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Holiday 2020: The Best Tech Gifts Under $75

The holidays are fast approaching and, if you’re like us, you’ve still got some holiday shopping to do. If you’re wondering what to get the tech geeks in your life, look no further than our list of the best tech gifts under $75. At this price point, you can buy some seriously impressive gadgets without breaking the bank.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

Holiday 2020: 9 Great Retro Tech Gifts

Fluance RT81 Elite sitting on a shelf playing a vinyl recordFluance

We all have nostalgic sweet spots, and for many, tech items of the era can be an immediate throwback to another time. While these products may be mostly for novelty or some quick fun, that doesn’t diminish the legitimate joy they can bring. And there are quite a few retro revivals kicking around that will make great gifts this year.

Micro Consoles

Sega Genesis Mini, GAME & WATCH Super Mario BrosSega, Nintendo

Micro consoles exploded with popularity after the release of the NES and SNES Classic, so it’s only to be expected that some other companies have released their own versions of this great idea.

  • Nintendo GAME & WATCHIt wasn’t a surprise to see Nintendo return to this formula, but most people expected the company to revisit the Gameboy era of handhelds before the GAME & WATCH. This handheld was released for the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros and as such, includes the original NES game. The design is faithful to the original GAME & WATCH systems and includes some extra fun doodads like a Mario clock app.
  • Sega Genesis Mini: Sega has been releasing plug n’ play versions of the Genesis for a while now, but the build quality, UI, and emulation were always subpar. Fortunately, the Sega Genesis Mini improves on those faults and delivers an excellent micro-console experience with 42 classic games loaded onto it. Whether it’s Sonic, Ristar, or Ecco the Dolphin, you’ll find it on this console. It also comes with two wired controllers out of the box for multiplayer titles.
  • The C64 MiniFor fans of the Commodore 64, the C64 Mini is sure to bring waves of nostalgia. The console comes with a joystick controller for playing the 64 included games. Unfortunately, the keyboard on the system is just for show, but there are USB plugs for keyboards/controllers on the side of the console to fix that. You can even write in the “BASIC” code language with this system if you want to mess around with that.

A Modern Arcade Cabinet: Arcade1Up’s Catalogue

Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga Arcade1Up CabinetsArcade1Up

Nothing screams retro gaming like an arcade cabinet. The problem is, genuine ones are pretty expensive and very large. That’s why Arcade1Up has become a favorite of many retro collectors over the years. Arcade1Up creates faithful scaled-down versions of arcade cabinets that are still large enough to feel genuine without being a pain to fit in your living room.

Some cabinets even slip in unique features like seats for Atari Star Wars or online play for NBA Jam. And there are many more cabinets than that available, so you have quite the selection to choose from. Whether the person you’re shopping for prefers classic Namco games like Galaga or fighting games like Mortal Kombatthere’s a good chance Arcade1Up has a cabinet to match their tastes. Arcade1Up also produces smaller countertop cabinets that are less expensive and ideal for homes without the space to spare for a full cabinet.

A Resurrected Keyboard: Unicomp Classic Model M

Unicomp Classic Model M KeyboardUnicomp

The IBM Model M was a revolutionary keyboard that’s still loved by many for its uniquely satisfying buckling spring key switches. Unicomp has now come out with a modern version of the Model M that’s outfitted with a USB cord and is easy to get your hands on. The exterior design is the same as the classic Model M, so it still has that iconic old-school computer look to it. Unicomp has also been releasing multiple versions of the board including new colors such as “black and gray“.

The Iconic Pet: Tamagotchi On

Tamagotchi OnTamagotchi

Tamagotchi is a pleasant memory from the ’90s, and now those memories can be relived with the recently released revival of the classic digital pet. All the classic mechanics of the Tamagotchi games are here, along with updated sprite work and new stuff to do with your Tamagotchi—like marriage. You can also connect it to the Tamagotchi app (Android/iOS) to access some unique multiplayer mechanics with other players.

While this isn’t 100% faithful to the original handhelds, the modern touches make for a fun toy that can still be enjoyed regardless if you’re nostalgic for the original systems or not.

