Top 10 Gift Items Under $100 for the Geek in Your Life

As a geek I often get asked for a list of items that I couldn’t go without and here is my top ten.

1) A Decent Back Up Battery

My personal favorite is most anything from Anker. My recommendation is you spend a bit more as you will get a charge on your phone as well as any other devices like an iPad or device that uses USB charging. Take a look at the Anker PowerCore 10000 for value and charge capacity. Currently it is $23.99 at Amazon.

2) Dongles

This goes without saying, but with the current crop of Macs, iPads, and even Surface Pros they all need dongles. For an older generation Mac prior to last years MacBook I recommend a mini display port to 3-in-1 combo adapter. These are nice because they have the ability to plug into a TV with HDMI as well as an older style monitor or projector that uses VGA. $12.99 from Amazon.

If you have a newer MacBook or MacBook Pro with USB-C you may take a look at this adapter. While I have no experience with these as I don’t have a USB-C Mac this one looks well rated on Amazon. The other advantage of this is that you can use it to charge the Mac. $59.99 from Amazon.

3) Spare USB Cables

Anker 3ft Nylon Braided USB Cable with Lightning Connector
Anker PowerLine+ Micro USB
Anker PowerLine+ Micro USB

My favorite USB cables come from Anker and are nylon braided. While they are a bit more money they are well worth it. They seem to not have any issues with the typical breakage where the cable meets the end like the Apple ones do. They also have them in different lengths and combo packages. $10.99 for the Lightning connector and $9.99 for the Micro USB.

4) A Good Multi Tool

Every true geek needs at least one and for a small one my favorite is the Leatherman Piranha 2. This one easily fits in a briefcase or backpack. It includes 7 tools including scraper, bottle opener, ¼” hex bit driver, medium screwdriver, open wrench (English), box wrench (metric), box opener. $22.89 on Amazon.

My other favorite is the Leatherman Wave. This one is one that you wear and has gotten me out of plenty of jams. It includes these 17 tools needlenose pliers, regular pliers, hard-wire cutters, wire cutters, wire stripper, 420HC knife, 420HC serrated knife, saw, spring-action scissors, ruler (8in, 19cm), can opener, bottle opener, wood/metal file, diamond coated file, large bit driver, small bit driver, medium screwdriver. In my humble opinion there is no other brand than Leatherman to use. $89.85 on Amazon.

5) A place to organize it all

What I refer to as my tech board. Many years ago I discovered a company by the name of Cocoon Grid-It and haven’t looked back. They make a great product and it just works. This one I have had for almost 4 years now. It holds almost everything I would need when I produce an event from a computer standpoint including my Piranha 2, USB cables, spare headphones, backup battery and a few other miscellaneous items that come in handy for events. Mine is a medium which measures 12″ by 8″ and is $17.70 on Amazon. For those who travel you may look at the extra Large 11″ by 15″ which is great to help keep your suitcase organized. It is $22.03 on Amazon.
Take a look at the entire Cocoon GRID-IT products on their website.

6) Cleaning Cloths

This one could be a stocking stuffer at $8.99 on Amazon for a 6 pack. I keep them in every bag. They are just great at cleaning and are safe for cleaning delicate surfaces. My recommendation when you need to clean something is put a tiny bit of water on the cloth in a corner which usually works to clean most smudges or grossness off of surfaces. NEVER use alcohol or any other cleaning solution. Do the geek in your life a favor and get at least one of these packs.

7) Spare Headphones

I know this seems counter intuitive as most people grab their headphones when they travel, but trust me just buy some and your favorite geek will love you of it. For me I throw a pair in my briefcase or backpack and know no matter what I have a pair. Now this is a personal preference I am partial to these Sony ones. I like them because they have a mic so can double as handsfree when driving and the button works to activate Siri. $27.27 on Amazon.

8) Spare Hard Drive

This one may seem strange, but trust me on this. Most likely your geek has forgotten to protect his/her love ones with backups or worse yet themselves. With hard rive costs getting so low you owe it to them to buy one for backup. If they already backup their files then having another one to make a second backup always makes sense. I am partial to Western Digital and this one is a good value at $83.25 for 2TB. Make sure to get a drive that is larger than the size of the computers hard drive so this may be over $100.

9) A subscription to DropBox

While this is just under $100 at $99 a year for 1TB of storage this is one that I consider one of the best investments each year. For me I use it actually as my cloud backup as I store all of my files in my folder that Drop Box uses to sync to the cloud. Some other nice features include 30 day file recovery and the ability to share files with a link for those family members need a file and it is to big to email. I probably should do a screen cast on the ability to share a folder and allow people to upload files which is another great feature. Check it out here.

10) iPhone/iPad Flash Drive

While this one is specific to iOS users it is always great to have more storage when you are on the road. At 64GB of storage you should get plenty of extra room to store your videos and photos. This device also makes it a bit easier to move your photos to your computer as it has a standard USB 3.0 connection on the other side. At $42.99 it is not the least expensive it can be invaluable for your traveling iOS companion. For those on android phones most support storage via micro SD and so check out this 64GB card for added storage at $15.49.

A bonus one that isn’t under $100

I have an obsession with bags and my laptop backpack made by incase hate now started to fall apart. This is no fault of the bag as it has been used and abused and is actually a great bag. I however wanted to try something different and have been intrigued by TSA-Compatible types and found the Patagonia Paxat 32L. Take a look at it on Patagonia’s site. Selling for $120 it actually isn’t much more than the $100 and so far it has been a nice bag.

What do you think of the list? Did I miss anything?

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