2011 Holiday Gadget Guide

It’s that time of year when companies start thinking about what shwag they will bestow on employees, colleagues and clients. ‘Tis the gift that keeps on tweeting? If you’re like many executives, you have a list of who will get a card, a list of who will get a box of Fairytale Brownies (please add me to this list) and a list of who will get something extra special.

Here are some suggestions — your holiday gadget guide — to make the most special on your list the most happy, all under $250:

Kindle Fire

It’s tablet mania out there, and the Kindle Fire, in my book, is one of the coolest tablets you can give for the price. Blazing fast browsing, access to just as much content as any other tablet including movies, magazines and tons of free videos and books for Amazon Prime members. Kindle is giving Nook a run for its money with this tablet. And with access to the endlessly growing Android Market, it’s also a pretty good productivity tool. This 7-inch tablet, as well as the price tag, are extremely lightweight. At $199, it’s my top recommendation for a holiday gadget gift.

Kodak PlaySport Zx5

If a Flip Video is out of your price range, the Kodak PlaySport Zx5 is a great choice. This mini-camcorder captures great video on the go as it’s small enough to tote in a pocket or purse. The camera itself is fairly durable, as the company says it’s shockproof and waterproof (though I don’t know if I’d take it in the pool “just to be sure”). It does have a built-in USB connector like the Flip, but rumors are the battery life isn’t too shabby. Starts at $108 on the company’s website.

Roku XDS

It may not come in handy during meetings; in fact, it may even hinder productivity for the work-at-home types. But whoever receives this little streaming media hockey puck will love it. The Roku XDS gives you a gateway to hundreds of online channels through your TV, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Pandora Radio. It also has a growing selection of games, such as Angry Birds, which is free. The small remote also serves as a gaming tool. It’s listed on the site for $99, but I found it as low as $79 on some sites like Amazon boasting holiday specials. Bonus: Roku just released the Roku LT for $50. Doesn’t have as much content, like Angry Birds, but it does the job.


I wrote about the DodoCase earlier this year, and it’s still my top pick for a iPad case. If someone on your list uses an iPad (first generation or iPad 2) and suffers from boring-case-syndrome, you can give them this fix. The DodoCase is a throwback to the elegance of classic book-binding, as the cases are actually handmade in an old book-binding factory in San Francisco. It’s made out of eco-friendly bamboo on the inside to protect the tablet and makes you really feel like you’re opening up a book when you use it. It’s sophisticated in design and now comes in a variety of cool color and design choices. Starts at $59. www.dodocase.com

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570

A really nice point-and-shoot is a great gift as many people rely on their smartphones for cameras, and sometimes those just don’t cut it. The Sony Cyber-shot is a relatively inexpensive camera with some great little features. The W570 is easy to pocket and has a decent flash — a solid wide-angle lens and a 5x zoom. Starting at $139, this is a great deal.