20 Great Gifts for Tech-Lovers

Ideas Starting at $10 —  10 Days to Shop!

There’s a Verizon “Smart Store Plus” in my favorite Seattle shopping place—University Village. Think: Apple Store with a wide range of brands and products.

The fact that there are gobs of cool things there inspired me to put together this gift guide. You can find something for every geek on your list.

Prices were noted at the time the post was written. For specials, check this link. (Free shipping on all online orders—some items may be online only.)


1 verizon-silicone-cover-samsung-galaxy-s-6-edge-plus-iset-samg928vmsilblk

The $10 case I bought for my S6 Edge+

1. Cases for every budget — starting at $9.99 — Do you need a case to simply protect from scuffs, or do you work in a profession where your phone takes a beating? Looking for designer bling, or do you need a “power safety net?” With myriad choices, here’s a tip: decide what’s important—brand, color, features, materials, budget—then search accordingly.

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2 Micro SD Memory Card Reader and 128 GB Micro SD

San Disks come in lots of sizes

2. SanDisks — start at $12.99 — Everyone needs space! When a family member or friend finds one of these in their Christmas stocking, they’ll say, “Thanks for the Memory!” SanDisk offers a range from 32 to 128 GB. They’re useful and they make great stocking stuffers, too.

3 verizon-4-8a-vehicle-charger-white-iset-vpc48wht 5 $19.99

3. 4.8A vehicle Charger with Dual Output — (5★) $19.99 — Two is better than one, right? A vehicle charger with dual output means you can charge both your phone and tablet while you’re on the go! It has a charging indicator showing when it’s fully charged, and comes in six colors—white, blue, red, pink, black and yellow.

4 Verizon Gift Cards4. Verizon Gift Cards — From $25  — When you aren’t sure what that someone on your list wants, but you know they love tech— gift cards can be a great choice. They don’t expire, and are available for $25, $50, $75 or $100. The cards can be used online or in-store to buy things, or even be used to pay your Verizon bill.

5 Sol Republic Tracks Headphones 5 $29

 

5. Sol Republic Tracks Headphones — (5★) $29.98 – (70% off – reg. $99.98) — Right now Sol Republic Tracks Headphones are available online at a ridiculously inexpensive price. With convenient playback controls and phone compatibility, you’ll experience a great range of sound from base to treble. They’re highly rated and going fast!

6 Chromecast $35

6. Chromecast — $34.99 (4★) — Good things come in small packages. Chromecast is an inexpensive way to screencast—the ability to view content from your phone onto your television. It works with Android 2.3+, iOS 6.0+, Windows and Mac smartphones, tablets and laptops. Out of stock? The Belkin Miracast (4) does the same thing at $59.99, and includes an HDMI and USB cables.

7 JBL Clip+ Bluetooth Speaker

7. JBL Clip+ Bluetooth Speaker — $39.99 — Do you need to buy a great gift for a music lover who is on the go? Super light, rugged and powerful, the Clip+ includes a carabiner to attach to your backpack or clothes. Fully charged, it will provide about 5 hours of play. It has a fun, compact design and comes in five colors: red, grey, blue, purple and black. Compatible with your phone.

8 ZAGG Invisible Shield

8. Invisible Shield Privacy Glass for iPhone 6s and 6sPlus (4★) $44.99 — One of the icky things about screen protectors is, they can look smudgy. Invisible Shield’s tinted protective glass keeps prying eyes from viewing your screen via a two-way privacy filter. It also repels skin oils, so it’s easy to apply and keep clean. In fact, it’s so good that ZAGG will replace worn or damaged Invisible Shield glass for the life of your device. (Models available for other devices.)

9 Travel Rockstar $59

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9. Belkin Travel Rockstar ­— $59.99 — 
Turn one outlet into two. As a portable power pack, the Travel Rockstar uses a built-in battery to provide 3,000 mAh to your USB-enabled device. It’s a convenient way to give your smartphone or tablet a power boost while traveling for fun or pleasure, or even on your commute.

10 LG Tone Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headset10. LG Tone Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headset — (4.5★) $59.99 Regularly $69.99 — Tone Pro has neck-behind, wireless bluetooth stereo headset with Harmon Kardon signature sound. It has a MEMS (MicroElectrical-Mechanical System) microphone, ensuring phone clarity. Enjoy up to 23 hours of standby; 16 hours of talk time; and up to 10.5 hours of music playback. Charge up to 100% in less than two hours.