The Iconic Pet

Tamagotchi On – Magic (White) Amazon Exclusive, Magic White

Take care of a brand new digital pet with this updated version of Tamagotchi.

A Turntable: Fluance RT81 Elite

Fluance RT81 EliteFluance

Vinyl has been making a strong comeback over the years, and the RT81 delivers excellent sound quality with a classic wood plinth—although, it’s also available in a standard black color as well. This turntable is expertly designed, and Fluance prides itself on delivering the most accurate analog sound possible without damaging the records. When it comes to turntables in this price range, this is the cream of the crop, and it still has enough retro flair to hearken back to the good ol’ days.

An Instant-Film Camera: Polaroid Originals Now

Polaroid Originals NowPolaroid

Instant-film cameras are plenty of fun to mess around with, and the Polaroid Original Now, with its classic exterior style, has the character of these cameras down pat. The accurate flash and auto-focus are nice modern touches, and it’s compatible with both i-Type and 600 film. It’s also available in eight different colors—there’s even one based on The Mandalorian.

An Instant-Film Camera

Polaroid Originals Now I-Type Instant Camera – Black (9028)

Have fun and take some great pics with this modern instant-film camera.

Some Classic Handhelds: Hasbro Tiger Electronics Handhelds

X-Men Project X Tiger Electronics HandheldHasbro

While LCD handhelds are certainly a thing of the past, they’re great for some nostalgic novelty nowadays. Hasbro decided to revive the Tiger Electronics handhelds from yesteryear to a T. There are four games currently available, all with unique artwork to really seal the deal: X-Men Project X, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Transformers: Robots in DIsguiseand Sonic The Hedgehog 3The games are simple, but it’s still a nice throwback to this old form of handheld.

A Bluetooth Boombox: GPO Brooklyn

GPO Brooklyn BoomboxGPO

Nothing says “funky” like a boombox, and the Brooklyn from GPO is a great blend of modern features with ’80s style. Not only does it have a cassette player, CD player, and FM radio, but you can also connect to it via USB or Bluetooth if you want full access to your music library. All the dials and buttons are fully functional and the handle is great for taking it on the move. It’s available in two colors: Silver and Black.

Some Fun Charging Stands: elago Apple Watch Stand

elago Apple Watch Standelago

Have you ever wanted your Apple Watch to look like a Gameboy? Because if so, elago has the product for you.

At the end of the day, these are just simple stands to put your Apple Watch on while it’s charging, but the fun designs make them great little stocking stuffers. elago currently has two stands with retro designs: one based on the original GameBoy and one based on an old iMac. These are fitted to neatly display the screen of the watch, so you can still view and interact with the screen while it rests on your nightstand charging.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

Freedrum is a virtual drum kit that feels just like the real thing

For every kid who ever approached a parent with the earnest and eager request to start learning to play an instrument, you’ll find a parent who responded with a smile and said, “Sure, honey…anything except the drums, OK?”

Of course, drums are the throbbing, beating heart of any band, from rock bands to marching bands alike. — Read the rest

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Boing Boing’s Shop

Holiday 2020: The Best Gifts for Musicians

Rock music band with lead electric guitar player and drummer behind drum set4 PM production/

Serious musicians live and breathe music, so it makes sense that they’d probably want a music-themed gift for the holidays. Fortunately, we rounded up a variety of gifts—like MIDI controllers and digital music lesson services—that will appeal to musicians of all kinds (and of all skill levels).

Learn How to Play Guitar: Jamstik Guitar Trainer

Jamstik Guitar Trainer on table with tablet and coffee mug and headphonesJamstik

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play electric guitar, you can be up and running in a matter of minutes with the Jamstik Guitar Trainer. The travel-size, wireless, MIDI guitar lets you play at home or on the go, and is perfect for learning how to play guitar and write songs, as well as creating and producing your own music. Its included software has interactive teaching apps and options for introductory music production and composition.

