Last-minute tech gift ideas

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With just a few days left before Christmas, we are down to the wire.  Tech gifts are popular but not always easy to buy.  Here are a few ideas for the techie in your life.

Streaming sticks

IMG_20141222_041437392Chromecast - $35

Chromecast is the most basic option but also the least expensive.  It's essentially a link between your smartphone or tablet and your TV.  There is no remote and there is no on-screen menu.  Everything is controlled from your Android smartphone or iPhone.  It's integrated with many apps so when you load them up and a Chromecast is on your network you'll see a "stream to Chromecast" button in the app.  Tap the button and the digital stream (audio or video) is sent to your TV.  It's easy to use and a great option for anyone who doesn't want to complication of a new remote and menu system.

Roku Streaming Stick- $50

Roku is the veteran in the world of digital connected TV.  Since they've been doing this for years there are a ton of apps available on Roku devices.  The remote is easy to understand and the on-screen menus are as simple as they should me.  You can't go wrong with the Roku.  It's a bit more expensive than the competition but you get the longest list of apps, 1,800 according to the company's website!  If you want a rock solid internet-connected TV experience, Roku is the way to go.

Amazon Fire TV Stick - $39

Amazon is the newest entry into the streaming stick world but they have a strong ecosystem to back it up.  The Fire TV is a smaller version of the Amazon Fire TV.  It offers a decent selection of apps and a smooth on-screen interface.  The remote is a basic version of the fancier Fire TV remote.  For example, the included remote won't do voice search but you can upgrade to the better remote for an additional $30.  The Fire TV Stick also has a dual-core processor compared to the single-core processors in the Roku and Chromecast sticks.  Amazon's Fire TV ecosystem is growing and if you're already an Amazon Prime customer it's a perfect fit.

Portable Power

IMG_20141222_031944015Limefuel Rugged L150XR - $65-$85 (available on Amazon)

The Limefuel Rugged is a portable power pack made for Colorado.  In fact, it's made by a company right here in Colorado.  Boulder-based Limefuel promises the Rugged L150XR can take a licking and keep on ticking.  It's waterproof, dust proof and shock/crush proof.  It has two USB ports to power up your gear.  It'll work with any device that charges via a USB cable.  The power indicator is touch-activated and the unit turns itself off when you're done using it.  With an IP66 rating this is the perfect gift for any Colorado adventure seeker who needs power on the go.

myphonesHeadphones for Kids

Crayola myPhones - $25 (available at local Targets)

Kids love tablets and smartphones but sometimes mom and dad need a break from all of that noise.  The Crayola myPhones from Griffin are a fun option that not only keeps your kids' delicate ears protected but also lets them design their own headphones.  It limits audio to 85db so it'll never get too loud.  You'll find several pre-designed sticks along with some blank stickers and 3 Crayola markers in the box.  Your kids get to design their headphones the way they want.  For $25 the Crayola myPhones from Griffin are the perfect option to give your kids a fun set of headphones while keeping mom and dad sane!