Most all of us have been guilty of putting off Christmas shopping at some point or another. I’m usually very good about getting my gift together early on so I can kick back and avoid the insanity of that last shopping week before Christmas. Thankfully, I’ve been done for a couple of weeks this year. However, even the best of us slip up sometimes. And for those of us who prefer to do most, if not all our Christmas shopping online, procrastination has a price. You will actually have to go to a store to finish out that list. Ugh.
I was thinking about this situation over the last week after a couple of people asked me for tech gift recommendations. After that, a gift guide post made a lot of sense. However, with just two days left before Christmas, we are definitely talking about the last minute. That said, there were three key elements required to make this list worth reading. First off, at this late date, I knew it needed to be all about what people can get locally. With that in mind, I headed to my local Walmart and Best Buy in search of easy to obtain items. Only items that I found on the shelf made the list below.
Also, unless we are talking about our children, significant others, or closest friends and family members, most of us are not going to be breaking the bank for these last minute gifts. As such, I decided to select items that cost less than $100, with a distinct focus on good values that come in under $50. And last, there had to be plenty of variety. The people you are buying for have different tastes and needs, so I tried to cover as many of the basic accessory areas as possible.
One thing to note is that, the prices are as of 1 PM CST on 12/22/13. In verifying what I saw in the store, I have already seen plenty of changes up and down. So, what you see locally could vary somewhat. Just be advised. Without any further adieu, let’s get started:
- Apple iPad Air Smart Covers- $39.99 at Walmart
- Apple iPad Mini Smart Covers- $34.99 at Walmart
- Apple iPad Air Smart Case- $49.00 at Walmart
- Griffin Survivor iPhone 5 and 5S cases-34.96 to $44.96 at Walmart
- Otterbox Defender for iPhone 5 & 5S- $46.86 at Walmart
- Otterbox Commuter for iPhone 5 & 5S- $34.88 at Walmart
There are a couple of really good buys on this list, but the Apple Smart Covers and Cases are the safe bets for the iPad users in your life. The price is reasonable, there are several colors to choose from, and they are readily available. However, these iPhone cases from Griffin and Otterbox (and many others not listed for the sake of brevity) are also good values. Just be sure that you have a good feel for the recipient’s personal style and case size and protection preferences before you go this route.
- Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Case for iPad Air- $79.99 at Best Buy
- Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air- $79.99 at Best Buy
- Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio iPad Mini- $71.99 at Best Buy
- Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover- for iPad Mini $59.99 at Best Buy
- ZAGGfolio for iPad Air or Mini- $79.99 at Best Buy
These are all big favorites of mine, and my local Best Buy had plenty of all models in stock. Keyboard cases aren’t for everyone, but if you know any iPad owners who use their tablet for productivity tasks or have expressed interest in going that route, you may just become their new best friend.
The full enclosure cases are at the higher end of this list price wise, but the Logitech and ZAGG models for the iPad Air are solid values at $20 off retail price. On the cheaper end, the Logitech Keyboard Cover for the Mini is reasonably priced and provide just as good of a keyboard experience. However, no matter which you choose, you can’t go wrong here. I’ve reviewed each of these keyboard cases and covers at some point or another, and they are all top notch.
- Fitbit Zip- $59.88 at Walmart
- Fitbit One- $99.88 at Walmart
- Fitbit Flex- $99.95 at Walmart
These and the Jawbone Up (which was a bit too expensive for this list) are on many prominent tech gift guides this year. Wearables are the next big thing (at least that’s what I keep hearing), and activity trackers are their most mature and useful form at this point. The Fitbit Zip is a great first step product for someone who’s interested in a communicating activity monitor, but hasn’t taken the plunge yet.
- Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter or SD Card Adapter – $29.00 at Walmart
- Apple Lightning Digital AV or VGA Adapter- $49.99 at Best Buy
If you know an iOS user without an Apple TV (and there are MANY), then the AV adapter is a great choice. It’s also ideal for those who travel a lot, as wireless streaming devices are often blocked on hotel WiFi networks. However, as useful as the AV adapters are, the camera adapters are probably the better choice. At only $29, they are an excellent value, and any digital camera user should get plenty of mileage out of either. However, if you aren’t sure what kind of camera the recipient owns, the SD Card adapter is the safer bet. There are some cameras that may not be compatible with the USB adapter.
- Mophie Juice Pack Helium for iPhone 5 and 5S- $63.99 at Best Buy
- Mophie Juice Pack Plus for iPhone 5 and 5S- $63.99 at Best Buy
- Mophie battery packs from $47.99-$79.99 at Best Buy
Backup batteries, whether they be cases or bricks with USB outputs, are going to be a hit with just about anyone who doesn’t already own one. Who doesn’t need to top off a low battery every now and again, or hasn’t had their their phone die at an inopportune time? At the same price as the Helium, the Juice Pack Air is a good value for the lighter iPhone 5 or 5S user who just wants a little insurance against running down while on the go. For those who don’t prefer a case, there are several different battery packs available at reasonable prices.
- HMDX Burst Portable Rechargeable Bluetooth Speaker- $21.99 at Best Buy
- HMDX Jam Portable Wireless Speaker- $30.99 at Best Buy
- HMDX Jam Plus Portable Wireless Speaker- $46.99 at Best Buy
- iHome Mini Bluetooth Speaker- $59.99 at Best Buy
While Jawbone’s and Beat’s offerings handily own this space, they are well above the price range of this list. For the value conscious, the HMDX Burst has good reviews and is very portable. In fact, all of the above products had 4 star or better user review ratings at Best Buy, so as long as the recipient isn’t an audiophile who drops tons of cash on pro-level audio equipment, these should make great gifts.
- Chromecast- $35.00 at Best Buy
- Apple TV- $99.99 at Best Buy
While the Apple TV is probably going to be the default option for most iOS users, and still does plenty of things that the less expensive competition can’t match, the Chromecast’s combination of price and portability is hard to pass up. Google has only recently begun to loosen its tight grip on the streaming stick’s app catalog, but the fact that it will put Netflix and YouTube on the big screen with your iPhone or iPad in control is worth $35.00. The ability to send any Chrome tab or mirror your Windows or Apple computer’s screen to your TV, and the future potential of the platform is just gravy. This is a great stocking stuffer for any gadget lover who doesn’t already have one.
iTunes Gift Cards
Ah, the old standby. Who hasn’t gotten one of these for a present at some point? A card in hand usually makes for a better gift experience, but this is the one item on the list that you can potentially get online without having to get it shipped. The key here is that, if you don’t need the card, you can definitely save a few bucks purchasing online. For example, PayPal Gifts currently has a deal for 20% off all iTunes gift cards. $40 for a $50 card is a nice deal. Getting that last minute gift without having to brave the store on Christmas week? Now that’s a gift that gives back.
If I had to choose a few top recommendations, the Chromecast would definitely be at the head of the list. The low price and versatility are just too much to pass up. The iTunes Gift Cards are also an ever-present standby, and a common gift in stockings everywhere. The four Bluetooth speakers are also excellent values, and cover a variety of price points. The external batteries also make great gifts, but are at the pricier end of the scale for this guide.
These certainly aren’t the only options that are available for last minute Christmas shoppers. If your local stores are like the two I visited in my area, then there will be no shortage of great tech gift items for you to choose from. These were just some of the ones that stood out to me as I was walking around.
How about you? Have any great last minute tech gift ideas? I’m sure our readers would LOVE to hear them. Feel free to let us know in the comments below. And if you are headed out shopping in the next two days, stay safe out there.
I sincerely hope you all have a Merry Christmas!