Looking for holiday gifts for tech-loving teens this year? You’ve probably heard about the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game consoles, and the latest installments of popular game series like the “Madden” football games and the “Call of Duty” first-person shooter franchise.
But there are a lot more hip gift ideas that will delight — maybe even surprise — the teens in your life.
A list compiled by a teen (like this one) may be a good start, but the Web has so many gift guides these days it’s hard to avoid them. Company and retail-store websites feature all kinds of gift lists: the Apple website lists gifts for him and her, Best Buy does it by price, Amazon lets you search for teen gift ideas in different categories. Wired.com and other magazine websites rate top performers among headphones, speakers and other items.
Of course, there are the teen’s friends, siblings and cousins — sworn to secrecy.
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Here’s our list, which stretches across the price spectrum and is aimed at teens who love to take photos with their cellphones, listen to music, play video games or want to make school more fun — that is to say, just about all of them …
Apps like Snapchat, which sends a photo that quickly disappears from the recipient’s phone, and Instagram, where users post pictures of food, friends and just about everything else, have turned most teens into amateur photographers.
A set of stick-on specialty lenses for cellphones can add flair to their creations. The Patuoxun 3-in-1 Camera Lens
provides a wide-angle lens, a macro lens for close-ups of tiny objects and a fisheye lens together in one set. The lenses have magnets on the back, so they snap right on to the camera lens of the phone for easy interchangeable use. At just $8, this package provides an affordable introduction to the new trend of smartphone photography.
Newer offers are the
iPhone 5/5S case that comes with a magnetic fisheye lens attached on the outside. The RHX 8X Zoom Phone Telescope Camera Lens with Case is great for close-ups, and the $22 XCSource Phone Camera Lens 12X + Tripod + Case for Samsung Galaxy S4 can be useful for situations where a tripod comes in handy.
Cracked phone screens are a bummer and so is replacing them. Cool cases can make a fashion statement and protect a parent’s investment. Teens can change cases depending on their mood or what they’re wearing.
Try the $20 “New York Map” Kate Spade Case
or $15 Clique Fashion Case Shell. The $20 LUVVITT Clearview Case provides a more minimalist option, or for more pop, check out the $15 Belkin Grip Candy Shear Cover, which comes in many color choices.
Teens who drop their phones a lot might like the superprotective $25 OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 5.
Music can be relaxing after a long day at school. If your teens are ready for more than just the earbuds that came with their iPod, they may like some headphones and earbuds, which combine excellent sound with style.
Kate Spade Earbuds look fantastic, but at $70 you may want to look for them on sale at the Nordstrom Rack.
V-Moda Remix Remote Earbuds
play/pause, take calls, record voice memos and adjust volume with a built-in three-button controller. The earbuds come with four different ear-tip sizes so they will fit snugly, and the sound quality is excellent. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $50.
For headphones, the $150 Audio-Technica ATH-M50
have great sound, or if you want to go all out, the $270 Bose Quiet Comfort 15
will turn heads on campus.
If your teen likes experimenting with music, he or she might like the $180 Numark Mixtrack Pro II, a starter DJ package that features turntables, rubber drum pads to trigger loops and samples, and Serato DJ Intro Software. Just plug it via USB into a computer, install the DJ software and — voilà! — an instant DJ setup. It’s simple enough to learn, yet advanced enough to stay with the user for a while.
Seattle-area high schools are big on jazz and if you want to enjoy what your teen is listening to with them, try the $150 Jambox from Jawbone: this wireless speaker packs a large sound into a small, Bluetooth-capable box, which brings the party anywhere. And don’t worry if their music device doesn’t have Bluetooth: it also comes with a cord.
Entrepreneurial teens who baby-sit, walk dogs or sell brownies will love the $10 attachable Square credit-card reader, which comes in handy when customers don’t have the cash they need.
It plugs into an iPhone or iPad, lets teens take a credit card as payment, and takes 2.75 percent of the transaction.
Teens who are always in motion will love the $199 Go Pro Camera Hero 3 White. This camera attaches to bike or ski helmets (or anything else) so teens can record their adventures and share them with friends.
They can capture that epic ski jump with the crystal clarity of 1080p video, or take five-megapixel pictures three times per second and share them using built-in Wi-Fi. They can even take Go Pro underwater: the camera is waterproof up to 131 feet.
Do the teens play games on their computer a lot? Surprise them with the Razer DeathAdder 2013 Gaming Mouse, which has an all-new ergonomic design, is extremely accurate, and is the best-performing unit for the price, about $70.
There are also gaming headsets, which are headphones that include an attached microphone so players can talk to each other while gaming online and hear the sounds of battle in high definition. The Logitech G230 Stereo Gaming Headset
is a solid option at $40.
Flash drives are great for keeping important papers or digital projects when a laptop is not a viable option; students bring these to school to save their work from the school computers.
With these custom flash drives, for around $10 each, your teen’s storage will be recognizable, stylish and fun. Options include: Despicable Me flash drives,
Call of Duty flash drives
and Family Guy flash drives.
If a laptop is too expensive or bulky to take to school, tablets can be a great middle-of-the-road option, providing many key features of a laptop with affordable pricing.
The tablet market has expanded quite a bit over the last few years, and there are many good options to choose from, including these tablets, all $200 or under: $150 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, $150 Nook HD+
and $200 Google Nexus 7.
Whether your teen is a fashionista, tech geek or music lover, you probably will find something here to make him or her smile.
Aidan Weed is a high-school junior in Seattle.