FretTouch Finger Sensor technology and Infrasense Optical Pickups can sense where your fingers are on the Jamstik and provide accurate real-time feedback on a connected device. With these features, you’ll be playing your first guitar chords in no time. Built-in software provides on-demand guitar lessons, and you can plug in your headphones so you don’t disturb others.

Learn to Play Guitar

Jamstik Guitar Trainer

Learn to play guitar with this handy MIDI guitar and interactive learning software.

Listen to Streaming Classical Music: Idagio Subscription

Idagio classical music streaming service home pageIdagio

Sure, you can find classical music on standard streaming services, but none of them really understand it like Idagio ($29.99 per month) does. The music streaming service is dedicated to classical music and makes it easy to learn more about the genre (and discover terrific new pieces you like) with minimal effort.

You can save pieces you like, create playlists, browse new releases, and find beloved legendary records with ease. Plus, any time you click on an album, Idagio provides a blurb that tells you about the album, artist, or composer. You can even find curated classical playlists based on your mood.

Practice Guitar without Annoying Others: Vox AP2AC Headphone Amp

Vox AP2AC Headphone AmpVox

You might love practicing guitar (go you!), but others in your home might not appreciate it as much. Luckily, Vox’s AP2AC Headphone Amplifier enables you to practice quietly without disturbing others. Just plug in your guitar and some headphones, and start playing. You’ll be able to hear what you’d normally hear when connected to a regular amp, and everyone else will hear little to nothing.

The headphone amp works for both bass and guitar. It has built-in controls for tone, volume, gain, chorus, delay, and various reverb effects. And its small size easily fits in your guitar case or desk drawer when you’re done. Talk about a win-win situation!

Practice Guitar Without Annoying Others

VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 Guitar/Bass Headphone Amplifier

Plug your guitar and headphones into this headphone amp so you can practice without bugging others in your home.

Plenty of Songs for a Jam Session: The Ultimate Fake Book

cover of The Ultimate Fake BookHal Leonard

Fake books are essential for every gigging musician, and they’re fun to mess around with during practice and casual jam sessions as well. They’ve got all the melodies, lyrics, and harmonies you’ll need to play a gig or round out your repertoire.

The Ultimate Fake Book (for C instruments) is a perfect addition to virtually all musicians’ sheet music libraries. It contains over 1,200 songs across all genres, like jazz standards, country classics, and pop chart-toppers, with titles like Unforgettable, When I Fall in Love, Georgia on My Mind, Brazil, Friends in Low Places, and Let’s Fall in Love. There are different fake books for Bb instruments and Eb instruments as well.

Plenty of Songs for a Jam Session

The Ultimate Fake Book (for C Instruments)

This fake book has over 1200 songs across several genres, like jazz, country, and pop.

Stay in Tune and on the Beat: KLIQ MetroPitch

KLIQ MetroPitch joint metronome and tunerKLIQ

Tuners and metronomes are the cornerstone of any musician’s success. And when both can be combined into a single device, it’s a match made in heaven. The KLIQ MetroPitch is a tuner and metronome that works with all instruments and chromatic tuning modes. It even includes a carrying pouch and comes in four different colors.

The device’s small design will effortlessly fit in your instrument case when not in use. It supports a wide pitch range, from A0-C8, along with various tuning modes, transposition settings, pitch calibration, tap tempo, and even has a tone generator. It has a high-sensitivity microphone, input and output jacks, volume control, tempo dial control, and a low battery indicator. It’s the perfect musical accessory or stocking stuffer idea.

Stay in Tune and on the Beat

KLIQ MetroPitch – Metronome Tuner for All Instruments – with Guitar, Bass, Violin, Ukulele, and Chromatic Tuning Modes – Tone Generator – Carrying Pouch Included, Black

The KLIQ MetroPitch is a two-in-one tuner and metronome with pitch calibration, multiple tuning modes, and transposition settings.

For Digital Musicians: AKAI Professional MPD218 Controller

AKAI Professional MPD218 ControllerAKAI

If you’re more into making beats than playing them, you’ll want a good MIDI controller at your fingertips, like the AKAI Professional MPD218. The MIDI-over-USB pad controller blends MPC controls and technologies with USB connectivity to make it easy to create beats.

The controller is lightweight and portable, so you can easily move it around or take it with you on the go. The thick pads are highly sensitive and perfect for triggering drums, samples, effects, basslines, and more. Expandable banks, assignable controls, full level controls, and MPC note repeat puts all the music production options in your hands, as does the included comprehensive software suite: Ableton Live Lite, Sonivox Big Bang cinematic percussion, and Big Bang universal drums.

For Digital Musicians

AKAI Professional MPD218 | 16-Pad USB/MIDI Controller With MPC Pads, 6 Assignable Knobs, Production Software Included

The AKAI Professional MPD218 Pad Controller is lightweight and has expandable banks, assignable controls, and an included music production software suite.

Good Supplies Make for Good Practice: Manhasset Music Stand

Manhasset Model 48 Sheet Music StandManhasset

A music stand might not be exciting, but it’s still nice to have one that’s high quality. The Model #48 Sheet Music Stand from Manhasset is durable and easy to use. You can set it to any height, and its no-knob friction-tilt neck holds the tension. It uses solid brass bearings, and has a greaseless heavy-duty chrome inner shaft and a heavy-gauge steel welded base for sturdiness. (I’ve had mine for nearly 20 years and it still looks new and works perfectly.

Good Supplies Make for Good Practice

Manhasset Model #48 Sheet Music Stand

A durable music stand is a must-have for a home music studio and every practice session.

Get Digital Music Lessons: Yousician

Yousician app music exerciseYousician

Yousician (starts at $14.99 per month) is a great place for online music lessons for piano, guitar, ukulele, bass, and voice. Students of any skill level can sign up. Plus, with COVID-19 still at large, keeping music lessons online rather than in person is ideal.

The site has world-class educators, offers tailored lessons and exercises, and offers solid tools for learning how to master your instrument. You can explore thousands of exercises, lessons, and songs; set goals; track your progress; and monitor your improvement over time. You can also access step-by-step video tutorials and compete with other students for placement on the leaderboard. Yousician also has occasional sales, so be sure to double-check if it’s running any specials before signing up.

Practice Guitar with a Small Amp: IK Multimedia iRig Micro Amp

IK Multimedia iRig Micro Amp with guitar and smartphoneIK Multimedia

You don’t have to break the bank to find an amp for your guitar, and you don’t have to go all-out on a stage-worthy amp just for your practice room. The IK Multimedia iRig Micro Amp ($149.99) is compact yet powerful. The 15W amp covers a range of tones, with three custom-voiced analog channels: lead, drive, and clean. Plus, top-seated knobs for gain, bass, mid, treble, and volume let you control how it sounds. Plus, you can pair it with a smartphone or tablet and take advantage of apps like Amplitube or JamUp for an endless number of tones.

If you’re looking to round out your setup, consider picking up the iRig Blueboard ($99.99) as well. The Bluetooth MIDI pedalboard lets you control your favorite music apps (like AmpliTube) and more with your foot. The Blueboard makes it easy to do things like switch between presets, turn effects on and off, control volume, and change patches. Four backlit soft-touch pads are set in a sturdy chassis, and you have two TRS expansion jacks. It’s the perfect partner for the iRig Micro Amp when paired up with a smartphone or tablet.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

How to Find the Best Holiday Deals Using Google Shopping

Finding the best deals can be a challenge when shopping online. With so many different retailers to choose from, which store has the best prices? Google Shopping makes this easier with its price comparison tool.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joe Fedewa

The best laptops and tablets to give as gifts

2bdde3c0-12fd-11eb-bf7e-7e631218cf53This year, more than any other, our laptops and tablets are working overtime. They’re our gateway to remote work and virtual schooling — but they’re also one of the few ways to safely socialize with friends as we try to rebuild our lost civilization…

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The 12 drone models are already on sale at Black Friday-level prices

If you’re already stressing about holiday shopping, we get it. While we wouldn’t normally advocate starting the holiday spending talk this early, there are too many big considerations happening right now to leave the finances and logistics of the season to the last minute this year. — Read the rest

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Boing Boing’s Shop