Just because most of us are still keeping a close watch on our bank accounts doesn't mean that we won't be giving gifts this holiday season. It just means we need to be smart about what we buy - and make sure that we get the most gift for our money.
While most iPods and iPhones may be too expensive for tight budgets this year, there are still terrific gifts for under US$100 that iPod and iPhone owners will love. Read on to learn how you can create those holiday smiles without breaking the bank.
1. iPhone 5C
2. iPod Shuffle
While most iPods can't be had for less than $100, here's one that can be. The iPod Shuffle offers 2 GB of storage for just US$49. While you won't enjoy the multimedia features of iPods with screens or App Store support, this tiny iPod is a perfect gift for an exerciser or an iPod owner who wants a small, lighter companion to their main MP3 player.
The latest model of the Shuffle does away with the user interface problems that plagued last year's model, so you can feel good about giving the Shuffle as a gift again.
3. Apple TV
The new Apple TV is just the thing for our Internet-connected entertainment age. It allows users to stream video over the Internet from iTunes, Netflix, and YouTube (and, if the rumors are true, more content options should be coming in 2011), and play it at 720p HD on their HDTVs. There's not a lot more functionality here, but at $99 it's a pretty good deal.
While it bumps right up against the $100 mark (it retails for $99), the Airport Express is worth it. This useful little gadget connects to your WiFi network and speakers to allow you to stream music (and share printers and other USB devices) throughout the house. It's a snap to set up, simple to use, and a great, affordable way to create a wireless home audio system. It's a perfect gift for the passionate music fan with a big iTunes library and speakers in most rooms.
IPods and iPhones have become constant travel companions for millions of people throughout the world. When driving, you rarely want to listen to headphones (to say nothing of the fact that this is illegal in many places); you want to listen to your iPod or iPhone through your car stereo. These kits will help you enjoy your trips a little more, thanks to your iPod and iPhone
The headphones that come with the iPod are getting better all the time - and are lightyears beyond the slightly uncomfortable models of just a few years ago. Still, music lovers may look for headphones offering higher performance than the bundled options. Luckily, many good, quality headphone options are out there in the $50-$100 range.
8. Portable Bluetooth Speakers
The speakers built into the iPhone and iPod touch are OK for alerts, games, and listening to music in a pinch, but if you want to really enjoy your music library on the go, try some portable Bluetooth speakers. There are dozens of these kinds of speakers that you can find for under $100. Even better, because they're wireless, multiple people can play their music to them, making these speakers great for get-togethers.
If there's a heavy iPhone user in your life, you've probably heard some complaints about the iPhone's battery life. Even the iPhone 4, which has great battery life, can benefit from some extra juice. And while there are tricks for squeezing more life from an iPhone battery, the best way to guarantee long battery life is with an extended battery. These accessories connect to the iPhone and can offer up to 36 additional hours of continuous operation - that's a lot of energy! While there are a number of options, a particular favorite of mine is the Mophie Juice Pack Air.
10. Gift Cards
Everyone's got someone on their list who's hard to buy for. Luckily, with gift cards, you can let that person buy for themselves. You've got lots of options
- iTunes gift card, which can be stocked with $15, $25, $50, or $100 and used to buy content from the iTunes Store
- Apple gift card, for use in Apple Store and online with $25-$2500
- Amazon gift cards, which can be used to buy music or eBooks with from $5-$5,000
- Barnes & Noble gift cards, which can buy eBooks for the iPad in denominations from $10-$250
A single gift is nice, but a gift that keeps on giving all year long is even better. With an eMusic subscription, you can give new music every month - something every iPod lover will cherish. While eMusic previously offered only independent labels, the addition of the Sony catalog, and other major record labels, was a tremendous expansion of the site and its mainstream music.
EMusic offers an introductory plan for $6.50/month ($77.88 a year), a $99 a year plan, and a few plans to come in just over $100.
No one wants to think about their new gift breaking, but with electronics, especially small, mobile ones that may get dropped, it should be considered. Apple offers protection against damage with its AppleCare protection plan extended warranty. AppleCare costs different amounts - from $39 for a nano/Shuffle to $99 for an iPad - depending on what product you're applying it to, and extends the standard iPod warranty for up to two years. If you can't buy an iPod for someone on your list, at least you can ensure that the one they have keeps working with AppleCare.