cool cheap gadget gifts?
September 6, 2012 11:10 AM   Subscribe

What are some cool, but practical gadgets for under 100 dollars?

it seems most gadgets are expensive and very big ticket items. I am looking for cool or fun technology to give as a present. I would like it to be under $100 and useful and fun. One idea I had was a cool but not corny or gimicky alarm clock, but I could not find any.

I am look for all sorts of ideas or suggestions.

The gift is for an adult male who is into technology/computers/trivia. Not a cook/outdoorsman.
posted by Jaelma24 to Technology (26 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
The 6" Kindle and the Nook Simple Touch are both $79.
posted by griphus at 11:12 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Actually, the 6" Kindle just got a price cut ("Just" as in "announced about twenty minutes ago") to $69.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:12 AM on September 6, 2012

Oh, hrm, and it looks like the Simple Touch is back up to $99 from the last time I checked.
posted by griphus at 11:15 AM on September 6, 2012

If he's into technology and computers, he probably already has aa full compliment of all the cheap gadgets he wants and Very Particular Opinions for them. Nice cases or other containment units might work.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:17 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Someone recently got me a Fitbit, which I like. You don't have to be extremely outdoorsy to appreciate how it works and the data it provides.
posted by cranberrymonger at 11:21 AM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

An Apple TV comes in at under $100.
posted by Gev at 11:29 AM on September 6, 2012

It depends on what you mean by practical, but I will step in here with some pocket synth suggestions, all well under or around $100 and awesome:

Korg MONOTRON synth
Korg Kaosillator
Stylophone Beatbox

Here's a cool and gimmicky alarm clock
posted by lakersfan1222 at 11:37 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

A recording pen. It records the speaker and syncs it up with your notes so that if you click on specific notes taken, it will play back the audio from that part of the class/lecture/speech/talk.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:45 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Useful is overrated.

You can get a Galileo Thermometer for under $100. I keep plugging this, but every self-respecting geek should have a Klein Bottle. How about a Ball Bearing Clock?

Oh, okay, here's something that I actually got that is handy - a charging station for all of your stupid electronic gadgets.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:47 AM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Roku + Plex Media player = super easy media streaming

Re: Alarm clock, i have a slightly less fancy version of this, and have never regretted buying it. You can set alarms per day very easily (and this one apparently has 2 sets of alarms as well). My wife's work schedule can vary during the week but we can "set it and forget it" so to speak.

1TB portable hard drive (you can find it even cheaper, I've seen it for as low as $86. Not as exciting as some of the others but on the other hand it's a freaking TB of memory.
posted by pyro979 at 12:05 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

every self-respecting geek should have a Klein Bottle

Yes, but it should be this one, it's useful.
posted by spasm at 12:07 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not an alarm clock, but a BCD Clock is pretty geeky.

Also, seconding Fitbit.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:20 PM on September 6, 2012

Best answer: I am very partial to the la cross technology weather gagets. This one shows the time, temperature reading of where the base unit is at, and temperature reading of a little wireless dongle that can be installed indoors or outdoors. It also tracks the minimum and maximum temps of both places.
posted by royalsong at 12:20 PM on September 6, 2012

Get a Pocket Ref to go with whatever else you get. There's an app for Apple and Android, as well.
posted by jgirl at 12:34 PM on September 6, 2012

Clocky, Little Bits, Arduino kit.
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:36 PM on September 6, 2012

I got my nerdy gadgety dude an infrared thermometer, and he thought it was pretty darn cool. We actually use it all the time, check if the AC is working, if the pizza stone is pre-heated, etc.
posted by fontophilic at 12:40 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Couldn't love my roku box more
posted by magnetsphere at 12:58 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Raspberry Pi? It's an ARM/GNU/Linux computer on a circuit board the size of a credit card selling for 40-odd bucks.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:34 PM on September 6, 2012

If his car stereo doesn't have bluetooth already, a bluetooth car kit is handy and makes life safer.
posted by LarryC at 1:36 PM on September 6, 2012

Best answer: Goal Zero Guide 10 Battery Pack

It holds and charges 4 AA batteries. It will provide portable power to charge anything that can be charged via USB. I carried it on a cross country flight and was able to watch movies on my iPhone the whole way, and arrived at my destination with a full charge. Carry another 4 batteries to swap out for ridiculous run times. They're like $40 now and come in handy all the time.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:38 PM on September 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

Leatherman. It's not *digital* technology, which I think is a reasonable assumption here, but it's cool, and it's practical :)
posted by colin_l at 5:20 PM on September 6, 2012

Just seconding what an earlier respondent mentioned, I noticed 1TB portable USB drives for Windows and Mac at Costco this week for a very low price. Seems like a useful and economical backup and storage solution.

You can buy a car video camera for under $100 (see this recent topic).

There are some cool high-end USB drives with hardware encryption from Kingston and Verbatim.

You could also consider giving a subscription to some type of web service as a gift, that's techy but obviously not hareware related (unless it's something for example like a premium subscription to LastPass password management AND a 2-factor authentication device such as a Yubikey). Speaking of password management, there's a USB drive that does that very securely called IronKey and I think it's probably under $100.
posted by Dansaman at 5:39 PM on September 6, 2012

A Victorinox Cybertool comes out at about $100, and is massively useful if you are the kind of person that doesn't go to work with a toolbox but needs to muck about the insides of computers on a regular basis.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:29 PM on September 6, 2012

Best answer: The Soundkick Soundfreaq is $100, and sounds great for the size and price.
posted by pickingoutathermos at 10:21 AM on September 7, 2012

Some of the Harmony Universal Remotes come in under $100. I love mine.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:44 PM on September 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I ended up getting the SoundKick soundfreaq. That is definitely cool and he was due for an upgrade for his current MP3 playing portable speaker.
posted by Jaelma24 at 6:28 PM on September 9, 2012

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