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Hi-Tech Holiday Gadgets Under $100

Updated on November 24, 2012

Gifts for the Technological in the Family

The Household Technocrat

If you've got a geek or nerd on your shopping list you might want to read this particular hub. In these days of a weakened dollar and tight-fisted spending (and who can blame you?) this list will be helpful.

Not a single gift suggestion here is over $100 and most are in the $30 to $90 range. Best of all the gadgets here are useful, clever, and sure to get extended use from the recipient.

Please read on!

History of Gift Giving

Perhaps the earliest example of gifting was during the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Like so many festivals based this time of year, this was also a festival and religious rite where participants prayed to the gods of prosperity for a bountiful new year. Since Saturn was the roman god of agriculture it was also a time of year for new beginnings; in other words the new year.

Initially Romans gifted each other evergreen boughs, a "wish" of sorts for the recipient to have a successful new year of growth and plenty. Later the gifts remained evergreen with the addition of sweet-cakes, symbolic of a the coming spring and the "sweetness" of the coming year.

It's remains debatable if the gifting of modern times is an extension of this Roman winter rite. Regardless, this is perhaps the first time in human history where gift giving was a population wide phenomenon, not simply a "bribe" of sorts from one powerful leader to another.

AreoGrow Indoor Herb Garden

I love to cook. If you've read any of my food related hubs, you probably already know that. I do keep an entire spice & herb rack at the ready, but dried herbs and spices are a poor substitute for fresh picked out of the garden herbs. Of course, unless you live in some temperate zone, fresh herbs in the fall and winter months is impossible.

The AreoGrow uses a dirt-free, NASA developed growth medium. It also includes an on-board computer to let you know when to add water and nutrients.

The smaller, three pod device is twenty inches tall, but eleven inches wide and 10 inches deep. It weighs seven pounds.

The larger seven pod device is twenty-one inches tall, by eighteen and a half inches wide, by ten inches deep. It weighs twelve pounds.

Grill it Right! -- Maverik ET-7

I also love to cook outdoors. When I'm grilling a steak there's really no problem; I get the coals to the right degree of heat, pop on the steaks and time them.

But if I'm cooking a roast, a bird, or another large cut of meat time is not nearly as important as temperature. For that reason, if I'm grilling anything thicker than an inch, I'll use a temperature probe. I used to use a probe directly wired to the digital readout, but this really doesn't do it for me in colder weather and it's almost pointless with the door shut; I can't hear the alarm.

This device takes care of that since it's wireless. Yes, the probe is still attached to a wire, but the sending unit can go anywhere near the grill. The actual readout can be inside where it's toasty warm and more importantly where you can actually hear it.

Perhaps the best thing about this probe is that it has both a remote sender probe and a wired probe for indoor use and they can be used simultaneously. Yes, you can monitor the temperature of two cooked items at once.

The probe is stainless steel and detachable (of course). Temperature ranges from 32° F to 572° F. Transmission range of the remote probe is up to 330 feet. The device has 8 entree programs, 4 doneness selections, 2 verbal and 3 audio alert sounds. You can also set it to go off at a set temperature. The device includes batteries.

Peace and Quiet

Here is a group of audio products by various manufacturers. Noise canceling/isolating ear-buds. With all the traffic and hustle & bustle noises of everyday life, two have built-in circuitry that samples outside noises, produces and opposing sound wave, and passes on the audio from the device the buds are plugged into. The third uses a tighter ear canal seal to shut out external sounds.

When Bose first created the noise canceling headphones they were very expensive and designed primarily for pilots of small (noisy) aircraft. No more!

The RP-HC55-S ear-buds are designed to reduce outside noise by 88%. The drivers are made with Neodymium magnets for a wide dynamic range, they include a card-holder and carrying pouch along with small, medium, and large ear pads for a more custom fit. They even include an aviation plug adapter and clothing clip. The cord is advertised at seventy-five inches.

The Audio-Technia ATH ANC3BK is a similar design to the RP-HC55-S above with a slightly lower noise canceling performance; 85% rather than 88%. Would you be able to tell? I probably wouldn't. As with the Panasonic the device includes three sizes of ear-bud pads (small, medium & large) for a custom fit. It also includes an airline plug, extension cord, battery (AAA) and a soft pouch to put it all in.

The Klipsch IMAGE S4 is not a true noise canceling ear-bud, but a "noise isolating" set. The difference is that no circuitry is used to cancel out sounds; a tight ear canal fit is used instead. On the plus side each bud has two drivers instead of one; the second driver magnet is used to enhance bass. As with the other two sets above, the kit comes with three sizes of ear-bud cover (small, medium & large). It DOES NOT include an airline plug adapter, but does come in a very sturdy stainless steel case with recesses for buds & covers.

Digital Music

What follows is a list of MP3 players that are simple in design, easy to use, and will store at least 500 songs.

SanDisk Sansa
This is about as simple as it gets. Storage for 2,000 songs, small enough to clip to your backpack or shirt pocket. SanDisk has made memory devices for literally years and this is not that far off of their major product line. After all, an MP3 player is a memory device that plays music. For about sixty dollars you can get the 2,000 song model, for forty you can get a model that stores 1,000 songs and for thirty-two dollars one that stores 500. The devices come in black, blue, red, white and indigo.

Coby Video MP3 Player
Coby is a brand out of Taiwan. The founder wanted to use the word Cowboy, but somehow ended up with Coby. Not to worry though all Coby products I've had worked as advertised. This player has a two inch diagonal display screen, come with 2, 4, or 8GigaBytes of memory (8GB is about 2,000 songs), FM radio tuner, USB port, and integrated rechargable battery.

The two GigaByte is about twenty-five dollars, the four GB about thirty dollars, and the eight GB about forty dollars.

Sony Walkman NWZE345BLK
The NWZE345BLK is Sony's digital Walkman. It has the highest memory capacity of any player listed here. It stores up to thirty hours of music or four hours of video. It comes with a full color two inch diagonal display and supports audio formats MP3, WMA (DRM), AAC, and Linear PCM. Video formats include AVC, MPEG-4, and WMV (DRM).  Still image format of JPEG.

This is the most expensive MP3 player listed here, but still under $100.


The author wrote this article with the holiday season and prices in mind.

The author was not compensated directly, by discount, or freebies by any of the manufacturers mentioned.

Amazon pays a small dividend (roughly 4%) for any products purchased directly from this hub within a set period of time. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this hub, though he has no control over the ads themselves or their content.


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