These small gifts work for everyone -- and nearly all of them cost less than $35.
Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120
When the price gets below $10, your expectation for sound quality falls exponentially. But despite the bargain-basement cost, these Panasonic in-ear headphones sound surprisingly good. Depending on which color you opt for (it comes in a range of rainbow colors, as well as basic black), the price can be as low as $4 a pair. Buy them in bulk -- or spend around $12 to get the Ergotfit RP-TCM125 , which adds an inline microphone for cellphones.
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Everyone can use a spare USB flash drive, and the Kingston DataTraveler SE9 is rugged enough to live on your keychain while storing a whopping 16GB of data (almost two DVDs' worth). The 16GB model costs only about $11, the 32GB around $21.
The SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB drive is almost too small -- basically a USB nub similar to the transmitter for a wireless keyboard or mouse. That said, if you're looking for a quick, easy, affordable, and low-profile way to add 16 ($14) or 32GB ($23) of storage to a laptop, we can't think of a better way.
You'll pay a bit extra for the Lacie Petite Key compared to other USB drives, but it's worth it for the metal design, which is said to be waterproof to 100 meters. The 16GB model will run you about $20, the 32GB about $10 more.
If you're gifting a camera, you'll also want to invest in a spare SD card. The SanDisk Extreme shown here is best-in-class, with 80MB per second transfer rates. But more affordable cards will get the job done, too.
Whether you're unwrapping a new game console, Blu-ray player, Apple TV, Roku, or pretty much any other home video gift, you'll need one of these to connect it to your TV. Rather than pay $50 or more at your local Best Buy for a so-called "premium" cable, get the AmazonBasics two-pack for just $9 -- they'll work just as well, and you'll have a spare, too.
This padded Case Logic bag holds any standard dSLR camera, and its additional side pockets can house lenses, chargers, mini tripods, and whatever other photo paraphernalia you might need to lug around. At $30, it's a steal compared with competing models that can cost at least twice as much.
Haven't you heard? Docks are dead. It's time to go wireless, and the Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver is the easiest way to do it. Connect this $25 dongle to any stereo (or anything with a "line in" or "aux input" port), and you can wirelessly stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device. That includes all iPads, nearly any smartphone, most iPod Touch models, and most new tablets.
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The iPod Shuffle costs $50, and still requires iTunes (yuck) and a USB charging/transfer dongle that's easy to misplace. This Philips GoGear SoundDot, on the other hand, can be yours for under $20. Just plug it in to your PC or Mac (the USB plug is hidden under the rotating gray clip) and drag and drop your favorite songs.
Thanks to recent software updates, the Chromecast now supports enough good apps -- Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora, HBO Go, and Google Music -- to make it a great way to "smarten up" any old HDTV. Just make sure you (or your giftee) are comfortable using an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet as the remote, since this $35 streaming dongle has no included hardware remote control.
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