Cool stuff: Your 2010 holiday tech gift guide

Check out the best tablets, smartphones, HDTVs and other tech gifts to give and get this year

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More great gifts

Looking for more gift ideas -- maybe some that are a wee bit more affordable than a new iPad or laptop? You've come to the right place: Here we've gathered fun and useful products to please every techie on your list.

Roku XD|S
Roku XD|S

Roku XD|S

(Click to view larger image.)

There's a lot of excellent streaming video available on the Internet these days. If you want to watch it comfortably on your 50-in. flat-screen TV rather than squinting at your 13-in. laptop, one of the best ways to do that is to set yourself up with a Roku XD|S player.

The original Roku hit the market back in May 2008 as one of the first devices to allow consumers to stream Netflix videos onto their television sets, using either an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi. This scrappy competitor to the Apple TV has done very well for itself since -- it has kept its basic functionality intact while improving its onscreen interface and expanding its technology.

The Roku now comes in three versions: the basic Roku HD ($60), which offers 720p HD video and HDMI output; the Roku XD ($80), which adds full 1080p HD video and an enhanced remote; and the Roku XD/S ($100), which includes additional ports (such as a USB port) and dual-band wireless technology.

Besides Netflix, Roku now offers dozens of other streaming channels, including Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, Pandora, MLB.tv, and a bevy of less known but interesting services. Computerworld reviewer Matt Lake explains:

As a platform, Roku feels like the world of the home-brew computer enthusiasts of the 1980s. There's a lot of professional-grade stuff there; there's a lot of clever amateur stuff, too. (Read the full review.)

That variety, along with an extremely simple setup and easy-to-understand interface, is what makes the Roku a great gift for any videophile.

-- Barbara Krasnoff

Roku XD|S from Roku Inc.

Price: $99.99

Tech Specs  |  How to buy  |  Phone: (888) 600-7658 (support only, no sales)

Summary: The Roku streaming media player is a great gift for video enthusiasts.

Flip Video UltraHD 8GB

Since it was launched in 2007, the Flip camera has made a name for itself by offering good-quality video capture in an affordable palm-size package. Various improvements have been added to the line over the years, most notably HD video capture. While several competitors offer similar features, the Flip line (now owned by Cisco) has always had a lock on ease of use -- all you have to do to record is press the big red button.

Flip Video UltraHD 8GB

Flip Video UltraHD 8GB

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This year's Flip UltraHD 8GB model has been updated with image stabilization and the ability to capture 720p video at 60 frames per second, which results in smoother video. The 8GB of onboard memory can store up to 2 hours of HD video, and the camera is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems.

While its sister camera, the Flip MinoHD 8GB, has an internal Lithium-ion battery that must be charged via a USB connection, the UltraHD gives you a choice -- you can either charge the included battery pack via USB or you can simply slip in three AAA lithium batteries.

The Flip Ultra HD 8GB comes in basic black or white, or you can order a skin with one of thousands of designs. You can even create your own design for a really individualistic look.

-- Valerie Potter

Flip Video UltraHD 8GB from Cisco Systems Inc.

Street price: $170 to $200 or $200 for designed model at Flip Video Store

Tech Specs  |  Store Locator  |  Phone: (888) 222-6689

Summary: The Flip UltraHD 8GB provides a remarkably easy way to capture high-quality HD video.

Fitbit

These days, when it's possible to spend the entire day in front of either a computer or a television, the term couch potato doesn't begin to describe the condition of many tech users. One way to motivate yourself to get out of the chair and onto the treadmill (or the bicycle, or to simply take a walk) is to be made aware of how much activity you actually engage in over the course of a day.

Fitbit

Fitbit

(Click to view larger image.)

The Fitbit system is a good way to do that. The Fitbit Tracker is a small (2.5-in. long) device that looks like a well-padded paper clip and hooks easily onto a belt, pocket or any other item of clothing.

Using a sensor that tracks steps taken, distance traveled and intensity of movement, it records your activities during the day. At night, it clips onto a wristband and tracks the tiny movements you make to determine how long and how well you sleep.

The Fitbit includes a wireless base station; when you put your Tracker into the base station to charge, or even just walk past it, the data is uploaded to the Fitbit Web site. After that, just log on and you can track your activity and your sleep patterns using easy-to-read timelines and graphs.

The only problem? When your friends ask if you've been exercising, the Fitbit makes it a lot harder to lie.

-- Barbara Krasnoff

Fitbit from Fitbit Inc.

Street price: $100 to $150 or $99 from Fitbit

FAQ  |  Product Manual

Summary: If you're having trouble staying in shape, the Fitbit can be an excellent motivator.

Ölens Technology MiCorder Digital MP3 Recorder

Know someone who's got a lot of music in an old, not-very-portable format -- say, LPs or eight-track? This little device provides the easiest way we've seen to get that music into MP3 format. It's also handy for recording new music and shows from the radio.

MiCorder Digital MP3 Recorder

MiCorder Digital MP3 Recorder

(Click to view larger image.)

Just plug the MiCorder into the headphone jack on any audio-playing device -- cassette player, CD player, turntable, eight-track player, DAT player, computer, whatever -- and it records and converts the audio to MP3 format. Music recorded at midlevel volume from a decent stereo sounds best.

The MiCorder stores MP3 files on a standard SD card for easy transfer to a computer or MP3 player -- or just listen on the MiCorder itself with the included earphones.

-- Valerie Potter

MiCorder Digital MP3 Recorder from Ölens Technology

Price: $80

Tech Specs  |  Store Locator  |  Phone: (805) 489-3636

Summary: The MiCorder Digital MP3 Recorder offers a super-simple way to convert music from any format to MP3.

Mobi Headphonies

If you've ever tried to show somebody a video from your smartphone or netbook -- or wanted them to hear your latest favorite song -- you'll know that the audio quality usually leaves a great deal to be desired. You can resign yourself to always using headphones -- or you can pick up one of these cool ultraportable Mobi Headphonies.

Mobi Headphonies

Mobi Headphonies

(Click to view larger image.)

Headphonies are 3-in. high speakers that connect to your phone, media player or computer via a standard audio cable. (Both the audio cable and a USB cable for charging the units are included.) Their attraction isn't only in their surprisingly robust sound, however, but in their design -- each speaker is in the shape of a chubby humanoid with a large head (wearing, of course, headphones).

There are a variety of styles available, depending on your taste: the vampirish Fangs, the robotic Sinister, the "horrific" Skully, the just-so-cute Hello Kitty and the featureless Purist, among others. And with an optional audio splitter, you can link two Headphonies together for stereo sound.

Headphonies cost $24.95 each through the Mobi Web site; you can also find them at a number of retailers such as OfficeMax and Amazon.com.

-- Barbara Krasnoff

Headphonies from Mobi Technologies Inc.

Street price: $15 to $36

Tech Specs  |  Where to buy  |  Phone: (877) MOBI INC

Summary: Headphonies make your smartphones and media players sound good and look good too.

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