With the holiday shopping season now underway this Black Friday in the US and the Christmas rush also begun in the UK and elsewhere, there are many bargains to be had in tablets, laptops, digital cameras and big-screen TVs.
There are too many to list here (Retrevo is keeping tabs on some of them), but consider these 10 recommendations instead for stocking fillers under $100 or £100, as the case may be.
The eReader category is narrowing to a handful of brands and in the basic e Ink versions, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch represents the best value and quality. It has been reduced to $79 on Black Friday and its software had just been updated for faster page turns and clearer typefaces. Outside the US, the latest Amazon Kindle (£89 in the UK) is the best choice.
To turn your set into an internet TV with hundreds of online channels, all that’s needed is a small $50 box from Roku. The Roku LT has 350+ channels including Netflix, Pandora and HBO Go, as well as built-in Wi-Fi to pick up your internet connection. Roku will launch in the UK early in 2012, but if you can’t wait that long, Apple TV (£99, $99) is a great choice for movie rentals, as well as viewing photos and playing music from your computer.
For anyone with an iPad, covers and stands and physical keyboards are popular gifts. I love the ingenious, magnetised smart covers Apple introduced this year that turn the iPad on and off as you open and close them. They are currently on sale at $36 for polyurethane and $54 for leather versions (£24 and £48 in the UK Apple Store). The Zaggmate is both a cover and a keyboard, protecting the iPad’s screen with its aluminium keyboard base. Logitech has brought out a version of this for just under $100 (£90) although I prefer the Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard (pictured) that opens with a sturdy and satisfying snap, currently on sale in the US at $116.
Two small items that can easily fit in a stocking and help the recipient work off a few pounds put on over the holiday season are Jawbone’s new Up band and the Fitbit Ultra, both costing $99, with the Up also available in the UK now and Ultra on sale there in January. The Up is more stylish and links nicely with an iPhone app to tell you about sleep and exercise patterns, the Fitbit is more data-rich and uploads your information wirelessly to a computer.
Finally, for some fun toys that can be controlled from smartphone apps, the $25 TankBot from Desk Pets can navigate mazes and avoid obstacles, while the $50 Helo TC from Griffin is an indoor helicopter with its flight controls situated on an iPod touch, iPad or iPhone.