It’s always been easy to shop for a technology nerd. Just take a walk down the aisles of Best Buy or Fry’s and you’ve got a huge selection of possible gifts for the holiday season at your disposal.
But these days, technology and consumer electronics aren’t just for the nerds—just about everyone has a new tablet or piece of home entertainment on their wish list. That’s why it can also be pretty intimidating if you don’t know where to start. But don’t worry, that’s where we come in.
From stocking stuffers for everyone in the family to crazy pieces of technology for early adopters, here are 10 tech gifts that are sure to impress this holiday season.
10. Nike+ Fuelband SE – $149
For the health nut in your life, the new Fuelband from Nike is sure to please. With this year’s edition, the Fuelband SE tracks your Fuel with a more accurate accelerometer that features special settings for different sports. It also includes a new app and LED lights that you program to say different things. Forget those big ugly smartwatches with the obtuse touchscreen—the Fuelband is light, subtle and, dare I say, fashionable.
9. Chargekey Lightning Cable – $25
Our smartphones have replaced a lot of the essential things we used to carry around with us. Because of that, having a charged iPhone is not some kind of luxury anymore—a dead battery could spiral into a full-blown emergency. The good news is that although we may not always have our USB cords on us, but we do always have our keys—and that’s why the Chargekey Lightning Cable for the iPhone 5 is a great accessory to hook on next to your set of keys. Your family or friends will thank you for gifting them one of these the next time they get stranded in an unfamiliar place with a dead iPhone.
8. Lytro Light Field Camera – $299
The Lytro camera isn’t shaped like a normal digital camera—and it doesn’t work like one either. While the Lytro won’t give you the high-definition photos of a point-and-shoot or the professional hands-on controls of a traditional DSLR, the Lytro is a camera like no other. This light field sensor allows pictures to be completely refocused after taking the shot, which adds a lot of room for creativity and experimentation. The best part is that the device is surprisingly small and light—the perfect on-the-go camera that you can throw in your bag or purse without a second thought.
7. iPad Mini with Retina Display – $399
While the new iPad Air is an incredibly impressive device, the new iPad Mini packs the same punch in a more accessible screen size and price point. It’s the perfect device to take on the go or read in bed with—and my goodness does that retina display screen look great. The best part is that the smaller iPad has the same insides and design as the iPad Air, so the performance should keep you happy for at least a couple of years down the road. While iOS still does not support multiple user logins, the new iPad Mini is still a great tablet for the whole family.
6. Korg Kaossilator Pro+ – $399
For decades the hard-nosed tough guys of the world have roared that synthesizers don’t belong in their rock’n’roll. While the Korg Kaossilator Pro+ synth and loop pad might be most efficient for dance music or more esoteric applications of musical theory, even the hoariest rock loyalist can find much mirth and musical merit within this tiny box.
The main draw is the square in the middle that lets you manually manipulate sound. Plug a mic or an instrument into the Korg, play a line and then just tap or slide the pad to contort the sound. There are 250 sound programs, from minimal alterations to absurd discombobulations that make the eldritch depth of a space delay sound pedestrian. You can loop a beat, with or without the built-in drum samples, and an arpeggiator works wonders for ersatz Moroderisms. It unlocks the building blocks of sound, letting you rebuild it in your own image. -Garrett Martin
5. iHome iDL100 Triple Charging Station – $149.99
Now that you’ve got your new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c—and possibly even a new iPad—you’ve probably realized that all your old accessories and USB connections no longer work with the new Thunderbolt port. You can buy converters, but we’d recommend starting your transition by picking up one of these new triple charging station accessories from iHome. The iDL100 comes with two Thunderbolt ports, a USB port, and a radio/alarm clock as well—perfect for a couple with two iPhones or someone with an iPhone and an iPad.
4. Logitech Fabricskin iPad Air Keyboard Folio – $149
People have been arguing that the iPad is as much a content creating device as it is a content consumption device for years. However, without a suitable keyboard attachment that didn’t completely botch the light, high-end design, it’s always been hard to prove. The new “fabricskin” keyboard cover from Logitech for the iPad Air might just be the best solution thus far with its thin design and magnetic folding. It might not be as intuitive as the Surface keyboard covers, but it’s the perfect gift for that friend who’s emails and iMessages are always filled with typos.
3. Cube 3D Printer – $1299
If you’re looking to drop some serious cash and really spoil that technology nerd in your life, a desktop 3D printer is one gift they’ll never forget. The Cube 3D Printer is one of the most affordable and accessible 3D printers out there, supporting two different plastic materials, 16 different material colors, and seamless connection to your computer over WiFi. What’s better, it’s great for kids and would make a fantastic family gift for the whole household.
2. Nexus 7 – $229
When it comes to affordable tablets, the Nexus 7 is king. The next best tablet that is this well-designed and high-performing is the $399 iPad Mini with Retina Display, a whole $170 more! But the Nexus 7 doesn’t sacrifice any quality for its low pricetag. With the newest version of Android (4.4 KitKat), a super high-res screen, and fantastic lightweight design, the Nexus 7 is not only one of the cheapest tablets on the market—it’s one of the very best.
1. Chromecast – $35
The search for the cheapest way to way wirelessly watch Netflix on your TV has ultimately boiled down the Chromecast, a new HDMI dongle from Google. The incredibly small device plugs straight into your HDMI port on your TV and will stream content like Netflix, Youtube, and HBO Go from your phone (iOS or Android), as well as straight from your Google Chrome web browser—right over WiFi. Although many apps are still in development, even just the few apps that support it so far make it the best alternative to the Apple TV in existence—as well as must-have buy stocking stuffer for only $35.
_Luke Larsen is the tech editor at Paste Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @lalarsen11 and Paste Tech at @paste_tech._