11 Mophie Powerstation Plus 3 $99


11. Mophie Powerstation Plus 3x — (4★
) $99.00 — Do you know a battery daredevil? One who lets their phone battery experience near death on a daily basis? iPhone or Android compatible and true to its name—this back up battery will fully recharge your smartphone 3 times. It seems like connectors  vanish when you need them, but don’t worry with the Mophie Powerstation Plus — the connectors are built in.


12 Blue Ant Pump Mini HD Audio Sportbuds $9912. Blue Ant Pump HD Audio Sport buds MINI — $99.00 — 
The Plantronics Fit bluetooth stereo headset looked good, but this Blue Ant option was recommended at $30 less. Pump HD’s sports-inspired, sweat-proof (IP54-rated) earbuds deliver powerful audio. It delivers up to six-hours of playtime on a quick, one-hour charge. There are three sizes of the ComfortSeal ear tips, and SuperFit Stabilizers ensure a great fit.

13 FITBIT Flex Wireless Activity+Sleep Wristband 4.5 $99
13. Fitbit Charge HR — (4★)  Now  $129.99 — Regularly $149.99 — This advanced tracking wristband provides your automatic, continuous heart rate and tracks your activity right on your wrist all day, during workouts and beyond. Log your meals, track your calories, and even evaluate your sleep — now $20 off.

14 Canary all in one Home Security System 4 $199


14. Canary all-in-one home security system — (4★
) Now $179.99 — Regularly $249.99  — This beautifully designed home security device seems to do everything. It’s easy to set up, too. The HD wide-angle camera lets you see, hear and stream, with the option to record and store. It also monitors air quality, temperature and humidity. The sleek design is unobtrusive and makes it look more like a speaker than a camera.

15 Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit $199

15. Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit — $199.99 — Ease into sleep; wake gently. Adjust the ambience, or make your home look occupied. Paint with light and change colors — all remotely controlled using your phone. Very nifty! The starter kit contains 3 wireless bulbs and is Apple Homekit and Nest Learning Thermostat-compatible.

16 Ultimate Ears Megaboom 4.5 $249


16. UE Megaboom — (4.5★
) Now $249.99  — Regularly $299.99 — BOOM is right! The volume and sound quality of this UE bluetooth speaker is unreal. The cylinder-shape projects sound in all directions, allowing you to hear music at high-volume without distortion. In 2014 I found few speakers that could pair with more than one speaker. UE Megaboom lets you pair up to 8 speakers! It comes in 4 colors: red, blue, purple and black.

17 Moto260 2nd Gen Smart Watch

Love the bespoke Horween leather band. 

 

17. Moto360 2nd Gen Smart Watch 46mm — (4★) $329.99 — Simply beautiful. Compatible with a huge range of devices, this elegant smart watch is handsome and affordable. Moto360 comes in two sizes (42mm and 46mm), and delivers notifications from your phone via bluetooth or wifi. It’s also a fitness tracker and responds to gestures and voice commands.

18 Moto X 2nd Gen $449


18. Moto X (2nd Gen) — (4★
) $449.99** — The Moto X (2nd Gen) smartphone is beautifully designed and affordable. The 5.2-inch, 1080 HD display means visual content looks great, and its 13 MP camera can be activated with a twist of your wrist. It responds to voice commands and will even read text aloud. It has a metal frame, and you can choose genuine materials, like wood or leather, to fit your lifestyle.

19 BB-8 Droid Turbo2 4 $624


19. Droid Turbo 2 Designed By You — (4★
) $624** — Special Edition Star Wars: The Force Awakens Droid Turbo 2 is now available! I saw this device dropped from 8 feet onto a concrete slab. Not a scratch. It has the first shatterproof display and you can custom design your phone with than 1,000 combinations. It has a 5.9″1440 x 2560 display and whopping 21 MP camera! Works great with the Moto360 smart watch.

20 Galaxy S6 Edge+ 4.5 $768

20. Galaxy S6 Edge Plus — (4.5★) $768** — There are myriad reasons why this device is one of Samsung’s flagship phones. I love mine! The beautiful 5.7″ Quad HD display (2560 x 1440) is stunning, making it an amazing entertainment device. The 16 MP camera shoots video in 4K. (Read more about it here.) The S6 Edge Plus works in more than 200 countries. Ready for a splurge? This is it!



Besides a huge array of phones, gadgets and accessories, the University Village Verizon Store offers tech support, workshops and demos.

The items on this list only scratch the surface. I hope you find some gifts to help you get your holiday shopping holi-done!

