Each gift-giving season, I am contacted by friends and family members with the same question: what should I buy my
nerdy tech-savvy spouse, friend, co-worker, etc.?
For big-ticket items (laptops, tablets, smartphones, audio equipment, etc.), I would strongly suggest that you just ask them! If your intended recipient is geeky at all about their technology, they likely have strong preferences about what they use. Sure, this lacks the delights of a surprise, but an Amazon or Best Buy link to the specific device means everyone is happy during the gift exchange.
However, there are many “stocking stuffers” that make thoughtful gifts and don’t break the budget. Here are my favorites!
You can never have too many charging cables for your cell phones and tablets! However, you want to be savvy about picking a high-quality cable because cheap cables can literally blow up your phone or tablet.
You do need to know what type of connector their phone and tablets use. Generally speaking, iPhones and most iPads use Lightning connectors, newer Android devices use USB-C connectors, and older Android devices use MicroUSB connectors.
I like cables that feel hearty in your hand and have protections like braided, nylon covers. My favorite review site, The Wirecutter, has detailed reviews if you are interested in knowing in-depth information about the “best” Lightning, USB-C, or MicroUSB cables.
Personally, I love Anker’s Powerline+ cables. They are attractive, feature a braided nylon cover, and are rated for up to 30,000 bends. They have Lightning, USB-C, and MicroUSB models, and a cool “all of the above” model that works with all three (though lacks the nylon cover).
Mobile Battery Packs/Power Banks
Chances are, your tech-savvy friend has a few battery packs sitting at the bottom of their backpack or briefcase, but battery technology continues to evolve. Current-day battery packs are smaller and pack a lot of juice. They often charge up much faster than older models, and certainly faster than free ones from trade show!
I recently purchased the Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux, and I love it! For the size, the battery capacity is HUGE and can charge my phone (Google Pixel 3a) three times over, or my tablet (Samsung Tab 10.1) once. The battery features “Power Delivery,” so it can even charge my USB-C-equipped laptop in a pinch.
Anker also offers its PowerFusion 5000, which is a charging brick and battery all-in-one. For those that like multi-tasking gadgets, it is worth a spot in your bag.
If you don’t mind carrying a brick, I also love the RAVPower USB-C Powerbank. I have taken this to conferences and meetings for the last two years, as it has enough juice to charge my USB-C laptop and phone twice over. But, again… it is a brick!
Admittedly, this goes beyond an inexpensive stocking stuffer. The market leader is obviously Apple’s AirPods and AirPod Pros. They are spendy, and while I don’t own a pair, my friends and colleagues that do absolutely swear by them! Obviously, they work best with Apple products, but they do, indeed, work with Android devices.
For those looking for alternatives, good-to-great options are appearing in the market that are more value-driven than the AirPods. The reviews are mixed, but user reviews suggest that if you learn their nuanced interface, they are a great platform.
I personally own a set TaoTronics Wireless Earbuds. I love them, and they are now a must-carry on trips, dog-walks, and hikes. You can purchase the model I bought for a discount price, or there is an updated model available for more. Be sure to research and read reviews, but I have seen good reviews of similar products from Skullcandy, Anker, Tozo, and Qualcomm.
This is a caution recommendation. While there are some fantastic “smart” products available, some folks are concerned (and even creeped out) about the safety and security of smart home tools.
I would be cautious giving products like cameras, smart doorbells, or intelligent locks to others unless they ask for one, but, there is one product that I think is both useful and not as creepy: the smart plug. Smart plugs can be set up to automatically turn on and off devices like televisions or fans, turn on and off lights, or even turn on and off your festive, outdoor holiday lights with your smart speaker.
There are now endless options available for smart plugs, but investing a little more money in well-known brands is essential. Cheap smart home products often have security issues, so you should focus on products with lots of positive reviews and well-known names. Other, more low-cost platforms often utilize apps that are unstable and less-than-functional.
My two recommendations here are the Wemo Mini Smart Plug for indoor use and the iClever Outdoor Smart Plug for outdoor use. Both are made by mainstream manufacturers and utilize modern and updated apps.
Alternative: Something NOT Techie
As a tech-savvy person myself, many of the best gifts I have received from friends and family have nothing to do with technology. I love Field Notes, Cast Iron Cookware, and books about history (links provided in case you are searching for a gift for me 🙂 ). I have also received some fantastic, thoughtful gifts picked up from local, handmade gift markets, or from a small maker on Etsy. You should also consider giving the gift of an hour of conversation and a cup of coffee!
What are YOU Giving as Stocking Stuffers?
Are I missing something awesome? Comment below, or hit us up on Twitter, using the hashtag #techsavvygifts.