Jonathan Takiff: These gadget stocking stuffers cost less than $30

Posted: December 14, 2011

SEARCHING FOR some cool stocking stuffers with a techy edge for under $30?

How about a battery-enhanced toothbrush that sings like Justin Bieber, a protective case for a smartphone, or a vibrating magic "bullet" that turns a carton of eggnog into a loudspeaker? You may not have to go far for such cute stuff. Even stores not known for gadgets stack 'em high this time of year. Of course, goodies galore also await online for those who act fast.

BEYOND BEYOND: A good example of living past its image is Bed, Bath and Beyond, notwithstanding the goofy "Dancing and Singing Rabbi" ($14.99) the retailer's now featuring. (You'll also find him on YouTube, likewise crooning "Hava Nagila.")

But wait, there's better. For a tablet computer user, a Merkury Innovations Easel Stand proves a dandy gift at $14.95. Aluminum-framed and rubber-cushioned, it holds a tablet in portrait or landscape mode at a variety of angles. Folds flat for easy stowage.

In Bed, Bath and Beyond's personal-care department, I couldn't resist rewarding myself with a Philips Norelco Nose, Ear and Eyebrow Hair Trimmer ($17.99). Doesn't tug painfully at the follicles like other groomers do.

Also found a Sharper Image USB 2.0 Digital Photo Keychain for $9.98 - perfect for the proud parent, aunt or granny. Has a 1.5-inch color LCD display, holds 60 images and has a rechargeable battery. These things used to sell for a benjamin!

More for laughs than serious listening is the Rock-It 2.0 Portable Vibration Speaker System ($19.99 at BB&B) and similar, though more nicely packaged Vibe It Bullet (same price at myvibeit.com). The latter version (tested) bears the motto "plug it, stick it, hear it." Connect its audio cable to a music source, then affix the sticky resonator cup to an object with a hollow cavity. That empty cereal box or eggnog carton becomes a speaker with shockingly decent results. (One complaint: Cables are short.)

TO THEIR HEALTH: A serious electric toothbrush with an oscillating head is just what the dentist ordered, but a bit scary for kids and quite the investment. (Top-rated SoniCare models run from $40 at Walgreens to $220 for the "DiamondClean" series.) So a better first step and stocking stuffer is one of the new kid-friendly, electrically "enhanced" toothbrushes that cranks out a Justin Bieber tune (insert "shriek" here) or celebrates a favorite fictional character.

Two Justin Bieber Singing Toothbrushes were scored at CVS and Rite-Aid for $10 each. One features the teen idol singing "Baby" and "Us." On the other, he's wailing "Somebody To Love" or "Love Me." Performances run two minutes, exactly how long dentists recommend we brush.

With the Firefly line, found at Target for $8, the appeal includes a character-themed handle (Batman and Barbie are two options), a motorized, rotating brush head and a flashing light that blinks for two minutes. Suitable for sprouts as young as 7 months, claims the maker!

BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE: One year back, shoppers were snapping up gloves with thermally conductive fingertips intended to activate a mobile phone touch screen through the material. For texting ease, this year makers such as Freehands are also pushing gloves with flip-back caps on thumb and index finger. Starting at $19 for women's models, $22 for men's at amazon.com.

BARGAIN EARPHONES: No need to spend megabucks for good earbuds. AKG's High Performance K-313 (with a robust, 15 mm driver) was spotted online for just $9.99 with free shipping at deals.woot.com.

A CASE OF YOU: Know someone getting a Kindle Fire for a gift? Belkin's formfitting Verve Tab Folio case ($29.99 at belkin.com) boasts a rugged, protective wrap, soft interior and magnetic tab lock.

In the iPad realm, I've been taken by the Great Jeans Portfolio cases from iLuv ($26.77 in blue or brown from BHphotovideo.com). Looks like jeans material but it's waterproof "leatherette."

For iPhone protection, iLuv's swirly patterned, glow-in-the-dark Aurora cases are a deal - $15 with free shipping from adorama.com. The Built N.Y. Silicon Soft Case for iPhone 4/4S adds bumped-out corners for better shock resistance ($19.99 in black or white from zappos.com). Slightly more stylish and expensive - $29.95 at Apple Stores - is the Pixel Skin HD phone case from Speck Products

Buying for a gamer? The PDP Pull and Go Folio for the new Nintendo 3DS (or DS or DSi) packs up a complete system plus almost two dozen games ($20 at Target).

GET A CHARGE: A multitasking, on-the-go type would get a charge from a Griffin PowerJolt Plus. This thingamabob plugs into a car's 12V DC power supply to charge two devices at once. $24.95 at Best Buy.

YOUR BEST CABLE CONNECTION: Anyone with a bunch of gadgets would appreciate audio, video, mobile phone or computer cables from MediaBridge, just across the river in Cherry Hill. Their HDMI cables boast the same lab certification as superpricey brands, but a 10-foot MediaBridge Ultra cable goes for $12, while a 25-footer is just $20! Parent company Broadband Products has been a major supplier of commercial cable to Comcast, Time-Warner, et al since 1998. Shop at www.media

bridgeproducts.com.

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