HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: Cheap But Awesome Gifts Under $60

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Is your workplace starting up the Secret Santa already? Geeky niece or nephew not impressed with their present last year? Never fear, TechGeek is here, with just a few gifts which will cost $130 or less, and which are guaranteed to warm their geeky little hearts.

Moleskine – From $20

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I know, I know, it doesn’t have a screen! But that doesn’t mean a paper notebook can’t still be relevant in 2014. And for just $20+, depending on where you buy it, you can help someone you know keep organised for an entire year.

Moleskine’s calendar/planner line is pretty extensive, with plenty of different options, but my favourite is the 12 Month Weekly Notebook. As seen above, in this design each week is planned on the left side of the notebook, while the right side is just a ruled, freeform page for all your ideas, to-do lists, or doodles. Again, it might seem dated compared to a phone app, but there’s still something calming about a physical notebook, one which lets you organise it in any way you’d like, and one which has no way to distract you. Plus it comes with stickers to bring attention to important tasks, and there’s even a little pocket at the back of the book, meaning you can store little things like business cards.

In the end, it’s paper, so what could go wrong?

Offscreen Magazine – From $22

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I promise this isn’t a theme, but the second best cheap-but-awesome-gift is Offscreen Magazine, a magazine printed on paper.

So many jobs now revolve around spending 6 hours in front of a screen, and Offscreen Magazine is the remedy. Designed for geeks, by geeks, Offscreen is packaged, only a few times a year, as a print magazine that focuses on ‘pixel people’. It’s designed and edited in Melbourne by Kai Brach, and each issue comes with beautiful design, incredible interviews with the people behind your favourite apps and websites, as well as other great little nuggets of discussion.

Seriously, I love this magazine, and I look forward to each issue with the anticipation of a small child. For $22 you can order a single issue, or if you’re feeling generous you can even subscribe for the next 3 issues for $59. Plus, you don’t have to worry about charging it before work.

Subscribe here.

Google Cardboard – Under $30

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Okay, now this is just getting a bit silly. But if you know someone with a big-screen Android phone, like the Note 4 or Nexus 6, for just $30 Google Cardboard will transform it into a basic, but still incredibly effective virtual reality system.

So far there aren’t too many games and apps that support the kit, and it’s unlikely to dethrone Samsung, Occulus, or Sony’s Project Morpheus, but for $30 you can’t go wrong.

Phone, unfortunately, not included, but it’s for around $30 it’s a steal.

Try buying from here.

HiRise for iPhone – $34.95

twelvesouth_hiriseiphone_black_ipadmini_gallery4Look, it’s no surprise the iPhone’s battery isn’t exactly the best. In fact, it’s generally far from it. So the HiRise is a solution of sorts. Built with brushed-metal, the HiRise is a great looking dock for the iPhone and iPad mini which charges and displays your iPhone in style. And with iOS 8’s Continuity features, it’s an even better way to bring your workspace into the future. Plus it works with most cases.

Apple Store

Apple TV / Google Chromecast – From $49

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We take so many photos and videos on our phones, listen to so much music on them, and even watch a lot of TV, and yet most of the time they live there on those tiny screens or in those crappy headphones. With the Apple TV or Google Chromecast, not only can you show your family photos on a big screen TV to grandma, you’ll also be able to shoot your favourite TV Shows, Movies, Music and even web content to your TV in just a tap.

In particular, the Apple TV is super flexible thanks to AirPlay, meaning you can fire your favourite stream, MP4, or MP3 content straight to your TV or sound system from any Apple device. Make sure you check for compatibility with Chromecast for your favourite apps too, and also make sure you match the box to their phone of choice. Chromecast can work with iOS, while Apple TV will hardly work with your Android phone without some tinkering.

Apple Store / Google Play

iGrill Mini – $49.95

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Turn your iDevice into the perfect Aussie BBQ companion. With a single probe, the iGrill mini will wirelessly send your foods temperature to your iPhone, letting you know when the meat is at its perfect temp. This could be an especially helpful, and subtle, way to tell your Uncle Dick that he just isn’t that great at cooking snags. And for $50 it’s, again, the perfect gift.

Raspberry Pi B+ Model – $55

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Okay, now we’re getting geeky. The Raspberry Pi is a $55 computer that can play Minecraft (sorta), browse the web, run Linux, serve as a media hub, or emulate your favourite retro games. Plus there are a billion other uses, all coded by a community of awesome geeks.

Basically it’s your dream device: a computer which can run 24/7 without destroying your power bill. You will have to work for a bit to actually make it do any of the above, but if you want to help someone learn the basics of computing, this could just be the best gift. You might want to also pick up the power supply, which is basically a phone USB port, and also an SD card, but still it’s a small price to pay for what is essentially a super basic mini computer.

Plus if you know someone who likes to break things, the Raspberry Pi is built for them. Since the OS runs off an SD card, even if you break the whole OS it’s super easy to get back on track. This ain’t no Windows OS.