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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Stocking Stuffers

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In the final chapter of our 2013 holiday gift guide, we offer suggestions for all those last-minute stocking stuffers for friends, colleagues, neighbors or the mail carrier who delivered that heavy computer desk. We’ve found some fun, fantastical and just plain useful items, all $25 or less, and suited for a variety of tastes.

When possible, we’ve included a range of prices as offered by various vendors, but be aware that prices fluctuate. As always, be careful of false deals and scams.

Have you come across a great stocking stuffer that we’ve left out? Let everyone know in our comments section.

See more of Computerworld’s holiday gift guide 2013

Looking for the perfect cubicle toy for a work friend? Look no further than these wind-up Space Invaders, which bring the classic arcade-game aliens to desktops across America.

Just like their 8-bit forbears, these little guys are all about lateral motion: Wind them up and watch them scoot back and forth. There are two in each pack (one pink and one green), so you can pair them up or share the smiles with two friends.

Retail price: $6 – $14

–Valerie Potter

The Leef Spark USB drive stands out from all those other thumb drives for two reasons. First, it has a magnetic cap that lets you stick the drive on your bulletin board, refrigerator or what-have-you when not in use — so you won’t lose it. Second, the Spark displays a thin band of light when it’s working, just for fun. On top of all that, it’s shockproof and waterproof.

The Spark is available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB.

Price: Direct: $10 – $24 / Retail: $13 – $90

You might also like: The Fun Series USB drives from Memorex ($14 – $38 for 8GB) come in the shapes of crabs, fish, frogs, ladybugs, dinosaurs and crocodiles.

–Jake Widman

Photographers have long relied on the GorillaPod — the little camera tripod with bendable legs — to keep their cameras secure and stable. The GPod Mini Magnetic gives them even more options by putting strong magnets at the ends of its three legs. That lets the tripod stick to all sorts of metallic surfaces: sign poles, park benches, stairway railings and so on.

It can only hold a camera weighing about 11 oz., so it’s not suitable for a DSLR; but it’s ideal for a point-and-shoot or a small video camera. Add a $20 GripTight Mount and you can use it with any smartphone.

Price: Direct: $15 / Retail: $15

–Jake Widman

For that clean-freak friend (you know the one), consider this little chemical-free computer cleaning package.

First, for the display, there’s the two-sided TeraGlove microfiber cleaning cloth. One side removes oily smears; the other side picks up dust. Give it a spritz of water from the included spray bottle, slip it over your hand and watch the dirt disappear.

For the keyboard, there’s the double-ended cleaning pen. One end has a duster brush, while the other sports a microfiber strip that fits between the keys. (Four washable microfiber strips included.)

Direct price: $25

You might also like: Moshi also sells the TeraGlove by itself for $20 — perfect for tablet, smartphone and camera users.

–Valerie Potter

Anybody who has iPhone, iPod or iPad charger cords snaking across the floor to be stepped on or tripped over will welcome the chance to tidy them up and get them out of the way with a CableKeep from Nice.

These whimsical fish-shaped holders (there’s also a squid for a UK plug) slide neatly over the transformer, while their two-pronged tails provide a holder to wrap the cord around. They’ll also come in handy when on the road, keeping the cords under control and untangled in a suitcase. A great gift for an Apple fan.

Price: Direct: $16 / Retail: $16

–Jake Widman

Here’s one for your favorite tinkerer: an ingenious work mat that keeps screws and other tiny electronics parts safe and organized. The 8-x-10-in. mat has a dry-erase surface divided into a grid, so you can use the included pen to label each section for a different part or just make notes. Even better, the mat is magnetic, so parts won’t roll off and disappear.

The Pro version of the mat (pictured) has the same footprint but includes a non-slip foam backing and a stronger magnet that can hold larger screws and parts. (If your giftee has a rambunctious cat, we recommend going Pro.)

Direct price: Standard version $15; Pro version $20

–Valerie Potter

USB 2.0 hubs are really handy, but it can get difficult to squeeze a bunch of cords next to each other. Hubdog to the rescue: Its flexible legs let you position them as needed, so that each of its four ports has enough space and the attached cables are kept out each other’s way.

A light in the heart indicates on/off status and a 30-in. upstream cord will make it easier to place USB devices where you want them. Find it a good home with a friend or relative.

Price: Direct: $12 / Retail: $9 – $13

You might also like: Monoprice’s 7-Port USB 2.0 Hub with AC Adapter ($14) supplies a bonanza of powered USB ports.

–Jake Widman

When the recipient of this gift gets in her car, her smartphone automatically enables Bluetooth and pulls up the Maps app. When she reaches the office, it turns off Bluetooth and switches to silent mode. And when she goes to bed, it sets an alarm.

The stuff of a science-fiction future? No, it’s the result of tapping her phone on a Tylt Tagz programmable Near-Field Communications (NFC) sticker, which can instantly change settings and launch apps. Just make sure her phone supports NFC. For $20 you get six stickers: three white, three black. All cool.

Direct price: $20

–Rick Broida

No room at the office for a jigsaw puzzle? Give your colleague a Micro Cubebot from the David Weeks Studio.

Like a Rubik’s Cube, the interlocking parts are permanently affixed, but decipher the sequence and the wooden cube becomes a pose-able robot figure, perfect for displaying on one’s desk. Fold the robot back up into a cube to slip into a pocket and bring to a meeting as a mascot.

There are Cubebots in different sizes and colors, or opt for Hanno the gorilla.

Price: Direct: $8 / Retail: $7 – $10

You might also like: The X-Cube ($40) features over 2 quadrillion times more configurations than Rubik’s Cube. It’s due to ship in December.

–Ken Gagne

Some people can’t sit for more than five minutes at a keyboard without having some sort of beverage at hand. If you know somebody who is always thirsty, then here’s a nifty gift: This 8GB USB 2.0 flash drive doubles as a bottle opener, perfect for storing data on the same device he opens bottles with.

Retail price: $15

–Michael deAgonia

See more of Computerworld’s holiday gift guide 2013

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