Holiday Gift Guide: Grab Bag
Hey there, Ben's Bargains readers, still stumped on great gift ideas? The clock is ticking, but there's still plenty of time to avoid the dreaded last-minute gift card. We have gathered together a grab bag of 9 various and sundry products that are sure to please even the most discriminating of cool geeks in your life.
The Tech is Strong with This One
Synology DiskStation DS212j Network Attached Storage
Released in 2011, the Synology DiskStation DS212j has won acclaim for reliability, ease-of-use and making Network Attached Storage, or NAS (pronounced "Naz"), accessible to mainstream users. Synology employs its own operating system called the DiskStation Manager (DSM) which makes using a NAS as easy for regular people as it is for uber-geeks.
If you want to have a central repository of files to share among computers in your network, stream media to a smart TV or media player or just have an excuse to say you have a NAS, then the Synology DS212j is one of the best devices to fill that space between a full-fledged computer and a boring old external drive.
The DS212j has two drive bays with a max capacity of 8TB, which should be plenty for most purposes. It's worth nothing: you need to bring your own drives (BYOD). You'll normally find it at $200, but sales typically lower the price to around $180.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Graphics Card
If that special person on your shopping list likes to play games on their PC and kvetches about dropped frames and choppy video, chances are they are not-so-subtly hinting they want to upgrade their graphics card. Video cards vary wildly in price and can even end up costing more than many computers.
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 is a new mid-range graphics card which boasts 960 CUDA cores and supports NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround. It is more than capable of handling the newest games like Sleeping Dogs, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Borderlands 2. As with most discrete GPUs, a lot of different manufacturers produce it, and you can usually find one for around $200. Look for deals from Newegg, such as this Galaxy GeForce GTX 660 GDDR5 2GB Video Card which was recently on sale for $165 and included a free Assassin's Creed 3 game coupon.
The AMD alternative is the Radeon HD 7870 which can be found for around the same price. Again, Newegg is the place to look for deals, like this SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card, which recently fell to $185.
Epson WorkForce WF-3540 Wireless All-in-One Color Inkjet Printer
Printers are not exciting, but the Epson WorkForce WF-3540 Wireless All-in-One Inkjet is getting rave reviews from people for being a printer that "just works." In the world of printers, this concept is quite groundbreaking.
This Epson is also versatile. It features AirPrint compatibility so it can print directly from iOS devices like an iPhone or iPad, and it even does something called a "fax." The WF-3540 is also a pro with two-sided printing, which all the kids like to do these days.
The retail price of the Epson Workforce WF-3540 is $200, but you can find it as low as $150 online. It may not play Angry Birds, but this printer does pull off some pretty mean automatic duplexing. Unless that special geek in your life has gone paperless (and some have), then they need a printer.
|Epson WorkForce WF-3540|
My Gadget is Better than your Gadget
LG Tone HBS-700 Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset
The LG Tone HBS-700 Bluetooth Stereo Headset is considered the gold standard among reasonably priced Bluetooth headphones/headsets. Boasting surprisingly good sound quality (think "warm"), the LG Tone has garnered many fans in less than two years.
It also features excellent details like multipoint technology, which allows users to connect to two devices simultaneously (although stereo is not functional in this mode), and magnetic earbud holders, which keep those little earbuds in place when not in use.
The HBS-700 can be found in black or white and retails for $70, but is regularly discounted to $40. Hot on the heels of the success of the HBS-700, LG released a newer model, the Tone+ HBS-730 with Bluetooth 3.0, and you can find that model on sale for around $50.
|LG Tone HBS-700|
Dell UltraSharp U2913WM 29" Ultra-Wide LED Monitor
If the old 16:9 / 16:10 aspect ratio paradigm is getting you (or your loved ones) down, then it's time to break with silly convention and check out Dell's new UltraSharp U2913WM 29" Monitor and its redonkulous 21:9 aspect ratio.
Yes, this 27" monitor goes all panoramic CinemaScope with a pixel-busting 2560 x 1080 resolution, allowing you to view side-by-side YouTube cat videos with ease, in addition to other important business. Get two of these monitors, and you might actually do work.
Expect to see more "ultra-wide" monitors and televisions in the near future. Someday, even 21:9 will not be wide enough.
The U2913WM retails for $699. Because it's a new monitor in Dell's UltraSharp lineup, don't expect much in the way of markdowns, although it's been recently 10% off with Dell coupon codes.
|Dell UltraSharp U2913WM|
Logitech K810 Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard
The K810 is a modern keyboard for modern devices. With the touch of the function keys, you can switch between using three different paired devices. So if you want to use the K810 with your computer and then your tablet and then your phone, no sweat. You don't have to unpair, disconnect, hold down the power button for 5 seconds or any other nonsense.
The keyboard also dispenses with replaceable batteries and instead recharges via USB. While it's almost identical in size to the Apple Wireless Keyboard, Mac users will be disappointed to learn that the K810's keys are Windows-oriented (although the keyboard will still work with a Mac).
Regularly $100, the Logitech K810 can found on sale for $80. Because it's a fairly new product at this time and Logitech products tend to hold their price for a while, $80 is probably the lowest you'll see for now. On the other hand, you're saving money by not buying more rechargeable batteries.
You Don't Get Out Much, Do You?
Timbuk2 Control Laptop TSA-Friendly Messenger
The Timbuk2 Control Laptop Messenger is part of Timbuk2's line of TSA-friendly bags, which means it has a butterfly-style zipper opening so it can lie flat on the conveyor belt as it goes through airport screening.
The Control is a svelte bag and is designed for laptops under 15 inches, but it does feature a separate compartment to accommodate a full-sized tablet like the 9.7-inch iPad. It's not a fully waterproof bag either, although it does have a waterproof TPU flap for light weather conditions.
If your friend or family member needs a TSA-friendly bag for larger laptops, the Timbuk2 Commute is a solid choice and one of their best-selling bags.
The Timbuk2 Control is one of Timbuk2's less expensive messengers and retails for $89, but it can be found for $20 or $30 less in discontinued colors.
The Murf Watch by Nixon
The cell phone has become the timekeeper du jour for today's smartphone-wielding lifestyles. Wearing a wristwatch is now a personal declaration of retro-cool awesomeness. Much like shaving with a safety razor (but less bloody).
The Murf Men's Watch from watchmaker Nixon not only embraces the retro concept but ratchets it up a few notches with unique details like the over-sized push button screw crown and the stainless steel cover over half the large (38mm) square face. Why is it covered? Because it's cool, that's why.
It retails for $400 but you can easily find it for $300 or less online. It's so retro, it doesn't even have Bluetooth.
|Nixon Murf Watch|
Felt Z95 Road Bike
The Felt Z95 is the entry level road bike from high-end bicycle manufacturer Felt Bikes and a good beginning bike for someone who's just left the 4-wheel world behind and is getting back on two wheels.
Dollar for dollar, the Z95 is a high-quality bike that features a standard-issue butted aluminum frame blended with a premium nine-speed Shimano Sora groupset. The white/black color scheme looks pretty dope should the need arise to go flossin' around town. (And that need will arise.)
The Z95 has also been designed with comfort in mind for recreational riders. It features a "sportive" geometry which encourages riders to sit more upright and puts less strain on the neck and back.
The Felt Z95 Road Bike retails for $900, but can be found for under $800 online. Whoever gets this under the tree is definitely on Santa's "nice" list.