Still shopping for the perfect gift? I've got some great picks: Drones, phones, game crates, BOGOs and more. All of them dirt cheap, of course.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
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Well, cheeps, you've got about one more week to finish up your gift shopping. With that in mind, I've rounded up five items I think would make great gifts. Of course, you don't have to give them away -- you can always splurge on yourself. I won't tell.
The gift of flight
I'm amazed at how good quadcopters have become, even at the low end of the market. I'm still having fun with the little folding JJRC H37 I wrote about a couple weeks ago, but now I've found a model I like even better for practically the same price -- and with a remote control, no less.
Quick caveat: It won't arrive in time for the holidays because it ships from China. But I daresay it'll be worth the wait.
The best things about this flyer, in no particular order: It looks really cool. Its arms fold in for easy transport. It auto-hovers and has a headless-mode flight option. It can stream live video to your phone or tablet. And it's substantial enough that you can fly it outdoors, though I wouldn't do so on windy days.
I was only able to do a few quick indoor test flights (I live in Michigan, after all), but I was duly impressed with the design, features and performance of the TK110. I just wish it didn't have a 2-3-week delivery time.
The gift of password management
I have two missions in life: Get people to dashboard-mount their phones for safer driving and get people to use a password manager for safer (and easier) computing.
Why pay for Sticky Password (or any other password manager) when Lastpass now lets you sync passwords for free? Two reasons. First, the Premium subscription entitles you to priority support, always a plus for less tech-savvy users. Second, Sticky Password is among the few products in its class to offer local, no-cloud syncing -- and I know there are many users who loathe the idea of their passwords floating around online (however encrypted those passwords might be).
This cigarette-lighter power plug can charge up to three mobile devices simultaneously. I asked the vendor about some of the negative reviews and a rep admitted that an early batch of units had some defects but they've all been replaced and customers have reported no issues with those replacements. Plus, the charger comes with a one-year warranty.
For what it's worth, I've got a couple of these. They work as advertised. A fairly boring gift, to be sure, but definitely a practical one.
The gift of gaming
If there's a gamer in your life who prefers PCs to consoles, here's one of the best gift deals I've seen, well, ever: Citizen Goods has a 3-month Steamcrate subscription for $19.99. Last time I wrote about it, that same subscription was $39.99. (You can also get six months for that same $39.99, or a full year for $79.99.)
What the heck is Steamcrate? It's like a monthly mystery-box service, but delivering game codes (redeemed on Steam) instead of physical goods. Each "crate" ranges in value from $40-700 (about $100 on average, according to the company). Will you (or the recipient) like every one of the games? Maybe, maybe not, but the whole point here is to be surprised, to have the fun of a mystery box.
The only thing I can't figure out is how to give this as a gift. Citizen Goods doesn't seem to have that as an option. So you'll need to get creative -- or maybe just gift this one to yourself.
The gift of an unlocked phone
The Moto G Play is arguably already the budget-phone deal of the year. So when there's an even better deal to be had, it's like icing on the cake.
This model hits you up with lockscreen offers and ads, but I say "big deal" to that. It's compatible with GSM and CDMA networks, it comes with 16GB of expandable storage, it runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and it earned the title of CNET's "second-favorite super-budget phone." The bang for the buck here is just ridiculous.