October 25, 2014

Tech Gift Ideas: Tablets, Headsets and More

The holidays are meant to be happy, fun, and productive times. Shopping, while certainly a bit crowded during this time of year, can be fun when you are buying something that you know that special small business owner in your life will want.

Or you can just buy one of these gifts for yourself and get a tax write-off, to boot. In this holiday tech gift ideas slideshow, we give you some fun suggestions and ideas, for yourself and others.

Tablets are all the rage this year, so let’s start with a few of these handheld computers.

In a Los Angeles Times post and survey 78 percent said a tablet was on their holiday shopping list. There are so many to choose from, I tested the first four with loaner devices. I didn’t get a chance to test the Surface, but, of course, it gets rave reviews.

tech gift ideas

Nexus 10

This elegant tablet from Google (made by Samsung) is impressive. For $399, you get a machine as powerful as many low-end laptops. Add a lightweight mobile keyboard (see below) will make you even more productive. I like the Gorilla glass screen. It is hack-friendly – you can open the Nexus 10 and repair it yourself (well, if you are that kind of techie).

It has a special wifi technology that speeds up your browsing, too. If you don’t want a tablet, but a small smartphone computer, you could try the Nexus 4, unlocked with no carrier contract, for $299. It is a powerful competitor to the iPhone.

Click the blue “Start Gallery” button to see more of my holiday tech gift ideas.

tech gift ideas

Kindle Fire HD

This is a 7 inch tablet.  I reviewed the predecessor and some of the same thoughts still apply. For $199, you can use this mid-sized tablet for browsing the web, checking email, reading books (work PDFs or Microsoft Office docs with an app), watching training videos (or personal ones).

Impressive sound and display.

tech gift ideas

iPad mini

It’s shaking up the mid-size tablet space and appears to be a real winner. The Los Angeles Times tested it against the Kindle and Nexus 7 and decided that the mini won. I found it to be as elegant as all the hype, frankly.

The subtle difference in size, compared to others in the category, makes it particularly nice to hold for all tasks.

Prices start at $329.

tech gift ideas

Microsoft Surface

This is in the 10 inch tablet category and many small business owners tell me that they like the idea of a Windows-based machine to get access to all their Microsoft documents easily.

Prices start at $499.

tech gift ideasPlantronics Voyager Legend

This Bluetooth headset is impressive.  At $99, this hands-free headset is excellent. If you need an office speakerphone, take a look at their Calisto 620 for $149.

As a side note, check out this fun contest currently being run by Plantronics, “What’s the Strangest Place You’ve Taken a Business Call?” I had started a conversation about a loaner of the Legend prior to learning about this sweepstakes.

tech gift ideasSpotify

This cool new radio/music service lets you listen for free to any album or track, via your desktop, PC or Mac. The mobile service is a premium level starting at $4.99 a month. You can get gift cards at Target online or in stores or sign up on the web.

Premium edition lets you listen ad-free and they’ll give you a free 30-day trial. To be clear, this is a digital service and no cords are necessary.

No iPods were harmed in the making of this post.

tech gift ideas
Lytro camera

Now it may be hard to make a case for business use with this new camera, but I think it might help lots of small business owners who are not professionals, or barely amateurs. It isn’t just a new camera, but a new kind of camera.

In essence, the Lytro camera lets you create living pictures that you can endlessly refocus after you take them. It sounds unbelievable and I am going on my photographer friend’s recommendations because I have not had a chance to test it yet.

Starts at $399.

tech gift ideasBig Jambox

Jawbone is famous for its little, high quality Bluetooth mobile phone headsets. But they’ve been branching out into other products and this little wireless audio system, ironically called the Big Jambox, will connect with your devices or computer or even serve as a speakerphone.

At $299, it is an elegant way to amplify your iPhone or Android music device, a.k.a your phone. Every now and then, I really want to keep one of the loaner devices that companies send me.

The Big Jambox fits in that “want.” It is just a cool little package.

tech gift ideas

Nest Learning Thermostat

If you work from a home office and want a way to save on your energy bills, take a look at this new thermostat. As its name implies, this thermostat learns your schedule and programs itself. Seriously.

