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Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Frugal Yankee: Thrifty Techie Gifts Profiles

[Repost The Frugal Yankee]

Gifts are meant to show you care. You could just spend buckets of money to show you care. Or you could use more imagination and less cash. If the gift is fun and reflects the recipients interests, you have shown that you’re smart and caring.

Techie types like to have their gadgets handy all the time. There are some very interesting stands and holders and cases. Prices range from inexpensive to absurd. Here are a few good values.

Clingo is fun. It holds phone, GPS, MP3 player and lots of other things. There are versions that stick to the car window, a podium, a small one, and even a Clingo to wear around your neck. Radio Shack, Micro Center, and more, $25-$35.

Texthook attaches to handlebars (bicycles, exercise equipment, strollers, etc) to hold your smartphone while riding your bike, working out or strolling with your children. It is perfect to use with hands free headsets, such as Bluetooth®. About $26 in specialty stores like Magic Beans in Cambridge, Wellesley, and Brookline.

Cases. There are all kinds of cases for iPads, Kindles, and phones. A couple that I like are the phone cases at Five Below that cost $5. At the other end, Bodhi is a little pricey, but very elegant. A leather or linen case for a Kindle, either size, is around $100. Bloomingdales

Anyone who takes photos with a smartphone has a lot of blurry shots, especially in low light. The Gary Fong tripod is the answer. You can use it for little point-n-shoot cameras (about $20) or add a smartphone adapter for another $20. It even closes up, protects your camera or phone while you carry it around your neck. Get it at Hunts Photo or other camera shops.

Speaking of photos, it’s a huge undertaking to digitize a collection of printed photos. digitizes for you and returns your pictures the same day they get them. For [$79.50] they’ll scan 1000 photos. For [$184], they’ll send you the box for 2000 photos with instructions and pay postage both ways. You can get a gift certificate at

Here’s a way to get crumbs, dust, and gunk out of the crevices of keyboards, remotes, phones, all kinds of gear. Not for screens, but it’s fun and effective on lots of other things. Cyber Clean comes in a couple of sizes, costs $5-$10. Office Depot, Radio Shack, Best Buy and more.

Another practical gift is Socket Sense, the surge protector that understands that we plug in big adapters. This one expands and has plugs at an angle. You can actually use all 6 sockets. About $30, Radio Shack, some True Value stores.

For the real nitty-gritty, you can speed up someone’s computer. One highly recommended tool is System Mechanic. It’s less than $50 at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Costco, Frys, Office Depot, Staples.

Anyone who tinkers with electronics, woodworking, even sewing, would like a MagOGrip bracelet. It keeps tools and gear right where you need it. About $15, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart.

The Scorpion ($50) is a multi-function device that can be powered by three sources: solar panel, dynamo hand-crank and AC adapter, and features a USB port to charge cell phones via hand-crank. In addition, Scorpion provides up-to-date and detailed information and weather conditions through NOAA weather band, and has an AM/FM radio digital tuner. The device also features a built-in LED flashlight and a bottle opener, all housed in a rugged, water-resistant exterior.

My very favorite is the book “Geek Dad”. Forget playing catch or Monopoly. Moms and Dads and kids can get wind up toys to do finger painting, take photos from the sky, or build a light-up duct tape wallet. About $15, most book stores.

There you have it. Some techie gift ideas. Be sure to look around for great ideas on finding real value for the real world.
Scan Photos, 35mm Slide and Negative Scanning, Photo Restoration, Digital Printing -