Sometimes, it’s the little extras that make the holiday season really shine. Unless you’re going to a coal mine to do your stocking stuffer shopping, check out our list of the best bite-sized gadgets out this holiday season. Granted, most tech gifts probably could fit in a stocking these days. Just go with us on this one.
It’s a ticket to fitness, and it fits right in the palm of your hand. It’s like the exact opposite of Charlie Bucket’s golden ticket, except it’s still awesome. The Striiv Play is a tiny pedometer that can keep track of steps taken, stairs climbed, distance traveled, and time spent exercising. It’s smart enough to know when you’re actually doing those things, blocking out the noise and random movements of daily life. That’s good, because you wouldn’t want your pedometer thinking you took a step after you drove over a speed bump or something. Of course, it’ll also sync up to an app on your iDevice of choice, where you’ll be able to play fitness related games and challenge friends who also have the Play. It’ll be a hit for the fitness junkie in your life. The Striiv Play can end up in their stocking if you fork over about $60 to Amazon.
For those who love to share their music with everyone, anywhere (and we don’t mean by filesharing), there’s the JAM Bluetooth Wireless Speaker. The name says it all – this drum-shaped speaker can go anywhere, with a rechargeable battery. No wires required – when the owner is on the go, the speaker can connect to any mobile device using a Bluetooth connection, with a 30-foot range and a four-hour battery life. That’s all in a stocking-friendly 2.8 x 2.5 x 2.8 inch frame. The JAM Bluetooth Wireless Speaker can be music to someone’s ears if you part with $39.
In the tech world, the smartphone case has to be the go-to stocking stuffer, right? They’re cheap, relatively inexpensive, and, at the very worst, they give the recipient another outfit to dress their beloved gadget in. In that sense, it’s kind of like a doggie sweater, but for your tech pet. Can’t miss, right?
You can do one better by going with the Speck CandyShell Flip Case for the iPhone 5. It has a hard exterior with a rubber interior to provide shock absorption, but more importantly, it has a handy flip-out panel on the bottom that will allow iPhone 5 owners to dock their new smartphones to the new iPhone 5 accessories that will doubtless be swarming the market soon. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and you can give it for $23 from Speck.
Some stocking stuffers are great because they’re bound to be useful, no matter who you give it to. We’ve all had stocking stuffer gifts fall flat, and we’ve all felt the awkward pall that falls over the room when someone gets something they know they’ll never use, but have to be polite about it, because you never complain about a gift, ever, unless you want to be the person who kills the holiday spirit. Others, the best stocking stuffers, are the ones where the recepient unwraps the gift, looks it over with that “not bad” look on their face, and puts it aside with a genuine but subdued thanks.
That’s what the Satechi Compact USB Surge Protector is. Turning an electrical outlet into an electrical outlet plus a USB charging outlet can’t possibly be unwanted. Virtually everyone can make use of something like this someplace in their life. Simple, but undeniably useful. Also, pretty affordable, at about $13. Not bad, indeed.
It’s Angry Birds. It’s a Samsung Galaxy S III case. There you go, you already know whether or not there is someone in your life who wants this. It’s a hard-shell, snap-on case, and it features a particular Angry Bird doing his best Cyclops impersonation. It’s selling for $30, but, because Angry Birds and the Galaxy S III are kind of big deals, the case is sold out right now. Keep an eye on the Angry Birds Space Lazer Bird Samsung Galaxy S III case if you think it’ll be a winner for someone you know.
If you know an artist and an iPad owner, you can give them the gift of a handy stylus this holiday season. The XStylus Touch is designed specifically for the iPad – the clear magnetic carrying cradle fits into the 30-pin connector – but the stylus can probably be used just as well on any other tablet, sans the convenient carrying cradle. The cradle should fit with most iPad cases, and the stylus itself is heavy and specifically designed to reduce any strain on the hand or arm during use. The XStylus Touch has made its way out of the crowdfunding stage, and is now selling for $39.
Earphones – another solid stocking stuffer. This is true because headphones and earphones get busted up all the time. If the person in question doesn’t need a new pair now, they’re probably going to need a new pair soon. You can’t go wrong.
If you’re going to go the earphone route, the Harman Kardon Acoustically Enhanced In-Ear Headphones are a solid buy. They have the strength of Harmon Kardon’s excellent audio technology, which focuses on improving acoustics in these earphones. The must-have in-line remote is present, so they’re smartphone friendly, too. $150 is a high price for a pair of earphones, but these are a step up from the average pair, so it might be worth it for someone particularly finicky about how their music sounds.
This one goes a little bit past being just a case. The Portafolio Duo Wallet protects the back of the Samsung Galaxy S III and the front alike, with a flip-cover design. What sets it apart is that the flip cover has slots for credit cards, cash, and a bunch of other things you usually stick in your wallet. That same flip cover can also be used as a landscape or portrait stand for the Galaxy S III. It’s heavy on functionality, but not heavy in your hand. That, and whoever gets it will have one less thing they’ll need to stuff in their pockets before they go out. The Kensington Portafolio Duo Wallet for Samsung Galaxy S III is selling now for about $40.