Plus, you can control it from your phone. If you can install a light fixture (not just screw in a light bulb), then you can hook this device up and save money on heating and cooling.

Cost is $249.

tech gift ideas

Absolute Power from Kensington

This is something every multi-device office needs. If you have ever tried to charge your iPad2 with your Samsung SIII charger, you know it won’t work.

There’s this subtle microAmp thing… solve it with Kensington’s powerful multi-device charger.  It even has technology to charge your phone/device faster, safely.

Cost is $19.99.

There are no shortage of iPhone cases, Android cases, or iPad keyboard covers. I’ll leave the iPhone case world alone, but there’s one I really like from Kensington.  I needed a simple cover for the Ting Cell phone that I’m testing.

tech gift ideasSamsung S3

This case sales for $19.99. They make a really nice faux-leather iPad folio case with an actual working keyboard, too!

I have tested about three mini keyboards for the iPad2 only to be disappointed each time. Can’t win them all, I guess.  However, there’s one I really like.

tech gift ideasKensington Bluetooth-enabled keyboard

Kensington really delivered with their Bluetooth-enabled keyboard for $74.99.

While this holiday shopping list is aimed at higher-end devices to enhance your productivity, I tried to add in a few fun, lower-cost items that might serve as a gift to that special entrepreneur friend or ally.

What are you giving clients, business friends or colleagues this year?


TJ McCue - Product Editor

TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

12 Reactions

  1. The absolute power charger looks like a great gift for a variety of people. Most all family and office workers have different electronic devices and having only one charger would be great.

  2. Thanks for the great information, TJ. My daughter loves watching TV and movies, and she gets kind of upset when her mother or I are watching something and she can’t have the TV. One of my coworkers at DISH suggested that I get a DISH Sling Adapter for our DVR. With that she can stream her live or recorded shows to a tablet or smartphone, and she doesn’t have to worry if someone is already watching TV. Now I need to get her a tablet to stream to. After reading your article I narrowed our choices to the iPad Mini or the Nexus 7. I am leaning toward the Nexus, but I think we need to go to the store and play with both of them before we make a finial decision.

  3. Great list of cool gadgets, TJ!

    Thanks a lot.

    Great ideas for that techie-person in our lives :)

    The Franchise King®

  4. TJ: Thanks for the gadget gift ideas! Have you seen a small battery charger for the iPhone 4S?

  5. Hey TJ, always fun to look at new tech toys so thanks for posting… I really like (and use) the Plantronics Voyageur Pro headset, so suspect the Legend will be great. So much better to talk “hands free” with my iPhone especially when I’m in my car (so much better than the in car hands free).

    Been watching the Lytro guys since they announced last year. Right now the price for the camera is a bit steep for my needs… but it’s fascinating technology that I hope gets sold/licensed to a bigger name camera manufacturer. So often I take a picture that’s out of focus and it would be great to be able to “fix it” after the fact.

    And for an iPad keyboard, I saw David Cieslak show off the new ZAGGKey Pro keyboards last month. Light and cool looking Bluetooth keyboards that is another option for iPads.

    Have a good holiday and hope there’s a new tech toy under the tree for you!!!

  6. Hey TJ, thanks for this amazing list for holiday gift that can help ones business and I would like to say that Amazon Kindle Fire would be really great for me because I’m a blogger and frequent reader of the ebooks so it’s a choice of mine.

  7. TJ–
    We’re a tech household, so I definitely appreciate your list. I’d heard of the Lytro, but hadn’t seen what it looks like. And I had Nest envy at a friend’s house recently!


  8. Thanks for all the great comments and additions! Much appreciated. Some of these I want to keep, that’s for sure. But most were loaners, or ones I have purchased.

  9. Great list you put together, I’ve been looking for ideas for myself because my mother always ask for the dreaded Christmas list. I’m going to ask for the Nest.

  10. This idea of techi gifts seem so good to me, Now we should give gifts like iPhones, Nexus, tablets etc instead of just rings and flowers ;)

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