Tech gifts are among the easiest to buy — and the most appreciated. The only trouble is finding the perfect one, but never fear: Use the ideas here to match your expertise and budget with the wants or needs of those on your gift list.

eBook reader

eBooks have matured. And thanks to Amazon’s new Kindle, e-readers have as well. For the book lover on your gift-giving list, there’s never been a better time to introduce the wide world of e-books.

The Kindle comes in two affordable flavours — a $139 version that offers downloading of books via any WiFi hotspot or a $189 version that tacks on 3G connectivity. The less expensive version is probably sufficient for most. With either model, literally hundreds of books can be stored on the Kindle’s internal memory before your gift recipient leaves home, so connectivity of either type is probably not critical.

If you like the idea of an eReader but want to steer clear of Amazon, try Sony’s Digital Reader, which retails for slightly more than the Kindle but reads PDF files natively, which is a boon to those who like to download free PDFs and read them immediately.

Smartphone accessories

If there’s a smartphone or cell phone addict on your gift giving list, you’re in luck. The accessory market for these portable devices is chock full items.

Extra smartphone or cell phone batteries are always appreciated — and something that phone users rarely purchase for themselves. Car chargers, USB chargers, and additional electric chargers can come in handy as well. For device protection, think custom sleeves or special carrying cases. And for those who need or want to talk without holding the phone, look at Bluetooth headsets.

Of course, before you get any of these items, be sure you know the make and model of the phone of your recipient, and then simply visit a local phone store.

Apple devices

The ultimate tech gift this year may very well be an iPad, the reading and computing tablet that caught everyone’s attention upon its release earlier this year. At $499, it’s pricey, however, so it’s clearly a gift idea for someone special.

Apple offers so many in-demand mobile gadgets, though, that you don’t need to spend a lot to give someone a hip tech toy. The iPod Shuffle music player is no bigger than a pack of matches and costs about 49 dollars. You’ll find more musical prowess — and the ability to play other types of media — in the larger and more expensive iPod Nano, iPod Touch, and iPod Classic, which range in price from $149 to $249. Finally, the ultimate in smartphones may very well be the Apple iPhone, if it’s not cost-prohibitive.

For those on your list that already have an Apple gadget, consider any of a range of accessories: better ear buds or headphones, a docking station, carrying case, additional charger or battery, or remote control. The Apple online store contains them all, of course, and can help you generate more ideas.

Storage

Some gifts are chic or trendy. Others are just useful. Storage devices fall into the latter category. But since more storage space is something that almost any technology fan needs, gifts of this type are sure to be useful. For inexpensive storage gifts, consider a USB flash drive. Look at sizes of 16, 32, or 64 gigabytes (GB) so that they hold enough data to make them worth carrying or using. Prices range from $20 to $90, depending upon size.

If you have a tech buff on your gift-giving list who, like many, does not back up his or her data often or at all, look at one of the one-button external backup drives on the market such as the Western Digital Elements or Seagate FreeAgent. Drives in the 1 terabyte (TB) range hold a lot but won’t set you back more than $70 or so.

Speakers

Desktop or notebook computer users who are making do with the sub-par sound system that comes standard with most computers these days will delight in a decent set of speakers. And for gift givers, the good news is that there are plenty of outstanding speaker systems on the market that don’t cost a lot. For notebook users, there are a range of tiny but full-sounding USB speakers small enough to go on the road with your gift recipient. Look at Logitech’s V10 or V20 model or HP’s USB Mini Speakers. Prices range from $20 to $50.

You can delight the desktop user on your gift list with such highly rated models as Harman Kardon SoundSticks II, the Altec Lansing Expressionist line, Klipsch’s ProMedia, or the Razer Mako speakers. Good desktop speakers start at around $80 to $120.

Software

Believe it or not, most technology fans still use a traditional computer, and for that, they need software. Always a great gift idea, software can either help your gift recipients have more fun or help them to get more done.

For those PC users who haven’t yet upgraded to Microsoft’s latest operating system, a copy of Windows 7 makes great sense. For those who have, perhaps an upgrade to their productivity software is in order. Tax and financial software and antivirus software often needs to be updated every year, for example.

For the kids on your gift-giving list, you can hardly go wrong by giving games for the PC or gaming console favoured by your gift recipient. First find out the platform on which the game will be played, and then head on over to an online store such as Amazon.com, where you can sort games by “bestselling” or “most popular.”

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