Post Series: 2014 Holiday Gift Guides
Holiday Gadgets for Everyone on Your List - Quicken Loans Zing BlogIt can be extremely hard to find useful gifts that your family will love. We’re here to help.

We’ve compiled a list of the best gadgets for all different personalities in various price ranges. Hopefully you can find a gift that would even put a smile on Inspector Gadget’s face.

Movie and TV Buffs

For the movie and television aficionado in your life, I recommend streaming sticks, set-top boxes and programmable mood lighting.

Under $50

Streaming sticks: These are flash drive-sized devices that plug into the HDMI port on your TV, allowing you to wirelessly stream movies, TV shows, apps and more on your TV screen. Three options in this area are the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick. These each offer access to all the big services (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.). Roku allows you to send your personal media to the stick through its app. Chromecast allows you to send tabs from your Chrome browser to the TV to play pretty much anything. The Fire TV Stick adds gameplay options.


Set-top boxes: Bigger, faster and more powerful than streaming sticks, set-top boxes like the Amazon Fire TV and the Roku 3 can provide for an even better TV experience. Among other features, these devices allow you to hook directly into Ethernet if you want the fastest speed possible. If you purchase or rent a lot of content through iTunes, it will be worth looking at an Apple TV. In addition to having apps for all the major streaming services, Apple TV is the only option that will allow you to play all your iTunes content. You can also mirror screens between iOS devices, Macs made after mid-2011 and the TV.


Phillips Hue Lightbulbs: Hue is a Wi-Fi connected lightbulb with a full color spectrum that allows you to match the color of your room to any photo you can find on your phone. At $60 per bulb, Hue bulbs are definitely pricey. However, the Department of Energy states that LEDs save 75% on energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Not only will you be able to turn your living room into Pandora during “Avatar,” you’ll be saving money in the long run.


Whether you know someone who games on a console, a PC or a smartphone, there’s something on the list for everyone. Just keep in mind that some of these games may only be compatible with certain systems.

Under $50

“Pokémon Alpha Sapphire” and “Pokémon Omega Ruby” ($39.99 each for Nintendo 3DS): This isn’t your older brother’s Pokémon. The latest versions retain all the training and battle aspects of the classic role-playing adventure, and there’s a new feature as well: your Pokémon will become more effective in battle the more you interact with them one-on-one in the game’s playground mode.

“Super Smash Bros.” ($39.99 for Nintendo 3DS): Anyone who’s ever played “Super Smash Bros.” will recognize this as the portable version of the classic fighting game. You can once again settle this age-old question: Who would win in a fight between Donkey Kong and Pikachu?

“Mortal Kombat” ($19.99 for PlayStation Vita): “Mortal Kombat” is the gory fighter game you love, shrunk down to portable form.

“Minecraft” ($0–$19.99 on various systems): Minecraft is a world construction game known for its retro graphics and freeform gameplay. This is available on just about every major game system, including PC.


MOGA Controllers: These are perfect for someone who is a mobile gamer. They’re essentially console-level game pads for your mobile device that offer a more precise level of control than a touchscreen. There are models available for both iOS and Android.

“Destiny” ($59.99 for the standard edition on multiple platforms): This is the new futuristic sci-fi shooter game from the people who made “Halo.” If the gamer in your life doesn’t already have this, they will want it.

“Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” (Around $64 for the standard edition on multiple platforms): The fact that this is the next iteration in a series known for action-packed romps would be enough for a lot of gamers, but the fact that Kevin Spacey plays power-hungry Jonathan Irons is icing on the cake.

Amiibo ($12.99 for the actual figurine; more for supported games on Wii U): These figurines (available November 21) can be used to unlock new characters and powers in supported games like “Mario Kart 8” and the Wii U version of “Super Smash Bros.”


Favorite consoles: In this price range, you can make someone’s year by giving them one of the gaming consoles. Make sure it’s the right one though. Gamers are generally loyal to specific platforms. On the mobile side, there’s the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita. The bigger, TV-connected consoles include PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U.

Steam Boxes: If you know someone who appreciates the high-performance environment of PC gaming, but would also like to play in the living room on the 50-inch LCD, a Steam Box may be the right choice. Available from several manufacturers, Steam Box hardware is certified to run any game on the extremely popular Steam platform, and you can stream games from your PC to your television.

Music Mavens

Are you shopping for someone who listens to their Elton John vinyls so much that they’re starting to become worn? What about people who like to create musical fusion electronically? There’s something in here for everyone.

Under $50

Headphones, earphones and speakers: Purchases in this category can go into the hundreds if not thousands of dollars, but you can get a surprisingly good pair of earphones or a Bluetooth speaker system for under $50. I’m going to stop short of recommending any specific brand or model. Someone who listens to hip-hop music with a lot of bass will not necessarily want to buy the same earphones as someone who listens to a lot of classical. If you need some guidance on headphones and earphones, start here. If you need speaker reviews, check these out.


