudge. FitBit always scores high among fitness tracker wristbands . The Charge 2 is packed to the brim with features like heart rate monitoring, smartphone notifications, all day movement and sleep monitors, and more.
Nothing says “Season’s Greetings” like a little robot toy shaped like a beloved movie character. We reviewed the Sphero BB-8 droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and absolutely loved it. Imagine having your own little robot that you can control with your phone! If the geek in your life is a Star Wars fan, this one is a must-have.
What Would You Like Under $150?
Assuming that MakeUseOf readers are a little geeky at least, let’s start talking about what gift you would like this season. We’re keeping the cut-off at $150 for this round-up, so make sure your item costs less than that. And an Amazon link would be helpful!
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