★  Ratings based on consumer feedback. New items are not rated.
*  Qualcomm® Quick Charge 2.0 (5V/9V) device required.
** List price. Contract/monthly prices vary by device

Thanks to Jathan Lopez, Solutions Manager, and Specialist Calvin Li, both at the University Village Verizon Store, who contributed some of their favorites to my list.

Verizon Wireless has given me the opportunity to use some of their products.

More about Terri:

A Shooting Star

Samsung Galaxy Edge 6 Plus, Part 2

Edge6plus on Alki Shirt cropped

The S6 Edge+ on the celestial backdrop of an Alki Tee

I’m among the legion of baby boomers who have chosen iPhone for its ease of use, clean design, reliability and impeccable craftsmanship. The iPhone is a symbol of prestige, too. They’re expensive. Having the latest and greatest iPhone says, “I can afford it.”

iPhone isn’t just for boomers—it appeals to everyone. The millennials in my life, all now earning solid incomes, love their iPhones. I’ve seen a group them influence a lone Android user to switch.

So, how can an Apple fangirl learn to love “Android?” 

I’ve been using the Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge Plus (S6 Edge+) for about two months. I was able to “get on board” quickly after an initial adjustment to the user interface, and the more I use it, the more I like it.

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Edge notifications save your battery

I’m spoiled by some of the conveniences, like the notification feed on the S6 Edge+ screen (visible without opening my phone), or the bar along the top displaying icons for emails, messages or updates. With a simple wipe down from the top of the screen, it opens small summaries that I can select and open, or swipe out of the way.

And even the keyboard seems friendlier. I don’t have to toggle to access numbers, and emojis are easily accessible. Predictive text  is automatically on, and I like how the device seems to learn from my activity what I might say, or which hashtags I might use. Some people hate predictive text, but it works for me. If you don’t like it, you can easily disable this feature.

A great comparison of the Apple and Samsung devices can be found here.

The S6 Edge+ camera is amazing.

The image resolution on the S6 Edge+ is 16 megapixel (MP) and it shoots video in 4K.

What does 16 MP mean? 16 megapixels captures twice the amount of visual information compared to an iPhone 6. Why should you care about the “pixel depth,” or the amount of megapixels?  For one, it allows you to capture enough information so you can enlarge and crop a picture and still retain sharpness. It gives you more room to play around with the photos you shoot.

More MP also enables the image quality to be closer to the quality of film. More MP makes it possible to blow up an image and to turn into a large print or poster, retaining crispness.

The beautiful high definition display has 3.6 times more pixels than the iPhone 6.

Its clarity is stunning. When our youngest son stopped by few weeks ago, it was the first thing he noticed when he picked up and inspected the S6 Edge+.

And as I mentioned in my earlier post, the screen casting feature works fantastically! Screen casting means you can share what’s on your phone onto a smart TV. That means it’s large enough for everyone to enjoy. (How to mirror)

Edge6plus camera settings cropped

Menu of some of the options available

More great features for the taking

Object tracking autofocus will follow what you’re shooting and keep it in focus as it moves; and optical image stabilization will keep your image steady. Anyone with active kids or grandkids will really appreciate these two features when shooting video.

Virtual shot is cool, too. You can shoot a stationary object by circling it, and get a dimensional view of it. Wild!

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Virtual Shot captures an amazing 360 degree view

With the holidays quickly approaching, I’m sure some great deals can be found on the S6 Edge+. The regular retail price is $768 (slightly more than the iPhone 6s Plus at $749.99). But you get an awful lot of bang for your buck, including Samsung Pay.

Samsung Pay

You can leave your credit cards at home when you use Samsung Pay. it uses your fingerprint to identify you, so it’s very secure. It didn’t take me long to get into the habit of using it because it’s super easy and convenient. Samsung Pay is accepted by more merchants than Apple Pay. and works well with older retail credit card terminals.

It’s fun it is to see the raised eyebrows from merchants who totally don’t expect it to work. Two days ago I went into Walgreens, and the cashier tried to get me to hold the phone up against the NFC receiver. I simply held the phone over the credit card swipe area, and Voila! He just sighed and said technology is changing so quickly—it’s hard to keep up!

So I hope this post is helpful. Leave a shout here if you have questions about this device, and if I can’t answer them, I’ll find someone who can!

As Samsung says, it’s not a phone—it’s a galaxy.


Verizon Wireless has given me the opportunity to use some of their products.

More about Terri: