Gift Guide 2012 – Stocking Stuffers

If you’re looking to add some technology into your gift array, don’t forget about stocking stuffers.

Accessories and smaller technology gadgets make perfect gifts for the giver on a budget.

Here are some tech stocking stuffers to consider:

Tablet/phone covers and protectors

Mobile device covers and skins give users a way to inexpensively customize their device and give it personality.

Skins offer little protection, but are cheap and more customizable.  Some sites will also print custom skins from user-submitted images, creating a truly personal gift.

Covers are more expensive, but provide added value through function (protection).  Some covers and cases also come with a built-in keyboard, which can be helpful for users that use productivity apps on their device.

Screen protectors make great gifts for users who haven’t already put one on their device.  There are a variety of manufacturers in this space now, so be sure to read some reviews before making a decision.

Headphones/speakers

The built-in speakers on most tech devices are generally bad; likewise for the earbuds and headphones that ship with most phones and tablets.

A headphone upgrade is one of the better, (potentially) inexpensive upgrades you might give your audio-loving gift target this year.

Headphone and speaker quality is incredibly subjective.  Thankfully, the audiophiles at Head-Fi.org have put together a gift guide outlining some solid picks: http://bit.ly/VDg3hQ.  The site in general contains helpful reviews for headphone models both popular and obscure.

Memory cards and thumbdrives

Though devices are starting to move towards fixed-capacity internal storage, some devices still support external memory cards.  These make great gifts because they are almost always in demand; camera enthusiasts can always use more space, while e-reader and MP3 player owners often can use a separate card to store media files.
The trick to buying storage media is to find out what card and capacity the gift target’s device supports.  Also consider purchasing a computer adapter for the card.

Thumbdrives are one of those devices that are just nice to have around.  They’re small, so they disappear easily, which makes backups highly desirable.  Since they support USB, they’re compatible with a wide variety of devices and computers.

Gift cards and service upgrades

Gift cards get a bad rap for being the gift of the lazy, but they don’t have to be.  Rather than buying a generic gift card to a store, consider investing in a card for your gift targets favorite services.

Almost every digital store has some sort of card, which lets you support the services your target likes directly.  Game platforms also sell cards directly usable in the specific console or game’s store.

You might also consider purchasing your target a service upgrade on the platforms they love.  For instance, cloud computing services like Dropbox and iCloud can be upgraded to allow for more storage space.  Media services, like Hulu and Spotify, can be upgraded to see more content.

Tech gifts don’t have to break the bank; tailor your gift to your target’s favorite device or service to let them know you’re thinking of them.

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