Moff Band: Moff Band is aimed at kids, but I think it appeals to everyone who’s ever wanted to make their air guitar dreams become a reality. You can play a variety of instruments simply by mimicking the movements with the band on your wrist. There are also a variety of games that can be played. (I saw a demonstration of fencing.) It’s compatible with anything running iOS 7.1 or later.


Synthesizers and drum machines: For more serious musicians, a synthesizer or a drum machine can be a really great gift. These come at various price points and with different features. Identify your budget and then consult the person you will be giving this to.

MP3 ripping record player: If you have parents who play the heck out of their Beatles records, you understand that wear can be a serious issue. A turntable that can hook up to the computer will allow you to create MP3 versions of the tracks so music can last long past the point when those grooves will be worn out. With vinyl experiencing a resurgence among contemporary artists, this can even be a good purchase for someone in their 20s.

Health and Relaxation

We all deal with a certain level of stress, whether it’s from work or busy personal lives. If you don’t work in an office where everyone has a NERF gun, here are some gadgets you can use to melt away the stress of the day and track your health.

Under $50

Aromatherapy diffuser: For a relatively low price, you can get an ultrasonic diffuser that will disburse calming scents throughout the room. If you want to spend a little more, you can get versions that will hook up to your MP3 player.

Flameless candle: Candles can help put you in a relaxed mood, but they’re also a safety hazard if you fall asleep before blowing them out. A flameless candle can help remove that worry as you drift away.

Sound machine: Although you can also get sound machine apps on your phone, the effect really breaks down when you get interrupted by texts and phone calls. With a dedicated sound machine, you’ll never have to worry about bright lights or technical interruptions.

SleepPhones: If you like to fall asleep to music but don’t want to disturb your partner, SleepPhones might be a good option for you. Fall asleep in comfort listening to these speakers placed within a comfortable headband.


Towel warmers: We’ve all had it happen. You take a nice warm shower and then almost instantly get cold when you turn the water off. A towel warmer like this one can help you retain that feeling of cozy, relaxed warmth just a little bit longer.


Body massagers: Although the price of a massage chair is a little bit too steep for this guide, there are plenty of products to soothe the tension out of the head, neck, shoulders and feet.

Smart health gadgets: The Apple Watch may not be out until next year, but there are already a variety of wearable devices that can track everything from your heart rate to your sleep. For those of you trying to lose weight, there’s even a scale that you can program to tweet when you weigh in. It would take some courage, but I suppose that’s the ultimate peer pressure.

Outdoor Gadgets

If someone you know has a passion for the outdoors, these gadgets may bring them great joy this holiday season.

Under $50

Cell phone mounts for bikes: If you’re a bicyclist, there aren’t many good places to store your phone. Manufacturers have started to create mounts for cell phones in the same way that they have mounts for water bottles. Check out this one from REI.

Swiss army knives: This is the ultimate multipurpose tool for any outdoorsman. You can even find models that include flash drives!


External battery packs: It can feel decidedly less outdoorsy to go camping and be constantly on your phone. However, you want that thing to work in a pinch if necessary. Several companies sell external battery packs and charging devices for a variety of electronics.


Camp stoves and pots that charge: Using thermoelectric energy conversion, these practical camping gadgets allow you to charge your electronic devices using heat from cooking.

Hiking GPS: Although you can probably get a GPS on your phone, a standalone GPS may work in areas where your cell phone doesn’t. Most are waterproof and contain detailed maps.

Water filtration bottle: This could be handy if you don’t have access to safe drinking water. It takes out harmful waterborne bacteria in a nonchemical process using water filters.

Car Gadgets

Here are a few gadgets for people who live life on the open road.

Under $50

Beacon Tags: I love my parents, but they’re constantly losing things. Simply stick these tags on anything you frequently misplace. Using the accompanying smartphone app, you can find anything with a beacon tag, including your keys.

Bluetooth Adapter: If you don’t want to trade in a perfectly good car just to get Bluetooth, you can buy a Bluetooth adapter to play audio through your car speakers.


Onboard Diagnostic Tools: Every car built after 1996 has an onboard diagnostic support plug. A range of devices let you do some really cool things with it. Available at various price points, they allow you to track things like gas mileage, driving habits and error codes.


Portable Espresso Machine: This portable espresso machine makes it possible to have your espresso on the go without using electricity. It works with espresso pods and hot water from a thermos. After that, you just squeeze. It’s a little on the pricey side, coming in at just over $120, but if you like your caffeine strong, this might be the solution.

Do you have other cool gift ideas for the gadget lover in your life? Share them with other readers in the comments section.

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