Scrooging It: 12 cheap holiday tech gifts for the miserly skinflint

Scrooging It: 12 cheap holiday tech gifts for the miserly skinflint

Summary: Looking for great, cheap holiday gifts or ones which can save you serious gelt? Ebenezer Perlow picks his dozen for each day of Christmas.

TOPICS: After Hours

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  • Apple TV 3rd-Generation ($99)

    Apple calls it "Just a hobby business" but the Apple TV 3rd-generation is primed to disrupt the entire entertainment industry and may enable you to "cut the cable" and eliminate subscription TV services. Provided you have broadband internet access, Apple TV allows you to stream on demand TV shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu+ and iTunes, and has the ability to act as an airplay client for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to beam movies, music and game output right to your TV set and home entertainment system.

  • Nest 2.0 ($250)

    Although the Nest 2.0 digital, Internet-enabled thermostat seems pricey at $250, this home automation marvel could actually save you big bucks over the course of the year by intelligently managing your heat and air conditioning system. Nest automatically turns your HVAC off when you leave the home, and knows from learning and crowdsourcing and local weather conditions as well as when you're about to return home to adjust the system to an optimal and energy-saving temperature.

  • Google Nexus 7 16GB ($199)

    While the $329 iPad Mini may be the Apple of everyone's eye this Christmas, the miserly choice is without question Google's Nexus 7 tablet, which runs on the Android 4.2 operating system, runs hundreds of thousands of applications from Google's Play Store, with access to massive amounts of content, and is loaded with a 720p HD screen, a powerful nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 16GB of onboard storage, for a whole $199.  

Topic: After Hours


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • The Win8 upgrade is a good deal

    But as a gift it would be a tough sell in my household.

    Also I went for a 8GB refurb iPod Touch which is less than the new Nano.
    Mac Hosehead
  • Win 8 would be my choice

    But chances are if I want it, I'll have to buy it myself.
  • Wow. Your definition of cheap and my definition

    are a bit different.
  • Cheap ???

    Anything over a $100 is not cheap -- even if it's the low end product in its class.
  • Dear Jason

    I love your concept of cheap. Could you please adopt me?
  • iCarrier is a must have

    ... well obviously if, that is, you own a iPhone, Touch or iPod ... which is a lot of us - but granted not all of us. Great nonetheless. ;P
    • Works great with Androids and Windows Phones too

      The output is standard USB, so any device that can charge with a cable that plugs into a USB port is supported.
      • Thanks for the update JP

        That's just made it a surefire winner for every mobile device with USB charging - as you pointed out. Most silly season ideas are gratuitous fads or perceived rather than practical necessities. This device easily fits the latter.

        I'll have to spread the word to family and friends about it.
  • Anything over $20 is not cheap

    The Nest is cool, but it is actually an EXPENSIVE thermostat. Nice title for your piece.
    • Nest, really?

      When I bought a new furnace 8 years ago it came with a programmable thermostat. I set when everything goes on and off, heat or AC, with different times for the weekdays or weekends. I don't understand the point of this thing unless I can text it to turn on because I am coming home early.
      • Nest is WiFi and web accessible

        Part of the reason the Nest costs more is that it has built in WiFi and you can control it from just about any handheld device you might have. It has motion sensors and will determine when you are home or away and has energy usage monitoring. Like I said, cool yes, cheap no.
  • Your Cheap is expensive!

    Most of us out here in the real world can't afford much more than £20 for friends and £60 for family, often less. Steroetyping gift of this callibre as "scrooging it" is very offensive to the low paid! Don't be a jerk.
  • Miserly skinflints?

    What planet are you from? $250 for a Christmas gift and you're filing that under miserly skinflint?

    Are you insane or just totally out of touch with reality?

    This is a terribly titled article that is actually kind of offensive.
  • How about a Roku?

    Instead of the Apple TV with the iTunes lock why not go with the Roku, Costco has it for about $70...
  • Skinflint

    I can't afford any of these.
  • Wow...

    Wow, if a $250.00 notebook and a $199 Nexus 7 are scrooge-McCheapo gifts to you then I totally want to be on your Christmas gift list.

    I was thinking more along the lines of a $10.00 set of torx scredrivers.
  • Re: Chromebook

    "It's like Google is actually paying you to buy it."

    They would have to pay me to take one. And maybe not even then.

  • Jason, I am more interested in Nice

    but that is little expensive like the LED lamps. I replaced few of my lights at home with LED and I am seeing the results, but they are still expensive. Likewise Nice is also an expensive to start with but it would be a TCO thing in a long run.

    I am also planning to get Sodastream, but it is also a bit expensive. I already have Windows 8 and tablet(s), and iCarrier. Good collection if you are not on red side of the budget.
    Ram U
  • Windows 8!?

    I'd rather get a lump of coal.
  • iCarrier Customer Support is Remarkable

    I bought a similar product from the same manufacturer over a year ago and had a problem with it. I posted a feedback review on Amazon about it and they called me at home to resolve the issue. If you need a batter supply for your tablet, I don't think you can go wrong with an New Trent product.