Kindle Fires, iPhones and Rolexes make great but perhaps impractical stocking stuffers. We hear you. The economy remains harsh, jobs scarce and money tight, which is exactly why we’ve curated a list of 13 affordable (under $50), fun and practical stocking stuffers any geek would love.
Perhaps only second to dogs, robots make great pets (minus fear of a Cylon takeover). The TankBot by Desk Pets can navigate mazes and avoid obstacles, either autonomously or with your help via iOS and Android devices. In free-roaming mode, the robot tank takes on a life of its own. A retractable USB charger is built into the toy, and 40 minutes of charge gets you about 15 minutes of play. Available for $24.99.
Give the gift of imagination this year. Lego’s holiday tree ornament is filled with building bricks and unlimited potential. No instructions come with the ornament, so it’s up to the receiver and his creativity to see what comes from this. Available for $7.99.
Controllable via iOS devices, Graffin’s HELO TC RC helicopter has twin motors on its aluminum frame and can be charged via USB. Using an infrared transmitter that plugs into the headphone jack, users can navigate the toy helicopter with touch controls or motion. They can even record and store flight plans with their devices. Available for $49.99.
Whisky stones allow you to chill without diluting, perfect for that end-of-the-day drink. After being washed, these small soapstone cubes can go back into the freezer, anxiously waiting until you fix yourself another Scotch on the (whisky) rocks. Available for $19.99 for a set of nine.
Why guess when it comes to finding the right temperature for wine? Instead, use the Corkcicle to chill wine to the perfect temperature every time. Conventional ice buckets can be too cold and room temperature too warm. The Corkcicle solves this problem by chilling bottles internally, helping maintain a constant cool from within. Available for $22.95.
The geek foodie in your life will love this pizza cutter in the form of Star Trek’s NCC 1701 Enterprise ship. The officially licensed Star Trek collectable is made with a laser-etched stainless steel blade with solid zinc-alloy chromium plated body. Boldly cut the piping hot pizza your delivery boy brings you. Available for $19.99.
For the partier who’s ready at all times, the portable, collapsable 1.7-ounce shot glass is the perfect gift. The glass comes with a key ring, metal cover, pleather travel case and carabiner clip, to make sure it’s always nearby. Available for $16.
The techie adventurer in your life can rest easy that this USB drive will endure the harshest of conditions. The ultra-rugged drive is resistant to water, dirt and static. And if that’s not enough ease of mind, it also comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Verbatim’s Tuff-’N'-Tiny drive packs a ton of data — up to 32 gigabytes — in the smallest of packages (roughly the thickness of a penny). Begins at $12.99 for 2 gigabytes.
If you’re at the airport, no need to worry. The Swiss Army you see above is bladeless, containing only a USB flash drive. These TSA-friendly, iron-clad, waterproof and shock-resistant drives also come equipped with encryption technology for Windows machines. But even without the security software, Mac users will love how sleek this drive is. Begins at $39.99 for 4 gigabytes.
When you think about how often USB drives end up on keychains, it makes perfect sense why LaCie would create key-shaped drives. The CooKey blends in perfectly with house keys but is also scratch- and water-resistant. It comes with LaCie Private-Public software, which can encrypt and password protect files. Furthermore, with the ability to lock and unlock computers, the CooKey functions like a literal key. Begins at $29.99 for 8 gigabytes.
Supercharging your smartphone’s camera lens, the Macro Cell Lens Band lets you capture stunning details. The band can be worn or kept in a wallet, so you never miss a close up. Available for $15.
According to Toddy Gear, touchscreen devices can hold as many germs as a toilet handle in a men’s room. Clearly there are such things as bad and good germs, but that’s an alarming statistic nonetheless. Enter Toddy Smart Cloth, a handcrafted microfiber cloth with antimicrobial coating that cleans screens and lenses. On one side, there’s a plush microfiber material to clean; the other is silk microfiber to buff and polish. There are 42 design options to choose from, and if that selection isn’t satisfactory, you can even customize your own. Available for $9.99 for one cloth, or $19.99 for a three-pack.
This highly practical gift that protects screens from scratches is always welcomed. Skip overpaying at the malls and head straight for eBay, where you can find these plastic films for a small fraction of the cost. Given how cheap they are, buy at least a couple because it’s difficult to apply screen protectors just right on the first try.
We understand it’s a tough economy. Not everyone can afford to buy the latest and greatest. For the holidays, AMD, maker of computer processors and chips, is giving away a laptop to one of our readers. The HP Pavilion dm1z is a 11.6-inch laptop that always keeps its cool, running 9.6 degrees cooler than body temperature for eight hours on a single charge. While the laptop weighs in at a mere 3.52 pounds, it boasts big sound with integration of Beats audio. Here’s how to participate in the giveaway: Tweet @AMDNotebook and let us know why you want this laptop, including the hastag #discoverygiveaway. We’ll cut the contest off at Wednesday, Dec. 22, 5 p.m. PST, and I’ll update this post with the winner’s tweet. Also, while you’re at it, keep up with Discovery, AMD and me on Twitter.
Update: And the winner is @emmalow, of San Francisco. AMD has selected her as the #discoverygiveaway winner. Emma tells me her only computer is her MacBook from freshman year of college — seven years old at this point — and primarily works from her iPad these days. Below is her winning tweet.
Main image: Jeremy Bronson/Creative Commons
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