We live in expensive times, and it can be hard to give techy gifts on a budget. Here are a few suggestions for great gadgets that cost $100 or less.
iPhone 4: Apple's hottest gadget of last year is still a solid handset and has quietly slipped just under $100 from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint -- although the contract will bump your total cost higher. Sure, the iPhone 4 doesn't come with the Siri digital assistant program, but chances are that your previous phone didn't, either. You survived, right?
Livescribe Pen: A good fit for techies who just can't quite make the leap to paperless, the Livescribe Pen creates digital replicas of any notes you take by hand and records audio at the same time. The pen can be cumbersome, but the cool factor more than makes up for that. The device starts at $99.95 and includes a one-year premium membership to the note-taking service Evernote.
Entry-level GPS: Drivers who need help navigating but have resisted getting a GPS might be surprised to learn that prices on the gadgets have dropped just below $100, such as the TomTom-VIA 1505T GPS unit at Best Buy.
OnLive Player: Cloud gaming might not be at its peak yet, but give the OnLive service and its accompanying player a chance to lead you into the future. The video games are top-tier titles, but, as with all cloud services, there can be some serious delay issues. Still, the $100 OnLive player lets members take their games from the company's servers to their TV sets and includes a controller.
PlayStation 2: Because the PlayStation 3 isn't completely backward-compatible, the PlayStation 2 offers gamers the chance to revisit their favorite older games. It's also a DVD player.
Razer mouse: The programmable mouse is a great option for hard-core PC gamers who like to have their gear set up just so. Razer makes a lot of gaming gear, but the mice start at $50 with the Razer Abyssus ambidextrous model.
Wireless keyboard/mouse: Cords can be the bane of any neat freak's existence. They gather dust, they twist in the strangest ways, and they're always in a jumble. Be kind to your techie neat freak with a wireless keyboard and mouse set, such as the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 800, which costs just $25 and comes with an optical mouse. Be careful if you want to use this for a home theater setup, though: Most cheap keyboards don't have the range needed to type from bed.
Sony headphones: A good pair of earbuds is hard to find, particularly if you're not a fan of the standard white pair that comes with Apple's products. Sony's earbuds can be pricey for an impulse purchase but nice for a small gift. A great noise-canceling pair, the Sony MDRNC13, zaps outside noise for just $70. Most of Sony's headphones do a decent job of cutting out the background noise -- even the cheaper models designed for the iPod or iPhone, such as the $30 XB earbuds, which also have built-in volume controls.
Kindle/Kindle Touch: Everyone might be buzzing about the Kindle Fire, but e-bibliophiles who love the look of e-ink readers are probably more excited about the price cuts made to the Kindle line. A standard Kindle, with ads, now costs $79. The new Kindle Touch starts at $99. If you want to ditch the ads, you'll have to make more room in your gift budget.
Powermat: Anyone who has spent frantic minutes looking for a cord before their phone gives up that last gasp of battery life could benefit from the Powermat, a charger that works with a receiver placed on the back of your phone. Some users have said that you have to put your phone in just the right spot on the mat to get the juice flowing, but it's convenient once you get the knack. Mats start at $30. A particularly good deal is the 2X mat with a Powercube, which also has a built-in cord that you can change to fit just about any device.