OK, so you promised yourself that this year, you'd get your holiday shopping done early. But, like always, you held off your holiday shopping until the Very. Last. Minute.
As my family often says, "Whaddya gonna do?"
Not all hope is lost. There are several petite gadgets you can buy straight off the racks at your local electronics store, and no one will be the wiser that you left your shopping until the week -- or day -- before. Here are my picks for this year's perfect last-minute stocking stuffers.
Livescribe Pulse Smartpen
Surely one of the coolest pocket-sized gadgets I've heard of, the Livescribe Pulse smartpen records sounds (your voice, or a professor lecturing) through integrated stereo microphones and creates audio notes that it "ties" to your written notes. When you tap on written notes in your notebook, the pen can play the audio that was recorded at the exact moment you wrote those notes. Plugged into a PC, you can view a page-by-page archive of your notes.
The original handy miniature video recorder with straight-to-Youtube capability is still a popular choice, and at less than two Ben Franklins, the ultraslim recorder won't hurt your wallet like a real camcorder would. Plus, it's a little cheaper than its HD sibling (see below).
USB flash thumb drives are a dime a dozen these days, so it's notable when one distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack. Despite its chrome-like exterior, Lexar's JumpDrive Lightning is most notable for its 30MB/s read and 21MB/s write speeds. When it comes to transferring data, quickly and securely beats all else. The 4GB Lightning can be had for about $35.
Remember the "Blue Track" technology we raved about earlier this year? Well it's finally here, under the unassuming name of the Microsoft Explorer Mouse. The technology basically lets you use the mouse where lasers and optical mice have failed -- perfect for users on the go.
The name may say "iPhone," but these speakers work with any device that has a standard headphone jack -- in other words, nearly every portable audio player on the market. When not in use, the speakers unite into a six-inch "ball," of sorts. When in use, expect excellent sound quality and little to no interference.
There are an awful lot of digital photo frames out there, but I'm a stickler for simplicity -- and frugality. This plain black 7-inch photo frame, with a less-than-enormous bezel, does the job and only sets you back $120.