The Roku 3 is our current top pick in the Internet media box category. It's the best overall choice for online streaming, with Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Amazon Instant, Vudu, and -- finally! -- YouTube, plus literally hundreds of others. (Pretty much the only thing missing is iTunes; you'll need an Apple TV for that -- see the following slide.) The Wi-Fi remote -- which doesn't require "line of sight" to the player -- seals the deal.
If you're shopping for a full-on Apple person -- an iPhone, iPad, or Mac owner, someone who already has lots of movies, TV shows, and music on iTunes, or who's really into iTunes Radio or iTunes Match -- Apple TV is a better choice than the Roku. And with the recent additions of the Watch ABC, Watch ESPN, Watch Disney, HBO Go, the Weather Channel, and free, live news channels like Sky News and Bloomberg TV, it's a better deal than ever.
Yes, tablets and smartphones can double as e-readers. But the $69 Amazon Kindle has a long-lasting battery and a paperlike screen that avid readers will appreciate. And unlike more-versatile devices, there won't be any calls, e-mails, or texts to distract the reader, either. Amazon is keeping this 2012 model in the line, and it remains the most affordable Kindle you can get without stepping up to the the self-illuminated, touch-screen 2013 Paperwhite version for $119.
If you're buying for someone who's not an Amazon Prime member, Barnes & Noble's Nook e-readers are a good choice. The company's 2011 e-ink reader is just $79, and -- unlike the Kindle -- there are no ads. But if you're looking for the latest 2013 self-illuminated GlowLight model, you're going to need to spend $119.
Buying a gift for an Apple fan who's a self-described environmentalist? He or she will love the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760. It's eco-friendly and practical -- use it with a Mac, iPad, or iPhone, and never worry about recharging the battery.
Everyone is sitting on a mountain of documents, photos, videos, and music. Even with cloud storage, you need a local backup -- and the Seagate Backup Plus gives you 1TB of storage (that's 1,000GB) for just less than $100.
The Jawbone Jambox gets all the press, but the JBL Flip is one of our favorite Bluetooth speakers for under $100. It's portable, rechargeable, has speakerphone capability, sounds great for its size, and works as a wireless speaker with virtually any smartphone or tablet. (Want more Bluetooth speaker options? Check out our list of best portable mini Bluetooth speakers, many of which are under $100.)
For iPhone owners who prefer to listen on the go, the Klipsch Image S4i II in-ear headphones are a great choice. (If you're buying for an Android owner, go with the otherwise identical Klipsch Image S4A II model instead.)
It's a few years old, but the Logitech Harmony 650 is still the best universal remote you can get for under $80 -- just be ready to invest some time and effort into helping less tech-savvy giftees programming it on their Mac or PC. (If you've got a slightly bigger budget, step up to the Logitech Harmony Smart Control for $129.)
Streaming video is great, but there are still plenty of folks with stacks and stacks of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. With the ability to plays discs and stream the top services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora, and others), the Sony BDP-S5100 Blu-ray player is a good alternative to a Roku or Apple TV.
The $99 Fitbit Flex is among our favorite wrist-based health monitors. Unlike the similar Jawbone Up, the Flex works with Android and iOS, and the Bluetooth compatibility means you don't need to manually dock it for data transfers. But if you can spend a bit more, step up to the newer Fitbit Force, which adds a full OLED screen and doubles as a watch.